Tag Archives: self hate

When You’re Ready To Come Out, We’ll Hand You The Match

gay match

Today is National Coming Out Day which serves the purpose of showing support to those looking to finally come out of the closet and fully celebrate who they are. It’s a day where we remember the feeling of relief we experienced when we finally found the strength to stand up for ourselves no matter how difficult the journey became. It also provides you with an opportunity to see what happens after you come out and what you have to gain by accepting how you are. Because once you burn that metaphorical closet many changes take place in your world and within yourself.

But I want to speak more candidly on some of the things you may experience once you come out. So often when we discuss Coming Out Day we only focus on that moment we declare our sexuality to the world that we give so little attention to the things you may witness afterward. This will be an immense time of rediscovery because even though you retain so much of the person you will learn so much about who you are and how you interact with the world around you.

So the journey does not end of coming out of the closet. There will be much for you to discover about yourself when you announce to the world that you are LGBT. No matter how much you’ve observed of others like you it will not be the same. This is your experience and you will not always feel that things turn out as you had envisioned. At times it may feel completely overwhelming because you are constantly learning what the rules are for you more than any other time in your life. It will not always be easy and there are no guarantees that it’ll always turn out the way you planned. You may have family and friends that abandon you. Hate and disown you.

Some of them may actively work against your best interests and your rights as a citizen of our country. You may still be fired at your job for being LGBT. You may come up against discrimination and bullying you because those around you have not accepted that you have the right to not hide that you really are anymore. You may feel so overwhelmed by the transition taking place in all areas of your life. You may begin to question how normal your life can be as openly LGBT.

You may question the beliefs you had about this community that can sometimes appear too vain and uncaring. You may have experiences that are much to be desired with other members of this community when you discover that the same prejudices about race and ethnicity are still active forms of oppression with other members. Some will hold the same prejudices and hate about your looks and determine you’re too feminine or too masculine. They may even declare because of your preferred sexual role somehow depreciates your value because they are obsessed with status rather than substance. So you will come to realize that some of the misogyny and homophobia and racism still affects members of this community.

But the reward of being able to take a sigh of relief and no longer feel like you’re living a lie is worth it. You’ll come to find an even greater appreciation for the people who not only love and accept you but who also encourage you to explore who you are and how being LGBT is a part of who you are. You’ll find strength inside that you did not know existed giving you confidence to face other obstacles in your life more prepared. It will not always be as rose colored as you had hoped it would be but you will have opportunities to truly seek out the happiness in life you deserve. Make no mistake that even though there are members of this community that hold prejudices against you for trivial matters there are still people who will include you and welcome you no matter what.

Some will say that it is your responsibility after coming out that you should become an activist and you would do well to swiftly tell those people to kiss your ass and go straight to hell. You don’t owe that part of yourself to anyone and don’t ever let someone tell you otherwise. This is your journey. Your story. Your life. Would it be great if you added to the cause and actively contributed to help ending prejudices and discrimination against us? Yes it would be most welcome. Hate still exists towards us. You certainly should be aware of what’s going on in our world and how we are still denied rights and freedoms. But to me, living your life openly is being an activist because it shows despite the challenges we face we will not allow the archaic beliefs of our society stop us from finding our happiness in this world.

See the thing is when people come off with that ass backward logic are always the most hypocritical. They’ll laud about being a part of the solution while they themselves are part of the problem. It’s because they always feel entitled towards anyone that can serve their own initiatives which are always leaning more to their benefit than the welfare of all of us. They only focus on the G, with little mention of L, then laugh at the thought of B and completely forget T. This community can appear fragmented and hierarchical. The same rules of privilege apply to race and the complexities of being of more than one minority group that’s disparaged is too much of an effort for them to really care about.

But again do not be dismayed by the actions of those who seem superficial who only seemed to be focused on their own objectives. Seek out members that have your best interest at heart. Because the further you go the more you will discover that the stereotypes placed on this community are exaggerations of the truth. You will decide for yourself what defines you. And in m9ments when you feel lost and afraid of what comes next there are people out there willing to walk with you every step of the way. There are people out there who are willing to guide you while allowing you to make the best decisions for yourself without burdening you to their own agenda.

