Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Heterosexual Privlege!!!

Just the other day the news hit the wire that NBA referee, Bill Kennedy, had announced that he is SGL (same gender loving).  This announcement was sparked when Sacramento player Rajon Rondo made homophobic comments directed at Bill Kennedy.  Bill evidently felt compelled to not remain silent.   When I saw the article, while not a sports fan at all, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is powerful news”.  Powerful because Bill is a black man participating in a very testosterone driving sport.  It is very rare that we see a black man publicly announce that he is SGL.   Because of this I chose to share it on my Facebook page.  I tagged my cousin because she is a sports fan and has been an ardent supporter of me, an SGL man.  For those that are not aware of the workings of Facebook let me inform you.  Once you tag someone in your posts all of that person’s friends are made aware of the post and are able to view and comment on what was posted.  I received a couple of comments to my post that contained comments from what I presume to be heterosexual men like “Why is this important? Do we need to know what people do in their bedroom…” and “This is unimportant".  We don’t need to know or should not care about a person’s sexual preference.  That is a private and personal matter.” 

Upon reading these responses I began to get a little bothered because what some in the heterosexual community do not understand is they have “heterosexual privilege”.   Simply put...“If you don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege.”  As a SGL man I have to encounter the outward expressions of heterosexual companionship daily.  In everyday life I have to watch heterosexual intimacy from something as small as a warm embrace to a full out tongue acrobatics as I walk down the street.  Not once do I say that heterosexual expression and acknowledgement of who they are as sexual being should remain private.   How often do we read articles on the public heterosexual figures and their partner or spouse?   Heterosexual expression is the norm.  If someone was to ask either of the respondents to tone down his blackness or maleness I am sure an argument would ensue.    Being who you are should not upset or offend anyone.  What some heterosexuals fail to see is that we want that some freedom to live our lives as you do.  You grew up with an accepted existence, however, most of us have not.  However, we long for that comfort.  In supporting us you lose nothing but the world gains immensely.  A world where SGL boys are made to feel odd, strange or abnormal for what comes natural to them and as a result commit suicide or seek acceptance from those that are out to use, abuse or physically harm them.  If Bill’s announcement has helped someone understand that being SGL is not a negative then he has made a true impact on the world.

The above noted comments are subtle but very visible suggestion that it would have been much better if Bill Kennedy would have just stayed in the closet.  Stay in the closet so that I can feel comfortable because this knowledge now bothers me and I don’t like it.   Unfortunately all too often when we as SGL men and women decide to live an authentic life fully we run the risk of losing important people in our lives (friends and family).   The fact that Bill Kennedy took a very bold step to say to the world that he is a SGL man is a very big deal.   It is so because we don’t see very many black men taking that step.  Our communities of color send mixed signals often.  On one hand you want us accept who we are and not live in the closet (aka downlow) but then when one of us choose to be authentic in who he/she is you say that is a private matter we don’t need to know that information.   You have not made it easy for us.   Sorry you don't get to have it both ways.

I am proud of Bill Kennedy for responding with an announcement.   I believe his announcement was specifically for Rondo.  Yeah, you called me a faggot motherfucker (just what I presume he said to Bill) and guess what, I AM.  So what you said did not sting or hurt me it simply gave me strength and the push I needed to live in my truth authentically. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sandra Bland!!! Could It Be You Next?

I am wrecked with disbelief once again.  The scores of black and brown bodies continue to increase.  I have tried to turn my eyes from the carnage because to focus on it hurts too much.  While I do did not know you personally the struggle for justice and equality or some semblance of it courses through the fiber of everything I am.  My silence has not been because I did not care but the pain has been numbing if nothing else.
As a Christian I have my faith to lean on and prayers to comfort me but regardless of how much I pray the landscape of a racist world continues to ring in my head.  The fear as a black person on this earth is real and palpable.  The fact that an African American woman (Sandra Bland) was killed in police custody after being detained for a minor traffic violation proves to me that NONE of us are safe.  My multiple degrees, finally tailored suit, expensive luxury vehicle can’t save me from being profiled assaulted and killed by a servant of the people (police officer)  At the end of the day when most of them see me all they see is a person of no value based on my skin color.  When you do not value something you will have no desire or regard to treat it with dignity and respect.   I can no longer look for acceptance in a world that is so hell bent on authority that it can’t see my humanity.  I ache for those that have died at the hands of those that did not and do not value the lives of my black and brown brothers and sisters.  We have given police the authority to kill and abuse those that they are sworn to protect without any retribution.  Racism and police violence is not an United States issue it is a world issue.  The same things are happening to black and brown men and women in various cities of the world. 

