Celibacy is Unrealistic
Gay men are taught that everything must be handled sexually.
Celibacy is a wonderful way for gay men to handle emotional needs without sexual activity.
We are not encouraged to seek counsel to deal with our problems in ways that require silence, contemplation or self- reflection. We are supported in using one another and not figuring out productive ways to change our lives.
When I was a sexual 20 something, I encountered many guys who were either unsure about their HIV status or lied about it.
Most men are not vicious enough to outright lie about their status and their motives for wanting to have sex.
When I realized that I had been lied to and outright manipulated, it became a personal obsession to ensure that my health remained great. At 24 I decided to forgo sex for at least one year or until a great guy came along.
Giving up “giving it up” made me productive.
I once read: men become successful in their 40’s because no time is wasted trying to get laid and being on the prowl.
During my self- imposed celibacy, I finally began my career as a writer.
I was able to redirect my life energy to writing, thinking and figuring out how to effectively self- actualize.
It is time we all looked at and committed to doing this whole sex thing in a very different way.
Limiting Sex/Attraction to One Type Will Make Me Happy
One of the major things that keep us from finding and keeping true love is our addiction to and fascination with “types”.
Whether you’re black and only date white or white and only date and sleep black, you are limiting who you will love.
I have met wonderful men of all races.
I have also met a few hardcore assholes who would still be assholes no matter their race.
As a black gay man, I thought it was my duty to love a black man.
I was unaware of “types” and that I could be boxed into a flavor of the month.
Spending the Summer in Boston changed my perspective.
Although it was the first time I had ventured outside my race for dating, companionship and sex, I found myself questioning what the big deal was and why I had waited so long.
When the Summer ended, my beautiful, kind, thoughtful and wealthy suitor begged me to stay and continue or relationship in a more adult and complete manner.
Many men have obsessively tried to get into my pants.
Few have tried with a Herculean effort to get into my mind.
If what we are seeking is true love, it might be time to can the bullshit, look at what and why we find certain things attractive and broaden our lust eyes.
Andrew Morrison-Gurza is a brilliant writer who writes extensively and insightfully about dating while disabled. In his great post: he addresses dating and sex while being wheel chair bound and self managing a chronic illness.
We each point out the need to date, screw and build relationships beyond what is comfortable and familiar.
When we fall in love or level headingly decide to devote ourselves to loving another well, it is not with a set of genitalia or skin color.
We must widen what we like and who we can love.
Porn Star Sex is Available to Everyone
While most of us have seen porn, it is rarely viewed with a critical eye and the understanding that it is a form of entertainment.
Repeated viewing makes you believe that every cock is huge, there is never a need to negotiate sexual interaction and most importantly this is the only thing that matters to men.
No one will suggest that we refrain from viewing it until we are not driven by images created by people who don’t love or respect us.
My initial viewing of gay male porn at nineteen was brought to me by my first gay male relationship.
My terrorist enjoyed encouraging me to watch porn and then blatantly and cruelly denying me sex.
Entwined with my initial relationship, porn taught me that sex was mechanical, always available and didn’t require much conversation.
Without true, non -sexual conversations there is not much chance of finding and keeping true love.
True love is not about the type or frequency of sex.
True love is also not about mechanics, predictability or fantasy.
It forces us to be uncomfortable and often requires that we straddle the unfamiliar with the possibility that everything could change at any moment.
When things change, we have to deal in the moment and not go into familiar roles and behavior.
Love demands that we think.
In porn, no one is thinking they are doing.
In porn everyone is a fuck beast and is a master at doing the deed.
True love requires some errors.
A while ago, there was much discussion about bareback porn.
Committing to truth and an understanding and proper view of fantasy (the substance abuse addictions in our communities is staggering)would eliminate the need for debate.
People would understand that having unprotected sex is dangerous and can have lifelong affects.
We are led to believe that we can have or recreate what our personal fave porn performers get paid to do.
We think this is possible without a crew, lights, directors, sexually enhancing drugs and twelve hours shoots.
Great Sex is Risky Sex
Sex in public bathrooms and abandoned houses with strangers.
We have all been schooled in the ridiculousness that for sex to be “hot”, good or worthwhile , it needs to include some life altering risk.
For too many of us, liberation means having the right to not give a fuck and doing whatever with whomever we choose.
This is not grown up liberation.
It is a stupid, petulant response to being told that we are not enough.
It is our collective response to a large group of folks that hate us.
