beyonce lemonade

Before The HIV: Part 4 of 4 (Origin Story)

I wonder if he’s shouting Black Lives Matter now. I wonder if he’s protesting the senseless murders of Black men (and Black women). I know I rarely say it. I haven’t bought into it. I haven’t surmised how much I truly believe the statement when I’ve placed my own mortality on the line several times. Still, I wonder if Black lives matter to him now. I wonder if the statement only pertains to Black men slain by enforcement officers — if it does that’s fine by me, no animosity at all. Causes should be specific, plights are. I wonder how politically and socially conscious he is.

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It’s not that Black lives didn’t matter back in 2010 when we helped one another contract the disease, but obviously we cared a little less for our lives than we’d like to admit.

Things change rapidly. Though we weren’t in the midst of the 1980s rapid discovery and explosion of HIV/AIDS, 2005s mentality of the virus was nothing like it is in 2016. I remember back then if you met someone online there was very little exchange about HIV/AIDS status. Of course websites like A4A had a drop down menu that let you include your HIV status: positive, negative, unknown or it could be left blank. But rarely beyond that tidbit of information did men flat out ask one another. Fast-forward to 2016 (and in a testament to mattering more) plenty of men (if I haven’t gotten to it first) will ask me my status (and I love  it).

 The act of mattering to one self is a very internal feeling that is shaped by external forces whether they be government, media, faith, or family. On the surface my act of unprotected sex was the naivety of adolescents — I’m a young Black invincible gay motherfucker (imagine it in a Samuel L. Jackson cadence and tone).Under the surface I was condition to not matter to myself. I can’t speak for him.

I met him online the summer before my Hampton freshmen year. I fell quick and hard, hormones raging for this 6’3″ brown skin older boy with the legs of a soccer player and dick like the trunk of Snuffleupagus. We dated all freshmen year. We broke up all freshmen year. We reconciled all freshmen year. We fucked all freshmen year in my lone freshmen room (my roommate found out I sucked big black dicks and in some misguided notion thought I’d regress back to baby dicks requested to move out). We fucked raw all freshmen year. I fucked others all freshmen year. I fucked others raw, at times, and I fucked others protected, at times, all freshmen year.

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The most annoying question I repeatedly get since having HIV is “how did you get it?” I can’t recall anyone ever asking me “are you okay?”, or “are you mentally and emotionally healthy regarding it?”. Do I matter? Do Black lives still matter? I’m not sure how I contracted it. Well, the real question that they want to know and some do ask “do you know who gave it to you?” It never mattered to me, so why does it matter to so many other people. Nosey no empathy having motherfuckers — I say. It seems once you’ve contracted the disease you become an alien and according to what people have said to me once they know, I now know extraterrestrial lives matter but not my black one.

I understood the Emmy nominated production that is Beyonce’s Lemonade right away. I don’t matter to the world, but why am I also being betrayed and disregarded by the man (or men) I love? After freshmen year, I didn’t think I was coming back to Hampton so we ended it. I don’t recall the reason why I didn’t want to go back or didn’t think I’d be able to. We knew long distance was not logistical for us. However, we kept in touch through penis pictures and videos. About 6 months before the semester was to start I found out I was indeed returning to HU (the real one) and I proceeded to tell him. He said we would pick up where we left off.

He didn’t mean the monogamy or the relationship, but instead the back and forth. I wish I could say I remember it like yesterday, but I don’t. Somehow he told me; it could have been by phone call, email, plane or train. A week before I was to trek back to HU (the real one) he had confessed he was in a new relationship.

I still carried on with him my whole sophomore year off and on. Sex. Unprotected fornication. He was mine first. The first boy I swore I ever loved. Sex. Unprotected fornication in their home. He was mine first and he said I’d be his last. Swore he’d break it off. Some first year psych major may say I didn’t hold myself to a high standard, because I didn’t value my own self worth. I didn’t value myself enough to demand to be the only one in his life or have protected sex; if he was fucking me raw they must have been fucking raw and seven years later I think to myself who wasn’t he fucking raw. I guess Black lives didn’t matter.

I can admit: I haven’t cared for living for some time now. I didn’t care before the HIV and haven’t shifted my self-worth post diagnosis. I admit I’m a 27 year old insecure and suicidal Black gay male. I go off and on meds, even though I know that could create complications and lead to death. Hell, recently I almost overdosed on prescription drugs and alcohol, full disclosure: it was not my intent, but when I woke up in my car on the side of the road at 5am vomiting I couldn’t help, but think why I couldn’t have just died instead. I hypothesized (and I’m probably not the only one) that until Black gay men really internalize the feeling of worth, value, of mattering HIV/AIDS will never be a thing of the past for the Black community.

