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“Dating app racism is a huge problem for gay men—and we are talking about it all wrong.”

By now we are used to the righteous outrage that accompanies stories about gay and queer folks’ behavior on dating apps. Usually it starts with some guy, usually a conventionally attractive white guy, or more accurately, the torso of a possibly attractive white guy, posting on his Grindr/Growlr/Scruff profile that he is looking just looking for friends and conversation, that he is masc. for masc. and oh, he isn’t into Blacks and or Asians. Then a person, often a Black or Asian queer boy writes the harms of sexual racism. Next, the story goes viral and comments are posted on Facebook and Twitter, some echoing the author’s position. Then a rebuttal piece is inevitably published defending the queer right that is sexual preference. That story goes viral–somewhat, and comments are posted on Facebook and Twitter. Eventually, we all forget about sexual racism and then in a few months the cycle repeats. Exhausting. This week Samantha Allen’s Daily Beast article,  “‘No Blacks,’ Is Not a Sexual Preference. It’s Racism” set of the latest round of sexual racism discourse, and while she is not a Black queer boy the effect for me is the same: exhaustion. Popular media conversations about sexual racism are tiring and boring mainly because not only is nothing new being said, but the discourse always picots around the desires and practices of white gay men and this simultaneously privileges whiteness. Privileging whiteness and white men  is as American as apple pie. This privileging also ignores the problem of Black men who don’t seek out other people of color on hookups and queer culture. In other words, it begs a question: Why, beautiful Black boy, are you so upset that, that white boy in the window doesn’t want you?

Samantha Allen is not alone in centering whiteness in conversations about sexual racism; in fact most of us do it– it is the default way to discuss sexual racism: What are the white boys doing wrong? For example, in December of 2014, The Huffington Post posted Nathan Manske’s article about Nelson Lassiter’s interview for the queer site, “I’m From Driftwood.” The video can be found on the site rather quickly. Just type “racism” in the search bar and it is one of the first videos to appear. One of only a few on the topic. The focus of the video: Lassiter’s struggles with attempting to date white men. They find him attractive but they (whomsoever he is talking to) are just not into Black guys. Not once is it brought up or asked to Lassiter: Are you into Black guys?  

The heavy focus on white men’s sexual racism is possibly most evident in the area of gay porn. Really, more of us should be talking about porn because, as Dwight McBride tells us in why i hate abercrombie and fitch, that everything you want to know about the gay marketplace of desire is on display in gay porn. Where different bodies rank; who is valued, who is not, and who the imagined consumers are, which in turn reveals who is imagined to comprise the gay community: white men. This is despite the fact that we know that Black folk are more likely to claim a LGBTQ identity. Several sites ( Straight Up Gay Porn, Instinct Magazine, The Huffington Post) have touched upon sexual racism in gay porn–to little actual substantial studio change–but most often the focus is on who’s to blame (models, studios, or consumers) with everyone passing the buck, or it is a blanket un-nuanced defense of sexual racism in porn as fantasy. Often the solution presented to combat sexual racism in porn is to create more interracial scenes, but, this may be hard to do for material reasons–also tied to sexual racism.  Popular white gay porn performer Tom Faulk gave an interview to the gay porn blog Straight Up Gay Porn,  and one of the questions asked, by a fan, was whether or not he would do an interracial scene.  Faulk claimed that while in his personal life he has had sex with Black folk, in front of the camera it just doesn’t pay: “My only problem with doing interracial is that the pay scale is lower–especially for the Black performer.”  Still, again, the conversation revolves around white men willing to do scenes with Black men.