Risky-kick up your heels- I don’t give a shit sex often lulls us into thinking that we are bad asses and all the bullying and familial shunning was wrong.
What could be more liberating, we are seduced into believing, than screwing in the open where the “straights” might have to witness us having a good time?
Risky sex is enthralling because of what it can and can’t offer.
While it offers a chance to “perform” for people who are disgusted and obsessed with our sexual expression, it does not satisfy on the deepest level.
It also does not provide an opportunity to fully see another human.
When we are tricking in a public place, the possibility of fresh dick and a belief that all fantasies may be fulfilled is overwhelming.
We crave closeness and settle for a warm body who will offer orgasms without much personal or psychological work.
A constant search for risk leaves us unprepared for true love and the kind of joy that is based in cultivating relationships that lead to real risk: (emotional connection).
While dallying in the world of constantly available and predictable “risky sex”, I longed for a real connection with another gay man.
When a practice is no longer working and is actually causing problems does it make sense to hold onto it and hope one more body, cute smile or low self -esteem liaison will improve our outlook and offer us a way to enjoy another sans exploitation.
When you are doing the deed with someone you don’t know and without exploration of anything other than the physical you are using another and being used as well.
Can we change or challenge this notion?
What Sex Can and Can't Do
Most gay men are taught that the only thing that matters is what is between our legs and what we do and don’t do with it.
Gay subculture is consumed with sexual activity and our personal attractiveness.
As a young queen, most of my interactions with other gay men was sex based.
Could I get you to fuck me? Would you be blown away by my sexual prowess?
Would I be so phenomenal that you’d leave your current relationship and stalk me for a deeper commitment?
None of the gay men I knew attempted to dissuade this ridiculous and pointless use of my time.
When I meet gay men who are young and full of promise and possibility and obviously being hormone lead, I often draw attention to what their gifts are beyond the bedroom.
Many of them, like my younger self, are not clear about the contributions they can make with their clothes on.
While we are perfecting sexual techniques and gathering sexual body counts we are also quickly aging.
Being a walking mattress at 25 or thirty is cute.
Being one at fifty is a different story.
At 23, I assumed that a grand roll in the hay equaled an opportunity to create a wonderful long lasting “true love” type of relationship.
When a roll took the place of some serious , hard down thinking and examining beyond the sheet action, things began to shift and change drastically.
My one year of celibacy convinced me some twenty three years ago to dig deeper and demand more of myself.
In one year, I discovered what sex could do- make you feel physically good; and what it couldn’t do- cure loneliness, depression and cripplingly low self- esteem.
As an older person in the community, I still maintain that we are as confused about sex as ever.
Gay brothers, friends and ex-lovers please wake up.
Please demand more from yourself and those that you say you care about.
We can and must do better.
Sex is powerful and we are more powerful.
We must examine all the lies fed to us by the heterosexual community and the ones that we have decided to create in our own communities.
When I spent way too much time dating assholes in the 90's, I came across a great quote that changed who and why I dated.
bell hooks spoke of making love while listening to the genius that is Stevie Wonder.
I took this observation to heart like all things hooks and Wonder.
As a kid, I didn't recognize his brilliance.
In the last forty years, we have yet to produce an artist as gifted, socially relevant and vulnerable as Stevie Wonder.
Most artists have refused to trot the path of love, spiritual renewal and commitment to full and unabashed, humanity enhancing artistic expression.
While artists and anyone raised in this culture gets seduced into worshiping money and doing any and everything to get it,Talking Book and the subsequent Songs in the Key of Life were not cheap, produced for mass consumption albums.
Everything you could ever want to know about love, politics and human possibility can be found when listening to Talking book, Songs in the Key of Life and Innervisions.
Politics come into play when he speaks of going to Saturn and living amongst people who not only don't take more than they need but also put back things they don't need(Songs In the Key of Life).
bell hooks often states that to love blackness in this culture is dangerous and upsets the masses.
Stevie loves himself and his black culture.
There is no way to produce his incredible body of work without a love of black humanity and humanity at large.
While each album stands on its own, Wonder's fascination with and devotion to social change and liberation via incredible musical arrangements is mind boggling.
We all have much to learn from this ballsy, leave it on the floor person.
Any artist who believes in truth as power and allowing our minds to wander unfettered owes a huge, unpayable debt to this man.
Prince, by allowing his genius to take him wherever it chooses, is a direct result and influence of Mr. Wonder.
Janelle Monae is another artist on some futuristic shit who has taken a page from the Wonder creativity book.