Many try to bring up the issue of black on black crime when police violence and murder becomes the topic of conversation.  When this is said what these people are saying but not understanding that they are blaming the victims of oppression for their oppression.  Yes black on black violence is an atrocity but we have to stop looking at the surface and cause of the oppression.  We must stop this process of eating our own.  The issues are not the same.

I can remember in maybe the fourth or fifth grade "officer friendly" came to my classroom to talk about being a good citizen --- not take candy from strangers.  However, who would have ever thought that "officer friendly" is the main person I have to fear.  It is no longer the stranger walking down the street but the blue and white flashing lights that pull up behind you on the leisurely drive across town.  That badge and gun seems to give some police this ultimate power of authority that must be obeyed or you may be in serious jeopardy of losing your freedom or life. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Caitlyn Courage - You Should Have a Dose

Hero and courage are words we use to exemplify a difficult time and overcoming those times.  Lately we have begun to ask if certain people in particular situations deserve to be called heroic or courageous.  Recently the ESPY committee decided to give the Arthur Ashe courage award to Caitlyn Jenner.  The ESPY awards is the Emmy awards for the sports world.  This caused an uproar because it was felt that she was not deserving that award.   I mean really she just changed her name from Bruce to Caitlyn and put on a dress and makeup.  What was so courageous about that?   

Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.   Because many of the general public have no idea what it means to live life in and as your unauthentic self, Bruce Jenner taking the bold step to come out as a transgender woman seemed less than courageous.  It seemed like theatre at its best.   You see there were no visible battle scars or war wounds.  Sexual identity is something that is not understood by many.  Therefore, to some it looks like this Olympian decided to one day play public dress up.  We can’t see the scars of daily life feeling as if you are captured in the wrong body or that you must live as you were born because that is what is expected only to agonize daily for doing so.  Living for everyone else.  Just think how you would feel if every day of your life you had to wake up and wear a “mask” in order to be accepted or liked by the rest of the world.   Did it take courage for Bruce Jenner to transition to Caitlyn on the stage?   So we can debate all day whether Caitlyn should have received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. 
Many gay men and women live that life as well and I can tell you from personal experience it is not easy.  It is very freeing to one day accept who you are on the public stage and roll the dice to see who will continue to love and support you.  The decision to take that chance is not easy and in my own decision making I have lost from people that I called friend or had to hear the ignorant comments made by people who called themselves loving me but truly they did not understand me nor did they take the time to do so.  The cost for me was difficult but the reward since living an authentic life as a same gender loving man has been priceless. 
As of April 1st there were 14 transgender women that were murdered in 2015 of which half were women of color.  Most of these murders appear to be hate-motivated crimes.   The suicide or attempted suicide rate for 2015 among transgender individuals is 40%.  To me that is an epidemic.  Yes, Caitlyn is a woman of considerable financial means and access, however, she chose at the moment of the award acceptance to note the alarming murder and suicide statistics of transgender women.  Her ability to speak to the issue on the public stage hopefully will lend itself to acceptance and understanding by the general public.  Now I do not expect arms to immediately be outstretched to embrace transgender individuals but I know that this is a step in the right direction.
Living an authentic life is not an easy thing.   We all, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, etc. have something that we keep hidden from the public.  May it be an addition or sexual proclivity we hide it because we do not want others to judge us.  To expose that to the world and especially those who love you takes courage.  Courage takes all shapes and forms but at the end of the day you do not get to tell me or anyone else what is courageous.  Acceptance and understanding is what every human being desires in our everyday life.  If you want to do your part then I ask that you go to your computer and Google gender identity to begin gain a better understanding.  Life is too short to live it passing judgment for tomorrow the judgment may be passed upon you. 
Courage is about perseverance, not bravery. Be courageous despite the dear. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Will Save the Day

Today is a historical day for all those who live in the United States of America.   SCOTUS ruled on June 26th that same sex marriage is legal in this country.  This has been a hotly debated issue for many years now.  Prior to this decision this country has been slowly moving towards equality by legalizing same sex marriage state by state.  However, while this movement has been rather swift there are those that have been building momentum to ensure through divisive legislation that marriage equality is never the law of the land in their state.   I am not deceived there will be those who do not agree with the decision today and will be all they can to fight against it.   And as I sit here writing this I know that some of those will be people who say I they love me.   However, I stopped looking for acceptance and approval by family and friends many years ago for I know who I am.  The fight to get here has been damned hard but I will refuse to let anyone in my life that is unwilling to celebrate it in its entirety.   

