Introducing From Our Point Of View, a series cementing the voices, experiences, stories and journeys of some significant Black Queer Male Identifying artists, activists and community members. In collaboration with BGMN (Black Gay Men’s Network of Ontario) and noteworthy choreographer and artistic director, Hollywood Jade (Resident Choreographer Canada’s Drag Race), the show comes to life in a profound blend of emotional, interesting and at times humorous anecdotes.
Bringing his visionary excellence to life, Executive Producer and Director Robert Ball continues to thrive in his attempt to showcase true authenticity and creative eminence. From Our Point of View blesses viewers with discussions of life, sex, health, art, aspirations and pretty much everything in between! Spilling with insightful glimpses into the lives of a wide line-up of guests, Ball shares, “I continue to step into the authenticity of myself as a human being.”
Episode 4 takes place with guest Courtnay McFarlane, a Jamaican-born visual artist, curator and poet, whose work has been published in several African Canadian and Queer anthologies!His performance poetry was featured in Phillip Pike’s 2019 documentary “Our Dance of Revolution” and in January 2021, he curated the TD Black History Month’s Exhibition Joints + Junctions, which commemorated Hogan’s Alley, the disappeared historical Black community in Vancouver, and featured documentary images of Toronto’s Black queer and trans dancehall scene by photographer Rose-Ann Marie Bailey-Thomas.
A long-time activist in Toronto’s Black LGBTQ communities, he was a founding member of groups from the 80’s and 90’s such as Zami, AYA Men, The Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention
and Blackness Yes, the organizing committee Blockorama at Pride. In his other life, Courtnay works in the community health sector where he is currently Director, Child, Youth and Family Services at Regent Park Community Health Centre. Bringing to life the true artistry and passion they enthral, Jade and company take to the familiar comfort of the “FOPOV” studio. Nance shares, “I fought for who I was all my life. People think that if I’m black, gay, and over 50 theres nothing out there for me.” However, From Our Point Of View consolidates that with the sharing of professional paths, inspirational anecdotes and truly admirable tales, this series is simply and profoundly ‘Our’ conversations – stories we’ve never told, sharing our journey and a narrative “From Our Point Of View”…
YASS met Robert Ball and here is everything you need to know!
Who is Robert Ball and how do you identify?
I identify as He/Him/His – I am a singer, actor, recording artist, vocal coach, producer
How did you come up with the idea of From Our Point Of View series?
I produced a live stream concert New Years 2021 called ‘Joy’ featuring R.Flex, Tafari Anthony & Gary Beals hosted by Hollywood Jade, presented by BGMN. The response was so rich with love and appreciation, people loved the artists and their music but what resonated with folk most were the conversations – that inspired this concept.
How is co-hosting with Resident Choreographer of Canada’s Drag Race Hollywood Jade?
Hollywood and I have known one another for almost 20 years and so it’s so rewarding and exhilarating to get the chance to work together in this capacity. He is a consummate professional who brings joy and positivity to the work.
How do you manage to cement the voice of black queer artists and activists?
Here’s the thing we have always been here informing and impacting , moving, shaking, changing, lifting … so what it’s about is documenting and creating space for these voices, creating platforms to be heard and seen. In this way we can’t be ignored or erased.
The show blesses viewers with discussions of life, sex, health, art, aspirations and pretty much everything in between. Did you find that there are topics that are difficult to talk about?
Yes, family dynamics are always tricky and emotional to talk about. Often in order to speak your truth you have to speak about how the people around you may have positively or negatively / emotionally impacted you and that’s tough. All our guests were vary gracious with how open they were and Hollywood was very sensitive as well.
How has the series shaped you? Have you changed your perspective on any topics?
Ahhh, hmmm…. It does get me emotional as I’ve lived with these people and their stories for months and months during editing, I was there in the moment as they shared, I knew them before I’ve come to know them since. I feel honored and humbled to have been trusted with this work and their stories. I will be changed forever, I feel like it’s one of the most important things I have done so far in my career. It has also allowed me to feel more empowered in my story, knowing that I am not alone and therefore feeling freer in speaking and sharing openly.
Do you face any discrimination being black and queer? Is the life for people of colour easier after the BLM movement?
Complicated question. absolutely I/we face discrimination being black and queer, sitting at the intersection of two marginalized communities in mainstream society. But also and sadly there are a lot of systemic and cultural ideologies that Black communities are still escaping that have been imposed and imprinted through centuries of colonialism and oppression. I understand that they are not ‘ours’ they are a byproduct of colonialism but none the less the discrimination Black-Queer folks face is in the white mainstream and in healing black communities. The other side of it is we are still fighting for centered narratives – it’s not enough to continue to be side kicks and secondary thoughts, only relevant when attached to a centered white narrative. BLM has certainly moved progress forward however the complicated part is the greater awareness has all Black folks regardless of orientation or identify doing a lot of heavy lifting in educating and correcting folks now that there is space and acceptance to do so. Everyone else needs to begin doing their ‘work’ unlearning and educating – cultural immersion – on their own and unburdening marginalized people.
What are the most important moments of your life?
Moments on stage when I am able to be absolutely free and abandon, paying it forward, legacy building, FAMILY – Chosen Family… meditative moments on the beach!
What are your future plans?
Write – produce – record new music. I am writing a show a musical that I’d also like to live on film as a movie. And some projects lined up and lining up that you’ll have to stay tuned for 😉
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