#XD30-one-Dear Thirty

Dear Thirty,

Here we are, face to face. In all of my dreams I’d never thought we would meet this way. You have always been seen as something foreign, to me. A year and experience that would both be life altering and staggering. By the time I turned twenty five I had enough foresight to see that fear rested in thirty. I had remnants of the same fright at twenty five then twenty six and twenty eight. Feelings of unworthiness, disappointment, and loneliness.

I was relieved when you brought me something different. I spent a week joking about age and how being a year older, thirty, changed everything for the worse, but in all honesty I feel the opposite. There is power in you. Like, a spark that’s been ignited that in so many ways has been the erasure of anything that may have come before. I feel invincible.

My twenties were all about the idea of finding me. From all of the hair experiences to wearing make up and being gay- navigating gay friends and gay culture in Virginia, to unreal romantic experiences and all the responsibilities that come with learning to be an adult.

I have literally spent thirty years learning to be myself. When you look at it that way it is easy to see how thirty is just the beginning. There was so much time spent pretending to be someone else, living for so many other people, to the point that I am ready to cement myself in you. I know who I am and who I want to be and you, dear thirty, are the catalyst to such a greater experience.

I received an email yesterday confirming that I am an official graduate of Norfolk State University and in that moment I realized just how successful I have become. It took me eleven years to graduate from college. I started in 2006. To see that dream deferred, complete, is enlightening. Also, it is so telling of life’s experiences. You really are the new twenty. You come with a new set of challenges; operating on discipline, facing mortality, and cleaning up all those petty insecurities that still lie within me. However, you are a shield to it all.

You give me the next few years to be free. You are the experience that we all spent all of our lives waiting for, freedom. There is no more noise or cloudiness. I can do whatever I want.

Men have daddy issues, too.

I can remember being young. Eight, maybe nine years old, dressed identically; me and my twin, that was as identical as the two of us would ever come to be, at a birthday party. Actually, thats not true. Not the twin brother, birthday party, or identical dressing, but me recalling it. The truth of the matter is that the only memory that services me of that day is pleading, eyes stained with tears, for the doctor not give me a shot, in a effort to repair my broken wrist. I was (am) deathly afraid of needles, and deer.

That was the day my dad saved my life. The story is that I had climbed a tree, and a football was thrown. I thought I could catch the football, in the tree, and fell; eyes rolled to the back of my head and my father rushed in, resuscitating me with mouth to mouth. I have no memory of any of it. But what I know for sure, that which I keep concisely stored in the trunk of the vault of my elephants memory bank, is that my father is a huge contributor to the person I’ve come to be. It’s almost startling, at times, to think that the man with whom I share my favorite musical, who has been to every production I’ve ever acted in, the man who was more concerned with my soul and the intactness of my spirt, than my feelings, when I told him I was gay, gives me grave issue. Somewhere, subconsciously, I have been dealing with the realization that at 27 years old, I, a black, gay, man, have daddy issues.

The more I began to think about the concept or consider its affects, I saw that it wasn’t something so foreign as most of us may believe. It got to the point where anything I would see that displayed a father or fatherhood, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Toy Story 3, you name it, had me balling. I struggled to wrap my mind around it. I knew that there was something lacking in the relationship I have with my father, but there was no moment or experience shared that I find to be detrimental to this prevalent disconnect. In adulthood, we live seven minutes apart. We rarely speak, outside of the daily scriptures my dad texts a list of voluntarily (or not so voluntarily) subscribers. I don’t get it. But, me not getting it, leads me to explore this topic. We live in a society, or community even, that is adamant about its idiosyncratic view of Black men. Surprisingly, we don’t take the time to consider the notion that men come grown, incomplete, and with daddy issues.

There are so many problems with men, not unlike women, that host the stem of these issues. The only perspective I wish to speak from is my own. My twin brother has always been close to my father, he and my stepbrother, and his choosing was to be with him as much as he could. I’ve come to envy their relationships. For moments even, I was so jealous that I compared my accolades and my success, in wonder. I felt like the only reason my father would speak to me was to learn what new happenings or activities I was participating in just so that he could sing my praises to friends and family, and pat himself on the back. Where did I go wrong? Was it in my choosing my mother? Were we too much alike? Was it my attitude? All these questions have surfaced overtime, and most consistent, Is it my sexuality? Whats interesting is that I don’t ever remember being especially close with my father, but there was no rift, as there is now. I don’t know if my memory even counts as an accuracy or if I’ve reconstructed it, blaming our loss in relationship to my coming out.

Ultimately, in each of us lies uncertainty, insecurity, and emotional instability that we have to overcome, all our own, in order to shape and structure productive relationships. Sooner or later, it’s something that I have to discuss with my father, its just not that big of a deal, now. A few weeks ago I went to a surprise birthday party for my cousin. In preparation I squirmed with anguish and anticipation knowing that I would be there, in a room, with my father. I was his son and he was my father. Each time our eyes meet, even when I think of him now, I can see the comprising of myself, not only face, but spirit,and I like that which reflects from the dim haze of older irises.

If you haven’t already, check out my website: THESUNDAYAFTERNOON.COM and subscribe to the newsletter. Also, look forward to this Sunday Afternoon, I’ll have an update and tips for dealing with daddy issues! lastly, share your thoughts, opinions, and feedback! Voice your story and help me to be sure I painted the truth.

Everyday is a little like Sunday.babies

Into the Woods You’ll Find No Faces of Color

movie posterSomewhere along the way it became apparent that Musical Theater was not as colorful as I believed it to be, black and white, no longer a suspension of one’s very own disbelief. Not unlike many, once introduced to the world of theater, musical theater, instantly, I became enamored with it. Even as a student at a performing arts high school, I was introduced to so many musicals. I can remember learning Carousel and watching Singing in the Rain, falling in love with the power that is Tennessee Williams, yet no real consciousness of the factor of race. Or that an industry would determine cast based on color. In fact, the biggest lesson I learned in high school was that the competition would be steep, sure there would be favorites, but never did I see race as a factor in gaining visibility. That realization came mildly, years later, in college I learned the world of Black Theater. We got the chance to visit Broadway and see Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, the black version, starring Phylicia Rashad and James Earl Jones. Here, race was noticeable but it wasn’t a determinant in attaining greatness.

I did not identify race with the world of theater performance. I didn’t enlist it in examining talent or success. I knew that talent had no creed no color. For years, before I could even define blind casting, I thought, that, simply, was how the world works. Actually it is becoming interesting to evaluate because my feelings of race and access, having written and opined on a lack of opportunity for artists of colors in movies, never seemed to correlate in reference to Theater.

I can remember the first time I heard the fantastic blend of story, Into the Woods. I watched it on Netflix and fell flat on my face in love with the musical. I could have died when I saw that Phylicia Rashad had been understudy for Bernadette Peters in the 1988 Broadway version of the production. Furthermore, my best friend took me to see the production in central park. Talk about an experience. Still, the relation of race didn’t impede the way I thought about theater. Certainly a great deal of naivety may lay laced in that statement, but it is indeed my truth. I knew that artists of color were missing on stage, but there was a disconnect. Just like the world of theater, a willingness to suspend ones disbelief.

Last year, it was Arts In Color, one of the first to break the news that Into the Woods would be the next musical transfixed for feature film this Christmas. I was just as excited then as I am now. Only then there was hope, always even, that there would surely be a place on film for at least a few faces of color. Don’t get me wrong, Meryl Streep definitely helps to soften the blow but my Christmas wish, would be to see some extraordinary diversity in the film.