LIVED THROUGH THIS

The father who never accepted me is dying, and I’ve already moved on

“You go on in there and talk to yo Daddy.”

My mother is whispering but emphasizes the word “talk” with a squeeze of my hand as if she thinks some sort of deep revelation between my father and I will break a levee between us, setting free a long-ago dammed-up river of love. I’ve come back to Ohio and am standing in the nursing home where my father lies dying in bed just down the hall. I don’t even want to be here to tell you the truth. I feel little to no connection with the man lying in that…


This Is Us

At a gay club in the ’90s, I compete for attention with lighter-skinned men — and confront years of internalized racism

My erection is pressing against the zip fly of my jeans. They’re JNCO jeans. Everybody’s wearing them but, if I’m honest, I think they look silly. They have wide, flared legs — you know, for dancing. The legs are so wide they cover your shoes, and God help you if it rains. When the hems get wet, those jeans get all soggy and heavy and, before you know it, you’re drenched from the calf down.

I can’t afford real JNCOs. I just bought a pair of big jeans at a thrift store and strapped rubber bands around my groin to…


My white friend Vicki let me live vicariously through her — until she didn’t

I kicked a little white girl in the head. Her name was Kendra and we were in kindergarten, playing a game of Red Rover in an effort to learn each other’s names. I wanted to make a big splash. The other side joined hands, and as the teacher led everyone in a singsong voice I was overcome. I was dying to show them all what I could do. When my name was called, I ran toward the other side, determined to break those hands apart. Instead of bursting through, though, I decided to do a front handspring. …


It was my first foray into the world of group sex — and I was completely unprepared

Only two things in life show you who you really are: war and public sex. I know nothing of war aside from images of desperate men locked in combat or wandering the battlefield, exposed and vulnerable. I know perhaps too much about public sex.

When I say “public,” I’m not referring to the vanilla elevator sex men and women have in psychological thrillers: the muscle-stud with immaculately messy hair who grabs hungrily at some ingenue in a coat check room or in the back of a limousine. Straight people think they’re so adventurous.

No, I’m talking about full-on, ass-out, naked…


As a practice patient for doctor’s assistants, I humiliate myself for the chance to see you again

This one is pulling my pubes. It hurts, like she’s stabbing my crotch with tiny needles, but I try not to let it show. This room is too bright but I stare straight up into the light on the ceiling anyway. Now she’s tearing at my pubic hair like she’s ripping out errant threads from an old sweater. I shut my eyes tight and let her poke around.

I’ve gotten good at telling which ones will make it and which ones won’t. This one won’t. She’s afraid of my dick. I could tell she was afraid of it when she…

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