There is a support system here for you when you don’t feel strong enough to embrace who you are. There are people that will stay up all night with you and discuss how much your life has changed because we’ve all been where you are right now. There are people that will tirelessly work with you to find you shelter if your loved ones turn their back on you. There are people that will stand up for you if you’re discriminated against at work or bullied. People are here working to make sure you are safe. But only when you’re ready. So once you are ready to burn down that closet and walk into the world the same people who are ready and willing to hand you the match and walk with you along the way.

 

 

Don’t Like The Gay Scene? Too Bad Cause You’re A Part Of It Anyway

gay party

We are a community. We are diverse with our own styles music preferences and goals. We want to be treated as an individual being that has different aspirations and dreams and driving force that gets us out of bed each morning. We may not all engage in the same activities or have the same interests. We may not prefer to participate in activism or show up for Pride each year. We may not have any resemblance to what is referred to as a gay lifestyle. But we are still a community that shares a commonality that sets us apart from the rest of society.

Even though the word and meaning of community itself is used too broadly or has been pontificated too extensively we are all still members of a diverse community of men and women that share one commonality in that we are different than the rest of society. A difference that may take a lifetime to accept but once it happens, becomes a milestone of growth. So much of our time as activists and leaders is spent on eradicating this truth that we are different while advocating for equal rights to the point now that it’s laughable. Some of us have yet to understand that different doesn’t mean better or worse. Just different.

So while posters are made to illustrate how we all want families with the perfect spouse that precedes having perfect children and perfect careers and perfect lives, it completely omits the fact that we love having sex with other men.  Numerous seminars and endless lecturers going across the country explaining that the reason we deserve the right to marry is because we are all the same when we aren’t. We are different than our straight counterparts and it’s an injustice to who we really are to argue otherwise. What we should be doing is showing how those differences should have no bearing on our rights as citizens of this country and how we should be celebrating these attributes rather than hiding them.

Those of you who’ve read my past assertions know this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken about embracing our differences because that is what brings real change in society. Real change does not happen by assimilating or replicating some notion of normality that closely emulates the rest of society. This is usually what I say when talking to some zealot that calls us sinners but today I’m reiterating this message for us as well. Because truthfully nothing aggravates and saddens me more than seeing fellow gay men who harbor on the perceived negative attributes of this community so much that they feel the need to separate themselves from it. Or even worse campaign against it. This is much more than a criticism or observation on how we need to improve. It’s outright contempt that leads to their own dissonance from this community and is so strong that they renounce their gay membership.

At some point some of us felt that in order to have all the rights as the rest of society meant that we have to distance ourselves from the people who are the most like us. So in turn you’ll see some that’ll place themselves on a pedestal while giving some wistful humorous sermon about how degrading gay culture is. They’ll haughtily laud about messy bottoms and the degrading obstacles to quench their thirst or tops who don’t know how to be a man all while projecting their obvious self-loathing on to everyone else.

They will only focus on the adventures in bathhouses with disdain or worse that they will disgustingly treat the men in our community living with HIV as if they’re lepers while making tacky, tasteless jokes. Sadly this behavior is not limited to those living with HIV. The apathy towards the transgender men and women in this community still astounds me to this day. The ardent disregard and dry puns while these men and women are being beaten and murdered with hardly any stringent federal laws to protect them. We even have so called LGBT leaders that dismiss their transphobia as being too sensitive.

Those leaders will start misguided campaigns all to increase their agency and once their hot button reaction has become apathetic they move on to their next object. All this while not listening to those who are in the trenches seeing the harsh realities every day rather than in suit and ties at a gala for celebrities that want to boost their image. They’ll constantly say how we need to better ourselves while all they do is bring nothing but their own negativity and bitterness. They are too jaded to give real constructive criticism on how to further enrich our community.

Sometimes wanting to distance oneself from the community is about the rejection from others within this community. Because when some of us feel so much pressure to fit into this mold of what we’re supposed to say or do that we feel lost and without a voice. As a result they feel there’s no other alternative than to completely distance themselves from anything they associate with being gay out of self-preservation and maintaining their sanity. It all becomes so overwhelming because they feel as though people will only see gay and nothing else.