Perhaps my obsession has been brewing slowly.
Maybe it started when as a struggling, broke-as-hell artist living in Harlem, I listened to him for guidance and reassurance that I could make it, create art and have a voice.
Broke, scared and lonely, living in one cold room in Harlem, Stevie sustained me.
Perhaps it was 2008 when I was preparing for another life transition (moving to the West Coast) and was sure I could make it but unaware as to how.
Listening to him nonstop helped me pull it together, face personal demons and press on towards a new dream.
Perhaps it is time to pursue two life long dreams that are centered around this incredible man.
The first dream is having an opportunity to perform with this titan.
While I have adored and appreciated several artists, I am not moved to share the stage and "work" with many of them.
My second dream regarding Mr. Wonder: A kick ass tribute band.
Will I resurrect my dream ?
Is it time to let this dream go and create another ?
Stevie would not let go of a dream or calling so why should I ?
Here is my set list : "Sir Duke", "Knocks Me Off My Feet", "Superstition", "As", "Another Star", "All in Love is Fair", "Pastime Paradise", "They Won't Go".
There is a way to make art and a life that truly matters.
There is a way to do it with substance and a conscious.
This is my dream.
Ten years ago, I received a call with an offer to work with Lauryn Hill.
As a result of my obsession with this talented young woman, I couldn't agree to the gig fast enough. In my excitement, I called my sister (a fellow groupie), my cousin and anyone else I could dial up.
While I spent most of the night preparing for the next day's life changing opportunities, I was not prepared for meeting the artist in person.
She seemed broken.
I saw such misery and pain that my desire for fame and the end of obscurity ended.
All I wanted to do was hug her and ask : how you be ?
What I witnessed was an artist who had been pushed beyond their limits and was in need of rest and contemplation. My perception was that she had been pulled in so many directions for so long that she was now unable to belong to herself.
Was I another fan demanding a performance and happily willing to forego the need that she and we all have to safeguard our talent in ways that allow us to resist the unforgiving pimp that is fame and fortune ?
Was it more important that I pitch my ideas and a way for us to collaborate than offer a soulful connection.
What I had no way of knowing at the time was the dramatic shift that pop culture was gearing up to serve the masses. At a very pivotal time, pop culture was at a point wherein something new was being craved and yet there was a hunkering for predictability.
Lauryn Hill existed at that very pivotal place of "between".
Culture critics, academics and community elders love to highlight the problems that occur when we allow musicians and celebrities to rear and influence our children. Few will confess to being influenced by the culture at large and in turn influencing the same culture.
We are all products and creators of our shared cultural experiences.
What Ms. Hill represented in her 1998-2004 heyday was the possibility of success that was based in loving blackness, loving and embracing womanhood and allowing your talent to determine how far you could rise.
Loving blackness in this culture is a problem and can get you much side eyeing and baffled looks.
I said "loving blackness", not apping, obsessing over or constantly acculturating it.
Her dark skin and full natural hair could have allowed the larger white establishment and pop culture to dismiss her and keep her a small and powerful underground entity.
This ain't what happened. She wore her blackness proudly.
I saw her on the cover of major fashion magazines sans lightening and all of the other bullshit black folks feel we must consent to if pop culture success is our ultimate goal.
Videos filled with this rich dark skin blasted the air waves and our eyes.
Her love of blackness and respect for black artists who proceeded her was clear.
Unlike many young artists, there was no ridiculous claim to originality and the outrageous claim that she had invented a new and unrealized or unheard of musical art form.
Her music gave young girls something to aspire to and young men a vision of a woman whose primary concern was not the male gaze.
She never denied nor exploited her sexuality.
In the past fifteen years post her solo debut, much has changed and remained the same in regard to black folks, women, music and popular culture.
When my little sister went form talking with much pride about this young woman who had accomplished so much so early in her life to explaining the significance and media sensation that was "Paris Hilton", I knew the end was near.
There is no guarantee that Ms. Hill would be interested in remounting her throne or that anyone would be interested if she did.
There is a need for young women to see other young women "belong to themselves" and not gleefully trotting towards anything that will offer them celebrity.
Our new world order is full of blond weaves, trash talking and a depth of soul violation that is sickening and almost humorous.
I never worried or winced when my baby sister listened to Lauryn Hill.
I worry when the only thing black woman can do or take pride in is being the "baddest bitch".
Be like Lauryn and bell hooks: develop a real taste for rebellion, be clear in communication and love yourself fully and maybe we won't need Ms. Hill because her job and mission is complete and successful.
