Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Reunion Weekend

When I arrived to New York on Friday night I had two immediate needs, a cocktail and a costume change. Within an hour both of those needs had been met and I was walking down Christopher Street with AQueer, Foxy Brown and Thirty Red. We stopped by our usual haunts and toasted to the weekend ahead. After catching a few eyes and finishing our round we hustled off to the Lobby. After hearing so many things about the Lobby since it opened up several months ago I knew that I had to make this lobby my official foyer into the weekend.

The line was longer than I expected but what it brought me was something that I have grown accustomed to seeing in NYC – good looking men. The eye candy was sweet and kept me pacified until I got in the club. To my left was my favorite NYC frat brother. To my right was one of my favorite and phyne blog buddies, Seriously. I ran into a few more familiar faces and gave the dance floor a fifteen minute set. I danced just enough to get my blood flowing but not long enough to have sweat flowing down forehead and back. My weekend was off to a great start.

Saturday brought culture and good company. I attended A Burst of Light, an event orchestrated by Frank Leon Roberts at the Nuyorican Café for NYC Black Pride. The event showcased four creative people whose chosen instrument is the written or spoken word. Alphonso Morgan did a good presentation. James Early Hardy was good, Staceyann Chin was great and Hanifah was wonderful. Her accolades were many and well deserved.

Following A Burst of Light as I was walking away from the café and my phone rang. TheLoveHater had decided to venture to NYC for the weekend. Oh, the fun we would have. He and I immediately linked up and headed to Brooklyn for
a bar-b-que. I’d been to the hosts’ house once a few moths ago. When I walked into the backyard I was not at all surprised. The music was right, the grill was smoking a beautiful brown group of folks had gathered to have a good time. He and his partner exude a positive and welcoming energy that is reflected in the people they surround themselves with. I made a couple of new friends and reconnected with a handsome young man I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing one-on-one at somewhere other than social affair.

Saturday night I did what I would end up doing again on Sunday, the Christopher Street stroll, seeing and being seen. I saw many faces I seldom get to see. In recent months I have begun referring to Pride as Reunion. I think more and more people have pride in their lives on a daily basis. Times have changed. As I observed the hoards of people much younger than even I on the Pier and throughout the weekend and I think about the kids I see in DC I am reminded of this. When Pride events first started there was certainly more of a reason to take it to the streets. Yell it loud, you are gay and proud. Today there are youth in middle school who have already come out to their family, teachers and peers. They don’t have the same need for a day or annual event to proclaim their orientation liberation. Granted I of course think the need is there, but definitely not in the same way. Additionally, I think that the generation after me has a better shot at seeing more long term healthy same sex relationships too. I have many theories on the evolution of my shared communities.

Although Pride in NYC was over on Sunday my weekend of Reunion was not over. I took another step closer to the City of Bones, washing myself new, on Monday. I met Aziza for lunch. Aziza and I have known each other since 8th grade. When we first met we instantly clicked. Our constant talking, loud laughter and sharp tongues drove many a teach throughout our jr.high and high school crazy. We were a dynamic duo and often insane duo who fed off each others crazy and creativeness. Throughout our college years we remained very close but as the case with many relationships and friendships there are rough patches. In December she and I hit a very rough patch and on Christmas Eve she and I had a positively negative encounter. It was not our exchange of words that communicated what was going on – it was the two of us in the room with most of our other high school friends and not speaking a word to each other that communicated to her, me and everyone else present that the waters were choppy and someone or our friendship just may drown.

There had been some words said by a third party that weren’t true. There were some words conveyed to both of us by a third party that were also misinterpreted. The third party is/was another friend of ours from school. Aziza and I didn’t speak again until May when she called me out of the blue. When picked up the phone our conversation picked up like we had talked to each other just the day before. We didn’t skip a beat. We updated each other on the past five months and she shared a hysterical story about what was going on with her cousin. We talked for nearly an hour and neither of us mentioned the fact we hadn’t spoken since December and we were used to talking to each other every other week. That is a real friendship. I love Aziza and I believe she loves me.

She and I have talked several times since May and yesterday we went to lunch and had a long conversation about what happened in December and she apologized for letting someone else attempt to step in the middle of our friendship and I apologized for not initiating this process of clear communication sooner. Lunch was fantastic.

I shopped for a few hours until it was time for me to meet friend of mine from undergrad for dinner. I haven’t seen her since she moved to Indiana last August to start work on her Ph.D. She is my sand. She crossed my semester and we were both chaplains of our respective organizations. Dinner was delicious and so was the conversation.