Not a single story is about Black men refusing to do scenes with white men. This creates a picture that it is just assumed that Black men will be willing to perform with white men. Also left unexamined: Black men like Sean Cody’s Landon or adult performer Troy Moreno, or former Cocky Boy Austin Wilde who either never or rarely perform with other Black men. Actually, when Austin Wilde finally performed with another Black man the porn blog The Sword ran a story about the event under the headline: “Austin Wilde Has Sex WIth Another  Black Man For The First Time!” The piece opens with a line stating that folks complaining about Austin Wilde’s lack of Black male costars can now stop complaining–because he has one, finally after five years in the business. Defensive much? In the story Austin Wilde blamed his former studio for his lack of Black scene partners. Unexamined was that Wilde, performing for his own company, took almost a year before he performed with another Black man and he still is much more likely to have a white (or white-presenting) scene partner than a Black scene partner. In fact, Austin Wilde seemed bothered that people would question whether he could actually be sexually racist since he is biracial, but is it really that odd of a question?

What do we have to point to in mainstream culture that says Black queer love on its own is good? Everytime I hear a person complain about white men not seeking Black romantic partners, I also hear an unverbalized confession: firstly, that Black men should want white partners, at least enough that I should bother us when they don’t want us, and secondly, certain Black men just aren’t checking for other Black men. White men are not the only ones who are sexually racist. Can we ever forget the 2013, cringe-worthy “Ask Mister Carl” post where a “smart, good looking African-American man” was seeking advice as to how to get a white man’s attention because he “wanna be down with the swirl”?

Yesterday, over a spicy bowl of Thom Yum at Pho Grand, a popular St. Louis Thai restaurant, a friend lamented to me about his experiences dating, and in one story he told me about how another Black man told him that dark-skinned men were unattractive. This man, himself an attractive dark-skin man, could not see the beauty in other folk with his skin complexion. This is the conversation I am interested in having, the one that needs to happen. What does it say when Black men are not desiring other black men? What does it say when a piece like the brilliant Hari Zyaid’s “Choosing Black Love: Why I am Unlikely to Spend My Life With  a White Personn,”  feels so refreshing and progressive? Ziyad’s piece dares to put at its center the desires and preferences of a Black man. It just so happens that it is attached to other Black men, but the revolutionary act is that it centers Blackness. Too often when Black desires are centered there is a quick reaction to recenter whiteness. This can be seen in Gabe Zicherman’s response to Lamar Dawson’s July 13, 2015 Huffington Post blog demanding that white men stop objectifying men of color.  Zicherman didn’t seem to understand that Dawson’s post had nothing to do with wanting white men to like him or not like him, but had more to do with him being a Black man and setting the terms for how he should be interacted with by white men. He was centering Blackness, but Zicherman responded with a post that centered whiteness, assured us that white men really like us, and said, “don’t take away my preference rights.”

At the end of the day, I’m just like Mary J. searching for that real love, but I just don’t believe that, that real love is somehow better when a white man checks for me. If he does, fine. If he doesn’t then that is also fine. He is not my center, my reflections are, and there is beauty in this mirror. After all, Joseph Beam did say: Black men loving Black men is the radical act of the 1980s. And it still is in the 00s.

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“Rape Culture Is When Owen Labrie Is found Not Guilty of Rape”

It’s a rite-of-passage, seeing just how many girls you can have sex with by the end of senior year. The more girls you sleep with, the more of a man you are. The girls themselves don’t actually matter. They are just a means to an end. In 1999 this was called American Pie.  In 2015, we learned that at St. Paul’s School it is called the “Senior Salute.”

In the spring of 2014, Owen Labrie, a senior at the prestigious St. Paul’s School, participated in the “Senior Salute .” Labrie invited his victim, a freshman girl, to the mechanic room with him. she consented to going to the room. She consented to kissing, to exploration. What she did not consent to was sex.

Labrie claims that sex did not occur, and that whatever did occur was consensual. In other words, “I did not have sex with that woman but if I did, she wanted it.” The jury listened to testimony mostly from the prosecution, very little testimony from the defense (Labrie was their only witness) and after two days of deliberation, came to a verdict, which was a compromise.

Labrie, according to the jury, did have sex with the young girl, but she did not make it clear enough that she did not want to have sex.  So, basically, Labrie lied about whether or not he had sex with the victim  but he was still deemed truthful enough to be believed that she really wanted it.  