Miss Brown was an addict, a sex worker, a transgender MTF and my friend.
When we became cooking buddies, I began to learn a great deal about transitioning and its challenges.
She taught me a great deal about about men, power, money and negotiating of sexual liasons.
While I struggled to be progressive, I often was aghast at the things she endured to become her true self and live in a non-exploitative and non-objectified manner.
I often struggled with seeing her as female because I knew of her birth gender.
I am ashamed to admit I had not seen her as a full human.
I saw her as entertaining.
I saw her as educational.
I saw her as fun. I saw her as an individual who brought laughter and some new insights.
I never saw her as a person struggling to make sense of a world that didn’t like her as male and hated and attempted to destroy her as a transgender female.
Many of us struggle with the same dislikes of transgender individuals.
We hate, dismiss and psychologically deny them for several reasons.
When I began to examine my uncomfortability , it became clear that it landed differently depending on whether the transperson was MTF or FTM.
Male to female always brought up a ton of thinking about domination, oppression and white supremacy.
My opinion was one that questioned why anyone would willingly move from a position of power to one of powerlessness.
With my tribe that went from female to male, my perception was that it was only a shameless grab for power and entitlement.
After some serious self examination and some heartfelt listening, I discovered that I was wrong on both accounts.
What frightens us all is visibility and the bold choice to remake and reinvent without anyone's approval.
Most gays spend a lifetime waiting for someone, typically,a family member or uncomfortable friend to grant them permission to be who they are and live boldly and freely.
When one of our own gets bold, we have the option to either applaud and join them or wish they would slink away in shame painfully awaiting for approval of the ubiquitous “they”.
To claim space anywhere in the world at anytime is thrilling and dangerous.
Most of us fear the trans community because we fear the responsibility and visibility that comes with choosing to redirect our lives and our gender.
Few of us have made decisions about how we live and exist in a world that hates and attempts to control and destroy anything that is not white, young and male.
Choosing an identity makes folks realize how much society( a group of people they have never met) influences their thoughts, behavior and sexual expression.
Miss Brown shared with me the brutal physical abuse she endured first at the hands of her homophobic grandmother(who tried to beat the sissy out of her young male body) while threatening her then later at the hands of the medical establishment who told her the operation and hormones could cause death.
Her response to both threats: I’m willing to risk it.
Choosing death and visibility over lies and self denial is brave.
All my trans folks who decide to live have much to teach us all.
Confrontations with those in power and those that offer conditional love provide examples of how to take on the wall of shit that we all face when we decide to self create.
Choosing to forgo a lifetime of meaninglessness means you are inviting all kinds of danger and vulnerability.
Ms. Brown struggled with addiction and self medicated via tricks and drugs; she had tackled the initial battle of taking on a world of bigots and intimate terrorists and won.
She had not disappeared.
She underwent her transformation not seeking to gain or relinquish power.
She reordered her identity.
Forgive us for our fear.
Forgive us for our lack of bravery and courage.
Forgive us for not doing the internal work that would allow us to accept, revere and learn from your ranks.
We are ripe to learn lessons of how to be brave and offer a big middle finger to society who can only accept us when we clone ourselves and allow people to go unchallenged and their bigotry unchanged.
Trans folks also understand exploitation.
The school of resistance is rewriting its curriculum.
Time to show up and show out.
Please join us in our valiant world domination.
Fairy tales and movies can teach us to love ourselves or misogyny.
Filmmakers and creatives often rely on stereotypes to keep us entertained and non thinking.
As a boy, I loved stories of all kinds and lacked the cultural insight of a dear friend who told me that when reading Hansel and Gretel, she always sided with the witch (it was her house first).
This radical and feminist memory of Hansel and Gretel reemerged when I found myself at two very different films that represented women and children of color in divergent and revolutionary aspects.
My seven year old grandson wanted to see Annie.
While I had hesitation about a film with a young natural haired black girl at the center (my fear that her hair would be referred to as a problem and become the running punchline in the movie),I soldiered on with my grandson expecting two hours of tomfoolery and hoping to witness a balance between humor, story telling and a proper valuation of young black female depth and power.
My fears were somehow lessened when thirty minutes into the film my young charge began singing along with the score before telling me : she looks like me and then sharing: I love it.
What was witnessed that day was that you can be brown, well loved and significant. It doesn't mean you won't have challenges and morons who can't or won't understand you. It means that there is a place for you even if and most importantly if you have to self create it.
