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If there is one thing I have learned as a working writer – notably one who writes for the Internet – it is that this climate is so conducive to constant complaining. So many of us are urged to reflect more what has yet to be done as opposed to what’s happening or what has literally just happened. Small victories are often dismissed as not being enough. In many cases, big victories aren’t always enough either.

However, if there is one thing I have struggled with throughout my life, it is knowing when to lavish in the moment and not obsess over what comes next.

There is a difference between not being content with the status quo and constantly moving the goal post to the point that you can never truly embrace progress. With that in mind, I take great pride in the historic moment that has taken place in my lifetime. I have struggled with the idea of marriage due of the examples of it in my life, but I have since challenged myself to see the possibilities. Now, it is a prospect that is real and attainable thanks to last week’s Supreme Court ruling that has made marriage equality nationwide. I will not play down this moment. Too many people have worked hard to make this happen.

Yes, some are right in their suspicions that our Black faces were likely not in the minds of many of the White LGBT members who worked toward this dream, but it’s a reward that we can now each share all the same. I respect my friends and colleagues who feel conflicted over how to be happy that they can marry, but fear that they or their brothers and sisters can easily have their lives snatched away before ever getting to that point. I understand the frustration over erasure, too.

I recognize all the continued struggles we have to fight, but I am not willing to allow our pain to cloud a cause celebration. You can be critical without falling into cynicism. You can be vocal about what still needs to happen without shouting over what just did. You can do all these things and promise to fight tomorrow.

But, but, but: you can and should celebrate the present. Sometimes tomorrow feels like eternity and I wish more people – self-included – had a better appreciation for what happens in the here and now. I am actively working to be better about it. I am using this ruling to further push myself towards that goal.

My first introduction to gay life was death. I saw AIDS by the first grade, and I have written, and will soon write in a broader narrative by way of a book, just how devastating and paralyzing that was for me. My uncle died when I was six, and for a long time, that is all I knew what being gay could be. Now, thanks to the work of so many people of every hue and the Supreme Court, my six-year-old niece will have a different vision. She now knows Uncle Mikey can get married.

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One way to make me shut up.

A photo posted by Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick) on

“I told you when you came out to me that you weren’t going to end up with a black man,” my sister said to me recently, laughing hysterically. I had just told her about a friend of mine predicting my future, which involved an interracial marriage, the two of us remodeling a brownstone and being featured on HGTV.

There’s nothing wrong with interracial relationships. They’ve given me Mariah Carey, Barack Obama, a few lifelong friends and plenty of men to fawn over on Instagram. In the future, romantic relationships in this country are poised to become even more multiracial, not less.

Yet, I’ve always wanted to end up with someone like me — though ideally with less student loan debt. I’m not against dating anyone else, but I want someone who not only looks like me, but also understands me.

Being black in this country often requires you to explain yourself in settings where you are the clear minority. Who wants to do that in their personal life? I don’t like having to explain why it’s okay for me to use “the n-word” and not you, or why you shouldn’t touch my friend’s hair, no matter how tempted you are. I never want to have to yell out something like “cuz I’m black b—-!!!!” the way Rihanna once did on Twitter when met with a stupid question about “nappy hair.”

I also think it’s important for gay black men to be seen romantically involved with other gay black men. I write against the notions that black people are more homophobic than other groups. I actively speak out on the representation of gay black men in mass media. I criticize the lack of visibility of black LGBT couples on television and film. I feel that it’s important to counter the caricature-like images of how black people are presented, so I’ve gotten a little uneasy about being the black guy who dates “others.”

In my dating life, I also worry about someone choosing me just because I might feed a fetish. I have never dated a white man, but I did have, uh, an encounter, with one once. I felt like I was his science fair project. Unless Ryan Phillippe drops me a line, I may never bother again.

So I have placed pressure on myself to be the change that I advocate for in my writing. I just have not been successful in that endeavor — at all.

When black people say they prefer dating outside of black, I sometimes hear self-loathing in that statement. I do not want people thinking that I hate myself, or my black features, or that I find other groups of men superior. I do not hate myself or others like me. I just have not had a lot of success with black men upon moving to New York City two years ago. 

Since that time, most of the men I have dated do not look like me. The majority of them have been Latino. I match with them mostly on Tinder. And on those other apps. (I live not too far from 125th Street, so this cannot be attributed to location.) The same goes for in person, my preferred form of meeting men.