I love good reunions. Reunited and it feels so good.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Power of Truth

Since the time I was a small child I have heard the cliché that the truth will set you free. More and more over the past few weeks, I have learned that the power of unleashing the truth goes far beyond what it can do for me, or just any one person. The power of the truth not only sets me free but it has the ability to set others free as well. Randomly I have been speaking truths about my personal experiences with friends over the past few weeks that I have not often or have never shared with anyone. What a feeling it was to finally say – this is what it is and this is who I am. That feeling tremendous feeling followed by the affirmation that my truth was also someone else’s truth is even more awesome and powerful.

Last night I talked to one of my good friends about cruising. The subject to most folks is so taboo and people for fear and shame won’t admit that they ever have or still do lurk behind bushes, trees, bathroom stalls and statues to be touched in the dark trying to get that feeling that they haven’t been offered or can’t offer anyone else in the light. At first I was very hesitant to share my experiences. Yes, I have done it. I can’t say that it is something that I am proud of but it is true. It is a truth about my life and I’d venture to say the evolution of my sexuality. Cruising is certainly one of the least discussed parts of Black gay male socialization. The stigma attached to it prevents most people from saying that they have done it or do it. When I admitted to my friend that I have done it and he and I then shared stories about it – the stigma was gone. I wasn’t embarrassed anymore. We were able to talk about the physical experiences we had as well as delve deeper and talk about why we used to do it. We talked about the silence that exist around it.

Yesterday, I read a blog that talked about aging. He shared his legitimate fears of being a Black gay man that would grow old alone. His truth. My truth. It is the truth of so many but again, most would never admit it. The first time I admitted it to AQueer I rushed to say it, trying to peel off the words quickly like a band-aid – the faster I do it the less pain it would be. I don’t like to admit that I am ever afraid. So when I admitted to him that was truly one of my biggest fears I was afraid. I am so happy I freed myself from that fear. AQueer looked at me and we had the most wonderful conversation for hours about our fear of growing old alone. We have few models of Black male relationships with significant longevity and even in both our homes growing up we had few models of male/female relationships that seemed to last a lifetime. One of my best buddies in NYC and I have discussed numerous times the same fear since then. I am no longer afraid to speak that truth. I have one less fear. I am stronger.

Truth will set us free.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ever been on an adventure?

Before Aunt Ester guided Citizen to the City of Bones, far beneath the sea, she inquired of him if he had ever been on an adventure. Something about the way she said the word adventure gave me goose bumps and my mind began racing, conjuring up thoughts of what adventures lay ahead for me. I can hear her saying the word now, adventure. Isn't life itself an adventure, or at the very least full of them?

Citizen found himself on an adventure that led him to the City of Bones, where the voices, imagery and power of his ancestors washed him anew. I’ve been on adventures before and I eagerly await the one that is just days ahead of me. Countless times I have visited the City but there is something in my bones that shakes and stirs with a new feeling. Some new spirit surrounds me and the upcoming trek to the city I almost want to call home. I don’t feel like this trip to the City will be like any other that I’ve had before.

Ever since the completion of my magic trick last month I have grown more and more excited about visiting NYC this weekend. Perhaps it is because I so fondly recall the last time I had the occasion to be in NYC on the last weekend in June and all the fun I had. I met new people, got reacquainted with old friends and danced the nights away. I recall standing in a line that was way too long and entertaining myself and others around me with observational humor in the rain. Finally I made it inside the Warehouse. Once I entered and my right foot touched the last step leading to the second floor I heard the intro of the official song of the summer, Crazy in Love. I grabbed AQueer by the wrist and pulled him on stage with me to rock it and sock it for a good hour of uninterrupted dancing. Lost in the rhythm and beats we found ourselves in the company of hot sweaty Black and Latino men who just like us were out to have a good time. No worries.

There is nothing quite as delightful and at the same time intriguing as the parade that New York has on the last Sunday of June that ends on Christopher Street and for Black people, the pier. Macy’s has nothing on this. That parade doesn't make me think. The first time I saw the parade I was as enchanted as a child during his or her first truly cognizant Christmas. There were thousands of people from every background that you could possibly imagine and more. All of them were happy people. All of them were celebrating. All of them shared one spirit of excitement and a unity.

I can’t help but to laugh out loud when I think about what lays before me this weekend. Indeed, I am ready for an adventure. I am ready to have new experiences. I am ready to face some people and some truths. I am ready to see the positive future and just as ready to feel the slight hurt and shun from parts of the past and present. Every day isn’t bright that’s why I can appreciate the sun.