When the announcement was made regarding he SCOTUS decision this morning it was an unbelievable moment of jubilation.  Finally in every state of this country I am able to marry that man I love and not have our union challenged.  Our love would be legally viewed as equal.  This is emotional not because I was looking for some sort of sanction to be and love authentically by this country but because now I am afforded the right to choose. 

It was so refreshing to see so many of my friends noting that they are just as emotional.  Now I know that marriage is not for everyone.   However, marriage is for ME.  I want it all…the ceremony in front of God, my family and friends.  I want the struggles of building a life together as well as a love that weathers the storm of bad times and shines brightly during the good times.  I believe is the struggle to have it all….and I want it all dammit.   

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Has Your Marriage Been Watered-Down?

Marriage equality was first legalized in May 2004 and now there are 18 additional states and the District of Columbia that has followed suit.  When the marriage equality debate began, what now seems like a lifetime ago, many of the opponents began used the argument that same sex marriages would water down opposite sex marriages.  Of course that argument was crazy.   Some were of the thought that this would negate traditional marriage.  It was evident that some within the heterosexual community were looking at it from a different stance than those within the LGBT community.  No, we were not trying to be like heterosexuals.  We simply were attempting to get those same rights afforded to us. 

If I may use an analogy made by a pastor friend.  She stated that when Mercedes came out with the C – Class many of the loyal luxury automobile owners were in an uproar.  You see the importance of owning this luxury car no longer held lucrative value or prestige.  Now that you let others (that are viewed as “less than”) in the “club” our cars no longer have the honor afforded that the high price tag once afforded them.  

I can say the same thing about marriage equality.  Statements such as “Once LGBT men and women are allowed to legally marry each other my marriage will be devalued”.   Of course we in the LGBT community were fighting for equality and not some superficial status that marriage was thought to afford. 

It was evident that some in the heterosexual community were looking at it from a different stance than those within the LGBT community.  No we were not trying to be like heterosexuals.  We simply were attempting to get those same rights afforded to us.  What heterosexuals failed to acknowledge or probably were not even aware of is the fact that they are afforded 1,138 legal rights when legally married that are not afforded unmarried couples including heterosexual couples who choose not to get married.  The one major difference is those that chose not to marry had the option to turn down a right that we as LBGT men and women were never afforded. 

Now, marriage equality has passed in 19 states and DC and I have yet to hear any late breaking news come on the television interrupting my favorite program to announce that heterosexual couples around the country are in distress because their marriages have less importance/value now that LGBT men and women are allowed to marry each other in that state.

It is revolutionary that we have seen so many states approve marriage equality in such a short time.  Today many other states are debating the passage of Marriage Equality.  As history has shown recently, it is simply a matter of time before the other 31 join in and this is no longer an issue.   We are all going to be members of that same “country club” some never thought we should be members of in the first place. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Live Authentically….But, Not “To Much”

This morning I decided to pick up a Red Eye.  The Red Eye is a free news publication that is published by the Chicago Tribune.  It consist of some news, sports and entertainment.  I typically pick it up just to read the back page which has snippets of entertainment news…okay gossip.   This morning (Wednesday, May 21st) there was an article on page 3 about Michael Sam written by Nikki Lynette.  Nikki starts the article referencing a conversation she had after showing relatives a copy of the infamous kiss.  She received responses that she never expected.  Her relative’s remarks were jarring but not surprising (e.g. Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve).  Nikki was surprised at the comments for she considers herself liberal with a “to each his own attitude”.   In my head I am thinking nice article and how I looked forward to continuing to read because as a SGL (same gender loving) man I love to see my heterosexual allies.  This reminds me that not all heterosexuals are Neanderthals.

Well as I got to the third paragraph I could hear the tires on the car of progress in my head come to a screeching halt.  You see Nikki begins to state how she is glad that the OWN Network has postponed the Michael Sam reality show.  She states that such a program would just be another example of someone being “singled out” for being gay.  With her being a woman of African heritage making such a statement disappointed me.  For I thought, she just does not get it.  With that statement you are saying that this part of who he is should not be highlighted or acknowledged.  He made a bold stance, one that very few have done and while he is a great football player he is also a black SGL man.  He was telling the world accept all of me.  Not an easy task for anyone who is SGL and especially a black man. 

