Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent Host Forum in NYC

January 24, 2015


Contact: Fabian Burrell or F. Romall Smalls


Telephone: (516) 515-1436

“Ain’t No Hurt Like Church Hurt”

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent Host Forum in NYC

NEW YORK, NY (January 14, 2015) – “Aint No Hurt Like Church Hurt: Has your Worship Experience been Harmful or Liberating?” is the theme of this year’s LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent Faith Forum which will be held on Saturday, January 31, 2015 from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building at 163 West 125th Street, New York City.

Many city leaders site the often strict religious views held by many in the African American community as one of the key causes of increasing rates of LGBT youth homelessness, escalating violence against Trans people and epidemic levels of HIV infection rates among LGBT people of color. The LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent Faith Forum seeks to find solutions to address these alarming trends. Key subjects to be discussed during the forum will include, healing the hurt from homophobic religious spaces and exploring what the Bible really says about homosexuality.

Leading LGBT Faith Leaders will participate and add their voices to this important gathering. They include, Dr. Jameelah Medina, a noted Muslim feminist and a widely recognized contributing author to Feminism and; Rev. Cedric A. Harmon, Co- Executive Director of Many Voices, one of our nation’s top advocates for dialogue about LGBT issues in the Black Church; Imani Rashid, Co-Chair of LGBT Kwanzaa Community of NYC and a leading expert of traditional African religions and practices; and Min. Louis Mitchell, a leading advocate for transgender rights and TransFaith. Noted LGBT researcher and activist Dr. Kevin McGruder will server as moderator.

Admission to this LGBT faith forum is free, but does require an RSVP at:

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, is a 501(c)3 New York City based membership organization that advocates in the Black community to change negative attitudes and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and same-gender loving people.  Since its’ founding in 2011, it continues to meet the urgent need to address the problems affecting homeless gay children and youth through education and advocacy.



June 24, 2014




Fabian Burrell

Phone: (917) 916-8393


JagandCo rolls out its Rainbow Fashion Week™ (RFW)  platter of tantalizing Pre-Pride Events just in time for NYC’s LGBT Pride Week. Rainbow Fashion Week begins today June 20 with the exciting kick-off event: 50 Top New Media Moguls, highlighting LGBT and LGBT-Friendly individuals who serve the community via blogs, vlogs, radio, as well as print media. 

This year’s signature event produced by RFW Founder E. Jaguar Beckford and Alvin Lopez Woods of The Media Model, whose exhaustive list of entertainment industry skills and connections will make this the most talked about media event of the year, sponsored by “Gay City News,” special appearances by honorees: Amanda Lepore, VH1’s “Tahiry Jose,” DapperQ’s Susan Herr, Richard Pryor Jr., and 46 more special honorees. As the very first of its kind, RFW will unveil our “Go Green Initiative” –no Wood/Glass/Acrylic Awards. Instead we’ve for the very first time replaced the “award with a “virtual” one: a digitized app calling card to excel them in their respective fields.

Our grand finale: Inside Celebrity Closet™ on Friday, June 27, 2014, hosted by Bravo Celebrity Dwight Eubanks, Yandy Smith, Karen Gravano’s daughter in her modeling debut, will be filmed on site by VH1, at Stage 48, 605 West 48th Street, NYC 8pm-10pm. The #happy-selfie after-party rolls right in with Gay Pride Party Promoters Big StarX bringing you r&b singing sensation Ashanti. The culmination of the week will certainly leave attendees marking their calendars for next year’s edition. 

The Mayor of New York City, Bill deBlasio and his First Lady Chirlane McCray has made it official by signing and presenting to the organizers of Rainbow Fashion Week a Proclamation declaring June 20 – June 27 Rainbow Fashion Week in the City of New York.

RFW™ will not only bring you fashion at its finest but display the skills of fashion industry insiders like Native Elianor, Eric Santiago, Lashae Moreland, Diemen, Transparent Styles, Aziza PR, tech guru Bonnie Sandy, Paul Mantia, Bradley Douglas Jordan and Fashion Fanatixx, and more. 