We are all influenced and shaped by images that we witness.
Into the Woods was very disturbing.
I could not understand why a film with Meryl Streep(whom I adore) caused me such angst and discomfort.
I was disturbed watching a grown ass man lusting after a young child.
When I let that go, I immediately reached for my critical lens of how the other women were being portrayed in the film.
Much of the tale centered on women who will:sacrifice any and everything, including their lives for their children and or get punished when they indulge in or dare to have any desire for anything that only benefits them.
I saw this so many times in the film I began wondering whether this was the original theater version or had it been punched up Hollywood style by a pack of woman haters still stewing about the one that got away.
After the giant's home is burglarized by a small boy, the entire cast rallies around him to take down the angry wife set on revenge.
When the couple desperate for a child strikes a bargain with the witch, both the witch and the young wife die (get punished).
The young wife in a moment of ecstasy and curiosity allows a dashing prince to "seduce" and kiss her.
Five minutes later she dies.
When the witch finally is restored to her former glory, her punishment is becoming a large pool of tar.
I was glad that none of my granddaughters saw this.
It would have been difficult explaining why the men stole, lied, manipulated and charmed and still were rewarded with their desires.
At some point, I will co-write tales for girls and women with girls and women in ways that uplift and celebrate.
I will try to steer my young charges male and female away from films that demonize those with dreams and power who wish to see (experience) how far their ambitions can take them.
Any suggestions for revolutionary and women positive fairy tales ?
Any suggestions for males who appreciate collaborative efforts with people who may look, think and see the world differently and yet want similar things ?
My kids need it and I am desperate for something I have yet to see.
We have to stop teaching young people that ambition packed in the female form is a bad thing.
At 47, I have realized much time has been spent like Carrie Bradshaw and the girls: Chasing men who don't want me or can't or won't love me.
My entire twenties was spent coasting from one ill-fated and dead end relationship to another.
The one constant was my soul crushing, mind numbing loneliness and state of "please love me".
Spending years trying to get the wrong people to give me some kind of "act right" got very old and just plain pointless.
Telling someone you date : "this is how you act like a decent human being" is never a good sign. Most of the gay men I know have a disturbing undercurrent of loneliness that runs their lives.
When loneliness undergirds each and every decision, our capacity to make great choices is severely diminished.
Loneliness often is the result of and leads to severe depression.
Many times in the male species it reveals itself through flat out promiscuity.
Since as a culture we are not taught to recognize nor accept male depression, we are often guilty of looking the other way when a dear friend begins sexually acting out.
All the chat lines and hookup sites are filled with people looking for sex and a good time.
They might be seeking human interaction.
When I've been offered the opportunity to screw around with someone I don't know and decided instead to have a meaningful conversation with a trusted friend, I felt sated.
When I've gone for the comfortable and yet limiting sex with strangers, I've never felt wonderful.
Sexually satisfied occasionally.
But truly uplifted, changed, had my self esteem and feelings of self worth increased exponentially ?
I'm afraid not.
The dirty little secret is that we are lonely.
Whether we enter relationships we know are doomed at the start or stay in ones long after we should have left the fair (both of which I've done on more than one occasion), decisions get made based in loneliness and shear desperation.
Being a gay man in this culture is a lot of things.
This country and its culture is aggressively steeped in isolation. Many of us were isolated as children because of our "difference".
When isolation is added to an oppressed and hated culture , there is a space created that sanctions sex for any and every reason and then adopts a philosophy that won't allow for true feelings to emerge and be handled.
In a few weeks there is a convention of gay men that I will be attending.
Discussing the types of things that will be addressed (with a friend who will also be attending), I shared the thrills and possibilities created when several men of different life experiences, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds gather and exchange ideas.
At some point in the conversation (one minute into it), I was informed by my friend that he never sleeps alone at any convention.
This let me know that even at 54, he could still "pull a date" and get some dick despite this not being the point.
I could only wonder : Are you that lonely ?
With the only possible answer being, yes.
Why not make the decision to make this an opportunity to look for and demand more of yourself and your community ?
We annihilate loneliness not by denying or indulging it.
We destroy it by understanding that we have been engineered to accept this as our fate and yet this is complete nonsense.
We attack it by sharing with our friends that we are at the abyss of loneliness and ready to make the leap into ridiculous choice making and need help in making wiser decisions.
We need the types of friendships where allies recognize our blind spots(loneliness tendencies) and tell us to "knock it off" early and often.
