Friday, October 28, 2005


Ten years ago while I was sophomore in high school I had the pleasure of meeting an upperclassmen who walked softly, spoke smoothly, carried himself respectably and embraced me for all that I was, even then. He and I were on a team together and had we never shared that experience it is unlikely that he and I would have ever crossed paths. But I am so happy that we did. In the short months that I had a chance to get to know him and be in his presence he made a very positive impact on me. There is no doubt that he began to open the door for me to have positive healthy relationships with other Black men and in two weeks I will celebrate my five year anniversary of actually kicking that door down.

At the end of our school year together he graduated and was off to pursue higher education and life. Last night I was reminded of his parting words. Ten years ago when I read them on a memory book he signed for me, I laughed. I was too young to really understand and receive what they meant. Today I am able. He wrote:

Listen to the wind when it comes.

More than a senior in high school, he was my senior and he offered very wise counsel.

I’m listening.

Friday, October 21, 2005

When I Need It

To any naysayer I have always argued that my life is a living testimony that in fact there is a God. There is a God whose power and presence is amazing. He is all knowing and proves time and time again, that he will give his children what they need exactly when they need it.

After a long and full weekend I traveled to work Monday morning and went through my day navigating my way through project pieces as if I still had all the energy in the world. Monday evening I had to attend a film screening and before the lights in the theater went down I had to be absolutely up. There was a great crowd and I think I smiled, waived or spoke to half of all in attendance. AQueer inquired how is it that I do this so often and to him I just smiled too.

At the end of my work day on Tuesday I went home, did one load of laundry and spent one hour working on a project that had been lingering on my to-do-list far too long. When I completed the task I felt such comfort as my back kissed my mattress and the spirit of rest came over me. For the first time in months neither of my phones rang all night. I slept well and uninterrupted. Every other night this weekend I had to attend and event for work and my phone has returned to its usual often hotline status. I thank God for Tuesday. He gave me what I needed when I needed it.

Two weeks ago I sat down to do my financial projections for the rest of the year and took into account the increase in one of my fixed monthly expenditures, a trip to Cleveland for Christmas and a few other expenses and saw that I didn’t have too much wiggle room in my checkbook. My mind was made up that I would just have to continue doing the best I could with what I had and make the most of it. I was at peace. Yesterday, my boss pulled me to the side to tell me that today I’d be getting a small pay increase. It will be just enough to cover the increased monthly bill I was worried about and perhaps a little more. Once again, God gives me what I need when I need it.

A year ago almost to the day I was going through my morning routine preparing for the day ahead of me. My morning routine includes prayer but on this day the prayer wasn’t routine. I started out praying like I normally do but it became something greater, more intense. A spirit swept through my body, my bedroom and my apartment.

Later that afternoon I was delivered news that some would have found devastating. I was not so moved. I found immediate encouragement from my prayer that morning and it was well with my soul. What should have brought me to my knees this day last year, has brought me to a place where I stand firmly on my feet today. God gave me a prayer that day that has lasted a year and surely will take me through a lifetime. He will give me what I need when I need it. I am a believer.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Brother to Brother

I love my brothers. I love all of my brothers. This weekend, ten years after the Million Man March and the weekend of the Millions More Movement, I understood brotherly love. In just three days I ran from, redefined, extended and received it.

I marched from Freedom Plaza to the steps of the Capitol side by side with Black men and women, my brothers and my sisters. One carried a rainbow flag and another carried the mighty red, black and green flag. We chanted, sung and clapped our hands. Black, gay and proud! We are family. Black, gay and proud! We are family. Black, gay and proud! We are family.

My initial fear and anxiety of how would onlookers react to our entrance to the Mall and to the steps of the Capitol Building decreased with every step I took. I couldn’t be afraid to lift my voice. I couldn’t be afraid to raise my voice for the person without one. I couldn’t be afraid of my own family. If I can’t walk into a crowd of hundreds of thousands of Black Americans without fear I can not feel safe walking anywhere.

Saturday evening I locked eyes with a friend and in that moment I knew we were not the friends that we used to be. We are not the same men we used to be and we will never be again. Never in that time, never in the situation that once brought us together, never who or what we were. Though we have always been different, are contrasts are now ever more pronounced. But he is my brother nevertheless and I will love him always. After this weekend I believe we will both love one another however from a greater distance.

When I arrived outside the church house at 8:00AM Sunday morning joy entered my spirit because of the presence of a man. He is now 22 and I remember when he was 18 years old and one of my summer interns in Cleveland many summers ago. Since then he has he has finished high school, completed his bachelors degree and in August he started his first year of graduate work. He was in town for the Movement and asked that I attend service with him like we did when he studied here for a semester. My young friend has grown into an incredible young man with potential that will be reached.