Our Social Responsibility Platform attached to each night is supported by Housing Works who will provide mobile HIV testing vehicles outside some venues and the Hetrick-Martin Institute who allowed us to recruit models and photographers from amongst their at-risk LGBT youth population for our youth events.

Our sponsors are like us “One Nation Under the Rainbow;” Gay City News, Blue Moon, Crystal Head Vodka, JagandCo, Dawn’s Healthy Balance, Fashion Fanatixx, Fountain Pimento Oil, GAP, Andrew Inc., Happy Socks, JagandCo, Jamaica Grill Restaurant & Caterers, Joe Boxer, Juizy Bella Makeup, LMN Jeans, My Pillow Pets, New Concepts in Travel, Patagonia, PrettyBoiCouture Magazine, Quirky, Rainbow Fashion Week, SESAC, Snyder’s of Hanover, Starbucks, Tag Your Funny Belt, Transparent Styles, and Vodkila.

So, we welcome one and all to Rainbow Fashion Week 2014, being hosted in New York City, one of the four fashion capitals in the world.  We’re looking forward to a great event.  If you are interested in being a part of these festivities, then you can find additional information at We look forward to seeing you! #RFW2014.

Danielle and Chantelle Piper – Two Beautiful Gems of Two Cultures

May 29, 2014

by Fabian Burrell (Previously published in Caribbean Life Newspaper in May 2012.)

Many 23 year olds are still trying to figure out what college major to enroll in for the coming
school year and then some are already on an exciting career path. Danielle and Chantelle
Piper are twins that have already decided on their career paths and are successfully
navigating it, to much acclaim. Their write-ups or “ink” as we say in journalism lingo is
envious even for well-established celebrities. Once you meet them, you immediately
understand what draws them to the attention of newshounds.

Notice, I did not say paparazzi! Yes, they are beautiful and vivacious to look at but these
are not your average pretty faces. They have a lot to say about their careers, young men,
world affairs and they do it with confidence and in unison. Yes, they speak almost the same
words at the same time and laugh and exude joy all at once.

The twins have carved out a niche for themselves with Kastle Designs and Treasure Chest
Jewelry. Although the businesses complement each other they are the sole creations of each
twin. Kastle Designs is a women’s fashion line created by Danielle out of her love for fashion
and designing. “Kastle Designs isn’t about fashion and keeping up with the latest trends. It is
about high quality, classic silhouettes that flatter and fit perfectly,” said Danielle who is
singularly focused on finishing a garment that’s functional and beautiful from concept to fit.
“Treasure Chest Jewelry was created out of a love for artistic, handmade objects and of
course – my addiction to beads! I enjoy making one of a kind pieces that are easily wearable
no matter the trend or season. My jewelry is fun, unique and definitely makes a statement.
I use an eclectic range of materials but my current favorites are sterling silver, glass beads,
Swarovski crystals, and rare gemstones,” said Chantelle.

With a language that is sophisticated beyond their years, the offsprings of a Ghanaian dad
and Montserratian mom, are fearless in sharing the spotlight and wants everyone to know
about Montserrat – “You can still catch the Annual Dive Festival
June 26-July 2nd. Travel to Montserrat and enjoy the beauty and nature via Antigua with
Winair Airline and Fly Montserrat!” they exclaimed, breathlessly.

Born in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City and raised in Ghana until they were 9 years old;
they have a love for lasagna, kontombre stew with rice, codfish with yams and dumplings and
fufu. Proud of their African and Caribbean heritage, they pay homage to it by creating
designs lush with the earth tones of their mother’s homeland. Their visits to Montserrat
created a passion in them to see it rebuilt after the devastating volcanic eruptions which still
flows today. The remnants of the damaged former W. H. Bramble International airport was
finally completely covered by new volcanic flows in February 2010! A boutique in Montserrat,
their designs being sold on the island and a foundation to support restoration of Montserrat
to its former “Emerald Isle” status and rebuild the infrastructure are in their future plans.

