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Fragile Masculinity and Ill Informed Women 

For as long as I can remember I have grown up around men. Like real man’s men, football loving, basketball playing, I don’t mind sweating men or getting dirty men. In the same regard the men I was blessed to grow up around were secure. They were secure in their masculinity and secure in who they were. 

You see the men I speak of were my grandfather, my dad, my uncles, great uncles, cousins, mentors, and coaches.
As I look back I can’t remember a time my dad didn’t give me a hug and/or kiss my forehead and tell me he loved me as I departed him. My uncle acted the same way. I was my grandpas shadow and he didn’t mind letting me know he loved me.

Yet all these men were masculine, secure, STRAIGHT men! My mentor would provide a welcome hug and handshake my coaches usually did the same. That set the foundation for me knowing I can be a man and that my masculinity is not attached to behavior. It is a sense of self. It also taught me what to expect from people who say they care about you. 
I opened this post with that background, because it seems maybe I experienced a twighlight zone movie. More and more on social media, some woman unfamiliar with what it takes to be a masculine and secure man is telling men what acceptable behavior and clothing is for men. When a man is not behaving how these women and men see fit he is now associated with one of the most unintelligent and juvenile terms used to slander a man. He’s called gay!

Within the past three months alone I have seen women and some supposedly masculine men refer to men who wear a short and shirt sewn together as “gay.” I have even seen a woman refer to a man who eats brunch with another group of men, without a woman as gay. 
Men should not be worrying about what another man is doing that makes him happy and fits his life. I cannot understand how a woman or man, someone who is secure in themselves and happy with their life, would be worried why another man has on shorts with a shirt or why that man is brunching with another group of men. 

Besides that breaking bread, as it’s commonly called in educated circles, is a way for many people to connect be it socially, be it for business, be it spiritually. It seems many are unaware of ways to do business and thus stagnant professionally, socially, and spiritually.
Though I may not wear a romper or romphim, what another man wears will not impact my paycheck, it will not make me uncomfortable, and I do not really have time to be worrying about what they do with their body and their clothing that they paid for and work for. 

Next, STOP using terms like GAY, to describe someone’s actions or as a slur. There are other adjectives that fit and they are a bit more intelligent. Find something that really speaks to what you are trying to say. Using the term gay as a slanderous term reduces your intelligence level down to a kindergartener or first grader and even then we should teach our children that their are better words for use to describe individuals. We should even teach our kids that name-calling is not acceptable. 

As I sit back I now realize why it is so hard for many of the great straight men I know who are secure to meet, date, and marry. If they are labeled gay for having taste, being cultured, having brunch with their fraternity brothers, colleagues, and friends what hope do they have. My mentor had hosted brunch for men to connect and discuss ways in which we can work together for quite some time and those relationships he has fostered have provided a brotherhood of men from various walks of life, in a multitude of career fields, and helped entrepreneurs across this country. Some of you ladies are missing your King, because he wore a romper and had brunch with the fellas while drinking champagne and not a sagging while drinking a Old English sitting in the backyard. 

To close this I think it would serve us a lot better as a generation and a society, if we started working together instead of marginalizing one another. We should be learning about one another and working to make the world around us better for the next generation. That means making sure that we are mobilizing for our next election, voting in local elections and keeping those we vote for accountable. 

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I want to date you not marry you!

Dating for me in the last few years can be summed up in one word, “anxiety”.

Gen Y or Millennials are a group with more options for dates, due in large part to dating apps and social media. With that comes the promotion of unhealthy coping mechanisms that are easily spread to those who are not independent thinkers. Daily we see people reposting and sharing statuses like, “Don’t catch feelings, catch flights” or some other pessimistic and flat out crazy message.

One trend I have noticed is individuals who want to date, but are afraid of getting burned so they are team “no feelings”. Team no feelings has a lot to say and actually probably feels a lot of emotion, but instead of letting out those thoughts and emotions they dismiss them. So if you even mention anything beyond casual sex, drinks or Netflix and chill they are running for hills for fear of showcasing their feelings. 

To these individuals I say chill! I just want to get to know you and uncover the layers of you. I do not want to marry you I just want to spend time getting to know you better. For me it is hard to balance multiple people. I have too much going on professionally and with family to add in 2-5 more people like I was able to do in my 20’s. 

Me dating you just means I want to get to know your favorite foods, what you like to drink, how you cope with stress, what makes you smile, what makes you angry. Those important things that help you build a friendship and then down the road (6 months) we can assess where we are and are NOT compatible. 