It all saddens and frustrates me to no end. Each time I come across these men I challenge them to seek out more than what is so easily seen on the surface because I’ve learned that no matter how much you assert that you need distance from this community that you will always be a member. The more you insist that as a whole, we are nothing more than a bunch of hypersexualized drug addicts looking for the next conquest to fodder over on social media that you are still a member of this community. No matter how you’re not into the gay scene or whatever you entail that to be. No matter how disheartened by what you believe to be superficial or uncaring about this community you are still a member.

Just like I will always be an African American, no matter what it is a part of who I am. Sure I could distance myself as much as I want from rap and rhythm and blues and Afros and cornrows and dance moves like twerking or stereotypes like eating fried chicken or watermelon or any other cultural aspect that identifies me will never separate me from the truth that I will always be a black man and society will always remember that as well.

Because if I deny all that is associated with being an African American then I’m also denying the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin and Rosa Parks. I’m missing out on learning more about the collective history and embracing a history rich with an aesthetic that instills survival and perseverance that taught me how to stand even when it seems meaningless. Observing it enables me to know how I want to be treated and how I choose to interact with others. This mindset helped me understand that simply submitting to my adversaries or their oppressive objectives leads to more oppression.

And the same goes for being gay. Distancing yourself from gays that go clubbing is like distancing yourself from those that stood up for their right, our right at Stonewall Inn so that you have the right to choose. Saying that you’re too good to associate with gays that are too effeminate or too girly is like saying you’re not really gay because wanting to be with another man is a feminine trait. It’s this type of self-hate that people who have the proclivity to renounce gay life that is so damning it rivals the bigots that make it their life mission to campaign against us. It’s counterproductive and it needs to end. You will always be gay and no amount of fitting in or assimilating or emulating or distancing from the rest of us is ever going to change that.

All of this I’m sure I’ve mentioned before but this installment is the result of talking to a guy I spoke with today that told me that he hates being gay because he is tired of being seen only as one big stereotype that society will never accept. And he’s even more disheartened by what he describes as the constant animosity he experiences within the gay community. The conversation knocked the wind out of me because he essentially disliked his identity and those associated with it so much that even with the unwavering support of his loved ones he hates being gay and hates himself. And it broke my heart a bit hearing him have such a hopeless resolve.

He expressed that he doesn’t feel like he has the freedom to truly embrace who he is without being judged as being too feminine or not manly enough. And when he does embrace those aspects of himself that men say his aren’t good enough for him and that men that do accept his “gayer” side that he encounters aren’t interested in anything outside of those stereotypes of sex and drugs. He went further on this point by saying he doesn’t have the perfect body so feels like he’s constantly being critiqued. So he feels that he has to distance himself from the rest of us because no one will ever see him as more than a stereotype. Naturally I sympathized with this sentiment as I myself felt animosity towards this community I was made to feel as though I’m a magical negro that’s only purpose was to fulfill any sexual desires of the men I slept with.

But I explained to him as I’m explaining to you all know that while the actions of others can detour you from wanting to associate with the community as a whole that you cannot let that stop you from seeking out meaningful friendships and relationships from this community. As I spoke my words became more passionate because while I understand where the urge comes from to show your individuality, giving up on finding something meaningful from other gay men does nothing. While I realize that the man I spoke with today may just have a general depressive affect men at this point of his life his sentiment is experienced by a lot of other gay men.

So in my opinion it’s imperative that we remember we are a community. Regardless of the circumstances of why you are in conflict this is still a part of you. Challenge yourself to see the diversity and be an active member of your own life that seeks out what relationships you want from other people. You can choose to give into believing that whatever you perceive to be superficial all that exists within this community and miss out or keep looking and asking. Never settle for what you see on that surface.

 

Is He A Top Or A Bottom?

bitchybottoms

Today while attempting to research for something to blog about I came across this article in the Advocate titled, Six Reasons Why it Sucks to Be a Gay Manthat discussed the different ways that being gay has its downfalls. Never mind the negative tone the name of the article has as it is apparent after reading the first two paragraphs that the author was satirically making a point through humor and I can’t fault him for that.