Moreover next week I’m on vacation and haven’t decided which US or foreign city I’m going to rest my head in for five or six days. I have the pleasure to wake up and choose a coast or a continent to be on. Like Citizen I’m at a point in my life where I am searching for something, or at least I think I may like most people, need to have something reaffirmed in my life, in my spirit. Maybe that’s why I am so eager for the weekend and the time I’ll have next week. It may not be because of the fun I think I am going to have. It may be because of the time I need to piece it all together. If I will battle a demon, be embraced by a precious spirit, or be washed anew in the coming week is all a mystery.

Nevertheless, Aunt Ester, Uncle Andre and Sister Ruth Ellis... I am ready for an adventure.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Fire Next Time

Alone in the movie theater I saw waiting for the presentation. Finally, the lights got dim and the endless stream of previews began to flow. One after another the screen was graced by faces that looked nothing like me. There were at least five previews shown and none of them featured a Black man, woman or child. It is so ironic that just a few weeks before I went to an exhibit of African American film posters. I longed to feel a connection and that longing was never satisfied.

The next day I got an email from a dear friend of mine who sits on the board of Fire & Ink. It is an organization dedicated to educating and empowering authors, poets, griots and creative gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of African descent to produce and promote their works. Because of them hopefully the experience I had in the movie theater won’t be as common when I go to bookstores. The organization was founded by Lisa C. Moore following her putting together a conference for lgbt writers of African descent in the summer of 2002 in Chicago, IL. This year they will hold their second conference, Fire & Ink: The Revival, October 6 – 9 in Austin, Texas. Early registration, which is critical to them having this event, is now open. It is sure to be a powerful event.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon a book with characters who were Black men who loved other Black men and how intrigued I was that the book even existed. It opened up a whole new world for me. It was affirming, educational and entertaining and offered me hope. I didn’t have to be the characters I saw on In Living Color. The book was written by someone like me, for me and showed a more accurate reflection of me – and many others. I could be a strong, healthy, educated Black man that loved other Black men. I hope that those who attend Fire & Ink this year will be filled with the spirit and energy of the great writers and storytellers who came before them. There are longings that only we can satisfy for ourselves. There are truths that can only be told by those that know them. There are images that can only be projected in their entirety by those who are them. With more writers emerging and an expanding audience I hope the world is ready for the fire next time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Each day I...

He says that he is a theater lover. He says that he is an actor. He wants to work in theater and develop a relationship with those in the local theater community. Yet, he graduated from college three years ago with a degree in theater and moved back to DC immediately thereafter and hasn’t stepped foot in one audition and never volunteers for a theater or arts company. Typically, when he goes on tirades about his love for drama I acquiesce and listen to his streams of words that I believe to be empty. An actor acts, a writer writes, a painter paints, a chef cooks and a talker, he or she just talks.

Tonight I had the occasion to speak with Langston. He and I have been trading emails for the past few weeks so I decided to finally give him a call. Last week Langston finished his first year of his Ph.D. program and is now delighted that he has two weeks to himself before classes resume again. I asked him how he would spend his time between now and day one of the next round of classes and he said that he’d be catching up on some things at work and doing a bit of leisure reading. He rarely gets an opportunity to read whatever he wants during the semester. Although I thought that after reading piles of articles and books related to his coursework that he would only want to read for pleasure he informed me to the contrary. At the advice of one of his professors he is spending a bit of time each day reading materials related to his field of study. His astute professor asserts that a graduate student is married to his or her program, as anyone committed to doing or being anything is committed to their cause or craft. Thus, each day he or she spends time honing their craft, studying, learning, enhancing.

After I hung up the phone with Langston I began to think about what activities, if any do I do every day. I know that I spend my financial resources on things which I deem important or of value at the time and want, certainly I must also spend my time and exert energy on things, people and causes I think are significant. In the same token I should probably asses the fact that I probably spend both time and money on things that I shouldn’t – and that I should replace those things with things of greater value.

An actor acts, a writer writes, a painter paints, a chef cooks and a talker, he or she just talks. And each day I…

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sunday Sentiments

I have spent most of my weekend alone. It was a choice that I made to spend time with myself and this has perhaps been one of the most productive weekends that I’ve experienced this year. It wasn’t productive in the sense that I produced some sort of tangible deliverables or that I planned another magic trick. It was productive because I spent this time alone being introspective, replenishing my energy, moving myself closer to my center, and reenergizing myself. It was time much needed and well spent.