The New York TimesJess Bidgood got it wrong. At its core, the Labrie rape case was not was not “about an intimate encounter last year between a 15-year-old girl and an 18-year-old acquaintance, and whether she consented as it escalated.” Instead, this case was about  how our culture continues to excuse sexual violence. This was about how we continue to define consent as being what is most convenient for the sexual aggressor. With the defense’s line of questioning, and even the discussion on social media, it was a jarring reminder of what rape culture is, and just how young anyone can get initiated into it.

At Talking Points Memo, Amanda Marcotte writes that the defense team’s success is that it depended upon rape myths: first, “that women  reclassify consensual sex as ‘rape’ in order to preserve their reputations” and second,  “that rape victims always act traumatized and freak out at the mere sight of their rapist after the fact.” These myths have been prominently feed by recent prominent rape trials and by popular culture.

For example, for those of us old enough to remember the 90s’ Beverly Hills 90210, there was a character, Laura, who accused a core character, Steve, of date rape. Rather than tackling what consent meant, the show had queen bee Kelly Taylor, a central character who was a victim of date rape, publicly chastise Laura. Kelly told her that a girl cannot just change her mind later because she regrets a sexual experience and call it rape.

Yet, that was not enough. 90210 brought Laura back and established her as a neurotic college woman desperate for attention. After falsely accusing Steve of rape, she falsely accuses Brenda Walsh of sleeping her way into a lead stage role. Later, in true dramatic soap opera fashion, Laura tries to hang herself onstage  for attention. The message was clear: women who claim they have been raped are often lying, damaged, and crazy.

As for the second myth noted by Marcotte, our culture often imagines rape victims as fragile, broken, virtuous women who collapse at the sight of their victimizer. This is simply an untruth. In some ways it is often impossible. Rapists are not always strangers or visitors to one’s life, some people must interact with their rapist daily. Moreover the responses one can have to the trauma of rape varies from person to person. Some people minimize what they experienced, others struggle to call it rape, and there are debates around whether one is a rape victim or survivor of rape. There is no one way to experience rape, and survivors cope in different ways.

Culturally we insist that victims of rape manifest their trauma physically. We want rape victims to publicly cry, to shake, for their voices to quiver. Even though we tell rape victims it is not their fault, we want to see them struggle with the pain. Because, if we see this, then we know, they are telling the truth–they lived through something horrific. Jurists are not exempt from holding cultural biases. Consequently, most jurors hold  these beliefs, and it is they who decide the outcome of rape trials. And, rape trials, no matter how we intellectually maneuver around it, come down to: Do you believe her; does she seem like the type that in some way was asking it? The old, and tired, he said, she said debate.  

Feminist cultural critic Soraya Chemaly pointed out on the HuffPost Live,  how dangerous and problematic such framings are because people tend to have biases against believing women. Chemaly stated that jury studies show that when “a situation is complicated they tend not to believe  girls and women; they give credibility to [boys] and men.” In other words, jurors tend to believe men (who are more likely to commit rape) more often than women (who are more likely to be victims of rape).

In truth, often when one is raped, what is not talked about are the odd negotiations one goes through in order to process and survive the trauma. Marcotte, pulling from RAINN’s website,  writes that, “it’s not nuts for victims to think that if they just smile and play nice with their attacker, no one will ever find out and it will all be like it never happened.” It is also not “crazy” to realize that if you act a certain way, that if you interpret the event in a certain way then you are not a victim, that you are not one of those people.

On HuffPost Live’s coverage of the not guilty verdict, feminist cultural critic Soraya Chemaly stated that one of the problems we have in this country is that we don’t come from a position of  affirmative consent: “A lot of the trial seemed to involve rape mythologies. The jurors, I think, [grappled] with what they think of is legitimate rape, what counts. We don’t have in this courtroom or in our laws a yes means yes approach.”