However there was one particular point on the list that really frustrated me. Maybe frustrate is too strong a word as it’s not so much that I have hostility towards this point, but rather I question the point itself. It talked about how not knowing a potential partner’s sexual role early on can pose problems later on in the relationship. The author implies how it sucks when two gay men get together and are dating only later to find out that they are first in fact bottoms:

4. “Wait … we are both bottoms?”

It’s the third date and you have been on your best behavior with that gorgeous man across the dinner table.  That means no “sexting,” no more than two cocktails, and nothing below the waist … until now.

You think, Finally, this is how dating is supposed to be! You didn’t meet on Grindr or sleep with each other on the first date. You have the same taste in music and even talked about how you both want kids. Everything is perfect!

That is, until things finally start heating up and your thighs keep wanting to go in the same direction as his. After a frustrating make-out session and an awkward discussion in the nude, the reality of your preferred position becomes apparent. Even if one of you may be more “versatile” than the other, you are both bottoms.

So there went the wedding bells, but it could be worse. At least you have a new shopping pal.

This of course would cause problems in any relationship when you have a preference to a specific sexual role; if you’re not into it, you just aren’t. But the first thought I had when I read this point is why would this information be something that you would find out on the third date? When is the right time to ask this question.

And I know that most already know the answers to this question depending on their own experience or belief in common sense but some of us are not as clear on parameters because of inexperience. Or the fact that as the more men you interact with, the sooner you realize that the answer is not as clear cut as you once believed.

Because despite what the media, and sometimes what our own beliefs about the validity in stereotypes of gay men, we know deep down that we are a very diverse group of men so you can’t just go by appearance. Or how they walk. Or how they talk. Their profession. All of these demographics don’t automatically tell you this crucial information that will at some point will mean something to both of you.  And despite their popularity, we don’t always have the convenience of social dating apps like Grindr to blatantly list what are our sexual preferences.

Some may be saying right now, “all that stuff doesn’t matter, it’s all about the connection”. Well like it or not sex is a component of that connection. Granted, it is not the only connection two people can share with each other or the only way to physically express affections for one another but it is still an important part to intimacy. Remember that as men we react first by what they see, so we also base our future behaviors on what we see in the present and foreseeable future.

You may have sex on the first date or may not have sex for the first six months of dating someone new, but a lot of the attraction may be centered on how you were attracted to him in the first place. So the discussion needs to happen at some point well before you make it to the bedroom one night to take your relationship further. So this will come up at some point.

But the question is of course when. When do approach sex roles in potential partners? So how would you approach the matter if it weren’t so apparent? Would you bluntly ask? Going up to someone and saying hi, I’m (insert name) and I’m wanted to know if you’re a top or bottom” probably won’t go over too smoothly. We can all appreciate a direct inquiry but you’re more than likely to offend someone with a question that is so intimate and  private.

Would a better way to approach the dilemma be to enact on a series of vague questions to find out the answer? What an icebreaker that could be, if done correctly. There’s drawback to that as well. A lot of guys do not like these types of long-winded, mull around the bush questions (including myself). After a while they can come off as condescending and suggests that you are too much the inquisitor rather than potential lover.

Maybe the best approach would be a combination of the first two scenarios. But instead of asking them, under no uncertain terms declaring what sexual role you prefer. For instance at some point providing information about your own preferred sexual role (without being vulgar or inappropriate), you suggest how much you love leading your dance partner on the floor and doing a very sensual rumba. And that doesn’t have to include actually discussing sex itself. But that can be seen as being too forward.

Maybe that approach is too forward as well, suggesting cockiness and that you just assumed what you believe is their sexual role. the whole guessing game and these tactics you employ can be tiresome. Honestly I don’t think this situation of later on finding out two guys are both bottoms happens that often as natural chemistry will express what each of your roles are. So maybe listening is the true key. Maybe there are subtle indications that can help that we don’t pay attention to often. Maybe that was what the author was suggesting.