Most of the Latinos I’ve dated resemble Marc Anthony if he ate more steak. And I feel incredibly guilty about it: I feel like I’m letting myself and other black people down.

When I told a heterosexual friend of mine currently dating a white man about my feelings, she told me: “I feel like that daily. I’m in my first healthy relationship, and it’s with a white guy.” It makes you question where and what the problem is: You, those around you, or some combination of the two.

Read the rest at The Washington Post.

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Last Friday, on SoPOPular with Janet Mock, I was asked to touch on representation of HIV/AIDS in pop culture with respect to the Black community in light of last week’s episode of The Prancing Elites Project — where star Kareem Davis revealed he was HIV positive.

You can check out the links of both segments below.


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I squandered my 20s by not having enough sex. If I were rating my sex life in that decade through emoji, I behaved like the yellow one with his eyes closed and a straight line where a smile should be. I should have acted more like a cross between the eggplant and the one no one I know uses to signify raindrops. I wish I had been more of a slut, and while I am well aware that it is never too late to join the team, there are certain consequences that come with lateness. For me, that is a sense of stunted development.

I reflected on my struggle with intimacy, and its source, an early exposure to AIDS — by way of my AIDS-stricken uncle’s funeral when I was just six years old — in an essay for xoJane in 2014. After that, I decided to correct the problem. Strangers online were encouraging in a “You go boy, don’t press eject on your erections anymore!” fashion, but some of my friends – the gay male ones – were a bit more pointed in their commentary. I remember one person in particular advising to “be a better gay,” and get laid without the getting-to-know-you process. What followed was the suggestion to try “the apps,” which I admittedly rolled my eyes at.

Hook up apps like Jack’d and Grindr are an acquired taste. For the longest time, I didn’t like anything about them. In my mind, I am a Beyoncé, so to partake in the apps – which are basically like Seamless for sex – felt degrading, like lowering myself to the level of former Destiny’s Child member turned reality star who refuses to sing on air (LaTavia Roberson).

And then I had a change of heart.

For months, I flirted with the idea of meeting people, only to punk out. “These motherfuckers could be crazy” were the exact words I used. Ultimately, I truly gave in.

The first time I actually met someone from Jack’d, which is described as a “gay men’s social network” but is majorly used for what I would describe as “ho shit,” I thought it was going to end with me becoming the inspiration for a future episode of Law & Order: SVU. In my profile, I make it very plain that such a scenario is not ideal, my bio reads: “I don’t ever want to end up the inspiration behind an episode of Law & Order: SVU.”

Once we finished and he exited, I could no longer find my keys, prompting my suspicion that this man, whatever his name was, was good with his mouth but not at following directions. I was suddenly paranoid and sure he had stolen my keys and was planning to return to my apartment to slit my throat. Or something.

After two hours of searching my (not that large) apartment, I found my keys in a kitchen cabinet.

What’s most interesting about this story is that when it comes to hook up apps, this is not the most embarrassing one.

Not long after that incident, people started recognizing me.

I was using “Slim Shady” as a screen name on Jack’d, but getting messages like: “Hey, Michael. I love your blog, The Cynical Ones! You’ve been such an inspiration to me.” Other inquiries were related to whether or not I was “@youngsinick from Twitter,” and again, came conversations about my work as a freelance writer.

I never dawned on me that to some — namely those younger or around the same age as me — I am one of the few working gay black male writers they know. I’m not nearly on the level I want to be, but I am not necessarily living in obscurity as I thought, either.

Read the rest at Fusion.

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So a week and a half ago, I appeared on HuffPost Live’s Midweek Cocktail Chatter with Josh Zepps, talking about the lily white Oscars (with Black sprinkles in the audience), white women demanding we thank them for all that we’ve done, and a drug mostly white gay men are using thus far. I got to sip a hot toddy, which I needed at the time. It’s been so cold here, beloveds. Unnatural.

In any event, clips below the hood.


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Three months ago, I sat in my bed frustrated with myself. I was upset at all the life choices I’d made up until this point. Physically and mentally exhausted, I ran out to get an energy drink; I’d needed a caffeine-enriched charge to help meet a deadline. And then it happened: later, rushing to the bathroom, I tripped and went hip-first into my desk, knocking the energy drink onto my laptop, its red liquid bleeding into my keyboard.