Next you have those individuals who act like dating is a race to the finish line. Everything is quick. We all know these people. After one date and a great conversation, with moderate attraction, they are planning the nuptials. Discussing couples activities like destination trips, intimate dinners, meeting each other’s family and apartment/ house shopping.

To these individuals I say, “pause!” Why are you in such a rush? You do not know if I snore (I do when I am tired or sick), what about our values, what about the fact that when I am hungry I am not always the nicest person. I need you to understand that in my case I moved to LA without a car or a place of my own, so while I am interested in potentially dating I have a lot to accomplish.

Let’s take a step back and work on developing a deeper understanding of our possible coexistence. See each other maybe once or twice a week, but have somewhat consistent communication. We do not need to talk all day or text every minute of the day, but let’s establish a consistent pattern that is timely and responsible with our adult responsibilities. 

It seems in either case the whether you are team no feelings or the rusher, we need to be super clear on how we feel about ourselves, about our past dating experiences and about what we want long term. 

So if and when someone like myself says I want to date you just understand that is an opportunity for us to get to know each other, nothing more, nothing less.

Emotional Rollercoaster that is “Moonlight”

Have you ever walked into an experience, watching a play? Maybe you attended a concert and you had no idea what to expect, but you find yourself completely enthralled in the experience? Last night I attended a showing for the movie “Moonlight” with my buddy Ashley .

The movie is a complex story that all too many people of color face. British actress, Naomie Harris plays, Chiron’s mother and you have to buckle your seatbelt for the emotional ride she takes you on. Chiron (pronounced Shy-Ron) played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes is a young man with a troubled upbringing. Janelle Monae literally plays superwoman and is probably the character that saved Chiron’s life. As a note actress Naomie Harris is an incredible actress she shot all of her scenes in 3 days. 

Director Brad Jenkins masterfully wrote and direct a powerful piece of work and Brad Pitt is the executive producer of the film. The casting in the movie is impeccable and the most interesting note is the 3 actors who play Chiron, played him not knowing there was another Chiron also portraying him. The actors did not meet and did not know each other prior to the edited film was shown. Yet the embodiment of the character, Chiron, throughout 3 different segments of his life is impeccably portrayed and seamless.

Do yourself a favor and go and see the film today! It has been described as a “coming out” story, but it more of an enlightening tool into life, love, friendship, pain, drugs and poverty. 
No matter your race, whether you are black, white, Indian, Asian and/ or Latino’s should see it.

Click here to find your nearest box office showing the film. 

#moonlight

#chiron

#NaomieHarris

#AlexHibbert

#AshtonSanders

#TrevanteRhodes

#iamjoecarnell

More than…

How many of us have ever walked into a room and heard someone bashing a person, because of their personal diet choices? Here’s an example you are at work and John is telling Adam, that he thinks eating Kale is for weak losers. Imagine if you eat Kale and enjoy it, yet John is your boss and Adam your friend is laughing while John insults Kale eaters. John then misquotes a passage in the Bible and Adam awkwardly laughs as he tries to remember the passage he knows doesn’t reference Kale. As you sit there annoyed and thinking is eating Kale really that bad? Does everything I have done good get negated. That is what millions of people feel when they see and hear their family members, coworkers and friends discussing their sexual preference. They have to hear the ones they work with, learn with, worship with and in some cases live with demeaning a choice that does not impact their loved ones, coworkers, friends and family members in anyway.

Sexuality is not something that determines physical aptitude, mental health or morality, yet in our country sexuality is all to frequently a talking point that seeks to demean and suppress the LGBTQ community.

There are physicians, entertainers, athletes, teachers, service workers, police officers, executives and the list goes on who live their life inside of a very sturdy mental box. Individuals who have competed academically, athletically and done so at a high level are relegated to what they enjoy in the bedroom. Every scholastic award, every medal, ribbon or trophy they have ever won is now negated.

This is not entirely due to a fault of one person, rather as a result of parents, friends, communities, religious houses and schools that frequently (by frequently I mean probably once a week) state that by being gay or bisexual you are less of a man or less than. In some cases many of us have even heard people threaten physical violence against someone who is gay or bisexual. 

I have personally seen acquaintances and family members share social media posts equating homosexuality to beastiality, misquoting scripture and liking or sharing demonstrative lies (I.e. Slavery introduced homosexuality to black people *insert a hard eye roll*) all based on someone else’s sexual preference. Some may have not known my sexuality, but I definitely took note. If it was not for the support system, parents and grandparents I had I would be in that number. Who I am may have been suppressed due to the discouraging things I have witnessed.

