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.