Over the past couple of days I’ve had the opportunity to think about a number of things including the day in September that always seems to come faster each year. God willing, I will see my birthday in just a little more than 90 days. Time seems to have passed by so quickly since toasting my last birthday. And as the next one approaches I wonder what I wonder at the end of every day…am I better man?

Real people. Real family. Real life. I’ve had a lot to think about this weekend. Friday night for the first time I had a very open and honest conversation with my mother about aging. Every Sunday she goes to my grandfather’s house to prepare his pill boxes for the week and take him dinner. Once or twice a week she takes him to the store and to run errands. As she begins to think about getting older and what needs she will have as an older person I too have begun thinking of what my responsibilities will be to her. Although I am one of three children I understand that in my later years it may fall upon me to move back to Cleveland to take care of the woman who has taken care of me. I move forward planning for my future and hers.

My phone rang. It was my best friend’s sister. She called to tell me her college graduation was wonderful. My best friend got on the phone after her and told me a secret. She told me that he sister spoke at the graduation and named several people that were positive influences in her life that helped her reach her moment of turning her tassel and that I was one of them. I had no words for a response. I was deeply moved and appreciative that someone appreciated me. I didn’t know to what if any degree she listened to me or watched me and took notice of the right things I was doing or even the wrong things I was doing that she’d make note to do right.

This morning I finally read the book Who Moved My Cheese? I’ve had it on my list of books to read list for about four years now. The book talks about change and how people choose or not to adapt to it. At one point it poses the question I find myself not willing to answer at times, what would you be doing if you weren’t afraid?The story of little men and mice searching for cheese sound so simple on the surface but it is easily applicable to some of lives more complicated issues we are forced to deal with every day.

I don’t think that most people know their true power or how they can allow themselves to empower others. I believe that we have the power to create visions for ourselves and see those visions become real. I believe that man has the power to speak things into existence. I believe in the words from the holy book that as a man thinketh...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hump Day

Yesterday was ‘hump day’ and last night I decided to hit the town because ATLien was in town for the night and Thirty Red and I wanted to show him a good time. Boy, did I have a ball.

Immediately after work we headed to Tapatini’s my new favorite martini bar where at least one of the bartenders knows my name and they have really great drink specials. Last night lime coconut and apple martini’s were $4 and glasses of white wine were $2. I had a couple of martini’s and one glass of wine – along with an appetizer to wash it all down. I happened to meet two women who lived in DC and are attorneys and one says she has a cute gay friend who lives in Columbus and is going to be a doctor. Of course, I gave her my card and got her email address. She happens to live a few blocks away from me too. Maybe I’ll bump into her on one of my Sunday walks. Hopefully she can arrange for me to bump into her friend.

After the tap ran dry at Tapatini’s we headed over to a local gay watering hole called the Fireplace that I fondly call the Fire Trap. I saw a couple of guys I knew and had one cocktail. I chatted up there with the folks I knew and happened to see a guy I used to talk to back in the fall. He didn’t see me so I didn’t make it a point of letting him know that I saw him. The time is now approaching ten o’clock and that’s what time I need to be at Dream to use the nifty VIP passes I got for a Rock the Vote party that was going on there last night.

We dashed to Dream, saw a long line and thankfully I had the cell number of the person who gave me the passes and she made it so we didn’t have to stand in line. Gotta love her! From 10:15 to midnight I rocked it and socked it on the dance floor at Dream. I also ran into a frat brother and a boy who wants to be a frat brother. I said hello to one – not the other. He really bothers me and has caused angst among some of my peers. He gets the old famous Faith Evans single, ya get no love from me.

At midnight we decided to step back on the other side of town and hit up the strip club. That was interesting, first because I ended up talking to some guy, FedSex. I’ve seen him around town on many occasions. He seems nice enough and a little different from the guys I would normally talk to but – hey I was in a strip joint. Things were going well until he mentioned the name of someone in his inner circle of friends. Although I didn’t say it out loud or with my facial expression I was turned off. It is true that sometimes one is guilty by association. Was I being a snob or was I just following one of the 48 Laws of Power [ Protect your reputation at all cost. ] and associating with him may some day put me in association with his friend who just isn’t my cup of tea. It is such a small world.

Secondly because on my way to the Metro headed to work yesterday morning I saw The Taster (my favorite DC Stripper) and he happened to be dancing at the club last night. How cyclical is that? I guess everyone was just humping around on hump day.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Show Me

After attending a pretty good Saturday evening house party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning I managed to wake up in time to make it to 8:00AM church service. Amen! I much prefer the 8 o’clock service as I think it offers me less earthly distractions, which equivocates to better praise and worship. This Sunday the associate minister would be delivering the word and what a word he did deliver.

