This isn’t a topic I’ve talked about much but I guess nows a good a time to start the conversation. It was difficult growing up black and gay. In many ways it’s like being an oxymoron. They don’t go together, at least my formula. As many of you know, I grew up in the church. I grew up with a learned background of respect for my elders, immense discipline, drive and focus. Those are my roots. And I may get some backlash for saying this but the black gay culture never quite fit me. Except for vogue and gospel! I love vogue but when I came to for a lack of a better description, the white underground gay community, I found my people. It gave me the freedom to express myself the way i’d always yearned. I remember having a conversation with a man I used to intrigue and my reaction to condom use caught me off guard. I said, “no one who is HiV positive wants to feel like they’re positive all the time.” I sat with that. It came out of no where. Now, I understand disease and we should definitely be careful to not repeat the mistakes of the past but I always question how and when can we heal from it. I’ve stated before, it isn’t common for a gay man to quiver and shutter at the idea of condom less sex. We weren’t designed that way. After years of trauma and devastation it became the new norm. Now this isn’t to say don’t protect yourself. Be informed, know what threats there are and how you can protect yourself from them. The thing I learned the most about gay white culture is they don’t believe they should go without. They stay informed, get tested regularly are on the forefront of preventative treatments and they communicate as a community to know what’s going on so they can live their lives freely. I can’t say that didn’t exist in the black community In fact, I see it happening more and more but it was not my experience.
I wanted to go out last night, even posted that I was attending and underwear party at my favorite spot but with threats of a new virus, I decided to stay home and play it safe until we have more information about what this is.
This week was a strange one. The loss of Kobe Bryant broke my heart into a million pieces. I honestly think both the black and gay communities were surprised at my response. This is where the respectful black side comes in. Kobe was a legend. A role model for the community and one of the few that made it out. I admired what he stood for and honestly, was raised to replicate something similar and what got me, what struck me to my chore was, I can’t be that for the black community. More so, I don’t want to be. I wanna be the role model that shows young black men, young gay men, you can be black and gay and intelligent, creative, freaky, love God, be Buddhist, have untraditional relationships, an underwear/leather fetish, help people with autism, dance, sing, act, play a sport, wear a weave, wigs, wear Indian kurtas, dance bollywood and learn kungfu. You can be whatever you want to be. It’s a scary thought, I know. It took me a while to accept that and honestly, I still struggle sometimes but having had the opportunity, I may be the first to blur the lines like I’ve done but I did it my way.
I saw a meme that basically said growing up gay, you have to put on all these faces. Some are for protection and some are actually who you are. Your adulthood is spent sorting through the real you and the armor. That resonated so deeply with my soul. I was given the great opportunity of the time to figure out which parts of me were real and which were protection. I finally let go of the armor and am just existing and I’m hoping that the example that I have set, will set; will help
create a generation of young gay boys2men that won’t have to grow up with so much armor. I write this specifically for my men of color because that’s the experience I know but this is for all.
One day, I pray, we can just be gay.