I almost allowed someone to spoil this moment for me. That someone being my mother. I love my mama dearly, but my sexuality bothers her. My insistence on talking about it bothers her even more. The whole idea that not only was I born with a penis and drawn to other individuals in possession of one, I have the gall not to be ashamed of that frustrates her beyond belief. And the fact I even act on that desire sometimes? Sourpuss squared.
Professionally, I had a very good 2013, and from the looks of it, I’ll enjoy an even better 2014. I don’t have everything that I want, but I am learning to accept that nothing ever comes to me on my timeframe. Ever. I work extremely hard and have sacrificed so much. Now, at a few months shy of turning 30, I see light. I’ve spent a very long time waiting for that. I’m not getting in my own way as much. People are coming to me with new opportunities, and when they come, I’m excelling. I remain hard on myself, but I’m making progress on that, too.
I feel good about being on Esquire.com, Vulture and Time.com. I’m so proud of the work I’m doing at EBONY.com and other places.
I love that I have a personal essay in the new issue of ESSENCE and one of my best friends in the entire world – a person who has always believed in me and pushed me to keep fighting – was my editor. It feels good. And I love, love, love that my work is in a magazine with Oprah on it. Oh, and the boo thang in head, too.
In my mind, my essay being in ESSENCE with Michael Bae Jordan on the cover brings us closer together. Shut up, I said “in my mind.”
But what I hate, and still very much grapple with, is that I can’t really share my good news with the people who should be closet to me.
I came out to my mother after an essay I wrote about two Black boys who hung themselves within the same month to escape the anti-gay taunts that haunted them. The only reason I told her was that the essay went viral and was smacked right in the middle of the site that at the time was her go to Web page. Her response was nasty and I didn’t speak to her for weeks.
Not much has changed since 2009 and we don’t talk about my sexuality. It’s usually for the best because she has a mouth and so do I. However, I gave her the courtesy to inform her about this ESSENCE essay since it’s a widely read publication that has my big head literally on the page of my work.
I tried to be civil. I tried to talk about God and difference of opinion. I stressed that I think no matter how she feels and how I stopped going to church, I do think God is using me in someway to help create dialogue. I write about politics, pop culture, sexuality, culture, race, and because a check is involved, celebrity bullshit. But I have put myself out there to help people. Most of the gay Black writers people admire are good and dead.
I never wanted to be the ‘gay writer,’ but I also don’t want to be true to myself when I know that we’re not nearly as evolved as well pretend to be.
My mom’s response was not surprising, but no less disheartening before it ultimately irritated the living fuck out of me.
“Am I happy that you’re gay? No. I’m sorry it happened to you.”
“Am I hurt that you’re still gay? Yes, because I feel responsible.”
I so wanted to quote “***Flawless” in this moment. Respectful southern boy, though.
There was also a bit about my extended family potentially abandoning me, though I could really give a less fuck about that. As I explained to her, where were they when the drunken monster known as my father was giving us all hell? Weren’t they judging your other straight children’s life choices? Better yet, of all those people, who is the one with a college degree that actually got out of the hood, did something and stuck with it?
Exactly. So who gives a fuck about what anyone thinks, much less them. Oh: no shade.
Anyway, that wasn’t about me. That was about her and how she feels and what my work and my growing presence as a writer means to her. That’s her issue, not mine.
Thankfully, my beautiful and always loving sister made me feel better. I am not a crier, but I broke down a minute. I was mad about that because I didn’t want to give her or anyone that satisfaction.
My mom says she loves me and won’t abandon me. I believe her. Nonetheless, she is embarrassed and she wishes I were straight. I understand why she is the way that she is and why her point of reference to all things gay is so full of sin and death and the like.
She is not a monster and can be the sweetest person imaginable.
I love her dearly. She humanizes the ignorance gay people face throughout the world. In some respects, I’m grateful to that because it’s made me a better thinker and a stronger person. Ultimately, though, her opinions about what my work means only go so far. Like on the scale of Destiny’s Child, her thoughts and her feelings about my career are Farrah Franklin. Mine are Beyoncé, obviously.
Seriously, I know myself. I know my voice. I am always being reminded of what my words – no matter the theme or tone – mean to people. I know my value.
No one is “using” me to be a “spokesperson.” She of all people ought to know not I am my own damn person, always have been and always will be. Hell, I wouldn’t be a Howard grad, ex-LA transient, or current Harlemite had I listened to her.
Maybe one day she will evolve. Maybe she won’t. Whatever happens, I will die knowing I lived my life as I saw fit and I went for mine no matter what anyone said — including the person who gave me life.
I have fallen on my face several times, but again, things seem to be turning around. I don’t care who isn’t happy about that because I’m happy. That’s why I’m back to enjoying this moment and all the moments that are to come.
P.S. Since we’re on God, Jesus, and the Saints, shout out to all of them and my editor, the lovely Charreah, for making sure my picture turned out okay. Y’all. That was hell week when I took this. I was doing so much work, not getting any sleep, and I didn’t even have a fresh lineup. I damn sure wouldn’t have mentioned this at all if I looked like a bugawolf in the magazine. That line up will be together the next time, though.
Beyoncé would never.