Most of my young life, I dreamt of a large family with many children screaming, playfully terrorizing one another and basically providing loads of love and energy in a semi large contained space.
There were only two problems : I am gay and I could not find another suitable individual who had done the emotional and psychological work that would allow us to co-parent from a position of love and guidance and not neediness.
The more I longed for young ones and fought to become and stay emotionally healthy, the fewer men I encountered who were healthy enough to raise or consider guiding young people.
I have always loved and valued children.
My commitment to children is also a commitment to community.
As a young boy, I had the distinct and memorable experience of being raised in many intergenerational situations.
Whether it was an uncle teaching us the latest dance steps or an aunt sneaking us into Richard Pryor's concert film and performing Macbeth in the living room, we had many and varied influences who all influenced and loved us in very different ways.
When my parents could not tolerate my daydreams and basement, standing room only performances, my sister and I would head down the street to an always eager audience (our grandparents).
When raising children certain realities will present themselves.
At some point, adults lose their patience. They will say or do something stupid or insensitive.
Bad parenting and making a bad choice are not one in the same.
Many parents, including my own, are obsessively concerned with being perceived as a good or bad parent.
The parenting gestapo is not concerned with supporting parents and communities dedicated to rearing children.
When parents accept the good/bad parent title, they've lost the parenting battle and have limited their ability to think and make amends.
We all get seduced into the lies that say everyone is more capable, organized and loving than we are.
When the silent voice of defeat constantly whispers we are losers and have no business raising children, many of us react by criticizing, controlling and frantically attempting to dominate every aspect of our children's young lives.
We no longer do what's best for our children.
We do what's best for us and hope that this lack of thought and future planning will not cause any severe and psychological upset.
The trick to creating new parenting strategies is not focusing on whether a parent is good or bad.
Using our community as a source of support, tough love and inumerable ways to interact with young people, we are able to create new strategies for loving and guiding our young people and give up the concept of good/bad parenting.
When couples want to improve their relationships, the concept of communication along with fair fighting gets dusted off and revisited.
If that fails to create the desired results, we are then told to take on the other's view point; walk a mile or two in someone else's loafers.
While these things may get the party started they don't sustain and they are only part of the equation.
We often get communication very confused.
When someone says that another person doesn't communicate, it usually means a person is not responding a particular way or an expectation has gone unmet.
Behavior is communication.
When whining, coercion, bullying and ultimatum giving cease to work, we throw our hands to the heavens and angrily start creating an exit strategy.
What if the reasons we move our relationship forward have nothing to do with all of the Cosmo tips, eye contact, seeking to understand before being understood and a host of other tips that only sell magazines but provide no hope or lasting solutions.
What if keeping your primary intimate relationship has nothing to do with new sexual positions, roses, candlelight or romantic music.
The solution to boredom and deepening relationships is trust and without accountability there is no trust.
We all make agreements in every relationship.
When we want to create better relationships, we must make better agreements.
Nothing improves the communication and intimacy, trust and accountability like facing a challenge together and becoming victorious in the process.
I refer to this concept as a shared victory.
Shared victory is the systematic and unrelenting pursuit of a goal that all involved parties find exciting and worthwhile.
My life partner and I are very different people.
Race, age, upbringing, and education have greatly influenced how we see things, problem solve and make decisions.
While we have yet to face a challenge that can't be handled and won over, I know that life and the universe will periodically give you a swift kick in the groceries just so you know you're alive and should stay awake.
We have made decisions regarding money, housing and how to make sure that the other is taken care of when the time comes for one of us to kick the bucket.
We have had and continue to create and implement plans that allow for "shared victories". This is the key to having a highly sensual and powerful relationship.
When trouble or conflict come knocking, we collectively gather our strengths and turn towards each other with a heartfelt: What are we gonna do ?
The wise partnership will allow each party to handle what they do best.
In John Maxwell's How Successful People Think, he points out that most people are either strategic or intuitive.
My husband is strategic.
Many times planning something as much as three to four weeks out.
I am intuitive.
I work towards things with the end in mind but am very flexible on how I get there.
Recently, we both started wearing glasses and for very different reasons.
I cannot see far away and he cannot see things close up.
We have a system that works.
I write out the checks and he drives.
Shared Victories are also very sexy because according to Esther Perel in Mating in Captivity, we are often the most turned on when we see the sight of our beloved doing what they do best and are born to do with passion.
Ditch the Viagra,sexy outfits and role play and find something (a common goal) that excites you both and go after it like a couple of beasts.
Trust me it will be far more rewarding than sitting around date night discussing the shit you could discuss at home without wasting gas or looking for a parking spot.
Lee Daniels, Oprah and their very entertaining movie (The Butler) are having quite a moment.
It always amazes me that the very large and in many ways predictable white power structure makes a decision to "anoint" certain people authorities and makes the decision to silence others.