My Sunday walk was as beautiful as ever yesterday. I particularly enjoy my walks in the autumn because I like to hear the sounds of leafs crunching and although I am twenty six years old I find myself in a state of kindergarten amazement when I see a pretty one. Sometimes I pick it up and carry it for a while. I spent a good deal of my walk on the phone with my brother, Jimmy Jam. He had just gotten up from a nap and was giving me the latest on what was going on at home including details on when my uncle would be on leave from Iraq.

Sunday night my soul was nurtured. For the first time in over a year I hosted Soul Food Sunday at my apartment. The first time I held one in November 2003, I thought it would just be ten guys coming over to feed their stomachs and it turned into eleven or twelve professional, gay Black men under thirty who were feeding their mind, body and spirit. With the help of friends Soul Food Sunday continued for some time and went from house to house, host to host but after some of the core moved away it took me quite a while to get just the right mix of people to start it again.

Last night was the first of what I hope to be a longstanding revival of the dinners. The topic discussed after dinner was the soul of a man. The conversation was lively and poignant at some points as guests answered questions like, what makes you a Black man, what men have influenced your life positively or negatively and if you could tell every Black man in America one thing what would it be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

We Ain't Gotta Wait

I have been laughing all day about a story someone called to tell me in the wee hours of last night. Every time I think about the tale it makes me chuckle and remember where I came from and one of the women who helped shape my character.

During a good deal of my high school career I was a member of the community service club and our adviser was Ms. Betty. Now, Ms. Betty was a pretty older Black woman who gave young high school girls every bit of hope and reason to believe that black really wouldn’t crack and that if they took care of themselves their glass Coke bottle shapes would never give way to a 2 liter molding. Ms. Betty was originally from the south and carried herself in a manner that was fitting of the image of a true southern lady – most of the time. There were other times when Ms. Betty would get very down home or sometimes very 1970’s throwback Christie Love or Pam Grier and I would just eat it up. That was one of my favorite things about Ms. Betty, she was able to turn it on and off. She was about the business and the bizness.

Ms. Betty retired from the high school I attended a couple of years ago and I lost track of her until my phone call last night. Aziza called to tell me that her sister was now teaching at school back home and Ms. Betty now works there. Apparently yesterday Ms. Betty and a young woman, presumably a teacher who works at this new school, exchanged a few coarse words. I don’t know if they were about personal or professional differences. Nevertheless, the young woman told Ms. Betty if she didn’t back up then she would see Ms. Betty in the school parking lot at 4:01pm. To that Ms. Betty replied, “we ain’t gotta wait.” I can picture the look on her face and the tone of her voice right now. Serious. I love Ms. Betty and partly because of her I have the wherewithal to be a gentleman as well as the gumption to tell people when situations present themselves from E.C. (East Cleveland) to DCWe ain’t gotta wait!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

One World, One Step

At the beginning of the year I set three goals for myself. All of them clear, concise and measurable. While I have not accomplished all of them yet, one out of fear, one because only December will tell and the other I have in the past 24 hours made significant progress. Since I was in elementary school I have long dreamed of taking a trip to another continent. Realizing that I must do things one step at a time, last year I finally got my passport. Yesterday I bought my plane ticket roundtrip from Washington, DC to London, England.

Departing the District on December 28th will give me just enough time to achieve my goal of traveling abroad before the end of the year. Even more important it will allow me the opportunity to begin my New Year in a different place and space. For over a month I have been scoping out ticket prices and using my desire for a lower fare to come around as an excuse. But finally I stopped dragging my feet and bought it.

Not only will I be blessed to experience a new country I will also be blessed to see old friends. I haven’t seen Meech Muffin since his job took him to London in August and I will also spend time with a dear friend from Bermuda who went to college in DC and later moved to London to work as well. I haven’t seen him since 2003 and to enjoy his smile and tender embrace again will be a great joy.

I can’t recall the last time I was excited. More and more it takes an awful lot. But, about this trek across the ocean I am ecstatic about the possibilities. I am thrilled about this step. The beginning was my passport, next my trip to England and then one by one all the other continents of the world. One step at a time.

I want to see Big Ben, stroll by the Palace and dance all night in Heaven. I also want to venture to see all the things I don’t see on American television, namely other faces of the African Diaspora there. I am sure there is a rich culture to explore and I want to do just that. The earth is so big and there are so many tangible things and intangible thoughts in her and among all of her people that I have yet to discover and experience for myself. Hopefully I will though, one step at a time.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Starr Seven + 1

1. This has no doubt been a long week at work and I’m very much looking forward to the weekend. Even more, it is 11:55AM and I am looking forward to lunch. The first Friday of every month I have lunch with Spartan. He is Black, gay, originally from the Midwest and one year older than I am. We have similar interests and we are both in a field where there are very few Black men. Our monthly lunches are used to discuss our trade and catch up on each others lives. Sadly, I learned that this will be our last first Friday lunch though.

