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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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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!

The Similarities

As a black man I wish I knew as a child what I know now. As a child I grew up with great friends of all ethnicities and cultures. I had friends from many different countries that spoke English as a second language, and had hard working parents just like mine.

As an adult racial biases would smack me in the face the world didn’t care how educated I was, what suit I wore, how many countries I had visited, how many people I had helped. I was still just a black man. I can recall the year I was pulled over 9 times in a 12-month span, illegally stopped, and falsely arrested. At that time I was a full time college student, I worked full time, and helped support my family. At the time my sister was undergoing dialysis due to kidney disease. My mother had recently recovered from two strokes and was then unemployed.

You see the majority of “us” (black men) no matter how well dressed, no matter how educated, no matter how well traveled, no matter what you have overcome, have had some sort of run-in with the law warranted or unwarranted and in most cases faced an experience like mine. Bias, Bias, Bias!

I’ve been at work where I’ve been treated significantly different than my peers of a different race. I’ve seen the treatment of others be significantly different thank there non-white peers or made out to be more aggressive (a biased and unwarranted stereotype).

So I shift that dehumanizing experience to another set that I have experienced. Being black and gay, interestingly enough I did not face many questions about my sexuality over the years. In the process I overheard countless homophobic jokes and disrespectful commentary about gay men, from people who did not know I happened to be gay (I have been told I don’t fit the stereotype). As my grandmother would said, “You don’t act like the rest of them…”

Over the years I have heard straight men and women refer to gay men as everything from “faggot”, to “queen”, to “sissy”. Imagine being a black person and hearing your white or Indian family, friend or associate say the word “nigger” in your presence. That’s what I felt. I could see then the bias that existed throughout society. It seemed like no matter how good of a friend, family member, volunteer, or even coworker I would still be viewed as (insert homophobic epithet). That bias existed. Though nobody directed those words directly at me I felt a certain sense of anxiety about it.

I have even seen ignorant posts and commentary about marriage equality opening the doors for bestiality or marriage to animals. Over the years I have seen family, friends, and associates hop in and out of relationships and then get married complete with white dresses a blessing from a preacher. I have seen countless straight friends get drunk, gamble, and party such that it led to pre-marital sex. Many of which would soon go on to get married. Yet we now see here that the sanctity of marriage is in question.

The past few weeks after SCOTUS’s ruling I saw so many bigoted and bias posts, reposts and pieces of commentary, I was shocked. I have seen more support for jailed murderers, drug dealers, and unwed pregnant women. It is crazy that our society and our black community would critique, criticize, and ultimately reject a group who can relate to the treatment blacks receive daily.

It is amazing that black people who were once not allowed to have civil liberties would advocate for the denial of another human being having them. While many would argue my religious beliefs or God doesn’t like “that” I would caution you to be sure you interpret your readings for your self and not just regurgitate information. I won’t go too deep but at one time the bible was used and twisted to unfairly treat black people. Don’t let abomination (which means culturally something is disliked) be thrown around when God called us to love one another.
Imagine if our black people joined together to support initiatives in our communities the way the LGBT community did. I won’t go into too much depth, but I know I don’t get nearly the response to volunteer opportunities that I do to anything related to a community service event and my colleagues I volunteer with gay and straight have long said the same thing.

Imagine if we eliminated racial biases or biases based on sexuality. Your friend that you love to death may not feel the need to be afraid to share with you that they are just a little different. I am so incredibly thankful that years ago when I shared my sexuality with my grandmother, mother, sister, and brother, and close friends they never loved me any less they simply asked, “Are you happy?” There only wish has been that no matter what I be happy. You see there is not much different between the LGBT community and the black community. Imagine no bias for race or sexuality. We could learn something from one another and move the chains so that equality wasn’t just based on sexuality, but even on race! The Similarities we overlook are glaring!
I’ve witnessed members of the LGBT community advocate for equality on their behalf. I’ve seen the LGBT community boycott businesses that openly made derogatory or discriminatory remarks against the community. Imagine if people of color did the same. Most recently the Hispanic community joined together to flex their power on Donald Trump. Again the similarities. Imagine what would happen if black people flexed their economic and political influence until equality was reached. This isn’t to say some aren’t working! I know great groups of thought leaders, organizers, and individuals who constantly work on the greater populations behalf, but it’s surely not the number we could see.