As is the case with most things in their lives, they both graduated from Fashion Industries
High School and later went on to Fashion Institute of Technology where the received their
Bachelor of Arts degrees. But they will tell you in a minute that it was their mother’s sewing
skills that led them on this path. Their mom, Matina Piper, made their school uniforms and
hand-embroidered their names on their school supplies and uniforms. That drew Danielle’s
attention, at age 9, and she started sketching lavish gowns and cutting them to fit model

Their pursuit of their business goals is a full-time effort that keeps them busy in addition to
assignments as fashion models and appearances on major television shows such as the
‘Rachael Ray Show,’ and an MTV commercial for Snickers. NBC’s ‘Today Show,’ Intimacy Bra
line modeling and a new Wyndham Hotel window in midtown Manhattan displaying their
designs came about as a result of their inclusion on where their designs can be
purchased. Architecture and culture can be seen in those designs and Danielle dreams of
one day designing for First Lady Michelle Obama; a fuschia colored dress elegantly cut and stylishly

Giving all credit where due, Danielle interned at Marchesa and Maggie Norris Couture and also
worked as a freelance costume designer. Chantelle interned at the accessories showroom for
Diane Von Furstenburg and Juicy. Their older sister Racquel who crochets cellphone cases
for her Quelly Rue Designs and their aunt Lucy continues to inspire them. Even mom designs
burlap bags to add to her many talents; crocheting, knitting, sewing and embroidery.
“We went from dreaming of one day being fashion/jewelry designers, to working with notable
designers, and now manufacturing our own line and operating our own fashion/jewelry
businesses,” they said in unison.

Knowing they have a voice in changing the world, these young women think carefully before
they speak. “We believe that everyone should be granted healthcare regardless of their
situation,” Chantelle offered. “We are all humans and if someone needs medical help they
should be able to go to the hospital and get a check-up instead of disregarding their medical
concern/issue because they don’t have [medical] coverage. So many people have lost family
members because they didn’t have health coverage and that is heartbreaking.”
“Social media” is a great source for networking, advertising, and a great way to generate
traffic to your business. We use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Blogger as marketing, and
networking tools. Weeding out the spammers is a challenge, but it comes with the territory,”
Danielle opined.

Launching Kastle Designs and Treasure Chest Jewelry during Fashion Week 2010 at The
Gates is probably their biggest achievement in their career.
If you are wondering if this gets to their heads, their mom will tell you, “It is easy to steer
one, but hard to steer two. Fortunately, they are their own best friend and so I am lucky
their positive support of each other keeps them focused and away from the pitfalls of the
fashion industry, like drugs and late-night drinking binges.”

The late Mary and Joseph Piper from St. Peters, Montserrat would be very proud of their
granddaughters whose positive words and attitudes, beautiful smile and spirit has elevated
them rather quickly in the world of fashion design and modelling.


April 16, 2012

By Wilhelmina Perry

I became a caseworker with the New York City Department of Welfare in the early 1950s.  I had just graduated from Brooklyn College and was assigned to the 8-member unit responsible for “getting families over crises situations” in East Harlem, a historic neighborhood that, at the time and even today, consisted largely of Latino families.  We were a mix of recent college grads and seasoned professionals responsible for making sure these families had access to food, shelter and water, but a gap in the Department’s policy made it difficult for us to help many families.

We were experiencing an uptick in the number of families applying for benefits that included a child who had been either “adopted” or given to the family for care but according to the Department’s regulations, those children weren’t eligible for assistance. They weren’t “recognized” as part of the family unit.

Fortunately, dedicated caseworkers became the voices for those “unrelated” family members eventually urging the Department to grant caseworkers the ability to formally request a child’s admission into the family unit. Thereby, granting those families access to the much needed financial support to provide for their families.

But today we face a very similar crisis in which the children of same-sex partners remain excluded from the health resources, legal protections and rights that come automatically to children of heterosexual unions, because their families, like those in East Harlem, aren’t “recognized.”

It’s true that family compositions have significantly changed since the 1950s–today more children are being raised by their grandparents and other family members; single mothers and/or fathers, unmarried couples, step parents,  co-mingled families, and yes, same-sex parents–but does that mean we value our  children any less?

According to a recent report by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), along with a host of other think tanks, entitled “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families,” there are as many as two million children being raised in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) households and yet LGBT families are more inclined to be living in poverty.  According to the same report, children being raised in LGBT families of color are twice as likely to be living in poverty as their white-straight counterparts.