We also have to hold ourselves responsible for our behavior.
It is easy to become and remain confused about what we're doing and why when the isolation beast seductively invites us to make that call, text or hop on the line with other lonely souls who are "just bored and want to have a look about".
Good friends who want the best for you will not leave you alone and trust that you will make great decisions.
They will give you a good swift kick in the pants until you do.
If you have these types of relationships in your life, great.
If not, start looking for and cultivating them now.
My favorite and most valued gift by the aging process is a great big case of the "Fuck Its".
At 15, 20 and even into my thirties there was a great deal of energy put into what people thought of me and adjusting my life and thinking to accommodate the ubiquitous "them".
While everyone commented on how "nice" (the original definition of this word was "dumb") and pleasant I was, there was much upset and resentment waiting to be(unleashed). Creating a false persona allowed me to keep the secret (my being gay)hidden.
Being nice and not a problem, I could live and exist happily undetected.
This thinking kept me trapped in awful relationships and heinous partnerships.
People love it when you are eager to accommodate, cosign bullshit and engage in all manner of tom foolery. When I began fighting my way out of Mr. Nice Gay mode, folks looked at me with disbelief and many feigned shock.
When a person in a relationship makes a drastic change, all parties are affected, have reactions and feelings and ultimately must make some adjustment.
Nobody wants to adjust if their needs are constantly being met.
The ability to not give a fuck is a great section of the aging process.
When I say not giving a shit, it doesn't mean being an asshole which is a role people will attempt to assign you. The not-giving- a- shit means: I will not twist myself into a pretzel in an effort to get folks to like or accept me. It also means I will not hand over my thinking , self esteem or self validation to another and hope they come up with something grand.
Whenever I've handed over the reins of my life to someone, I have never been happy with the results.
When I've co-directed an initiative, my joy increased as a result of consistent and deliberate actions. As we age, there is less tolerance for foolishness and shenanigans with people that have no grand vision for their lives and whose concern in life is getting by with the least amount of intellectual or spiritual effort.
As I've aged, I have constantly and shamelessly asked myself : Is this activity something I want to engage in or invest my energy into ?
Is this the best use of my time?
Part of the aging process deals with the comfortability and brilliance that occurs when we make a decision to be bold.
You can't be bold if your primary concern is hurting someone's feelings or what they will think of you. There is really nothing better than making choices from a well thought out and guiltless position.
Aging has forced me to spend a whole lot less time being concerned with the opinions of others and most importantly, how I look to them.
Letting go of the crazed production that is "image" is also wonderful.
If I'm tired, I rest.
If I'm pissed off, hurt or confused, I can choose how I will address these issues with my husband, friends and coworkers. Sometimes a great big box of "shut the hell up" is required.
At other times, it is important to speak out and up and opt for deliberate and swift action.
My younger self had the need to constantly and psychotically remain busy at all costs.
Brene Brown says this is the new addiction: Staying busy so that we don't have to deal with the realities/truth of our lives.
I encourage all of you to embrace growing older.
Those of us who are most affected by this need to be "nice" (gays, women and minorities) should purposely and gladly welcome the attitude and power that comes from aging, being clear and the natural outcome that this provides.
If we have spent lives of dire desperation, anxiously awaiting for someone to give us permission to dream and accomplish heart passions, then the aging process can look pretty crappy.
There is nothing to dread or lament if we have lived lives of meaning and exploration that have allowed thinking, spirituality and self knowledge to grow.
During our lives, we will meet several people. Some of these folks we will know a lifetime. Some folks will be around for a good time and then dash when the first sign of trouble presents itself.
I have had several acquaintances and very few true friends.
True friends can save your life or at least make it bearable. I have laughed often with true friends. Cried with true friends about being misunderstood, lonely or scared.
At my recent wedding, I was able to bask in the love and support of many people.
I was able to identify the ones who were there for a good time, to see the house or simply to see two men get married and kiss.
Whatever the reason people decided to attend the event, it was quite an event.
Currently, I am examining all of the relationships in my life and asking myself some serious questions.
Am I at my best in this relationship ? Is this person bringing me their best and demanding that I do the same?
Often times we find ourselves ourselves in relationships of convenience. Relationships that suck the life out of us and are welcome distractions that move us into more nothingness and wasted time and life energy.
I have had many of these and most of them have been in the context of intimate interactions.
My recent obsession with true relationships and true love (which is one in the same to me) came to a head when I married.