Monday morning I ran into him on the Metro and he told me that he would be leaving his job and Washington, DC all together so that he could move to Chicago and be closer to his family. I am going to miss him.

2. October means that November is next and that also means Thanksgiving. I usually don’t go home for Thanksgiving and so it also means I need start thinking about where and how I will be spending the holiday. Last year I spent it with Meech Muffin, Foxy Brown and the entire Brown family. The year before I created a Thanksgiving with AQueer and another friend from high school that had just moved to the area. Go Blue has invited me to Missouri this year to spend it with him and his family. I don’t know what I’ll finally decide on but I will be thankful wherever I am.

3. One of my responsibilities at work is to compose the language for our mass electronic and printed mail. Yesterday, I noticed I had one message in my junk mail folder at work. It was an email from my organization. Ironic.

4. Last night I went to an event and the gift bags included an umbrella. This morning I left my apartment and it was raining. I then remembered that I had left both the umbrella I had taken to work and the gift bag with the new umbrella in my colleagues’ car last night.

5. Next Saturday is the Millions More Movement. It will certainly be a great gathering of Black men and women from across the country and I am very much looking forward to it. At 8:00AM a contingency of my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters will gather for a rally and walk together to the Mall. The inclusion of sexual minorities in this event has been a long road and I know it is important for us to be represented and show strength in numbers – to educate and bring awareness. I have known this. I got an email this morning from my fraternity brothers who are galvanizing a group to gather at 8:00AM and walk to the Mall together as well. I knew I would eventually face this question. Do I go with my brothers and sisters, do I go with my brothers or do I just go alone?

6. I took some photos for a safe sex social marketing campaign a few weeks ago. Some of the pictures are me in bed with a close friend I wonder will people think we really had sex or are dating. It would be nice to be dating someone if only in make believe.

7. Some man I have never met has fascinated me in a way that no one else has in a while. I read his blog and I have created an image, voice and a swagger that comes to mind when I am reading it. I wonder will we ever cross paths and what that interaction would be like.

+ I learned that Silky, a friend of mine from high school is now engaged. I am so jealous. Of course, I too want to be in love and have someone love me but even more I want someone else to split half of my rent/mortgage and utilities. Lover and a partner.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Write the Vision

When Aziza called me last night to inform me of the passing of August Wilson I was immediately saddened. I first fell in love with his words, his craftsmanship and his great ability to entertain and educate while I was still a boy. My tenth grade American History teacher had organized a class trip to see a local production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. I was captivated with this tale of Black people, living in white America, in search of light in a dark time. I would never again look at theater or myself the same.

I have read or seen nearly all of his plays. His stories and themes cover every aspect of human life. Many times have I looked through windows created by Wilson to see into the lives of those that surround me every single day. At first hearing the news of his home going made my heart sunk because I thought a giant had fallen. A giant that I believed in and loved and without him ever knowing it he loved, nurtured and taught me.

But alas, he is not dead. A giant has not fallen. He lives on.

Over the past several weeks, I have found myself at an impasse. I find myself at times frustrated with my inability to move because of my uncertainty about where to plant my foot next. I am not fearful of making the next move. I am just still waiting on the Lord to answer my prayer and tell me where that next move should be. When it is clear I will then hasten. For now I feel as though I am in a holding pattern.

The works of the master playwright have always inspired me. Now in his death and where I currently find myself in life, the master playwright inspires me perhaps even more. In reflecting on his life one must marvel at what will be called by scholars his greatest accomplishment. Wilson completed a grand epic – ten solid plays that chronicled facest of the lives Black Americans in the 20th century - one for each decade. No other known playwright has fulfilled a goal so successfully. It took him two decades to finish the series.

In his life work I find inspiration. There must have been times where he too found himself at crossroads. Surely, at one point or another he must have also reached an impasse. Even a labor of love over a twenty year period must have seen its shares of ups and downs. But years ago something or someone, a spirit, must have called out to August and told him to go forth with this work. He was given a vision and he saw it through.

Two weeks ago Kenny Leon made brief remarks before the audience at the Lincoln Theater there to see a production of Flying West. Leon noted to us that he had just visited Wilson in Seattle and received further script changes for Radio Golf. Wilson was still writing the vision up until just weeks ago. He knew and he was dedicated.

How great it will be when the calling for my next step in life is whispered, shouted, made known unto me. I believe and so long and as so much as the spirit allows I will see it through.

Oh how I marvel at the works of August Wilson. His works touched by heaven and bless the Earth. He is an inspiration, a model for myself and others both in life and in death.

To you Mr. Wilson, I repeat your own words that will forever resonate with me…So live. To you Mr. Wilson I am grateful for your inspiration that one day I too may write the vision.