LGBT families continue to face archaic and discriminatory laws that create obstacles to their economic security.  With it being legal in 29 states to fire an employee based on sexual orientation and legal in 34 states to do so because of one’s gender identity—including New York– it’s harder for LGBT parents to take care of and provide for their families and this puts children in significant danger.

So what are we to do? How are we to respond? There are a variety of policy shifts, at local and federal levels, that must happen: federally banning  discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation; establishing universal health care protections for all families; revisions in tax codes  so that all families, not just heterosexual couples, can avail themselves of tax credits; making changes to custody and foster care policies so that they are inclusive and protective of all families; expanding governmental and employee benefits so that all families are equally protected; federally recognizing same-sex marriages and providing equal protections;  and most importantly, support cultural competency requirements for work places, schools , health facilities and other public spaces.

But there are also simple steps to take in our everyday lives; to change our thinking and behavior to ensure that all children are equally protected and valued.

It’s time to recognize and affirm all families whether you meet them in your workplace, houses of worship, schools or social settings.  Teach your children to refrain from bullying and harassing children who appear different because they have two mommies or two daddies. Keep an “active ear” and admonish those who use references like “sissy, fag, dyke, and bull dagger” or other derogatory terms.  You know the words that are used. Let us lift up and affirm all families who are striving for the same safety nets, protections and benefits that we all want for ourselves. Remove the “don’t ask, don’t tell” wall of silence that isolates these families and take the time to get to know who they are.

Our African-American communities have long standing histories and traditions of caring for the children in our families and our communities.  If our society is to grow and flourish, our communities must be strong and nurturing spaces for all our parents and their children.  We must care one for another with the social, legal and economic supports that promote families’ well being.   We are our brothers (and sisters) keepers!

Dr. Wilhelmina Perry, Convener, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent…LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent is a membership organization formed to challenge discrimination and exclusionary practices and policies that affect the well-being of LGBT people.

Rebel salute on Jamaica’s and Tony’s 50th!

February 6, 2012

Rebel salute on Jamaica’s and Tony’s 50th!

By Fabian Burrell
Tony Rebel performing at his 19th Rebel Salute.
Photo credit: Fabian Burrell
Photo by Fabian Burrell
Tony Rebel performing at his Rebel Salute in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.
Photo credit: Fabian Burrell
Jamaican reggae artist Tony Rebel celebrated his 50th birthday at his annual Pepsi Rebel Salute 2012 which took place in Port Kaiser Sports Complex, St. Elizabeth on Saturday, Jan. 14 right through the morning of the 15th with a huge birthday cake, an impressive list of veteran and emerging reggae artists and a massive of die-hard roots-music lovers.

Veterans singing their big tunes; Eric Donaldson ‘Cherry Oh Baby,’ Edi Fitzroy ‘Princess Black,’ Admiral Bailey ‘Big Belly Man,’ Errol Dunkley ‘Ok Fred,’ Dancehall godfather Johnny Osbourne (returning to Jamaica for the first time since 1996) Buddy Bye,’ ‘Ice Cream Lover’ and ‘Truth and Rights’ had the crowd rocking. Tony Rebel’s son Abatau, a very pregnant Queen Ifrica, Bunny Wailer’s daughter Cen’C Love and son Asadenaki, the late reggae icon Bob Marley’s two sons Stephen and Damian Jr Gong Marley wowed the audience with favorites and new songs. Maxi Priest, Dominica’s Nelly Stharre (born in the year of The Dread Act, 1974; a law banning the growing of locks!!), Yami Bolo, Cali P of Guadeloupe, Gramps Morgan and Capleton rounded out the exhaustive list of performers too numerous to mention.

Producers Donovan Germaine, George Golden, reggae crooner Beres Hammond, and by Rebel’s estimation “over 10,000 plus people passed through the gates of the first show celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the independence of Jamaica.” He said in a phone interview, “the tone of the show highlights the strong family values and holistic energy of our people and we want to encourage more sponsors with that focus.”