I believe it’s important to ask why we have such a hard time approaching this topic in the first place. The biggest reason is the result of what the roles themselves imply. Being a top implies masculinity and strength as well as dominance while being the bottom signifies submissive, feminine attributes. One of the problems arises is when we take those sexual roles we assign ourselves outside the bedroom and apply it to everyday life.

It’s no secret that in the gay community that the bottom is the brunt (no pun intended) of many jokes. And is seen as a negative attribute, especially by those that carry heteronormative practices of misogyny into the gay community. That means they, like chauvinistic men in the rest of society associate anything feminine as being weak.

We can blame it on media, or upbringing as much as we want but the truth is we are responsible for correcting those ill-conceived beliefs into the community. As I’ve stated before, we have to take accountability for not repeating the mistakes we advocate against. Basically, remember what I said earlier about every guy being different? That’s the most important thing you can do. And be honest in however you discuss it.

Lastly, don’t ever question what sexual role he says he prefers and take him at his word. Just the way you would want to not be scrutinized by whatever your preferred sexual role is for you.  If you either don’t believe or accept that then kindly move on to some other topic or someone else.

I won’t tell you which method is right or wrong because that is not my job description in this setting  However I will say to always remember how you want to be addressed when this question is asked of you and how you’d respond accordingly. The chemistry will say more than any line of questioning you can think up and provide you with the answer when necessary. And guys, always do it with respect. Perceive each man, regardless of the position he prefers, is still a man and a human being. Remember and respect that.

Brushes With Death To Taking First Breaths: My Final Tale Of Growing Up Gay

gay love

It’s 2:05 in the morning and I can’t sleep. It’s been a long day like any other Monday but I’ve been feeling off. Completely tense, short tempered and just all around moody. So I wanted to catch up on current events and decided to read some of the latest LGBT news to see if there was anything I missed. Then I came across the story of Bailey O’Neill, the 12 year old boy that died this weekend after being beaten into a coma by some schoolyard bullies and the story of Marco McMillian, the openly gay mayoral candidate beaten to death in Mississippi.

My heart sank for them and their families and it made all the feelings of this day feel even worse because of the emotional quicksand I felt I’d been in the entire day. And then I remembered that it’s the first Monday in March, and all these memories came flooding back on why this particular Monday is so important to me. In 2005 on the first Monday in March was the day I almost died  and the day I finally came completely out of the closet. So I decided to finally follow up with the first two in this series by adding the last part of the growing up gay stories with the one that was the most defining moment in my life.

This all took place it was my first year off campus and it was a rough emotional one for me. It wasn’t the course load or tensions with the professors. It was because I had been deeply affected by the events of last year on campus. I was full of brooding and angst because I wasn’t out yet and so many times I had come close. Even though the most important people in my life, my parents, knew that I was gay I still felt the entire time that I was not living authentically. And with as much as a Resident Adviser and a friend that I always advocated for others to live in this example, I felt like a hypocrite because I was not doing the same.

My friendships with some became strained and I was steadily distancing myself from everyone. Maybe I did that on some conscious level to prepare myself for any potential fallout from anyone, though I felt like many silently knew.  The year progressed and I became somewhat stabilized until Valentine’s Day, when I lost an old friend of mine. Her death devastated me and I was completely heartbroken and an emotional wreck because I felt that I should’ve been able to prevent it somehow. I went through the remainder of my last year on campus in a fog of disbelief instead of savoring the last few months until “real” adulthood.

I carried some of the numbness and pain of that year onto my first year off campus but with all of that my not formally being out was the biggest thing on my mind. It had all but consumed me to the point that I welcomed any distractions that did not pertain to my dilemma. I was angry and sad all the time because I keep stalling this all out. It didn’t help matters because I felt that things had not been resolved with the man I had been seeing off and on since my freshman year of college. He had moved away and I missed him terribly but we still were in touch. But that only seemed to make the pain of us not being together even greater, And when he came to visit I was speechless that he had already came out since his graduation.

He questioned me on why I hadn’t done so, and as the nature of our relationship I still wouldn’t confirm it. So all his questions were met with a longing stare as a few tears strewn down my face. Again I tried to reconcile why I couldn’t do it. Maybe it was because I felt I had to embrace my race because of the covert, institutionalized racism that exists in the south. I feared that being of both two minority groups (African American and gay) would result in me being bombarded with acts of hate and judgment. That no matter who much I tried to show how I was so many other things than my race and my sexuality, it wouldn’t be enough.