Although the rest of the laptop was intact, the keyboard stopped working, which meant the assignment would have to be written on an iPhone.

I called the only person who felt right at the time: my mother. Sensing the urgency in my voice, she immediately asked, “What’s wrong?” Before I went into detail, I made a request: “Can you please just listen to me and let me finish? I only want to get this out.” “Okay, baby,” she said.

The last twelve months have been trying. I’m either doing a lot of the things I’ve always longed to do or, if nothing else, inching closer to goals I’ve carried with me for as long as I can remember. But it has not come without certain costs. To freelance write for a living is to often play the role of a sadist to your emotions. I regularly joke to my friends and in interviews that I am a writer and bill collector.

Months ago, my bills amounted to several thousands. It was not an unusual situation for me, but one I was tired of dealing with and one I am actively working towards avoiding as I advance in my career. I’m in better standing now, but still paying back the debt I built working with media companies whose existence became the bane of mine.

It took several months for it to happen, but the anger that was boiling underneath finally gave way to the sadness buried even deeper. As the tears began to fall, my mom could not resist her natural inclination to fault my decisions. Crying has never been easy for me, and as soon as my mom interrupted, I stopped.

The exercise lasted less than 10 seconds.

As proud as she is of what I have accomplished, and what other achievements await, her vision for my life is different from the one I presently live. Ideally, I’d be working in a field more secure (finance, corporate law, medicine), one that would make all her sacrifices worth it. I would also be straight and married with kids. We’d all attend mass regularly, and she’d have us over for Sunday dinners. I might even be back in Houston. Maybe not directly under her, but close enough (in Houston, traveling long distances within the city limits is normal).

But I am none of these things. I will never be any of these things.

I came out to my mother in 2009 after I penned an essay about two black boys who hung themselves within the same month. They’d wanted to escape the anti-gay taunts, and the kind of world that supported such behavior, that haunted them. In writing the essay, my sexuality was a statement of fact; prior to this, my love of men only existed as speculation.

Her response to my coming out was nasty, and we didn’t speak to her for weeks.

In February, I called her. Not much had changed since then, but I felt compelled to warn her that I was writing about being a black gay man, and that it would reach people she knew. A photo is going to be included, I said. (Translation: I look just like you and we bear the same surname; your co-workers, your friends, your sisters, and your girls at the beauty shop will all know I’m your son.) In telling her, I tried to be respectful about her beliefs. I tried to talk about God and difference of opinion. Regardless of how she feels, I told her, I do think God is using me, in some way, to help create dialogue.

“Am I happy that you’re gay?” she responded. “No. I’m sorry it happened to you. Am I hurt that you’re still gay? Yes, because I feel responsible.”

I’m not sure why she feels responsible. In her mind, maybe she thinks me being gay is a response to me being raised in house that included a violent and volatile alcoholic father. I made peace with her rationale—”I thought you needed a father; I also did not want to end up on welfare”—a very long time ago.

Months passed before we spoke again.

When she heard me cry, she did what any mother would do: she attempted to provide comfort. But it only irritated me. It somehow became about my need to go to “God’s house,” after which she subtly suggested that my struggles were linked to my sexual urges. She then offered to pay to have my laptop fixed. Too proud, I declined. But she wouldn’t accept it.

One thing I respect immensely about my mom is her faith. What she fails to grasp, however, is that the religion that saved her is my living hell. I don’t necessarily know what I believe in anymore. When I pray, more times than not, I believe someone is listening. There are also the rare times I wonder if I’m talking to myself in the dark.

Read the rest at Gawker.

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Last month, I was asked to share my coming out story in a segment for tied to last night’s episode of Being Mary Jane.

Yes, I used it a Beyoncé analogy. No, I’ll never stop invoking Beyoncé. She’s Beyoncé. Can I never wear this sweater again? Don’t answer that. I’m going to probably put it on in a few minutes.

As for the story: Want to hear it? Here it go (under the hood).


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Had the pleasure to be on SoPOPular with Janet Mock once again, participating in the “Smart Ass Pop Culture Feminist Clique” segment, talking State of the Union, Lifetime’s Whitney, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

Click under the hood to watch parts one and two.


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