US Citizen, First-Class Adjacent.

While some stories are meant to be kept amongst a select few, some stories, most stories, are meant to be told. I’ve long kept this story to myself because I know, to a certain extent, how it will be received, and I don’t really need the drama that could very well occur from having the thoughts in my head become words on a page… But… with each passing day, the Universe seems to be whispering, louder and Louder and LOUDER, to me: “…tell your story, speak your truth.”

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At one point*, any man who looks like me was forbidden and/or not allowed to serve in certain branches of the military. [*before 1776]

At one point**, any man of my race was not allowed to marry the person he loved if she was of a different race. [**until 1967. Isn’t that a delicious irony, Clarence Thomas?]

At one point***, any man who loves like me wasn’t allowed to serve in the military without fear of punishment and/or dishonorable discharge. [***until 1994, via Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but really until 2011]

At one point****, any man who lives & loves like me was not allowed to marry the person he loved if it was another man. [****up until 26 June 2015. Thank you SCOTUS.]

Even though all of these ‘points’ are things of the past, and in spite of many of my friends feeling that, for the first time, they feel like true Americans and are so very proud of their country, I am still pretty much a Queen without a country: I never have felt, and still do not feel, like an American.

I have always referred to myself as a Citizen if the United States, but never as an American. Even though, regardless of having been born in this country, my citizenship has always felt, at best, second class. I’m a Black, Queer man, in an interracial marriage, and I was born & raised in the racist, old-school South, where I lived in a four room house, with no indoor plumbing and no bathroom, on a dirt road, surrounded by paved roads and ‘properly built’ houses with working amenities. Never once have I allowed myself to get truly comfortable, and I doubt I ever will.

Gay men & lesbians may now freely, legally marry in each and every state in this country and those marriages will transfer to any other state they should travel to; my Husband & I are now legally married in his home state of Michigan when we go visit family & friends, and in Tennessee when we finally go back to visit friends & family. BUT, while Black churches are still being burned to the ground all around the South, and while Black men & women are being gunned down, both in the streets they walk every day and in the places most Black folks feel the most comfortable and safe, and as long as Black queer & trans men & women remain subject to brutality from the police, and LGBTQ people can still be fired, without recourse, in almost 40 states, based solely on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and while Black men & women are being harassed & murdered by police officers and civilians alike…? No, sir, no, ma’am…

At various stages of this country’s existence, people have gone above & beyond, far out of their way to prove that people who look like me don’t matter; this country has never seemingly given one scintilla of a damn about me or my people (unless it’s for profit). So, even as far as We have come, WE still have quite a ways to go.

Therefore, I am not equal because we are not yet equal. And because America still doesn’t fully & collectively give a damn, I am not an American.

US Citizen, First-Class Adjacent.

[for the record: the thing convincing me to share these words is that earlier today, I saw a photo of Clarence Thomas {Black} and his wife {White}, which had been captioned regarding his views and stance against same-sex marriage being legalized, pointing out that until 1967, his own marriage would have not been allowed, and then, a few hours later, I found myself standing (in a fast food joint) in front of a young, White cashier whose name tag read “uncle tom”, which is exactly what I’d called Clarence when I looked at the photo.]

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