Our society has no idea of what the words, actions they exhibit and energy around homosexuality can do to those individuals. There are individuals have no desire to carry out a heterosexual love life, instead they have to fake it so that their family do not abandon them, their friends do not mock and ridicule them and their community does not harass them and turn their back on them.

As a result of individuals date in secrecy, they live in obscurity and are mentally tormented at the thought of revealing who they truly love and hope to build an existence with. They never share the photo or video we see so many of our heterosexual friends sharing of the “Love of their Life”. The thought that their mother or father would hurl religious scriptures, epithets and possibly violence in their direction that they would now be the focus of conversations at their religious house, family reunion, job or professional social circles is terrifying and very real. 

I have witnessed young men and women living false reality into their 30’s and 40’s. To make that even clearer that could be half of someone’s life or a little under a 1/3. 

For those that read this, be mindful of how you describe an entire group of people. Be mindful of how you interact with those around you. Your son, your daughter, your niece or nephew, your cousin or even your friend greet them with love and encourage them to be true to themselves and continue to love them no matter who they love. 🙏🏾

To those who had the courage to come out despite your opposition, kudos to you and may you find peace in your truth. Encourage those around you to get centered with their truth and their reality. After all we are all More than what occurs in the bedroom!

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7 Reasons You May Be Single – Perspective

After two relationships that each lasted about 3 years I found myself reevaluating everything. Looking at what I brought to the table, what I accepted and what was expected. I had to be honest with myself. In conversation and through observation with friends and associates over the past few years, I found some common dating issues:

7. Everyone knows everyone. Well at least social media connects everyone. So that may make it difficult to date someone, one of your “friends” has not dated. That is if you care about that sort of boundary. However for some the thought of dating a popular person or someone a friend or associate dated is a turnoff.

6. We do not create interactions that facilitate the type of relationship we want. Here is an example. You want to casually date someone. Nothing serious, just brunch, happy hour, dinner or movies occasionally. The catch is you indulge in frequent communication (daily text and phone conversations or day long exchanges) and you’re planning romantic experiences. That behavior then sends a message that this is not so casual. However, because many of us are not introspective we can push it off on the other person as being clingy or pushy.

5. You don’t really know what you want or you are scared to be honest. You sort of want a Netflix and chill situation, but you also want someone to confide in. You want a friend that you find attractive, but you also want late night pillow talk. There are a good portion of us who never take time from dating to learn what it is we want long term from a partner. We live in a time where sex is readily available, thanks to social media and some people are afraid to just be honest about what it is they desire or what is most important to them.

4. You are carrying old baggage everywhere. That old relationship and the person involved that left you broken, damn near homeless and distanced from family & friends (hopefully all 3 did not occur) is now who you see in everyone. The guy/ girl who shows active interest and wants to communicate with you or senses when you’re not quite yourself is now smothering you and you push them away for the slightest resemblance of the person you never should have dated months or years back.

3. You are scared. Look I get it! You are scared of commitment. For me committing to buying a pair of underwear is a huge commitment so imagine how I view relationships. Who wants to spend months or years, countless dollars and energy dating someone only to possibly be disappointed? The answer is nobody. Here’s the thing, every interaction does not have to turn out with you blocking them on every social media channel, blocking their friends and their number and avoiding local functions so you do not see them. It may be that the young man or woman you dated just had a different vision of what short term or long term looks like. That’s ok! Forgive yourself, better yet do not beat yourself up for dating someone that did not come with a warning label.

2. You will not own your role! Too many of us (myself included) have tried to do everything for everyone. As a result we do not spend enough time working on our own shortcomings. If you find yourself scouring your potential or partners social media pages and searching through their phone only to start up an argument about an emoji a fan left. If you are dealing with a non confrontational potential or partner this can send them running for the hills or shutting down.

1. Take your time. This generation is a microwave society. We want a relationship with 5 year benefits within 6 months. Before introducing someone to your family learn as much as possible. Before you two are double dating with the other couple that you know, find out if they can handle their alcohol are they responsible or if you even have real chemistry. Rushing into a relationship where you do not give yourself time is a recipe for disaster. We have all seen it on our social media timelines. They date for a month then they flood our timelines with the infamous “bae & I” pictures at the grocery store, in the bathroom, at the movies, in the car you get it I’m sure. Or how cold we forget the annoying hashtags #whenyouknowitsreal, #futurewifey, #futurehubby, #mybackbone then 3 months later the person is wiped from social media existence after a breakup that could have been spotted with a little more patience.