On the same broadcast, former Feministing.com editor Samhita Mukhopadyay adovacted for a culture of affirmative consent. Mukhopadyay stated that, “what affirmative consent really does, is it gives us an opportunity to really centralize women’s pleasure and to say ‘let’s have a conversation about what I want this experience to be, let me set the tone for what I want this experience to be.’  And, it allows for a level of communication. So it is not just the only signifier you have is when you cross the line and there are some guidelines for when you want to have sex. [The problem with this verdict] is that it doesn’t question that sense of entitlement or male ownership of sexuality. The lesson here is, ‘Oh check her ID next time.” We currently have the opposite of such a culture.

What we have is a culture that struggles with what consent means. We have a culture where consent and rape are defined mainly by those least likely to be victims of rape. What we have is a culture where rape, despite all claims to contrary, is acceptable and permissible.

#RapeCultureIsWhen a defense team can rest its entire case after calling only one witness, the accused.

#RapeCultureIsWhen an accused  rapist’s word is deemed more believable than the victim’s who says she did not consent, his own friends’ testimonies  that he bragged about having sex with the victim, and testimony from experts.

#RapeCultureIsWhen a jury is not allowed to hear from an expert about what consent is and its nuances.

#RapeCultureIsWhen a school has a history of turning a blind-eye to a tradition of young boys coercing young women into sex, so that they can establish their manhood and masculinity.

#RapeCultureIsWhen: We as a country act as if rape (as defined by men) laws (voted on/approved by men) are established to protect the victim (who is usually a woman) rather than the perpetrator (who is usually a man).

Rape culture is what we have created. Rape culture is what we nurture. And, rape culture is what we protect when men like Owen Labrie are able to successfully argue that she just should have said no more forcefully.

Memories: Chicken Curry

It is about that time: Maurice’s Sunday Supper.

This month my guests are two poets and an academic so I’m sure the conversation will be on point as they are all wonderful smart beautiful people. So, that means I just need to worry about my responsibility, the meal. I try to pick meals that I am either craving, want to try, or have a special place in my heart. To that end, you won’t find extremely fancy meals at my dinner party, no Top Chef wanna be here, but what I hope you have if you come to my Sunday supper is the feeling of “going home.” I am not trying to wow you, I am trying to welcome you, make you feel loved.

This month I am cooking a meal I have loved since I was about 12. It is a simple meal with a very simple story.

When my family moved back state-side from the UK, for a summer we had a Jamaican lady who was going through a tough time, stay with us. She was so beautiful to me. Though she was sad, when she laughed it was full on, and her hair was a take on Toni Braxton’s except hers was a honey-brown. And when she walked, it seemed like she was two steps away from dancing. Well, one day, she was in the kitchen cooking, which was odd as I only knew her to eat but not to cook. I didn’t think she could. But, there she was, showing my mom, the best cook I knew, how to make a dish (my mom had already ate it before but wasn’t sure how to prep it). The smells were beyond seductive, and when I had my first bowl of the concoction served over hot white rice, I was taken over. It is one of my strongest food memories.

Later, I found out that curry is originally Indian and that colonialism was responsible for this black Jamaican woman knowing this dish, and I found out that she made it too thick, but, as with nearly all cherished childhood memories, I didn’t care. And while, from time to time, I get “fancy with it,” throwing in coconut milk or thinning it out (basically making it “properly”), no version, not even proper Indian curry, hits the spot the way her version does. I love it so much that every year, for my birthday celebration dinner, my mom makes this dish. And as it is still my birthday month, I am making it for my guests tomorrow: Jamaican Guest Chicken Curry. Prep done. Now, what in the world will I make for dessert. Are coconut dumplings a thing?