Rebel, a true rastaman, is also a social commentator and a champion for the youth of Jamaica. “I am called a Rebel because I rebel against things that are not right. Sometimes we predict things, “Rebel reminded the audience as he sing-jayed one of his remarkable hit tunes, “Careful what you teach the little children, make sure a no something to hurt them, mind what you say to mi sister, she could be the next Prime Minister.” When he belted my favorite song, ‘If Jah is standing by my side, then why should I be afraid of the pestilence that crawleth by night,’ it was only topped when he sang Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” pointing at me, his cousin!

To his credit, Rebel (born Patrick George Anthony Barrett) has consistently, for 19 years, provided top-notch musicians and singers; midst a strict policy of no re-entry, no drugs, no weapons, no meat and no alcohol. With Pepsi being the largest corporate sponsor and no alcoholic beverage sponsors on board it is a great feat to provide the kind of mastery in music without the familiar violence which plagues some large open air events.

The sponsors are an important component to any event and should be recognized for meeting the objectives of this Flames Production; to showcase authentic Jamaican culture through music, art, fashion and food; promote cultural exchange between Jamaica and the African Diaspora; promote community tourism and encourage social and environmental responsibility; partner with cultural groups/organizations, corporations and government, forge lasting alliances that will preserve and promote authentic Jamaican culture both locally and internationally; provide a platform for artists to champion their causes; expose “Saluters” to an event experience where profanity is prohibited, healthy eating is supported and a family vibe is encouraged and highlighted.

They are, in no particular order; Grace Soups, Grizzly’s Entertainment, Jamaica Tourist Board, The Star, IRIE FM, Courts, Grace Earth Chef, Go-Jamaica, The Gleaner Company Limited, JAMPRO, CVM TV, Little Ochie Seafood, Visual Vibe, Fountain Pimento Oil, Reggae Entertainment TV, Ward’s Power Tools,, Security Innovations Limited, Impulse Energy Drink and Wyndham Hotel.

While in Jamaica for Rebel Salute I stayed at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston and got the royal treatment each day. Since their June 2009 grand opening which I attended and reported in this newspaper they continue to provide concierge service from the bellman to the executive staff. General Manager Lee-Ann Godfrey reminds us that the hotel welcomes “not only business persons but at any given time you may catch a glimpse of celebrity entertainers or prominent business persons dining in the Gallery Café which serves up scrumptuous Jamaican delicacies like ackee and salt-fish with dumplings, cabbage and corned beef, green bananas and bammies, right alongside continental breakfast fare; bacon and eggs and made-to-order omelettes.”

Trinidadian singer/songwriter Jah Melody signed to VP Records in NYC stayed at SCH while working on his latest cd with local music producers. Astronomer Cleveland Gustard of the Astronomical Association of Jamaica along with fellow astronomers Robert Rodriquez and Erroll Rickman, President AAJ pointed out Sirius the brightest star, planets Venus and Jupiter and the constellations Orion and Taurus while standing next to the infinity pool on the Sky Terrace.

I visited Deputy Director of Tourism Jason K. Hall in his office at the Jamaica Tourist Board to get an idea of the relevance and impact of a one-day event like ‘Rebel Salute.’ “Events on a whole are a critical part of our marketing. Rebel Salute is a remarkable concept…it is the largest single night event without alcohol and drugs. That is very hard to find as a lot of the main sponsors tend to be liquor distributors. And Rebel Salute has been successful without them. We salute Tony Rebel! This could definitely be a two-day show,” he opined.

Wyndham Hotel was the host hotel for Rebel Salute and I enjoyed a one-night stay there prior to returning to the U.S. Their poolside dinner buffet with its offering of a different culinary theme every night, with accompanying live music is of mass appeal and on Tuesdays (my lucky night) I caught the Jamaican flavor with curry goat, jerk chicken and jerk pork, rice and peas, provisions; that is yam, banana, boiled dumpling and escovitch fish. No meal is complete without dessert; bread pudding, cheesecakes and other sweet fares.

Plan to visit Jamaica during their 50th year of independence and definitely book ahead for Rebel Salute 2013, its 20th year.