Instead of not giving a damn what everyone else thought I felt that I had to sacrifice and suppress one aspect of myself in order to be seen as a real person beyond stereotypes and labels. The dichotomy would be something I would treasure later for the unique perspective it gives me but back then I still felt it wasn’t enough. At least that was the excuse I was using. So I thought if I waited until I was in a more diverse place after school would be better. But I wasn’t lying about it anymore by pretending to be attracted to women and become a pro at playing the pronoun game. So I was taking my time and doing it my way, as usual. But I didn’t have much time left as my health started to decline. I’d only eat a portion of what I used to and I kept losing weight.

And then I got the flu or what I thought was the flu. I couldn’t keep anything down. I lay in bed for nearly two weeks thinking I had the same bug going around. But eventually it started to hurt, a lot. the pain was dull at first, then cramping, then sharp agonizing pain. So my roommate took me to the hospital and after a two hour wait they gave me some Milk of Magnesia and sent us on our way. I cried for most of the night because this was by far one of the most painful things I had ever felt. I think I somehow drifted off to sleep from the sheer exhaustion of this ordeal. It was early that morning that I woke up and the pain was prolific. I could barely breathe and my stomach was protruding so far it looked as if I were in my third trimester of pregnancy. I ran to roommate’s room and as soon as he saw my stomach he grabbed his keys not needing anymore explanation.

We arrived at the hospital and they went to examine me. My blood pressure was dropping so they rushed me to another examination room that had an x-ray so that they could see what was going on. I remember looking at the clock as it said 915. They took me back to the previous room and I kept hearing doctors being paged. They brought in more fluids and a bag of blood because apparently I was too low. More nurses rushed in and I noticed there was a group of doctors all talking to my doctor. Then he came in and told me I had to have surgery immediately. I asked why and he said my organs were shutting down and handed me a phone to call my parents. I asked why again and he said “just in case” and darted out to prep for surgery.

I couldn’t focus and was too afraid to dial the phone so my roommate did. He tried to explain but my mom insisted that she talk to me. I tried masking my voice so she wouldn’t think I was scared, but mothers always know better. She told me to stay strong and that she loved me and it took everything I had not to lose it. Seconds later they said it was time to go and the machines were making more noises but when the nurse said that I couldn’t hear anything else. it was 922. This was serious. As they were wheeling me down for this surgery I stared up at the fluorescent lights and thought about how much I loathed them. time slowed and all of these never-ending questions about being gay popped into my head.

Why was this haippening. Why didn’t I pay attention to all this. What if I don’t make it. What if I die right here. What if I never see him again to tell him I love him and always will. What about my mom. What if..this is punishment…if it is then why did God make me this way. Why didn’t I live my life the way I wanted to. What if people never knew the real me. Why didn’t I tell everyone who didn’t already know I was gay. Why did I wait so long..Why

Then the next thing I knew I was waking up. I looked around and wondered if the surgery had taken place and then I wondered if I was having some out of body experience and then I let myself wonder if I was dead. and I freaked out. I started pulling at the sheets and screaming out of being so scared and disoriented. The machines were violently screaming as loud as I was and the nurses appeared from nowhere with several needles and within seconds I was out; I woke up looking at florescent lights as I was being wheeled down the hall. I started thinking I was dreaming again and everything that just happened was some drug hallucination and I was crying again and calling out for my mom and we turned the corner and she was there with my dad and my roommate.

I have never cried so hard in my life seeing her blue green eyes look at me, telling me that it was okay and to calm down. All it did was make me cry harder.  They wheeled me to my room and hooked up more machines and gave me more drugs to calm me down because I was aching all over. The doctor came in to tell that my appendix had ruptured and because it become septic my organs began to fail but I didn’t care about what he was saying. The fact that I was alive and with the people that loved me most was all that mattered. I didn’t care how close I came to death because I was alive.