Chicken curry prep

Chicken curry prep

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A Kiki with Michael Sam

Michael Sam

Let’s Have A Kiki

“I’m sorry; did I answer your question right?” Michael Sam’s voice is not necessarily soft, nor is it smooth, but what it is, is respectful and earnest. This is at least the third time he has worried if his answers to my questions are correct. I, hoping to put him at ease, reply, “It is fine; just think of this as us having a kiki in a cafe.” Instantly Sam’s brow furrows; he briefly squints his eyes and asks, “A what?” The language is foreign to him. Again I reply, “A kiki. It is black gay slang for when friends get together to laugh and talk. Basically it’s shooting the shit.” His brow releases its wrinkles and he slightly smiles, “Oh; I thought you said ‘kinky.’ I was like, ‘what?’A ‘kiki?’ I have never heard of that?” The fact that he didn’t speak the language was not shocking to me; I had suspicions as to why but I wanted confirmation: “Don’t you have Black gay friends? Or are most of your friends straight? Or if they are gay are they…?” I thought better of finishing the question, but Sam answered, “Most of my friends are straight. I don’t have a lot of gay friends but I do have one really good transgender friend.”

Michael Sam had, unknowingly, confirmed all of my inner doubts about him, and he confirmed many of the criticisms of him and many out Black gay celebrities. Criticisms that maintain that Michael Sam and others like him are symbols of pride and progress precisely because they have such fragile ties to the Black queer community (or to Blackness in general except for confirming supposed Black pathology). They are the pieces of charcoal in Frosty’s white face that make him complete, the black top hat that brings his white body to life. Each one of them come to the media table with a story that confirms Black homophobia and the power of self-love, and each reach for their white lover, who becomes an avatar for whiteness. And, for many a Black queer boy, in that moment, the moment of the reach for the white hand, the fantasy reveals itself to be just that, a fantasy, a fraud, or, worse, a confirmation that healthy Black gay love is not loving another Black queer person.  

And, there is reason for this suspicion. If we turn to the world of imagination, sadly, it too fails us. We have a paucity of Black queer characters on television and film; so, often, when we see a Black queer character there is an initial moment of joy. A deep hope once again sprouts and we think, “Maybe this time will be different; maybe this time [we’ll] win,” but then we inevitably discover that our hope is misplaced. Often the Black queer is usually male and subordinate to other characters. If he is the center of an episode of television, he is often, though not always, on the DL.  If he is femme, he is often depicted as romantically and sexually undesirable and given little complexity. If he is “masc,” or simply “not femme,” he may have complexity, but his love life is always one constructed for the white gaze because he, visually coded as desirable, is almost always dating a non-Black character. It seems that even in the collective American imagination, Black queer folk loving other Black queer folk is too strange to comprehend.

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Questions in August 2014

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

in the streets, with my thoughts in front of me

ten feet.

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be on 

a tree, swinging slowly, 

feet dangling?

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

on a fence, scaring crows

away?

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be

in a class, my head across the glass as the

screen blinks/

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be

in a street, with my skirt and 

legs open?

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

on a sidewalk, throat 

pulled in

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

found? 

Or will they hide me

will they wise up and hide me?

            Will they find me? 

Where will I be when

they come for me 

and…………………………………………………………

 

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What I witnessed at the Ferguson Cleanup

A Poem

A Poem

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Some of the folk out.

Some of the folk out.

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He should have left the poem up

He should have left the poem up

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Continued Cleanup

Continued Cleanup

Some of the bags

Some of the bags

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18 Ugly Truths About Modern Dating That You Have To Deal With

sadly accurate

Thought Catalog

Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]

1. The person who cares less has all the power. Nobody wants to be the one who’s more interested.

2. Because we want to show how cavalier and blasé we can be to the other person, little psychological games like ‘Intentionally Take Hours Or Days To Text Back’ will happen. They aren’t fun.

3. A person being carefree because they have zero interest in you looks exactly like a person being carefree because they think you’re amazing & are making a conscious effort to play it cool. Good luck deciphering between the two.

4. Making phone calls is a dying art. Chances are, most of your relationship’s communication will happen via text, which is the most detached, impersonal form of interaction. Get familiar with those emoticon options.

5. Set plans are dead. People have options and up-to-the-minute updates on their friends (or other potential romantic interests) whereabouts…

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My Blackest Wish: A Note to My Younger Self

If I could I would try to shield your innocence from time

I think myself to be a well, always for filling. I feel myself to be a dipper, plunging down and pulling up selves from myself.

