On Friday, I participated in a Google Plus chat with Hello Beautiful about being Black and gay in Hollywood. This would include whether or not Black folks pressure Black gays to come out, if they are obligated to for the sake of the representation and awareness, and also my least favorite riddle: Did this gay somebody come out for the sake of a come up? It was a fun chat albeit a bit of a sausage fest. Scheduling issues and shit. Still, a very nice chat worth checking out if you so desire.
I normally don’t go back and watch or listen to any media appearance I do. I’m learning to break that habit for the sake of improvement. Ugh. Mariah Carey is my kindred spirit because like her, I know I am all about a good angle. And like her, I know the wrong angle will have me looking all the way fucked up.
Full disclosure: I had braces as a kid, but listen, I broke my retainer. My stupid ass took out my retainer in a rush to open a fucking VHS tape I bought at the Walmart. A wrestling tape at that. Not even WWF. It was like Starrcade 1993 from WCW. In other words, some total bullshit. Yes, I totally realize how nasty it was.
In any event, I broke the shit and my mama was like, “I am not spending $100 to get another one. So.” I mean, she spent a smooth few thousand or something on my braces and we ain’t have money like that, so I get it. Then my wisdom teeth came in and shook the table of my fucking mouth.
All I could do while watching this was think, “Oh, bitch. I gotta get my Invisalign fund going.” I mean, I don’t have like J. Cole mouth. No shade. Still, it’s really just two teeth messing up the service — kind of like LeToya and LaTavia before they got the boot. But, it’s alright. It’s coming, and again, with the right angle, it doesn’t look so bad.
At least my skin looked good, though. Thank you, painful ass laser hair removal treatments.
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.
About two weeks ago, I took part in another panel on Hot 97’s Street Soldiers themed around the men of reality TV and whether or not Black men who act a fool on television for pocket change are dooming the race.
If you’re vaguely familiar with my opinion on that “respectability” rooted argument against reality TV, you can imagine what my comments were. Actually, don’t imagine. Listen. And then tell a friend. After that, a cousin. Maybe even a co-worker who you don’t really like, but imagine will see it for the kid. Did you hear “the kid” in Nicki Minaj’s accent? God, I hope so. That’s how I intended you to.
The episode replayed on Sunday so I decided to quit playing and post about it.
You can check out the show below. Click on the player below, select “Reality Men.”
Now one thing I will say is that while Peter Gunz’s life is a fuck shit sandwich with fries, I do have a better understanding about why Tara sat on it. I also found myself defensive on his behalf after the way another panelists described him and his co-stars. I think reality TV deserves criticism just by nature of it being available for public consumption. Still, be mindful that these are real people no matter how they’re edited and storyboarded.
I’m increasingly realizing just how much I love to be on a mic. Okay, I was a broadcast journalism major so it’s not so much realizing as it is remembering. 2014 is all about making me the hood’s Donahue until I’m everybody’s actually Black Andy Cohen once Don Lemon is sacrificed in repentance to our ancestors. Order my steps, God and Beyoncé; be sure to include hot sauce with the order.
If you took Beyoncé’s favorite heel, dipped it in hell, proceeded to have her given the Wayne Szalinski shrunk treatment and instructed her to step all over my face and neck, you’d get the kind of pain I’m experiencing now following laser hair removal treatment number three.
The following picture is from treatment number one. As you can see, I don’t see it for the pain. Like, after the first treatment I told the woman with the gun, “I’m sorry if I sounded like a bitch.” She says she’s heard worse. Say, like me today probably.
Silly, silly me. I didn’t realize just how painful the procedure was — and I have a high threshold for pain. I’ve had wisdom teeth removed without the novocain kicking in and even that felt better than the laser. I’m sure the same could be said of tattooing my long last name on my dick.
Naturally, people let me know that fun fact after it. “Well, you were so excited. I didn’t want to ruin it from you,” said one friend I cursed at not long after. “Uh, I mean, you are literally burning the hair follicles off your face and neck. That doesn’t sound painless,” said Captain Obvious to me, Officer Oblivious.
Fine. My bad. Damn.
For some odd reason, the $80 cream I purchased to minimize the pain did not stop me from the desire to scream out those high pitch, dolphin calls commonly referred to as the Mariah Carey high not in pain. I must’ve done something wrong, but you best believe that won’t happen again. I’ll be certain the one with the gun rubs whatever cream and plastic covering properly to minimize the pain.
Whatever, it’s worth it.
As much as some of my friends like to joke that I look like gumbo and Korean BBQ came together to create a joke – leading to nicknames like Jackie (Chan), Bruce (Lee), and Kim Jong Trill (a personal favorite) – the curly ass hair of my past paved the way for the garden variety Negro problems that is razor hair bumps. And oh, bitch, do I hate a bump.
I can admit it now, but those who know me well know how much this bothered me. To the point where I ducked suggestions to do things like YouTube videos, blah, blah, blah, over my insecurities.
I have done TV before, though. I know how to camouflage. Plus as some of my friends would tell me (constantly), it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it to be.
Whether that’s true or not, I’m finally doing something about it and I couldn’t be happier even if I have to hold back serving the woman with the razor fresh out the womb, wailing realness each and every treatment.
Case in point, this picture, which could easily be captioned “Fear of God almost trounced by woman with the laser gun.”
