Photos Courtesy of Cleavester Brooks
Cleavester Brooks was born in Savannah, GA but currently resides in Los Angeles. He’s the Chairman of C.B. Omnimedia & Tha Lyfe Omnimedia which publishes SGL Booklovers Mag, Cleavester Brooks Living Magazine, and SGL Weekly a lifestyles and culture magazine for the LGBTQ community. The gay culture guru shared his thoughts on why he started SGL Booklovers Mag, his all-time favorite books and some of the technological advances within the publishing industry.
PRIDEINDEX: Tell us about your background professional, where you are from and so forth?
CLEAVESTER BROOKS: I was born and raised in Savannah, Ga. My first business was selling candy and lanyards to my 6th grade class mates. Then I moved into catering/design, which I continue to do to this day. In 2005, I started an online radio show that was geared towards LGBT people then I opened it up to cover entertainment in general. In March 2009, I launched SGL Weekly a lifestyle/entertainment magazine geared toward Black LGBT people. That led to many other publications, websites, and upcoming weddings products for LGBT people, etc.
PI: You’re the publisher of Cleavester Brooks Living Magazine and SGL Booklovers Mag; when did you first know that you were going to be a writer/publisher?
CB: I’ve always had the gift of writing going back to the 4th grade, and then I began to map out books that I planned to write.
PI: Describe the circumstances that lead to the founding of SGL Booklovers Mag?
CB: With SGL Weekly, I found that I was interviewing a lot of authors and when I took a step back I realized that black SGL writers weren’t getting national press unless they begged a blogger to feature them and the blogger has never heard of them or read their books. I decided to create a vehicle for them to product their work kind of like The Writer Mag, Writer’s Digest, New York Times Book Review, etc.
PI: Why do you believe that it so important to share the stories/experiences of gay writers of color?
CB: I think it is very important to tell our stories from our point of view. Also I believe that if we see and read our stories it lets us know that we can achieve that goal.
PI: How come you refer to your publication as “SGL” rather than “Gay,” “LGBTQ,” or “Queer?”
CB: There are many publications that use the word Gay, LGBTQ, and Queer. The reason I went with SGL, instead of another term for same sex liking is the word has a long history in our community going back to the 70 & 80’s when Cleo Mango coin the term. Also it is a word that is not looked upon as bad.
PI: Does SGL Booklovers Mag feature works by authors of non-fiction or historical writings?
CB: We feature writers of all types of genres like in our Spring 2013 issue we have author Robert L Sheeley who wrote a book called Rainbow Blues Plantation about an interracial relationship between a slave master and his slave in the 1850’s. I also interview Centino Kemp about his book First Lady, the gentlemen from the Bishop Long Scandal and ReNair Amin about her new book on domestic violence in a lesbian relationship.
PI: Talk a little bit about your publishing experience. What obstacles did you face to bring your publications to the marketplace? What did you do to overcome them?
CB: The only thing I had a challenge within the beginning was the design/look of the publications. Now I do the design myself and I have the proper software.
PI: I’m going to put you on the spot by asking you to name three (and only three) of your personal favorite books of all time written by SGL writers.
CB: Oh lord that’s a hard one (1.) I Say A Little Prayer by: E. Lynn Harris (2.) B-Boy Blues by: James Earl Hardy and (3.) Passion Marks by: Lee Hayes. I like all of E. Lynn’s books, except the memoir and all of Lee Haynes’.
PI: What are you reading right now?
CB: I’m reading multiple things between magazines and books. Book wise I am reading Kat Trap by: Cairo, A Lucrative Vengeance by: Ben Harris Jr. and Young G by: Jerrice Owens, It’s Your Time by: Joel Osteen and some others.
I’ve just finished Redemption Song by: Beatrice Berry.
PI: Share your thoughts about e-books and some of the technological advances that have taken place in the publishing industry.
CB: I think it has been a blessing and a curse. The blessing is it makes it available quickly and the bad thing is it wipes out all the jobs and all the knowledge that comes with the people that comes with the bookstores. The thing I love about technology is the Print On Demand, that way we don’t continue to waste paper. I love my iPad because it allows me to take my entire library with me.
PI: What fades or trends do you see taking place right now?
CB: I don’t follow fades or trends, because it is temporary. I focus on long- term and adjusting where I see fit.
PI: Where can I find SGL Booklovers Mag?
PI: What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
CB: Write like crazy and don’t focus on money or fame. If your heart is in it everything else will come. Write even if it doesn’t pay a dime.
PI: Is there anything else you would like to share?
CB: Follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t…When you do half of the work, God will meet you the other half.