I’d drink from my gourd to down ’94 with stones and sticks from all the years after  and I’ll swallow it all, even the bleach creams.

I would reach out and touch your face and say, “Look boo-bear, look; I have to reach up to touch you. Don’t you see the stars IMG_1510 - Version 2forming a bracelet around my wrist while my fingers are barely cupping your face? You are so high boo-bear, so high.”

I would carry you with me always like I do my mother’s first kiss. I’d hold you as close to me as my father held me next to him when he danced with me at night till I fell asleep and knew the comfort and safety of a man’s arms.

I would say, “No! don’t go that way. Don’t say yes. Scream. Scream. Scream!” but if you still went in, if you still opened the door, I would kneel down and tell you, “You will be okay; it is not your fault.”

I would tell you that the black boys and the black girls lied; you are enough and Africa beats in your veins through and through;  America does too;  Britain does too. You are not a cookie.

I would tell you that the white boys and the white girls lied; they do not forget the African in you–they deliberately forget. They lay claim to your mind, to your voice, but they leave the body. Your body carries you through. You are not a specimen.

I would convince you that the world lies. Your skin has hypnotized every god man and woman ever created. The sky weeps for not having kept you.  You are beautiful.

I would guide your hands to the stove, give them a knife and spoon, and move them over pots and pans, have cornmeal fall between your fingers, let peach juice stain your  lips, allow hot chicken and greens perfume your clothes. I would show you how to take flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, and milk, mix it, bake it, call it a biscuit and plate it with eggs, rice, sausages floating in brown gravy, and serve, serve it to your mother and your father, serve it to your brothers, serve it to your grandmother because you remember–ancestors taking flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, and milk, mixing it, baking it in kitchens not their own and calling it work for mouths not their own. I would teach you the recipes so the man you’ll love will taste and know, so your children taste and know, so you will taste and know.

I would take you into me and wrap you with Marlon Riggs, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Langston Hughes, Bruce Nugent, Essex Hemphill, and so many numerous nameless black faces with stubble kissing other black faces with stubble. I would hold you while you cried at the beauty of possibility.

I would teach you to dance with  Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen. I would help you sing for Billie, Etta, Diana, Aretha, Patti, Nina, Lauryn, Beyonce, Jennifer,  Mariah, Toni, Janet, and Whitney–everyday Whitney.

I would make a garden for you and forbid you nothing.

I would kiss all of you.

I love you.

…Give you courage in a world of compromise. Yes I would… 

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8TRACKS IS EVERYTHING DOT COM

Thanks to Oscar Raymundo I have fallen in love with 8tracks (he gives it a review on his blog) here is my first mix; I call it W.G.

 

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The Fat Boi Diaries: Breaking To Heal

IMG_2440This is a hard one:

Does it matter how long it takes you to reach a place of healing? I dunno. Is it scary and hard? Yes. But, is it necessary that you reach the point when you can admit the truth, face up to what you allowed yourself to become and how you treated yourself? Do you need to acknowledge and understand the price you paid for someone who never did, and  never would,  put forth any effort to cherish and respect you?  Does it matter that you made sacrificed so many things including your self-respect for a  person who only cared  about you when it was convenient for them? If you want to survive, yes. Can you heal from this experience; can you respect yourself again? Yes.

So here it goes, a confession:

Over the last 4 years, I took myself and ground myself into dust, cracked my bones, twisted my guts, all because I thought I needed that intangible thing. Because I deep down believed that fat, black, dark-skin, fem boy me was lucky to have that copper-skinned, high cheeked boy tell me that he loved me; that I was the beast and he was Beauty. All because I believed I was the monster. Because I still, somewhere inside believed what the world told me. So I needed his “love,”  and I stayed, no I waited for the moment when he would “bless” me with the “privilege” of being his, even though it only hurt. It cost.