And this one, which is giving, “What in the hell have I done in the name of vanity?”
That sentiment goes away fairly quickly. After all, vanity has its merits. I mean, we’ve all heard “Nasty Girl” and “7th Heaven.”
To me, this is all an investment. HD is unforgiving, and while I’m well aware I’m not perfect, I’m not giving the Twitter and the Facebook and the thoughts tip toying in my head in ammo in targeting my aesthetic. I try to live my life like Beyoncé as much as possible, but there are moments when I give in to my Keri Hilson and Keyshia Cole.
I’m sharing this for three reasons. One, I now salute Kim Kardashian’s thug level. That girl has been nipped, tucked, snatched and scaled all the way back. Moreover, she’s by nature a hairy Armenian but thanks to
nurture torture, a very happy hairless traditional-looking white. That could not have been easy. Slow hand clap for you, Kimberly.
The other reason is all of this has reminded me how silly I can be at times. I should’ve been done this procedure, but at the same time, it was ridiculous to let that curtail me from doing certain things because I’m so self-critical. Like, there are so many bugawolves doing it with no shame. Why did I hold myself back?
I don’t believe in fauxtivational speaking, but it’s amazing how much we can hold ourselves back over the smallest of problems that largely exist within the confines of our big heads. In the future, we should all think about the prophet, Kimbella from Love & Hip Hop and her profound phrase after getting sucker punched by that big ass, miserable bull, Chrissy Lampkin: “Still look pretty.”
Lastly, the shit works.
So the other day I was fortunate enough to take part in a panel on Hot 97 about issues related to the gay in light of Pride week in NYC. The Gossip Game’s Vivian Billings and her transgendered daughter were a part of it. I didn’t mention the show on the site before, but I would like to say now that while the reality series needs major tweaking I appreciated watching Vivian and Kayden opening up about Kayden transitioning into becoming a man. Black people deserve just as fluid imagery of our sexuality, gender and all its intricacies the same way whites enjoy it now. Ditto for Monifah and her boo thang displaying a healthy, loving relationship on R&B Divas: Alannuh.
Anyhow, do click “Gay Pride” if you’re interested in listening (or here). You might notice a twang, a gayccent, what have you. However, as long you as don’t think I sound crazy, we’re all good.
Oh, and of course a bunch of your cousins called pretending not to be homophobic only to say something homophobic right after. Same goes for the classics like “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Stevie.” Together, I got them.
Enjoy…or not. No, enjoy. C’mon nah.
It’s been a year since I first thought to write this post and after what feels like a million attempts, I still haven’t figured out the best way to start it. I’ve been putting off writing about my frustrations with – well, everything – for so long now. I imagine myself to be a pretty open person, hoping that even in some of my most embarrassing moments it may help other people in some way.
I just couldn’t get this out, though. Too embarrassed by my circumstances. Too angry about where I ended up and how this time a year ago. Not ready to deal with any of it.
In fried chicken terms, I aspire to be a Popeye’s combo but I’m relegated to KFC two-piece special by default. Meanwhile, Church’s Chicken giveaway on the other side gets treated like Mr. Chows. It’s so unfair.
I considered that fried chicken analogy one way of beginning this post. That or me just saying fuck seven or a hundred times to drive the point home.
But yes, I’ve been quite pissed with life.
Two years ago I had no idea that there was a National Coming Out Day. Then once I discovered its existence I just assumed it was one of those made up holidays on par with “National Boyfriend Day,” “National Catfish Day,” and “National Rick Ross’ Right Titty Lovers Day.” The right because that’s where the extra meat is.
Anyway, I started writing something for the occasion only to stop as I became fearful that I was going to offer too much and dive too deep into feelings that probably needed to be kept private. I’ve been doing that once again with another oft-delayed entry. I got over those worries and ultimately finished the post. It didn’t take long for me to feel better about that choice. I’m sure that’ll happen for that other piece I’ve purposely put to the side, too.
I can be so self-critical and now more than I ever have I wondered if I’m making any real contributions. Part of that comes with the frustration surrounding some of the things I’m currently doing for the bills. As I was trying to illustrate with that coming out post then, I know I’m capable of more. Still working on ways to prove it.
That said, if you didn’t read it before, you can check out “Accepting Where My Piece Blows” by clicking here.
Or read it again. Whichever. And of course, look around elsewhere.
If Mitt Romney ends this race as one of the most despised presidential contenders in recent memory, we should all be so lucky.
As ideally as it might be to favor a civil, meaningful debate about the future of the nation and who’s best to steer it versus the nastiness we’ve been muddied in for two years now, one can’t help but take at least slight glee in someone who consistently goes out of his way to be contemptuous be given a dose of his own medicine.
The former Massachusetts governor is entitled, power-hungry, and remarkably wishy-washy about who he is and what he believes. In fact, to say Mitt Romney is spineless is like saying the cast of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is only a little bit uninhibited. Worse is that no matter what instance of legitimate form of criticism you level his way, Mitt Romney and the pacifiers he hired to run his campaign carry on as if nothing ever happened.
Actually, no, Mitt Romney doesn’t simply carry on – he turns the other cheek and proceeds to spit his troubles onto the opposition.
Therein lies Mitt’s latest campaign strategy: “I know you are, but what am I?”