After some time had passed I grabbed my mom’s hands and told her that I was going to be open to everyone else about being gay and she was of course fine with it. I told myself that if I pulled through this I was going to completely be who I was. And if. When people asked I would tell them. I asked my roommate to give me my phone and while he and my parents went to go get coffee I checked my voicemail out of habit and found out about another friend that had killed himself because he was gay. we were the same age and both of us had to face the darkest parts of humanity. But he was gone.

For a moment I felt so guilty because moments ago I was so elated about being alive in that moment. I sat there and let a few tears fall before collecting myself and scrolled down to the man that I had been unable to confess the truth to several months ago. Since death had been trying to say something to me twice in one day I finally decided to listen. It gave me the courage to be open publicly about who I have always been. Gay. And I have never felt so free in my life. I called the man I had loved all of my adult life at 1137pm on that first Monday in March and told him that I had almost died that day, that I was gay, and that I loved him.

Even with how hard it is to write all this down and share my most personal story it’s even harder for me to think of people suffering and feeling that they don’t belong in this world because of who they are. That maybe if I share my story, all of my story, it will encourage others to do the same so that people that are gay will avoid the missteps that I took and never have to endure what I went through. That they read stories like this and it makes them think of the kids that have it even worse than I did. That it may speak to those that felt like they have no support and are relentlessly bullied. So maybe those that feel insecure about who they are don’t feel the need to torture other kids for something they hate about themselves that they shouldn’t hate.

So maybe give that one kid perspective that even when you literally have no reason to believe that it will get better that if you hold on, that it does get better. You see today could have also been a very sad day for my parents. Instead of them talking to me on the phone they could’ve been laying some anniversary flowers at a gravesite and that makes me think of all the parents like those of Bailey, Tyler Clementi, Matthew Sheppard, and so many others that do or will now have these sad heartbreaking anniversaries. I don’t want us to lose another human being this way.

I do not want another soul to feel fear that they cannot embrace and love who they are. And if sharing our lives can get one person that is going through this to think then they will have served their purpose. The only way we can change the world is when we are willing to look at our own lives and question what we could be doing differently. And I am grateful that I was able to have the opportunity to tell others to ask themselves to realize that we do not have forever to be who we are today. And how much strength and love is waiting for you when you are ready to embrace who you are.

The Discussion Of Racial Gay Self-Hate That Is Never Addressed

DTLA

When I write these Op-Eds, I always attempt to present a topic and viewpoint that either is never talked about or approach a subject in a completely different manner as it related to various issues that I see in the LGBT community, and in particular with gay men. When I divulge my own experiences with this formula it is in hopes that I in some way illustrate why I came to that conclusion. But the topic I’m discussing has so many layers that I may be unable to fully quantify the ramifications of what is attributing to this issue.

So when I write about the infrastructure of the gay community I’m hoping to spark some dialogue because I see so many divisive tactics that we have in the community. From internalized homophobia to latent racism I try to shed some of the motivations behind them and how we as a whole can learn from them. And while this issue is about someone’s own personal issues/problems we as a community may also be part of the cause of why this happens.

Sometimes people will do just about anything to feel as though they belong. Because none of us truly want to be alone. We crave some form of validation from the people that we either admire, feel commonality, or that we aspire to be like. And unfortunately race is still an issue within the gay community, despite those that make asinine claims to the contrary with statements like “I’m gay I can’t be racist”. We know that isn’t true. But we hardly see examinations into how this misbelief as well as others affects other gay ethnic/racial minorities. More specifically, we don’t talk about what negative stereotypes and behaviors this group do to themselves and other gay men of color.

I wanted to discuss this specific topic as a result from, believe it or not, a TV sitcom. It all started as a result of my queuing up a show saved up on DVR. There’s a show by LOGO called DTLA that depicts the lives of 30 somethings of all different backgrounds, races and sexual orientation navigating their lives and loves in Los Angeles. The premise of the show is what I always fantasized being gay would be like for me but it wasn’t. Maybe it’s because I have a tendency to romanticize every possible scenario, as we all do. I’m in the south but to be around that many people that are diverse in opinion and get along is hard sought after here.