Nobody Knows My Name: Exploring Challenges Facing Black Gay Men in Higher Education

November 5, 2011

Nobody Knows My Name:
Exploring Challenges Facing Black Gay Men in Higher Education


Professor of Sociology, Public Health, & Urban Education and Coordinator, Africana Studies, The CUNY Graduate Center


New York Association of Black Journalists Award Winner


Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality, New York University


Executive Director, Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD)

  This Panel Discussion will be moderated by Antoine Craigwell

The CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue New York, New York 10016
34th Street and Fifth Avenue*
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Room C202-C204, 4pm – 7pm
As space is limited, please register online as soon as possible at:

*By subway, take the # 6 train to 33rd Street or the #2 or A train to 34th Street, Penn Station
For directions, please call: 1-877-428-6942 | (212) 817-7000

All programs and activities of The CUNY Black Male Initiative are open to all academically eligible students, faculty and staff without regard to race, gender, national origin or other characteristic.

Please distribute widely throughout the University and beyond.

Please consider joining the CUNY BMI discussion group on Linkedin (<>) at:

Elliott Dawes
Director, CUNY Black Male Initiative
The City College of The City University of New York
160 Convent Avenue at 138th Street
North Academic Center (NAC) Building, Room 4/153
New York, New York 10031
(212) 650-8294 (telephone)
(212) 650-5097 (fax)


LGBT Community Events to Attend

November 5, 2011

 Here are two important community events. Please go out and show your support!

__________________________________________________________________Join the LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent on Wednesday, Nov. 30th, 7PM at Medgar Evers College for the book reading and signing of “Dance of Difference: The New Frontier of Sexual Orientation” by Shirley Anderson Fletcher. This is the story of a Jamaican woman who remembers and analyzes her childhood growing up. This is the story of a person who moves from positions of exclusion to acceptance of LGBT people.

Dance of Difference: The New Frontier of Sexual Orientation

For More Information:
Medgar Evers: 718-314-1541 or Email:

Join DBGM (Depressed Black Gay Men) at their benefit to raise funds for the completion of the documentary “You Are Not Alone”.  Many Black men, especially those with a same-sex attraction, do not have the luxury of accepting themselves as they are. Often, many have to hide and suppress who they are, living lives in shame, dealing with stigma, discrimination and homophobia, all which contribute to their suffering in silence from depression. So Please Join in supporting the benefit to raise funds for the completion of a documentary “You Are Not Alone” in which Black gay men share their stories of their struggle and suffering from depression.

Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
53 Prospect Park West Brooklyn, 11215
Saturday, November 19, 2011 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM (ET)
$45/person – $80/couple  Tickets Available Online Only

For More Information:


I'm Not Alone @ The Table

The mission of Harlem Pride is to promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Same Gender Loving pride in Harlem and to provide opportunities for networking and communication among its LGBTQ & SGL organizations and community members.

Harlem Pride was incorporated in the New York State as a Not-For-Profit Corporation in 2010, and received its retroactive 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service in 2011.  Harlem Pride is a Registered Charity in New York State.  All donations are Tax Deductible.

Anytime you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas, please email us at and let us know what’s on your mind.  Thank you.

Thank you for your support!

Find Us On Facebook!

–The Team at Harlem Pride, Inc.  Follow Us On Twitter                     

Fabian Burrell – CEO/President Aziza Public Relations

October 22, 2011
Fabian Burrell

Photo Credit: Benny Roman

As an active member of the LGBT community in New York City, Fabian Burrell was recently appointed Convener of Maranatha: Riversiders for LGBT concerns; a ministry of The Riverside Church New York City committed to serving God and fostering greater understanding while promoting equity for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning people. Her first role as Convener was to Chair the annual Maranatha Pride Breakfast at Riverside Church on Sunday, June 26 at 9:00am prior to joining the NYC Pride Parade later that day.

Fabian currently holds the Public Relations position for an exciting new internet soap opera “Our World” at

In May 2011, she traveled to Albany for Equality & Justice Day with LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent to advocate for Marriage Equality with Empire State Pride Agenda. Thousands converged on Albany on that day to speak directly with their local legislators about issues that matter to LGBT New Yorkers and their allies.

