Whenever I have taught children, there has been an obsession with safety.
This was a statement I made four years ago when I wrote an essay about people and their insane, irrational fear of being around children.
Men need children. Children need men.
While all men shouldn't or have no desire to be around children, it is wise to look at the reasons why and be honest in our assessment regarding men's interaction with children.
What must change (in relation to men's influence with children) if we are attempting to create a saner, more loving and thinking world?
For several years, I heard from friends and family that I would make a wonderful father and teacher.
Having switched my major in college to English with an eye on instructing eager, hungry minds, I began making preparations to move into the world of erudite instruction that would serve the young people that I would be fortunate enough to teach.
During the early 90's, homophobia was in full swing and nowhere was it more pronounced and encouraged than in education with almost a witch hunt focus on gays and lesbians.
With dreams of changing the world (which I believe is one of the many purposes of education), I was left sitting on my hands.
I could either jump in with the sharks wearing blood soaked swim trunks and hope for the best or I could save myself a buttload of misery and stay out of the water.
I stayed away from young people and teaching for as long as I could.
I watched in shear horror as my partner dealt with very vocal homophobic students, coworkers and faculty.
I watched with incredulity as people dismissed the powerful offerings of teachers and adults. My heart broke when people chose fear and ignorance over the possibility of change that a male presence could offer.
There was no blueprint for being talented in a given area and knowing that you would not be accepted in this arena or worse yet be run out of it and soon as there was any whiff of being "different".
While homophobia was partly to blame, there was also the belief that men around children was a bad idea simply because of our gender.
Men and their (perceived) devious, predatory ways was the real issue.
Many educational colleagues love to rail on about pedophilia which is not the same as homosexuality.
I have yet to hear an accurate or fact-based account of any teacher ever experiencing this dramatic scene(confrontation with and defeat of pure stupidity) at work with a colleague.
So where does all of this irrational fear and straight up stupidity come from and how do we challenge and defeat it?
We start by recognizing men's goodness.
When good men have skills that are necessary for the maturation and psychological well being of young people, we can work together (with allies that love, respect and admire men) to assign men roles with children that highlight skills our young people need.
We are no longer in need of men who are assigned the role of silent, emotionless ATMs whose response to anything emotional or deep consists of pointing out the failings of those asking questions and or then referring them to women who "know more about those things".
It is not ok to assume that beyond donating sperm and financial assistance men are useless and have little value.
Children are not better off without men.
Men and those that love them must offer assistance in reestablishing male input and the particular ways men approach the world and navigate their existence in it.
We all have much to learn from how the world is seen by men.
Anyone who has met a powerful man whose power stems from his commitment to mental health, self evaluation and improving children's lives recognizes and understands the goodness of men.
Men are psychologically harmed when they are assigned social roles that only benefit patriarchal.
Men are harmed when we get assigned the role of non-thinking monsters.
While I have never subscribed to the ridiculous notion that only men can raise boys, I understand that male energy is different, needed and should be invited in on a consistent and well thought out basis.
So the next time you are considering a baby sitter or someone to care for your young ones, consider a male colleague or family friend to take up the challenging, eye opening and heart expanding task that is influencing and loving children well.
Start small and build.
There is much to be learned and nothing to lose.
Does he still make you laugh ? I haven't seen him naked lately... Dorothy Zbornak, The Golden Girls
More than a year ago, I wrote about my insane need for comedy and laughter and even wrote a formal invitation for the brilliant Margaret Cho to marry me (Cho you missed out; I'm hitched).
After writing this post and continuing with my insane obsession with what makes love work, I stumbled upon a great insight.
I looked at my most fulfilling and uplifting relationships and realized this is one area that consistently presented itself.
Much like the primary secret of successful relationships (shared values), comedy and the ability to find humor in things as a couple is what is needed. Like values, comedy is individual and personal. What I am referring to here is the ability as a couple to create shared joy via comedic interaction with the environment.
Couples often design their own comedy "bits" based on what they find mutually amusing and downright hysterical.
For years, I stated that my closest allies made me laugh and learn something in every conversation.
With humor as my guide, I began searching for different types of love.
My man needs to be funny as hell. Period.
Living in this country and in this world can be scary, frustrating and at times downright fucked (up). You better have a "ride or die" soldier at your side who can point out things that are ridiculous and comical.
My man does incredible characters and voices (Brooklyn hood rat, British society maven, Irish brogue, Maine and everything in between) there is never a shortage of character driven humor and insight in my home.
By constructing the ability to delight one another, we have made a place to retreat when things occur that leave us frustrated.
Having been in relationships that had no humor taught me that this is not the type of interaction that I either require nor can accept.
As a black man who dates white men and has to deal with classism, racism both internal and external, community upset and social interaction on a daily basis, it is wise to have something that will allow for safe and ongoing navigation.
A shared sense of humor is one thing that will allow for continual victory when facing the aforementioned destructive variables.
So what do you and your man joke about ? Find hysterical and ridiculous ?
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.
I have a wonderful friend who is constantly getting dumped because the women he goes out with don’t feel that special spark.
He is straight.
I have another friend who dumps people after dating less than two weeks because he doesn’t feel that “spark”.
He is gay.
I write this essay as a direct response to all of the drama surrounding the belief, statistically factually proven or not, that the black folks in our great state of California overwhelmingly voted for Prop 8.
Marriage, any type of commitment, and being truly, terrifyingly, unabashedly, emotionally intimate is for grown ups. This is the reason we now have this insane obsession with marriage.
I have never been with a woman.
It is my passionate plea that any and everyone who reads this let Margaret Cho know that I am single and available.