This post is not about critiquing anyone other than myself. I swept around my own door and found these gems. I then saw people around me dealing with similar issues. I hope this helps someone. If so do me a favor, Like this post, subscribe below and share it with your own network!

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Love and Happiness

Love and Happiness

 

That song was made popular by Al Green. In the first line he say’s, “Love will make you do right/ make you do wrong.” This post is about how we could all stand to share some love and happiness.

I really want to latch on to the thought of LOVE for this blog and I hope the conversation around it is shared and continues.

I have been very fortunate to be surrounded and dare I say overwhelmed with LOVE my entire life. By many accounts I am/was both of my grandmother’s favorite and if I was my sister was definitely the favorite for my grandpa.

That said the LOVE we received from our immediate family and extended family (blood and sometimes not) set the tone really early. Our family was fiercely protective of one another. If discipline was going to occur it started at home. Encouragement started at home and most importantly affirmation started at home.

I lost count on how many times I was told I was smart. I lost count on how many times I heard I Love You and to this day whether by voice or text I will have those 3 words shared with me from members of my family.

That love and affirmation has propelled me through life. It made my experiences, missteps and dare I say failures that much easier. I knew I would be OK, because of the Love I received at home.

I know how fortunate I truly am and recently on Easter I was stopped in my tracks. While putting together an umbrella for my grandma’s patio and barbecuing my grandmother, who knows I am gay said something that made me stop in my tracks.

I don’t even really know what we were discussing, but maybe something about music or dancing and she said she couldn’t wait to celebrate and dance at my wedding. WOW! I haven’t thought much about my wedding or how it’s going to happen since I am not in any sort of relationship! It just got me to thinking how fortunate I am to have a family who loves me through and through.

For some reason I was extremely nervous to share my sexuality with my family. For some reason I just knew they would disown me, maybe kick me out of the family and Lord knows what else.

Maybe it was the stories of many other LGBT people of color that I knew and read about. Maybe it was what I saw in movies and televisions shows. I just knew that it was supposed to be that way. After all any guy that I had dated had been disregarded or even told that his “lifestyle” would not fly with their respective family.

I figured certainly my path would one day align with theirs. It was hard for me to imagine not being able to come to family dinners, reunions or spend holidays and birthdays with my own blood. To not feel the hugs and kisses my parents showered me with. To not get one of the hugs I look forward to from my grandmother, my brother and sister. Nonetheless as I shared it with the immediate family (many were shocked at nearly 28) nothing changed. Their love didn’t change, their hugs didn’t change, the kisses, the birthday gifts and calls, NOTHING changed.

I think the stories I have heard over the years of the young men and women who have been all but homeless or barred from attending their family functions, essentially striping them of their family privileges scared me.

I have heard the stories of young men and women who hear nothing from their parents except when they receive a text, email, phone call or voicemail to quote convenient scripture about their love they share for the same gender. I can’t imagine never hearing I love you or not receiving some of those hugs and kisses. As strong as I am and as much of a man as I am, that means something to me, it is a powerful source of strength.

That is the reality for so many LGBT people of color. They can’t come home for holidays or even to say hello. They do not have someone to call to share the good news about the love of their life and most certainly they don’t have a shoulder to lean on if and when that Love is cut short or disappears.

It got me to thinking, what if my straight friends spouse was not acknowledged or allowed to visit? How would that make them feel? Could you imagine never being able to take family portraits, enjoying Easter, Birthday’s, Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanza with the first Love you ever knew?

So many of us take for granted what family means and is. We take for granted how far we have come with the Love and support of family. No matter your religion, you are called to LOVE your family. Love them.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming walking into the world knowing you have so much support. I do not know how to handle some people who have been all, but abandoned. The world has made them hard and cold. I would imagine if more people embraced them with LOVE and kind words we might be a little better off.

So I encourage my friends who are straight to reach out to your family members who may be LGBT and let them know you LOVE them. Let them know that all you want for them is LOVE and Happiness. Maybe your view on their sexuality hasn’t changed, but the good thing is you don’t have to be involved in their sexuality. You just have to be involved with LOVING and supporting that family member.

Let’s spread the love and encourage one another. Life is hard enough just dealing with strangers, the people we work with and life’s random occurrences. Let’s share the load and spread a little LOVE and Happiness.