In 2005, Fabian founded AZIZA PUBLIC RELATIONS. Since then she has launched several publicity campaigns for small businesses and individual creative types to bring greater visibility to their products and services. Recently, she produced a fundraising event for horologist Steven Richardson, The Art of Horology Cocktail Fundraiser 2010 and New York Amsterdam News’ 100th Year Anniversary Limited Edition Timepiece Collection in collaboration with Nkiru America’s 10th Year Anniversary Collection.

She has served as Director of Development for Manna House Workshops, Inc. a music school for at-risk youth where she developed an online presence and increased local media coverage for their programs and events. She received an AUDELCO Award in 2008 for Outstanding Pioneer in Theatre as a direct result of the role she played in bringing audiences to the theatre as Publicity Director for New Federal Theatre.

Working as an assistant to Broadway publicist MAX EISEN further honed her writing skills. She quickly adapted his style of creating a sustainable media presence for Milford Plaza Hotel, Broadway shows and managing the Broadway Show Card advertising for the MPH’s 30 front windows.

In the early 90’s, as Promotions Manager for Blue Mountain Entertainment Company – a London-based reggae music label, she coordinated tours and show dates with booking agents and venues and traveled extensively throughout Europe, meeting with music executives, voicing radio promos and touring with World Beat artists in Great Britain and the Caribbean.

An independent journalist for several newspapers in the NYC area; including New York Daily News, Amsterdam News, New York Beacon and Caribbean Life newspaper, she traveled to Nice, France and participated (for 14 years) at MIDEM; an annual international music exposition where she interacted with veteran and emerging giants in the music industry – worldwide.

She is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America – 1983 and was proud to be recognized for the El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) Award for Scholastic Achievement at Kingsborough Community College in 1976. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program (Queens College).


June 1, 2011

Landmark Documentary Puts a Black Face on Marriage Equality

By Fabian Burrell

The conversation on marriage equality in New York is taking a turn in the right direction as filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris presented his landmark historic documentary, “Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness” as part of the Harlem Stage on Screen series.

The film premiered at the Aaron Davis Hall in New York City on April 26, 2011, was presented by Chimpanzee Productions and Harlem Stage and was commissioned by Nelson Mandela Foundation of the  Tribeca Film Institute whose Managing Director Eileen Newman stated their aim is to expand the statement in film so everyone can be a part of the conversation.  Other sponsors of this event were HBO, Human Rights Commission,, NYSCA, American Airlines and Deutsche Bank.

Sultan Shakir of HRC is committed to pass marriage equality in New York for all loving and commited same-sex couples.  There was a soundbite collage featuring notable African American celebrities including choreographer Bill T Jones, actress Whoopi Goldberg and record mogul Russell Simmons which aired before the film.

In the film, Byron Rushing, a Black Massachusetts House of Representative connected the Black Civil Rights Movement with the LGBT Marriage Equality Movement and used it to spearhead the struggle, with the support of his LGBTQ constituents, that led to the victory for same-sex marriage in the state.  We also see Massachusetts’ first African American Governor, Deval Patrick, marching alongside his LGBTQ constituents and we also witness wedding vows being exchanged including those of elected official, E. Denise Simmons, to her longtime partner.

After viewing the 15-minute documenary, a lively and robust panel discussion led by moderator, Jonathan Capehart – Washington Post editorial writer and MSNBC contributor.  The panelists included  David Wilson – Human Rights Campaign board member;  Rev. Eugene Rivers – President of National Ten Point Leadership Foundation;   Cathy Marino-Thomas – Board President of Marriage Equality New York;  Alphonso David – Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights – Office of the New York State Governor, Rev. Irene Monroe – The Pacific School of Religion; Dr. Zakiya N. Muwwakkil, activist, public speaker and religious educator and LGBTQ supporter and ally; and Russell Simmons.

On film and during the discussion, David Wilson tells his poignant life story which without a doubt brought him to the lawsuit he, his partner and six other same-sex couples fought and won for the right to marry in Goodridge, Massachusetts.  He put his life out there for equality so that what happened with his previous partner will not happen again to anyone. He tells the story of coming home one day and finding his partner collapsed in the driveway where he had been doing chores.  While his partner was rushed to the hospital, authorities refused to give David any information until they notified his partner’s parents in Vermont who gave consent for him to hear that his partner had died on the way to the hospital in the ambulance. As he said, “what I have done is put a Black face to an issue which everyone has always recognized as a white concern.”

