Please remember that this is a rant. Logic and reason are luxuries, however emotion runs abundantly. Let this serve as a fair warning before you decide to read.
My love is NOT your love, as the Whitney Houston classic suggest. The Voice might have gotten it wrong; some of you caught that reference. My love is indeed my love.
I’ve been thinking about something simpler than love, yet just as important and vital to self-expression. How am I allowed to show affection at the intersections of being black, gay, and male? This is not to say that other identities do not have their struggle in this game of sexuality and expression, but I choose to claim my own identities and talk about what I know.
Things that I know about affection and love, as a black gay male:
- I am either seen as hyper-sexualized or not sexual at all. Nothing in between.
- I am seen as unattractive or exotic compared to my white gay male counterparts.
- A kiss in public could mean a verbal lashing, swift beating, or ultimately…death.
- My holding hands, leaning into, or whispering something beautiful into the ear of my partner is seen as repulsive and even makes my well-intentioned friends uncomfortable.
- Using sexually natured language is problematic for my well-intentioned friends. For example, commenting on another male’s smile, eyes, or even physique can bring conversation to an awkward pause. However, you are free to exert heteronormative language and behavior anywhere and everywhere.
To all of these I say, bless you! Read between those lines. I’m claiming my space, my voice, and yes MY love. Beyonce’s Pretty Hurts just started to play on my iPod; for some reason that’s worth sharing in this moment as I’m in my feelings.
To my well-intentioned friends: I love you. I adore you. You are my friends, colleagues, and loving family, and you are too much at times. Take a step back. Think before you speak and act. AND please listen! My love is not to be on display as a Ringling Brother’s spectacle or normal’s ugly stepbrother in the land of abnormalities. My love is beautiful and complex. It is neither a fairytale nor a Channel 6 headline of pain and helplessness. My love lives in a whimsical world in between. A world where your partner sends you chocolates to work because it’s Monday or you’re working 60 hours a week and there is no time to converse and sync your breath. It lives in the moment when you first hold your newborn or the moment you experience challenge convincing the government that you can care for an unwanted baby. It lives in a place where late night cries will happen, but followed by hearty laughter in the morning as you eat the attempt at bacon your partner made. It lives. My love lives. It is resilient, it is loud, it is joyful, and it belongs to me.
Back up folks, both people that disagree with the way I choose to breathe and friends that are trying to be loving (generally people who fall closer to straight on the spectrum). I live up to your expectations every day. I listen to your heteronormative romantic adventures all the time. I go to your weddings and sit in silence while I reflect on the life I may never have, hidden by an authentically joyous smile. I buy your child’s first onesies and help you celebrate every anniversary and birthday. I watch your love play out in diverse ways on television and in movies. I console you and advise you when your love life meets challenge. I endure being the 3rd wheel or 5th wheel even. I become your best friend, substitute brother, guidance counselor, instructor, source of laughter, and in ways serve as a mystical character in your life story. I give. I give. And I give.
Do me the solid of being conscience of the life I live. Treat me as a whole human being. Let me live in peace. Let me kiss my boo in public, allow me to make somewhat inappropriate comments about the beautiful man that just walked by, and ask me about my love life. I may not answer you, but I will appreciate it. I realize that it sounds like I am asking for permission, but to be clear, I am not! I am claiming my love, so please know that my expectations are on the rise. It is now time to hold everyone accountable.
Rest in paradise, Whitney!
Serving sincerity and realness (they are not the same thing),