When he stood up to speak the lights in the church dimmed and on the screens that anchor the pulpits a clip from Jerry McGuire was shown. It was the scene where Cuba and Cruise said the words that will live on in cinematic history and American English for years to come, “Show me the money.” The clip ended and the preacher told the church to turn to Malachi 3:11. Show Me the Money would be the topic of his sermon. I enjoy a well woven speech/sermon and today I found this one to be palatable to my taste and it again forced me to think about my personal tithes and offerings. It also challenged me to think about where perhaps my faith is and I am on my own personal spiritual journey.

As I was walking home from church my cell phone rang. Thirty Red was interested in linking up with me this afternoon to see an exhibition at the Smithsonian that I’d been talking about since the weekend it opened, Close Up in Black. I have always been a believer that one could learn the history of our nation by never going to a history class but rather by walking through an art museum, reading a series of plays or books or by going to the movies. This thought was illustrated in many ways in Close Up in Black. The exhibit features 90 advertisement posters from films featuring African Americans from the early 1920’s until today. Walking into the exhibit hall the first poster one sees is for a movie with an “all-star negro cast.” The posters, featured quotes and notes on the walls simultaneously tell the story of African Americans in film and the general history of people of African descent in the United States. Show me on the silver screen.

After weeks of procrastinating I plan to email my uncle who is stationed in Iraq. We don’t have the tightest relationship. Years ago I used to write him when he first got in the army and he did write me back. Times have changed. We are both older now. I hope my email doesn’t go unanswered and he’ll show me some love.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rain Stopped Fallin', Rain Stopped Callin'

Friends, including my mother, have been asking me whatever happened to Fresh Rain. That is a question I have asked myself too. What did happen to Fresh Rain? Like nearly every other man that I have ever begun to develop feelings for, why did he fade away. One minute he was there and the next he was gone. Another reminder in my life of the importance of enjoying the moment because I don’t always know how long its going to last or when another one is going to come.

The last time Fresh Rain and I hung out together was just about one month ago. He and I met at my favorite dessert spot and enjoyed sweets, treats and headed to Tower to buy him some beats. At the end of the night he drove me home and in front of my building we sat for a few minutes talking and recapping the night. He had a wonderful night. He was happy that he decided to get out the house. He enjoyed my company. That was the moment. Then that moment passed.

Two days later we talked again. I called him to see how his day went and if he turned in a report that he had been working on for his boss. The conversation was just as smooth as any other that we’d had. In his words I heard no hint of oddity. I was still riding high from our last face to face encounter. He told me that he had to wrap the conversation up and that he would call me back. I never got a call.

A few days later I gave it another try. I was trying to be mature. I didn’t want to get entrenched in a game of “I called him last. He needs to call me.” About a year ago I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to talk to someone I should just pick up the phone and call that person. I got his voice mail. He returned my call. I thought nothing unusual about this conversation either. He told me he would call me back. I tried him once more a week later to no avail. It’s now been a few weeks and my phone hasn’t rung, at least not with him on the other end of it.

I played every scene we shared together out over and over in my mind convinced that it was something that I did or said that wasn’t suppose to be in the script or perhaps maybe I wasn’t on cue in this movie called his life. What happened to Fresh Rain and why does it always seem to happen to me. I dissected the situation and have come up with the reason I think he severed his ties with me.

When I met Fresh Rain he was newly out of a six year relationship. Ladies and gentleman, there you have it. I assert that Fresh Rain saw our ‘talking’ moving closer to another relationship or semblance thereof and before it got any further he decided to retreat. I don’t know if I can blame a brother for that. If I were just newly minted a single man perhaps I would want to enjoy the shine of my new found freedom as well. But what I can fault him for is that he hasn’t to date just come flat out and told me that. I’ll admit that I too have just ceased communication with men that were interested in me once I determined that surely I wasn’t interested in them. Because of the feeling that I have right now and especially how I felt after the first few days when he didn’t call me, I know that is not something I want to do to someone else again.

The fall of Fresh Rain was hard for me to take initially particularly because other than Langston I’d not seen a man in the same light before. I’m not Janet Jackson but I suppose that’s the way that love goes. DC is a small town and I am sure that eventually I will see him again and when I do I will be cordial as always though I am sure a small part of me will have a few other emotions.

For years I have asked myself the same question over and over again. Is it me? What is it that I do or don’t do that makes people react to me the way that they do? Why did I consistently meet men in some transition stage in their lives? When will I find a man that I like and who is also, single, emotionally available and likes me? For much more than a moment.