Anyway, this led into further discussion of shows like Queer As Folk and Noah’s Arc that feature gay male characters as well as the plots, implications and our own desires about the hot cast members. But as my friends and I were discussing the plot along with the eye candy the dramas provide, a friend randomly asked me if I ever felt that race makes me feel as if I actually had to distance myself from other gay African Americans and other gay ethnic minorities. I was at first shocked, insulted that he believed that I would ever limit the human experience by isolating my interactions from people that share a part of my ancestry.

Then a few seconds later I knew exactly what he was referring to. What he meant by that line of questioning was if I felt I needed to distance myself from other ethnic minorities so that I would feel like I fit in with the majority of the gay community. There’s a belief that this happens as a result of tokenism, or when a select few members of a minority are accepted into a community. The minority’s acceptance is supposedly a sign of good faith that they’re not harboring prejudiced ideology. In fact it doesn’t even matter if the group practices this type of initiation as it’s only necessary for the minority that believes this phenomena to be true.

So gay minorities that believe this phenomena to be true and are consciously agreeing to the terms will go out of their way to make themselves stand out. They will show that their behavior is like that of the other Caucasian men in the gay community and not associate with members of other races, especially their own.  They feel that it is a consequence to this perceived tokenism and  feel that this is more pressure for GOC (gays of color) to assimilate into an ideal of what is acceptable mannerisms and customs commonly associated with gay Caucasian men.

Sounds so outlandish when you think about it but this works in the same way as internalized homophobia. where a gay person will openly condemn homosexual practices and cultures assimilate and show allegiance to a favored group. I wish I could say this is all just theory but I’ve witnessed this behavior and even questioned if I was embarking on it when I first came out. But my philosophy has always been to reach out be inclusive.  I’ve never had that reaction where I felt like I couldn’t date my own race or embracing my various racial background as a gay man.

However I do remember a time when I was at a gay club and asked another African American if he wanted to dance and he was so hot. Great smile and laugh to accompany his very muscular physique. He said no thank you and I was fine with that until he leaned over and said “we can’t have the rest of them thinking we’re hoodrats” I was taken back because we weren’t doing anything other than talking. When I asked what he meant he continued by saying that “whites didn’t like it when too much of us are in one place. Then offered to meet me somewhere later if I gave my number and instead of lecturing him, I simply walked away.

Whenever I think of this tokenism happening I refer to my Race and Racism professor discussing this tokenism phenomena that can occur with our innate need to belong. He talked about how on a subconscious level, African American men that journey outside of their native community may do all that they can to stand out and completely isolate themselves from any members.  No matter how compatible they are in ideology and insight a person may avoid all interactions for fear that they will be associated with any negative stereotypes. he will even go so far as to laugh at racially insensitive jokes or even engage in using them himself all in an effort to belong. All the while these men will always have an internal struggle of who he is and what he believes constantly challenging his position in the community he is trying to adopt.

My story about the guy at the bar illustrates what my professor taught about how this phenomena occurs with gay ethnic minorities. They will not openly get into dialogue with other gay men in clubs and other hangouts for fear they will be grouped as just another minority that exhibits the same undesirable characteristics. They may openly say something like “I don’t do black guys”, much like you would see from a prejudiced Caucasian’s profile on Grindr or other dating apps.  Their need to assimilate and be seen as one of the adoptive community is so strong that they don’t recognize the hatred they’re harboring for a group they belong to and for themselves. This behavior is a clear indication of deficient self-esteem where they may fear association from their race so much that they become prejudiced to it.

Jargon aside, even though this skewed vision that a gay ethnic/racial minority may have is of their own issues and experiences we as a whole community can do more to -prevent this jarring behavior. We can talk about race a bit more. A lot more. Because too often the experiences of what it’s like to be gay and from an ethnic/racial minority is classified as the same experience when that is completely untrue. They are on two different planes of conscious.

Phenomena like this affect all of us because it shows that sometimes we can be our own worst enemies both from members within the community and to ourselves. And that these beliefs, however extreme they are valid come from somewhere. We need to examine that and be willing to give each other a voice so that anyone, no matter the topic, feels like they are being heard and respected. We can all have dialogue because these are things we never talk about.