“Most people think that Black people are the problem and were opposing same-sex marriage in California and Massachussetts, but the film demonstrates that lots of African American leaders and citizens were embracing this as a civil and human rights issue,” said producer/director Harris.

All agreed the documentary was excellent including dissenter, Rev. Rivers who took a philsophical exception to the movement, “If you can replicate what was done in Massachusetts, in Alabama and other southern states then I will come back to applaud you.”  Rev. Monroe who performed the marriage ceremonies of most of the couples in the film admonished Rev. Rivers to “take the message to stop being homophobic to your brothers and sisters.”

Courtesy Chimpanzee Productions

Russell Simmons who works with many religious organizations around the world noted that he hates to see anyone fight by themselves.  “Deliver this message throughout the country. I am on the right side. I have talked to President Obama about this issue many times.  Our president is more progressive on this issue than past presidents,” he exclaimed to the applause of an audience of equally African American male to female in ratio.

Dr. Zakiya N. Muwwakkil said, “marriage equality is a civil right, it is not a religious right and the same words were echoed in the film by Rushing. Cathy Marino-Thomas said,  “everyone deserves equal rights under the law. The film brings the argument to the table. Our constitution should progress with our society.”  She also further stated in a later interview, “well, the court of public opinion has never been more in our favor.  Here in NY, we are enjoying a 58% majority in favor of marriage equality.  All LGBT groups are working hard, in coalition, to keep the conversation going, keep the issue in the press and approach legislators to move the issue forward.  Gov. Cuomo is extremely supportive and has promised movement on the issue.  The climate is right.  However, we have not yet seen any Republicans publicly supporting the issue.  Until that happens, we have to keep working.”

“We want people to view the film with their families, their pastors, the guys at the barber shop, the ladies at the beauty parlor, their friends at school or in the sorority, in short, we want the film to spark a real discussion within the Black family about our families, especially our LGBTQ sons, daughters, moms & dads, and to ground ourselves in the love and compassion that lies at the very heart of our families. We need to see the commonality of our essential humanity in every one of us…there but for the grace of God, go I. This film is just the ice breaker to a whole host of fundamental issues, like how we treat one another, why so many of our kids are born out of wedlock, issues around self-esteem and self-worth, gangs, HIV- AIDS, issues which are tearing our communities and families apart and dooming generations who come after us. Marriage equality is about family so our goals for the film are to heal our families and our communities,” emailed Don Perry, editor/producer/writer and longtime partner of filmmaker.

The audience had limited time to ask their questions but all agreed that the information they came away with has stirred them to action and they will go back to their various groups and energize them to join the movement to get marriage equality passed in New York.

“Although there are some factors that will influence when it happens, the New York Governor has made a public commitment to achieve marriage equality this year,” promised Alphonso David.

Dr. Wilhelmina Perry formerly a marriage ambassador for Empire State Pride and now Convenor for the newly formed group, that is growing in strength and numbers, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, reiterated the sentiment of the evening, “ I want to put a Black face on the movement for marriage equality.”

$1.99 will give you 1-Day Access to view the documentary at

Technology Series

June 1, 2011


Business Opportunities in “Bridging the Digital Divide” @internetweekny with Keith Frazier 6/8/11 6PM – 9PM

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Sony441 Technology Evangelism series Present Independent Tech Broker KEITH  FRAZIER on Business…



How to start a fashion Line Free Using Social Media Apps & Tech @InternetWeekNY 6/11/11 10AM – 1:30PM

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28 Squared and Brooklyn Fashion Week is sponsoring Fashioning IT 2020. A seminar on  ”How to  session  on leveraging technology to …



Fashion NYC 2020- The Beach Tech edition 2011 6/12/11 9AM – 8PM

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June 12  09:00 AM — 08:00 PM  #beachtech



Do You See what I’m Saying – Designing Video as a Presentation Platform 6/20/11 10AM – 10PM

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Space is Limited at Cadman Plaza  Please RSVP one per person!