I was disappointed with this statement because I wonder would she write this exact same article when Dr. Clifton Wharton, Jr. became the first black CEO of a fortune 500 company (TIAA-CREF) or when Ursula Burns became the first black woman of a fortune 500 company (Xerox Corporation).   Would she say that they were being singled out for their race or gender?  Slavery was officially abolished 150 years ago in this country and African Americans and women are still being touted as “the first”.    It is a big deal because coming out to the world is a bold statement and one that can be very costly as a SGL individual.  A price that can be deadly.  It would be nice to live in a country where being the first black SGL person, or the first black man or woman in any category would not be a big deal.  However, that is not the world we live in by any means.  Michael taking that step has given license to so many others that are nameless and faceless to live their lives in an authentic manner.  What pains me is that Nikki as a “liberal” black woman in this country does not see that or have had that explained to her.   While her overall article was supportive of me and my SGL brothers and sisters I want her to know that we are tired of being told “what is the big deal” when we are not the ones that have been doing the ostracizing.   It would not be such a phenomenon if acceptance was a rule of the day.  However, it is that is not the case for SGL individuals, women, people of color, etc.  And until it becomes what the world considers a normal occurrence we will not make a "a big deal" out of it.   

Living in one's truth out loud  and authentically in a world that chooses to devalue and mock your very existence IS A BIG DEAL!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Awwww Nawl...Say It Ain't So!!

As I think about how far we as SGL men and women have come in my life time I am over joyed.   I think about our ability to legally marry in 17 states and the District of Columbia.  This was accomplished in just the past eleven years and several other states on the horizon.  Even more astounding is that on June 26 2013, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was repealed.  Not to mention the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell".  We have come a long way in such a short time. 
Even with all of the accomplishments we have made as a community there still seems to be this very harsh reality that we have not progressed as much as we think.  I say this because I continue to read some very disturbing things as it relates to dating someone that is Caucasian. 
I would never say that we are color blind or should be in a country where color of ones skin is clearly an issue.   However, just the other day Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and was televised receiving a congratulatory kiss from his boyfriend who is white.  When I saw it I could hear the screams and criticisms within the African American SGL community “awww nawl not a white boy…damn”. 
This was also the case when Derrick Gordon, the UMASS basketball player, recently appeared on the red carpet at the GLADD Media Awards with his white boyfriend, Gerald McCullouch.    McCullouch is much older than the 22 year old Gordon as well as an actor/director.   The comments after this public appearance were both of race and age.
I think back to the mid to late 70s when African American women were turned off by seeing a brotha with a white woman.  They would get very upset and feel personally offended by the fact that he would date a white woman.  White women were assumed to be the trophy to one's success.  So it is interesting to see similar attitudes within the black SGL community now.
Many would think that with all the oppression and discrimination we have endure that we would be the last to do the same to others.  However as humans, the oppressed always wants to become the oppressor.  It would be beautiful if we had become different from others and not allowed race to become a deciding factor in how we view someone's worthiness.  What is sad is that by focusing on those who love people that dont look like us we miss the beauty in their story.  Living and loving who you want to is what it should be about and not about the fact that he chose someone that does not look like me.  Lets be honest 99.9% of those who made those comments would NEVER be in the running if Michael or Derrick were to only dating within their race.   It is not as if you lost anything in the process or was cheated out of your possibility to catch a good man.  What ever happened to the thought that love and companionship is the goal of most us within the SGL community?  Finding a compatible mate is not easy to attain due of some of the other ills within the community. 
Once slavery was abolished back in 1865 our ancestors were allowed to move forward to make a life as free individuals.  However, we carried some of the slave owners characteristics where we judged each other on superficial things.  Reading some of the negative comments I could only make the parallel distinction between these two instances because today we have begun to be discriminatory or bigoted based on that persons choice to love outside of his/her race.  Not much has changed in these 149 years.
I think I understand the disappointment in not seeing Michael or Derrick with an African American partner.  Having two men of African heritage stand before the world and display their love is revolutionary as well as validating to the world that what I (regular Africa American SGL man/woman) have and aspire to have has worth.  I don’t condone the negativity and disparaging comments but I understand that place from which they come.  Just like I did not see the passage of marriage equality coming in 17 states only eleven years ago.  I know we will soon see an African American SGL individual with his/her African American partner publicly allowing the world to see their love for one another.   It is my hope that when that does happen we rally around them with much love and support.   Michael and Derrick deserve our full support as well.  Let's not allow who they love as a barrier but embrace the fact that they have chosen to love.