Celebrity this, celebrity that is what we see feeding our news feeds but when you look closely you’ll see that the real stars are the individuals using Facebook Live or Instagram to spread positivity.
It’s a shame, the soldiers fighting for change remain overshadowed by the sensationalism within mass media. If you’re not Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper or even a porn star posting provocative images but rather a real positive man or woman you’re probably ignored and overlooked. “What sounds good might not always be right for you” is something my late grandmother used to tell me. Whether it’s the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, or the cause you’re fighting for, society’s unjustified labels make those fighting for change critical to making “America Great Again.”
I was not a follower until a friend (Mother Juan – Aviance Records), someone with whom I’ve shared some intimate details of my life, suggested I watch Joseph live on Facebook. Hesitant at first, the timing was right because he was going live within seconds of our conversation. I can’t recall the topic but let me say this; I logged off thinking to myself, who is this man? Joseph has a gift that many do not have, a gift to spread love, inspiration, positivity, and the vibration to cause change. He caused change within me, hell; I’m a bitter bitch, but he injected positivity in a jaded queen like me. Plus, when you can look into a camera in your home, speak openly with truth and honesty, this is proof God is good and Joseph is a blessing to a community which needs more “Black” role models. As a black man myself, I can say that.
I have been so mesmerized by weekly topics I decided that he was someone that should be acknowledged and praised for his commitment to gay black men, women, and the entire community who exist in a place of challenge and despair.
I caught up with Joseph while he was in NYC last week to find out more about this man. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did.
What is guiding your decision to call yourself “The Misunderstood Social Worker?”
My title “The Misunderstood Social Worker,” came from YEARS of working Professionally as a Social Worker in Washington DC, and becoming frustrated with the poor level of services being offered to those in crisis. Furthermore, social workers are often trained and told to assist clients with functioning WHERE THEY ARE; instead of motivating them to build themselves up. As a result, my professional wishes to empower my clients was dimmed by supervisors and “the powers that be.” Often times, my willingness to transform and build up my clients was viewed as being too passionate or too involved… So after many, many Write-Ups and being fired from several jobs for being Awesome; I developed the title, The Misunderstood Social Worker! It leads me to practice more passionately with my clients as well as use Understandable, REAL, and relatable approaches when working with my clients, more importantly, transforming them to live their best lives!
Are there some populations in the LGBTQ community that are more vulnerable than others and which are they?
The LGBTQ Community is vulnerable as a whole! Though each letter in the L.G.B.T.Q. acronym represents something distinctly different, the intersectionality is all the same! Discrimination against a person because of their sexuality is the same for all of us, violence against our group hurts us all the same; ignorance and stereotyping affects us all the same.
Furthermore, the pain that exists inside of the LGBTQ Community is quite concerning! I’m increasingly worried about each letter or person in the L.G.B.T.Q Community fighting one another about who is more hurt, or who is more vulnerable, and at risk. It makes me believe that we are all separated; fighting ourselves, and fighting the sexual majority. Only together can we wage a perfunctory battle against the sudden law changes, violence against transgender individuals, visibility, inclusion, and solidarity. So, I’m fighting every day to ensure we live our best lives in pure freedom, self-actualization, and personal agency; and reminding them and US that LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, and HOPE make us Beautiful and creates peace.
Why don’t traditional methods and techniques of social work always get the best results?
Conventional methods of social work practice are not always successful due to one reason; THE PERSON RECEIVING THE SERVICES (the client). Each individual or client responds to personal crisis differently, as well as the services being offered. Most social work practice approaches have failed to consider the person and their situation. Moreover, we have to learn to structure our techniques to be more strength based, empowerment-based, as well client centered. You’ll get the best result if the person in need feels they are part of the service development process, i.e. what works for them, versus what doesn’t work.
How would you describe your methods and what leads you to believe they are effective?
My approach was inspired by the NTU Psychotherapy Model created by Henry Gregory, which is an African Centered Model when working with individuals, families, groups, etc. This approach promotes clients to recognize and tap into their inner strength for healing and oneness. My approach has seemed to be successful because it prompts me to recognize each individual’s capacity for growth, empowerment, as well as incorporates their own spirituality in the healing and transformation process.
What have been some of your obstacles in implementing your methods and how have you overcome them?
My obstacles have come directly from the supervisors, program managers, and clinical directors of agencies I once slaved for! They often treat clients as numbers, instead of human beings… and previously working under that premise, was quite frustrating for me. I overcame this obstacle by standing up for myself and re-identifying my true passion for healing and transforming people! I’ve been completely happy and satisfied with my decision, and now I am functioning in my truth; I assist others in finding their truth.
Why is homophobia sometimes called “the last socially acceptable prejudice?”
I think homophobia is the last socially acceptable prejudice because it’s lucrative! People have made money off of antigay sentiments through religion, political affiliations, as well as entertainment. Even with the progress, we’ve made over the years with visibility and civil rights, gay people are still considered sexual minorities! Couple that with the idea of heteronormative’s, “American Values”, and Religion; LGBTQ People are themselves in the crossfire of negative rhetoric, hatred, demonization, and discrimination. The idea that we somehow threaten the traditional family or the traditional relationship makes us an easy target for the sexual majority.
Since heterosexuals don’t discuss their sexuality, why do gay people need to discuss theirs?
Gay people DO NOT have to discuss their sexuality; that’s only necessary when it is necessary!
How does new information about sexual orientation affect African-American Gay Men and the rest of the community?
I think these affects are positive! Moreover, it fosters those to no longer hide in proverbial closets and to no longer be ashamed of what they are, who they are, or what life to live. It’s promoting freedom and personal agency!
How do social media and other technological advances help or hinder reaching those most in need?
Social media has allowed people to connect electronically! It has fostered me as well as other “Truth Tellers” to reach masses of people who are in need of healing, inspiration, and empowerment!
Facebook Live and Instagram have been most helpful in spreading my messages and helping others heal! They’ve been so awesome in building wonderful groups of people who are looking for some healing.
Is there anything you would like to convey to future passionate activists or members of the LGBTQ community facing hardship or unfavorable conditions?
Truly pick your passion! Not for personal gain, fame or fortune! You may have to stand alone on many issues, but don’t be afraid to speak up and out! Know that there will be opposition and people may abandon the process who once stood with you; but know that change starts with an idea, a conversation, and action. So keep fighting, yelling, and speaking truths.
What stands out in your line of work that you love more than anything else?
Social Work has always been considered a “thankless profession”; so to hear the words, “Thank You” is more rewarding to me than anything!
What other upcoming engagements and projects do you have in the works?
I am looking forward to participating in the LGBTQ March on Washington on June 11, 2017! I will also be speaking at several LGBTQ symposiums throughout the Spring and Summer. And lastly, I look forward to offering my own symposium for LGBTQ’s focused on self-esteem, relationships, and healing in the Fall!
We ask all our interviewees our signature question. Aside from your clinical methods, what is something you have done that would be considered edgy, unconventional, or tight-lipped?
I went to Haulover Beach in Miami Florida, and sun bathed nude. I walked every part of the nude section of that beach, and I felt completely sexy and empowered!!!! I felt liberated and beautiful.