Want to ferret out real love : drastically change the dynamic of a well defined relationship and watch the fur fly. People feign love for another and yet no vital and powerful test of their relationship has ever occurred.
It is easy to declare love when you are never challenged.
Because we are human beings, we have shit that is most unattractive and will emerge when given the correct environment to flourish.
Try to get emotionally close to someone and everyone's abandonment and "not enoughness" will appear in some interesting guises and in people you thought you knew.
Share your darkest hour and prepare for upset, anger, dismissal and in some rare and troubling instances, outright meanness and thoughtlessness.
This is the most frightening and exciting thing about interaction with other humans.
As an individual who is always pushing towards his own and the world's evolution, it is embarrassing to admit that there have been times when my envy and jealousy allowed me to go "on the attack".
While this was not my finest hour, I have learned that no one is above attacking another if change, abandonment or scarcity is afoot.
We all fear change.
We construct relationships on predictability. Things get real wacky when people get healthy, change the game or simply change the game's rules.
Many of us are assigned labels and characteristics at birth.
Several of us carry these ridiculous and arbitrarily assigned ways of being into the world and our adult lives. As a person committed to protean and relentless growth, I am often moving from one thing to another.
I look for the next opportunity to fail and or win big.
It takes a powerful warrior friend to walk with you as you explore all that life has to offer or allow your curiosity to lead you to the scary and unpredictable. Some folks only like it when you are fucked up, confused and emotionally stuck.
Having fought my way back from homelessness, joblessness, financial disaster and abusive relationships with cute sociopaths, I have witnessed the investment people (sometimes)make in the misery of "friends".
People that I thought were friends have said awful things with the underlying tone of "stay in your place ass wipe".
These are not friends or at the very least a confused friend who would rather not have things change. We must realize that we all have the capacity to fear and fight like the dickens to prevent change. We must realize that change is inevitable and is not the problem.
How we negotiate and respond to change is the most powerful and positive response when things and people begin shifting identities.
We must learn to welcome the new and not offer punishments to anyone who has the balls to dig deep and demand more from themselves and the world. Applauding and supporting the efforts of those we claim to love is the highest honor, a true and bold testament to what we think and want for the ones we hold close.
It (true friendship) demands that we honor all commitments and not simply flap our gums about what our friendships mean to us.
At a recent all staff meeting, there were some big,scary "what if" scenarios regarding "time management".
In my personal life, someone is always in a snit because I don't pounce on my phone like a trained, coked-up seal desperate to be included in every conversation and interaction.
I often "unplug" on a regular basis because the day job is rife with problems no matter the type of interaction.
It's very popular these days to let people know how "busy" you are.
It is time we got honest about the phrase "I'm busy".
I'm busy is a very polite way of saying to another person: Who you are or What you have to offer holds no value for me.
Much like the definitive : Maybe (which according to the sublime Les Brown is really a polite no) this is a way of trying to be polite which is often code for "lying".
When someone says their busy, I go to a particular place in my mind. My mental translation states: this request is not important to you.
We all make time for things we find significant, particularly if there is some type of payoff for us.
When things are of value, we move heaven and earth to make sure whatever needs to get handled gets handled.
What people are not telling you is that they would rather be doing something else. We can take it personally or thank whomever for their honesty and commitment to having a real relationship.
The next time you ask someone to do something or you ask for a favor and someone trots out that tired chestnut, one up them with : What could I say or do so that you see the value in what I'm requesting ?
This year, I will not say: I'm busy.
I will either agree to do something and do it or graciously and unapologetically decline.
My need to explain, justify my choice or lie to save someone's feelings are a thing of the past.
My no will be a real no and my yes will be real yes.
Most of us hide behind lies to save feelings.
As I turn 47 this year,the lies are over. The masks are now coming off.
It is time to stop using "busyness" as an ineffective panacea for everything.
White Supremacy has to be the greatest invention mankind has ever created.
I made the decision years ago to be more powerful than this invention, remain vigilant and "awake" and stay away from self defeating paranoia.
My commitment to uprooting its seductive powers is based on relentless decolonization.
My obsession with the collection and use of decolonizing strategies often leads me to great thinkers and bold visionaries (bell hooks, Melody Hobson, Brene Brown).
Recently, I was able to take in a day of their thinking and use it when discussing race, gender and non oppressive child rearing with family members.
Most of our relationships and ways of interacting are steeped in dominator culture and are manipulative and subterfuge based.
