So, you think I can gay?
Now more than ever it seems like there are more ways to categorize/define ones sexuality. Some days I feel like I can barely keep track and as I cross paths with people from all walks of life in the veritable mixing bowl that is NYC, I find my consciousness and awareness expanding as I become privy to perspectives and experiences that vary greatly from my own. To some, the idea of labeling people is more of a limitation and a potential opportunity to discriminate against those that are constantly marginalized and misunderstood and at worst, overlooked completely.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s incredible that we live in a time where individuals who have endured the tremendous struggle of learning to love and accept themselves/who they choose to be have access to a wide range of groups that they can identify with, at once securing a sense of community, identity and even security in a world that still has a loooooong way to go in terms of acceptance and inclusion, where crimes and rhetoric fueled by ignorance and hate only seem to be on the rise. Whether you see yourself as gender neutral, transexual, straight, gay or anything else on the list, you should never have to question if it’s “okay” to be yourself. But lets face it, in this life at one time or another…it’s probably gonna happen. But know that if and when it does, YOUR POWER lies in your ability to define yourself.
I typically only discuss my sexual orientation/identity when I’m asked which usually occurs under random circumstances. Most people who know me and/or those who have interacted with me for extended periods will comment on my theatrical (see: dramatic) ways, as well as my personal style. I’m basically a 6'2", black version of this guy. And the thing is, I’ve learned to be absolutely okay with that. It took me a long time to become comfortable with myself. I’ve always been an artist and performer but by the time that I reached high school, I kept most of my artistic inclinations under wraps for fear of being ridiculed. I figured it would be much easier for me to “fit in” if I played basketball than if I recited poetry. But the first time that I publicly performed spoken word in my high school at a competition known as “Mr. Blazer,” not only did I wow my peers but I actually walked away victorious, complete with crown and sash. I don’t know if you’ve ever peeped my shoulders but they’re PERFECT for the draping sashes over.
I think that everything that a man is “supposed to be” has to do with what’s inside of that man, regardless of his sexual orientation or biological gender or how he dresses…what is the character of that individual? Who are they in the world? How do THEY see themselves? To hear others tell it, the very idea of an open-minded, creative, vulnerable and confident black man is the antithesis of masculinity and “makes” people uncomfortable because not only are they unable to check the boxes that they would like to for you but they can’t place you inside of one, when what should really incite discomfort is trying to dictate the lives of others when you haven’t even taken the time to really know yourself. Isn’t it exhausting to constantly sip on the cocktail that is toxic masculinity?
I’ve probably spent the better part of my 31 years on this earth limiting myself because I struggled with figuring out who I was through the lens of who others thought or said I should be. Keeping myself from certain opportunities or suppressing my personality because I was worried about how I might be received/treated, with whether or not I was “manly” enough. I would spend time racking my brain, questioning whether I had given people a reason to believe I was gay or thinking that maybe their criticisms had some merit. Then one day, it didn’t matter anymore. I have a responsibility to myself to walk and live in my truth as I see fit and in that openness, I present the opportunity for others to choose how they want to respond and maybe, just maybe finally recognize and appreciate that men can exist and thrive in many ways. But by no means am I responsible for how others choose to think and feel about me, that’s something they gotta work out with themselves.
At the end of the day…you can think that I’m gay…and you’re welcome to make observations about my ways of being or speak on the “vibe” you get from me. But if you’re really all that concerned with who I am, just ask me. And if you still find yourself wondering whether or not I’m attracted to men…feel free to start from the top.