by tim parks –
The Truth Awards honor excellence in the Black LGBTQ community, as well as its allies, who have raised the bar with their contributions in making a positive impact. The ceremony recognizes people in the following categories: the Ally Award, Business Leadership Award, History Maker Award, Beauty and Fashion Award, Passing the Torch Award, Media and Arts Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Rage Monthly spoke with two of the award-winners, History Maker Tracey Norman and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient James Earl Hardy.
Norman has long been considered a trailblazer, supported by the fact that she was the first transgender woman to appear on a box of Clairol in the 1970s. She however, does not consider herself to be transgender, as she explained. “All my life, my DNA and my brain told me I was a woman,” Norman said, “so the word ‘transgender’ I don’t relate to. Society has these labels that they put on you and the word back then was never used…It was always something very negative.”
Despite the negativity, Norman persevered and created a successful modeling career. “The agency called and told me I was going to be on the cover of the hair color box,” she explained.
“It was overwhelming, the excitement of me being in a store on a box where people could actually see me, was all new to me. It was really great and my box and color, which was ‘Box 512 Dark Auburn,’ was the hottest selling color of the moment.”
Fast forward to 2016 and once again Clairol came calling, as did European Harper’s Bazaar, which put her on its cover. She said the experience was something of an emotional overload. “I was holding back tears, because I was so caught off-guard and so surprised by it,” she said of Clairol reaching out to her.
“Christopher Stallinger, the fashion editor for the European Harper’s Bazaar, he fought for me to be on the cover because he read my story.”
Hardy knows his way around a compelling story as well, his novel B-Boy Blues was published in 1994 and was hailed as the first hip hop love story. He started his writing career as a journalist prior to his novel being published and can also list playwright on his resume. Hardy offered that he has had a very satisfying career, but there has always been one element that means the most to him. “Back in the day, letters and now Facebook and Twitter messages, from teenagers who thank me for writing B-Boy Blues,” he said.
As for his body of work, which includes nine other novels, he prefers that the works speak for themselves, literally. “It’s always been to let the words do the speaking for me,” Hardy said. “Writing for me is like breathing. I don’t remember ever not doing it and if I couldn’t do it, I don’t know what I would do.”
Hardy has made such an impact that B-Boy Blues is required reading in many African American/multicultural literature and gay/queer studies college courses, a fact he finds “surreal” as does receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’m sort of numb about it,” he said.
“Am I old enough to receive that? I still believe I have one or two more books in me. But, I definitely embrace and celebrate it and am very appreciative that people would honor what I’ve stood for.”
Calling it “A full circle for me,” Norman definitely “feels the love,” receiving the History Maker Award. “It’s vital, because people who have accomplished great things in their life, especially in the African-American community, we don’t get that much recognition,” Norman stated. “If I didn’t tell my story, no one would know what I went through and the history that I made for myself. So, being recognized for it, it’s really rewarding for me.”
Norman also sees it as a chance to garner attention and to focus on what’s behind the awards…The telling of the truth. “Given the climate we’re living in, it’s even more important that we recognize and celebrate who we are,” he explained. “Unfortunately, we are still living in a culture that attempts to erase us… And tells us on a daily basis that our lives do not matter.
They do matter. The Truth Awards is one of the best ways to hold up that mirror, not only for us, but for society.”
The Third Annual Better Brothers Los Angeles Truth Awards are being held on Saturday, March 11 at the Tagylan Complex, 1201 Vine Street in Los Angeles. For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to: betterbrothersla.com/truthawards.
Category: Los Angeles