It was (guesstimating) maybe 5-7 months after we stopped having sex that I was diagnosed. It was (guesstimating) 3 years later that we both confided in our statuses to one another with no anomosity. No questions of how it was contracted just two Black men now making sure we were both okay, making sure we knew we mattered with honesty.

Beyonce, Black men Loving Black men is Still a Revolutionary Act

It was the penultimate visual of Lemonade, Beyonce’s 2016 Southern Black girl magic opus.  That image of those two people in a field it reminded me:

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In D.C., we were sitting in his apartment on a winter night. This apartment was once housing for Negro soldiers coming back from the war. I would always wonder when I visited if the creeks from the hardwood floor shook the soldier’s at night conjuring up their PTSD. In that apartment knowing the way I felt about him, romantic in nature, sacrificial in nature, he looked me in my eyes with a sense of joviality and said, “I’m trying to prepare myself mentally to be with a guy of a different race if I ever want to be married.” Though I provided a big contrast– me settled in my black skin. I was a spec in his all cream furnished apartment; he saw through me like cellophane.

The image of the two, one in denim jacket with afro to the sky and the (presumably) White man in white t-shirt playful and affectionate is affixed to a ballad about the optimism ahead after reconciliation is possible between two individuals.

Rod, a Leather Daddy in Atlanta, sat in my apartment as I interviewed him for a documentary (that never came to fruition). I don’t remember much of the hour long conversation, but what did stick to my bones like a pork chop and mashed potatoes was conversation about Black men in California. Rod is originally from San Francisco, but the south holds as special place in his heart for the simple fact that it is a locale where Black men will love on Black men. A hue as dark as any of Toni Morrison’s protagonist through the years, Rod is Black like lacquer. In San Francisco, Rod says his skin is a fetish for those that aren’t black and a deterrent sexually and romantically for those that are a part of the Black diaspora.

After I married myself to Beyonce’s plight of self discovery, her anger, her self condemnation: I fasted with her, grew my hair past my ankles, swallowed a sword and “plugged my menses with pages from the Holy Book,” I was disheartened to have it be illustrated to me that my happiness would be at the hands of interracial matrimony. After all the femme Blackness we maneuvered through in the hour long quasi-confessional, I yearned for the queer moment to be as transcendentally Black as the rest of the film. With so many motifs of Southern Black iconography seeing two Black men loving one another would have been a powerful stamp on an already monumental film. Take into consideration the ability to live openly Black and queer (unlike anywhere else) in mass populations in cities like Atlanta and Houston (Charlotte gets honorable mention). Or even the ability for New Orleans hip-hop and bounce culture to openly embrace queer aspects (to a certain and death defying extent).  In the District of Columbia, (yes, though north of the Mason Dixon line, if it had plantations, I consider it the South) Black professionals are openly gay in government positions, forming organizations and being invited to the White House.

 

I was maybe twenty or twenty one years old on the phone with my mentor. He may have been sitting on a Kansas porch toes muddling in red clay or at D.C.’s Busboys and Poets. We were conversing about a book I was working on (that never saw the light day); it was about identity and love. I remember the words from this forty something year old: the older we get as single Black gay man the more the notion creeps into our minds that we must find monogamy outside of our race or give up on love as a whole.

With face paint and head gear, I was in formation ready for the commands of General Yoncé. Ultimately, I had to go against orders; I had to fight the image of interracial coupling as my only avenue of marital utopianism. Since the turn of the current decade, we’ve seen a handful of Black professional and collegiate athletes come out as openly gay only to have White and non-Black significant others. I want to be Negro and desirable and be taken to an alter.

Ketel One Hosts The VIP Red Carpet Suite At The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards In New York

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 03: Actor Gerald McCullouch (L) and Derrick Gordon visit the Ketel One VIP Red Carpet Suite at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 3, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ketel One)

 

My Instagram (@pattonthequeercurator) for sometime now (thankfully, at least once every other month) has been unveiling Black same gender loving men as grooms and husbands. When Marlon Riggs spoke of Black men loving Black men being a revolutionary act the context illustrated by my imagination was always as a rebuttal against gang violence and other male “Black on Black” crime. Never had I fathomed that the revolution was due in part to the psychological belief and practice that gay Black men cannot find romantic life long partnerships with one another.

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