I lied to myself. I lied for him. I created alternate truths because reality was too harsh to face. Like the time my friend Carl saw him on what seemed like a date with his friend K while he and I were trying to make something work between us, and when I asked him he insisted I trust him and that K was just a friend, nothing more, and he wasn’t at all attracted to him; then I found out the following year that he had lied to me and had fucked K off and on for about a month or two while we were trying to make something work.  There was the time I needed him at my cousin’s funeral; I begged him to go with me because he was the only one I allowed myself to be vulnerable around, but he claimed he had to work.  I called him and called him while I was away, needing to talk and it wasn’t until the day of the funeral, while I was telling him how hard the funeral was for me while I was sitting on my best friend’s bed, once I asked how he was because I couldn’t get a hold of him, when I asked how work was that he told me that he never went to work. He wasn’t scheduled. He spent the night fucking his ex in his backseat and had to spend the day cleaning his car from the paint job the ex gave the backseat. Oh, then there was that time when I was kept in the hospital out of the doctors’ concern but he didn’t answer the phone. Or the time I apologized for the bad head and explained how memories of sexual trauma were coming back while my mouth was wrapped around his dick, but all he said to me was for me to “do better next time.” Or the time he shamed me for being too sexually aggressive and then six months later penalized me for moving too slow. Or that time when I became a doctoral candidate and he never congratulated me and just fried twenty tacos instead. Or the time when I moved to Chicago and he forgot about me. When I confronted him about it and his in general horrible treatment of me he said, through a cracking voice, that he loved me but was too scared to let himself be with me. And I believed it. I believed it enough so that when it was my last night in St Louis I set it aside to spend time with him over my parents or other friends; he stood me up again. I cried for three hours on the way to Chicago. And still I came crawling back. I listened while he told me about how he desperately wanted to fuck some fellow fast food worker he knew because the guy was white. “I have never been with a white boy and I want to know how it feels and what you can do with them.” I listened while he complained when the guy T stood him up ,”I rearranged my entire schedule for him; I am done.” T missed the date because he had an incident come up with his kids. Yes, I listened while this “man” who supposedly loved me told me he was pinning over a white boy who was closeted with two children. The white boy was the prize and I was the burden. And later when I asserted my independence Robin suddenly became re-interested in me, and I once again fell for the lines.  When he told me he wanted to see if we could be together, no one else could make him feel the way I did, I  allowed myself to believe him. Then, not even two weeks later, he fucked a guy who “wasn’t too special” to him and suddenly he, once again, was not sure if he wanted me.  I waited in all of this, all of it shit.

And in-between I kept myself numb with so many anonymous ones. I survived off words and apologies and empty promises and lies. I lied to myself and pulled my friends and family through it all too. The times my mother wondered where my smile went. My brothers looking at me scared because they saw me slicing myself off and rearranging myself to better appease and please him. My brother’s words echo in my head from when I asked him of he could accept Robin and I officially together, “He has taken years not months but years!” My friends’ clicking the phone at his name. The fatigue. The loneliness. The question of “Why?” The dark.

And it comes to me: I did this with him. I told him he could treat me like shit because I felt I was shit. I said it was okay for him to disregard my feelings because I consistently ignored my pain. I begged him to be cruel to me every time I stayed. I made myself pathetic for him, and Robin was not worth it; no man is.

But then something else occurred to me: Once I could admit what I did to myself, the role I played, once I gave up on not being angry at him or myself, once I stopped not caring,  I started to heal.   I am forgiving myself. I can admit that I care–not about him but about me. I love myself now, I did that.

Was that hard? Yes. Embarrassing? Certainly. Freeing? I feel the wind.

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Pariah: Heartbreak opens onto the sunrise for even breaking is opening and I am broken, I am open. Broken into the new life without pushing in, open to the possibilities within, pushing out. See the love shine in through my cracks? See the light shine out through me? I am broken, I am open, I am broken open. See the love light shining through me, shining through my cracks, through the gaps. My spirit takes journey, my spirit takes flight, could not have risen otherwise and I am not running, I am choosing. Running is not a choice from the breaking. Breaking is freeing, broken is freedom. I am not broken, I am free.

 

 

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