As a result of Mr. Daniels and Ms. Winfrey's second pairing and obvious grab for the Oscar, it seemed a great time to allow Daniels to not only publicly "come out" but also to spew his brilliance regarding why a "majority" of black gay/bi men stay in the closet.
While I am thrilled that he has publicly acknowledged his sexuality which can only enhance and embolden his work, this business about not "coming out" and allowing himself to be "silenced" so that he could work is troubling and weak.
Many times I have been offered the chance to play the game: Switch pronouns, refer to folks as buddies, gain advice on how to handle love and a lack of communication between myself and the man I was currently dating.
All of the game playing was created by denying who I was and the real nature of my complicated and highly annoying "relationships" with other men.
After growing a pair and hitting my mid 20's, I knew it was time for something else and some very different ways of being.
I started doing my homework and looking for some models of unadulterated courage.
I found one who kicked me in the gut and gave me permission to be my full and present self.
James Baldwin has inspired me for more than twenty years.
Mr. Baldwin was speaking to the "establishment" and creating from a place of honesty and fearlessness fifty years ago. He wrote of gay love, longing and anguish while simultaneously combining it with the "black struggle". Nobody (the black intelligentsia, the government or other artists) could silence him.
When I hear Mr. Daniels describe the struggle of wanting to work, I hear the need to belong.
I hear the need for acceptance and permission to create that only comes, or so we are told, if we don't allow ourselves to be placed in certain boxes.
When I was closeted, I couldn't create shit.
All of my genius and talent was devoted to keeping up a facade.
There was no time or need to develop elaborate, layered characters (via my acting and writing) when my existence was one crowd-pleasing performance after another.
Once I ingested Baldwin's brilliance and boldness and made it my own, amazing things began to happen.
When you are homeless nothing else matters.
When you don't have solid footing, no matter your level of intelligence or education, everything is seen through the prism of: I don't matter because I have no control or input regarding my most basic of necessities.
I have been there: living in hotels with lunatic boyfriends, sleeping on the floor of a friend's home, trying to determine the lesser of two evils living with my family back in the Midwest or with friends knowing that there was no guarantee that things would turn around.
While there are folks that undoubtedly abuse the system and figure out all types of ways to keep themselves in the space of: Gimmee, can I have, let me borrow, there are those who legitimately want to do better and improve their lives.
Everyone at some point needs some type of assistance.
At different times in our lives, we all need someone who encourages us through a kind word, some insightful problem solving or simply a new approach to a hauntingly familiar problem seen through a fresh set of eyes.
To fix the problem of homelessness, we can start by reappropriating funds.
We can offer financial and housing assistance.
We can offer support while people increase their critical thinking skills which can lead to an increase in self esteem.
We can become our brother's keeper.
We can take on the suffering of others as our own and work to alleviate it.
Alleviate not belittle or offer patronizing statements couched in :Let me show you how to live because you are too stupid to figure it out.
If I jump in and offer suggestions without consulting and attempting to understand what is needed by the people in the most need and the most affected, I also run the risk of augmenting and adding to the problem.
This helps no one.
I have often fantasized about a community wherein people pool resources.
A community wherein diverse groups of folk work together and joyfully move everyone's life forward.
What would this look like?
For one thing, it would involve everyone taking a course in loving well and then a class in critical thinking.
To make this possible one day a week would be devoted to teaching and exploring the concept of love.
The love courses could be taught one day a week and could cover things such as how to treat folks we perceive as different?
We could produce images that involve people clearly learning and being in communion with one another.
We all learn how to behave and dream based on the steady images we allow ourselves to be fed.
We teach intolerance, nonthinking and domination via mass media.
Why not use the same tools to teach love and critical thought?
How do we interact with people we ordinarily have no contact with or seldom find reasons to engage in meaningful conversations?
If the decision is to eradicate homelessness and make everyone self sufficient, we have to examine the reasons why this problem exists.
When I lived in Japan in the mid 90's, homelessness was nonexistent.
Part of my job while living there was teaching people skills they needed to become financially secure and socially productive and independent. It was assumed that everyone had something to offer and would offer it if given the correct way to do this, i.e. training and time to incorporate a new skill set.
This would work here in the States provided that housing and food prices be made lower via community gardens and groups of individuals owning something (their place of residence in joint tenancy).
Unlike a coop board which is stupid and pointless (If I hear about one more moron being worked up because a wire is showing or someone made a visible improvement which required a discussion I will lose my mind), I would rather see a group of folk own a building outright and then deciding how they want it to look and who would be in charge of making improvements and or enhancing the overall look of the building.
People who have lived in their cars have a different understanding of what is important and what needs to be done to accomplish the most with the least.
Many times, I have attacked a problem with the help and insight of someone who had either already dealt with whatever was causing me the blues or was unaffected by the same issue and therefore provided me with some fresh insight and opinions.
This allowed me to fix the problem and then move on to the next one.
If my perception that a social problem is someone else's to solve, I have abdicated responsibility for lending a hand to improve the lives of others.