love

A Date on World AIDS Day

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The last time we went on a date was 2008 maybe 9. Maybe I have an affinity for the past. I write period pieces about slavery and the civil rights era. On average, I think I keep in touch with more exes than most people. Here we are 2016: he has asked me on a date. Those were his exact words: date not chill.

I remember I met him when I was at Hampton University somewhere between a freshmen and a sophomore. He was a little dark, a little chubby, a little navy seaman. Now he’s retired and I’m bachelor degreed. He’s gotten more muscular and I’ve gotten a little thicker skin clearer. But there was always a certain symmetry in his face that I’ve been drawn too. With the baby weight off it’s a little more pronounced.

We’ve fucked in the interim. There was passion and lust and unbeknownst to him (probably) a little trepidation before, in the midst of, and after he act. But there’s a certain symmetry in his actions. I let my feelings be known he takes action. I said you haven’t taken me out on a date and day’s later he asked me if I wanted to go out on a date. I enjoy a man like that. I reveal in a man like that. I could honor a man like that.
The date: December 1st World AIDS Day. I don’t remember when I told him I was HIV positive, but I do recall telling him several times (because I kept forgetting I told him) and he told me to shut up, because he already knows.

A date; I can’t think of a better way to honor myself, others that are diagnosed with HIV, and those whose mortality has succumbed to the disease.

Hating the Freddie Grays

I remember being a little faggot; at least that’s what they called me. I was a faggot; color didn’t matter, dashing down the street, hurdling over 6-inch curbs. Though we all looked alike to outsiders, to me, they looked like dark demons: red eyed, with needles for teeth. To them, I looked like, well I’m not sure. You’d have to ask them. With feet that have always been too big for my frame, I began to trip over myself. I was near the front door of 744 Gravel Cork Rd., and just as I made it onto my front lawn, *WHACK*. I fell to the grass and covered myself up so at least if they stomped me, maybe they wouldn’t get my face. They didn’t stomp me. As all the other kids in the neighborhood arrived, the Jamaican boy and his sister, both seven years my senior, grabbed me (one by the feet, one by the wrist). They swung me like a jump rope counting down from ten. When they said one, I went hurtling into the air and landed in a puddle of water on my mother’s cement driveway. I remember the eldest brother watching and not having much to say.

I’ve always felt uncomfortable around heterosexual Black men. I’ve always hated heterosexual Black men.

There’s a lot of killing right now. A lot at the hands of systemic racism and the police force in America is just the vessel. Though my skin and genitals say Black Male, my spirit does not. I’ve long separated myself identity from being a Black Male. I call myself a Black Queermale, which for me holds a very separate distinction. I am not like them, therefore I have not shed a tear, much less blinked when Trayvon Martin was killed by a vigilante, or Michael Brown was left in the street like an opossum hit by a 18-wheeler. Most recently, I thought it was sad when I heard about Freddie Gray. I was also disgusted by the way the police (allegedly) broke his neck — killing him in their custody; I was disgusted as an outsider for those people. Not those people of Baltimore, but for Blacks, because I am not one of them. Though, at times, I think I should be.

Now I know hypothetically, if the Ku Klux Klan were to run through my neighborhood lynching niggas, they wouldn’t say, well he’s a Black Queermale, not a Black. However, I’ve never been habitually abused physically or emotionally by the KKK, so I don’t see them as much a threat. However, to me, Black men in my overwhelming experience have been like a pack of wild hyenas. I had a thought when all this epidemic of Black slayings was happening, and the thought is not kosher: If they want act like a pack of wild dogs, then perhaps they should be put down like them. Then I looked at the Black man in my life, specifically last night (April 28, 2015), and I thought, “I’m falling in love with a Black man.”

I look at him as a Black man, and not the queer adjective I’ve designated as a noun for myself, not because he’s masculine in mannerism and physical in appearance, but because of the fellowship he has with heterosexual Black men (one that has eluded me). The friendships he has forged, the comradery, the philanthropy towards Black men; these things have eluded me moving me continents away from my kin. When I look at him, I see a Black man and I see love. I’ve expressed my ideology to him and my hate; his eyes say he’s sad for the demons I keep as company. To think that I would be disgusted by him or wouldn’t be moved by his untimely death if I didn’t know he was a same gender loving man actually does hurt me to my core. I am hoping for change.

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We once had a conversation on his antique couch; he asked if I believe people were put into our lives for a reason. I lied. I said no. Though, I do believe it’s true. I believe he is my gateway into loving Black men again.

Being Mary Jane and I: A Plea to Stay Single in the Face of Love

I woke up this morning back sore: upper right side in pain. I didn’t do anything to strain myself that I normally wouldn’t do. Normal daily routine: some sort of corporate or personal work, working out, if I’m staying home get very drunk and have sex with multiple people; if I am leaving the house, drink just enough so I can operate a motor vehicle, but make a drink to take and drink on the road. I went to a sex party Sunday to fill holes and voids. Though the poundings to and fro where good, nothing was back breaking.

Before I left the house, I watched BET’s Being Mary Jane marathon. One of the episode’s openings popped up in my head as I felt the sharp and radiating pain in my back. Pacing in her apartment, as they often show, making a Johari Window, Mary Jane was Erykah Badu’s proverbial bag lady trying to unpack all her shit. I don’t do self-deprecating, quite frankly it’s tacky. I do, however, take pride in being self-aware; perhaps this is why part of my Saturday was ruined.

This past Saturday, I finally went white water rafting; it is an activity I’ve said I wanted to do for the past two summers (if not more). There were hiccups of people not being on time causing us to leave late, which in turn makes for a frantic and flustered car ride to the destination. I went with friends and it was an attempt to surprise someone that I care about. Though, I plea to stay single, I do miss sharing special moments with one special person. I had an attitude because of the tardiness; to put it in perspective this was a trip that an instructor takes you on and this was my second time trying to go in as many weeks. The first time, I fucked up and the business was nice enough to work with me and not make me pay again. The tardiness gave us an hour and a half to make a two hour trip; so, reasonably I was upset. My special someone was making jokes at my expense, upon seeing me not crack a smile he proceeds to say “You know you can’t joke with Stefano; he’s bipolar.” It’s a joke he’s repeatedly made over the course of a year knowing me, and it’s a joke I’ve never cracked a smile or laughed about.

There is something wrong with me, and I know it. Whether it’s just emotions I have to work through or it’s a mental illness I’ve yet to be diagnosed with, I know something is not right. I’ve tried to going to therapy/counseling before, but never stuck with it. Tried to talk to people who I think may be the root of an emotional issue, I was dismissed. My only haven and perpetual love has been the sex and drugs.

His comment was the last time I could take it, though I bottled it up for that trip, I exploded that night. I’m not sure what set me off, (no excuse) but one fish bowl, two shots of Patron, four long islands, and a swig or two from a small tequila bottle I had in my car later and in an instant I went from restroom stall sex, tootsie-rolling to TLC’s Creep and, performing my own tone deaf karaoke rendition of Alanis Morsette’s You Oughta Know to storming out the bar (tab pad) and putting my hands on him.

I’ve replayed it over in my mind, what I can remember. What I remember most about that night is that it’s a pattern. I once thought my ex-boyfriends were the problem, but it looks like it is me.

After phone, text, and face to face conversations he’s offered to help me unpack my baggage. I’m a fool; I said know. I don’t feel like anyone should have to deal with my problems; we all have our own. Though, I pause and hold my breath and I my heart hurts, I think that this is what everyone wants: someone that says, “I’ll help you unpack your baggage.” I can’t accept the help; I feel it’s futile.