Keith Montgomery ( a.k.a. KMatedor ) is a bisexual bodybuilder; author ( Don't Ask, Don't Tell: The Untold Story of a Mad Black Man ) ; and singer ( with singles such as "Don't Live Fear" and "Let's Get Real Miss Thang" ) . Montgomery talked with Windy City Times about his life, his various works and his continuing struggles.
Windy City Times: Could you talk a little about your background?
Keith Montgomery: I grew up in Philadelphia. I got involved in a lot of things—like bodybuilding—by staying motivated and staying busy.
Growing up was kind of tough. My mom was a single mother, and it's tough when you're single and trying to raise children; she had a lot of struggles and a lot of demons she had to fight with. But I didn't let that deter me from doing things I wanted to do, like go to college. I've always had that dream to become successful.
My father left but then he came back, but he didn't want to contribute. Again, I didn't let that negative part get to me.
WCT: So how did you keep your focus with all of these things going on around you?
KM: Just determination, having that will to continue to make it.
WCT: How did you get involved in bodybuilding?
KM: In 2004, I had an interest because I wanted to be healthy. I just love going to the gym and building my body up, anyway. I had met an individual in Los Angeles who was HIV-positive and had all of these trophies on this mantelpiece. He said that he got all of these through hard work and that I could do it, too. So he inspired me to get involved in the amateur bodybuilding [ circuit ] .
WCT: And regarding sexuality...
KM: I have had relationships with men, but I would say I'm bisexual. [ Also, ] I want to make a stand and say that it's OK for a people like me who's into hip-hop and other mainstream things to have that kind of sexuality [ bisexuality ] and not be judged.
By the way, have you seen the movie Milk? I really enjoyed it; it was a trip. As a Black male, I could relate to some of the struggles that they went through in San Francisco—having to stay masculine and trying to fit in. It's really tough in the Black community. I want to get rid of all of these [ stereotypes ] .
WCT: Let's talk about your books [ Don't Ask, Don't Tell: The Untold Story of a Mad Black Man and Family of Felons: A Story About a Pissed Off Black Man ] . Don't Ask, Don't Tell is about...
KM: There is a chapter about [ the policy ] . There's a certain hypocrisy around it. The book is also about removing the stigma [ surrounding ] HIV/AIDS.
WCT: True. Talk about Family of Felons.
KM: Family of Felons is the lead-off from Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I wrote about some of the experiences leading to possibly where I am right now. Family of Felons is about America and incarceration—how it's about locking them up and throwing away the key insteading of helping them. Family is about how we become victims of our own symbolism. There are felons in gay families as well as straight ones and, of course, that's a burden on them as well.
WCT: You've released some singles [ available through KMatedor.com ] . Do you plan on releasing an album?
KM: I do plan on releasing as soon as I get a budget; I plan to release two more singles to add to my collection.
I've been trying to get some backing from investors, and it's been hard. I've approached record companies, but have been told by some that I would have to sign a morals clause, and I refused to do so. So I had to suffer as a result because I knew things would come up from the past. I want to be myself and express myself through my music.
WCT: Who are some of your favorite singers?
KM: Growing up, it was definitely Prince; he was my number one. I would mimic him. He's so talented.
Because I'm old-school, I like Rick James; I like Seal. I do like some of Beyonce's music, Jill Scott and I like a lot of rap and jazz.
Find out more about Keith Montgomery at www.kmatedor.com .
Report: LGBs more
likely to be poor
by Bob Roehr
There are "many reasons to think that LGB people are at least as likely—and perhaps more likely—to experience poverty" than their heterosexual counterparts, according to "Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community," the first report ever to look at the subject in depth.
The overall rate of poverty in the United States was 12.5 percent in 2007. Lesbian couples and the children of same-sex partners definitely are more likely to live in poverty than are their heterosexual counterparts, the report's lead co-authors Randy Albelda and Lee Badgett told members of the LGBT congressional caucus at a briefing March 20.
Badgett said "the myth of gay affluence" is what motivated her to get involved in the field. Gay magazine surveys have found that their readers are affluent, which is typical of all magazine subscribers, and antigay groups have spun this into an assertion that all gays are rich and powerful and therefore do not need legal protection from discrimination.
Her earlier research debunked this myth, "but that research aimed at the middle of the income distribution." She said an out lesbian friend working at a homeless shelter for women had noted that 20-25 percent of her clients were gay or bisexual.
"This is a part of the community we don't hear much about, they are invisible in many ways." The main group of poor LGBT people who have been studied is homeless kids who have run away or been kicked out by their families, she said.
"We know that gay families have less access to the institutional supports that come with marriage and often we see that they don't get as much family support as their heterosexual siblings and colleagues get … and same-sex couples are twice as likely to be uninsured as people who are married."
Badgett lamented the fact that the 2000 U.S. Census does not ask questions about sexual orientation. Her analysis was based upon data from the census on same sex unmarried couples living together, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, and the 2003/5 California Health Interview Survey.
Albelda reminded the audience that their analysis only covers couples. "Individuals are much more likely to be poor than people in two adult households." There seems to be a synergistic effect between other risk factors for poverty and being gay or lesbian.
"Not surprisingly, lesbian couples have statistically significantly higher poverty rates than married heterosexual couples, and gay men have lower rates," she said.
About 20 percent of same-sex couples had children living in the household, a lower figure than their heterosexual counterparts. "What was striking was the very high level of poverty among the kids in gay and lesbian couples." Surprisingly, " [ t ] he children of gay male couples were much more likely to be poor."
Albelda said most anti-poverty programs in the U.S. are designed from the default position of a single parent household with children, "there is no incentive whatsoever to claim somebody's income in the household if you don't have to." This discourages heterosexual marriage.
At the same time, employment based benefits packages "are based on a male breadwinner model" with families in mind. "Gay and lesbian families don't look like either of those," she said.
One thing that surprised Albelda is the effect of education: "Highly educated lesbian and gay male couples are much less likely to be in poverty than comparably educated married couples. And the reverse is true, those [ lesbians and gay men ] with lower levels of education are much more likely to be poor. So the payoff for education at both ends is much more extreme for gay and lesbian couples."
Badgett said employment discrimination is a major explanation of lower economic status: "We see a large income gap for gay men compared with heterosexual men."
Some reports have suggested that gay men are more likely to be self-employed, perhaps by choice, suggesting that perhaps they might be making career choices based on job satisfaction rather than on maximizing income. But Badgett said she has not seen good data confirming any of this.
Another possibility is that some people might be limiting their income in order to meet eligibility qualifications for programs such as housing assistance or the AIDS drug assistance programs.
Albelda readily acknowledged anecdotal accounts of this occurring though she is not aware of any data on the extent of that activity. She said with incomes between about $13-$25 an hour "you run in place and lose valuable support" as your income increases.
Diego M. Sanchez, legislative assistant to Rep. Barney Frank, said this is a problem for people living with HIV in the congressman's Boston area district. "If you make too much money you don't get medical entitlements, you get pulled off of the waiting list for housing."
He said they are working to try to remove these disincentives in the Medicare and Medicaid program.
"Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community" was prepared by The Williams Institute at UCLA and is available online at www.law.ucla.edu/WilliamsInstitute/pdf/LGBPovertyReport.pdf .