No where is this more prevalent than in our attempts to cross racial boundaries and construct mutually satisfying relationships.
While most people rarely move beyond the comfort of their familiar cultures, there are those who dare to do so and spend much time justifying their choices or proving their loyalty in an effort to gain trust and acceptance.
When this occurs in the context of difference, there is an opportunity to be color brave.
Truly valuing another involves the willingness to be wrong and misspeak as well as the courage that is required to forgive and recommit in solidarity.
It always amuses me that people call themselves friends, road dogs and besties and yet never disagree, argue or hurt one another's feelings.
Unless you are spending time with a clone of yourself, there will be misunderstandings, an occasional verbal misstep based in a ridiculous assumption and the need for forgiveness and the willingness to choose a shared commitment over an isolated incident.
Forgiveness is never easy.
It is particularly hard when it involves someone you deeply love and feel ought to know better.
It is easy to discuss nothing and keep things light when you are only interested in a coffee klatch friendship with no real value.
We all have a choice to make daily.
Do we lie and avoid a confrontation that might upset another or do we stand bold and dare to test our level of courage and the foundation of a particular friendship?
How are you being color brave?
Do you stop a friend from stating something racist and stereotypical?
Do you challenge folks (white and black) when they state that there is no more racism?
The bravest thing we can do is usually the most uncomfortable.
We learn to avoid racial discomfort when we are young.
When we prevent children from discussing and recognizing differences in cultures, skin color and other obviously different ways of being, we miss a valuable opportunity to instruct our young folks in recognizing fear and domination of the other.
Many assume that racism will never go away and anyone who assumes conversations and sharing will eliminate dominator culture is a pollyanna just waiting to be disappointed.
People can change and do things differently.
When I taught high school English classes, I reminded my students that while change is often challenging, it can and is incorporated on a daily basis.
To illustrate this point, I discussed life before the internet or call waiting and being able to see the person you are speaking with on a handheld device was considered Science Fiction.
By limiting our contact to small boxes in our homes and offices, it becomes very convenient to dismiss one another, attack and deny another's existence or never discuss our "problems" with difference as it pertains to race.
Those of us who choose to love across racial lines often do so without clear understandings what this will cost and what we will ultimately gain as a result.
We often jump into situations that allow for fun but limit our capacity to be changed and transformed by another.
It is very easy to start a relationship based on desire and or mutual interest.
It is more difficult to maintain its integrity and allow it (the relationship) to grow and transform all involved if the point of connection involves a silent agreement that racial differences not be addressed.
Many men I’ve dated would rather die than be labeled a racist.
The major problem with this thinking is the all or nothing American view that says: if I’m not calling you a particular name or burning crosses on lawns or voted for Obama(twice) and am enthralled with Oprah then there is no evidence of any “perceived” racism.
While many of the men I’ve dated would never come out and be blatantly racist, there were several small and pivotal ways racism invited us to look the other way when daily mishaps occurred.
An agreement to not notice or engage with different viewpoints, outlooks on culture and food are a few of the seemingly innocent ways that we attempted to “just get along”.
These odd and limiting choices left me dissatisfied, bored and intellectually and emotionally stunted.
Being color brave provides the space to seek and demand transformation of ourselves and those that we say we care about.
There will be mistakes, misunderstandings and many times wherein the easiest and most comfortable thing to do is remain quiet, crack an inappropriate and diversionary joke or simple assign the other person the role of bad guy (asshole, crazed angry black woman).
This is cowardice at its most deadly.
Being color brave means we move into the uncomfortability that is dealing with race in America.
It also means that we question those, ourselves included, who believe that racism in the U.S. is over and no longer has any affect on our day to day interactions and decision making.
bell hooks recently stated that it would be of use to ask people why it is so important to believe that racism is a thing of the past and has no bearing on our collective realities.
Collectively our identities are bathed in the belief that if things aren’t talked about or spoken of then everything must be great.
There is also the agreement that if whites don’t bring up race(which prevents the possibility that they might misspeak),they won’t be labeled a racist.
Those of us who are racism’s targets believe pointing out racism and its many forms will label us weak and whiny.
Everybody on both sides of the fence also believes that pointing out racism will label those who have failed to achieve as lazy and unmotivated.
Demand that it not be done to you or in your direction and replace the finger pointing with some serious commitment to improving your relationship and transforming your lives with the goal of solidarity being the end point.
When I taught the homeless population, I began each new class by stating : I want you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It is time for us to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and brave enough to be involved fully with the unfamiliar.