#XD30-five-I Do

If I were to get married tomorrow I know exactly who my husband would be. Well, kind of, and this is all predicated on the idea that I would get to pick, and that my chosen partner would just as easily accept my nuptial offering. We had a conversation on The Sunday Afternoon Podcast this week where I eluded to my marriage. More specifically, the fact that I have a good two and half men (I consider them to be gentlemen callers) that I would be perfectly content in marrying. I know that sounds strange, but when you think about it, just how strange of an idea is it?

I believe in the idea of soulmates. I believe that I have met mine, before, and for whatever the reason our stars have not aligned, and I am okay accepting the fact that we don’t end up together. Really, I have no choice but to be. That was a struggle, it’s not something easy to get over, nor is it easily understood. I would consider him my forever number one on the list of suitors. I make mention of that situation only because it’s left me mildly jaded in several ways. One of the lessons it taught me is the fact that in many instances relationships come down to a partnership and commonality of comfort, and convenience. A lot of the times that’s the sole reason people stay in forever relationships, not because there is this mystical feeling or uncanny tie to the other individual, but because they have lived life (as they know it) with that person for so long it’s something that they are not interest in living without. But, I digress. In no way is that an ideal situation for me, but it got me to thinking that I have to be ok with a second best. When I say second best, I just mean someone who isn’t him. No Mr. Big to my Carrie Bradshaw and that is just fine!  I had an unworldly experience with that man and I would be a total fool to try and compare it or hold anyone else to that standard, the level of intimacy, connective intimacy that we had is unmatched, uncanny, and I highly doubt it will ever happen again. 

That being said, when I found the willingness to move on I realized that we’re all preparing ourselves for marriage at this age anyway! HELLO! I’m thirty. I would be lying if I said I was out here getting to know people just for the hell of it. I am absolutely grooming (and being groomed) for my husband. 

The other two prospects are perfect in completely different ways. Naturally I’m more interested in one than the other because that’s the way I operate. When I’m getting to know someone I really take the time to vest a shit load of attention into them. I’ve never been a serial dater or any good at of it, because all of my energy just gravitates to the one who’s at the top of the list. Laurè said that the idea that I’d be fine marrying one of them means I don’t love either, but I disagree. I can honestly say that I love them both. I’m not in love with either, but I love them both, romantically. Also, I don’t accept the idea that my feelings for one negates the feelings I have for the other. I know both of these men in a capacity that has led me to believe that I could spend the rest of my life with them, both, I think. 

Ultimately, you can only know a person as much as they will allow. And I’ve thought about that just as much. It makes me think of other cultures of the world. All those arranged marriages, where all you have is your faith and a responsibility to meet a person where they are. Learn their behaviors, learn who they are and really be with them. All roads really lead to companionship, and that’s something you can have with, well truth be told, anyone. 

I may not be getting married tomorrow, but I’m lowkey planning my wedding! If I was held at gun point and demanded to pick a man and marry him, I can rest assured that I’m readily prepared to spend a lifetime with the man of at least one of my dreams.

CHOIR BOY, in critique.

From the moment I first heard about the auditions, I knew I would make it my business to experience this show. Theatre is so much bigger than just seeing something, it’s an experience, a shared one at that, and there are so many reasons I wanted to interact with Choir Boy. For starters, its not every day you see a playbill that houses a cast of six African American men. That aside, I knew that Tarell Alvin McCraney’s work would be exploratory; educational and entertaining.

Choir Boy is an exposition of Black masculinity, sexuality, self discovery; acceptance and religion and spirituality. There is a lot to unpack. A whole lot, but backed by music the audience gets to survey the commonality of what it means to be a Black man in America.

Directed by Anthony Stockard, from the NSU Theatre Company, and Patrick Mullins, from the Virginia Stage CompanyChoir Boy met us this weekend at The Zeiders American Dream Theatre in Virginia Beach, VA.

The space is most intimate. I went to the closing show, a matinee on Sunday Afternoon and I was greeted with a space that seated 51, black box style. It was perfectly fitting for a show of this caliber, a show nuanced with intimacy thrives under this gaze. It gives way for a pure exchange between cast and audience, a reciprocation of energy that can’t always be housed in bigger venues. While the space leant itself to the work, the audience wasn’t quite as responsive.

There is a certain level of consideration that comes with producing Theatre in Virginia and this audience was not prepared to appreciate the work. In part, because Sunday matinee’s are usually the after church crowd. Also, when people hear about Choir Boy, or even see the promotion of it, the focus goes directly to the musical aspect of it. The spirituals, the harmonies, the acapella singing. Let me tell you, these boys were singing! Their voices blended well and the entire show was acapella, not a pitch pipe in sight and they were able to sound really good the duration of the show. Yet, the musicality is not the totality of this experience. Actually, its such a small piece of the puzzle, as important as it is, when you consider the weight of the text.

It is easy to say that your ready to face issues, subject matter, head on. I don’t even think I was necessarily prepared for the depth of subject and language in the piece.  There were moments, scenes fueled by sexuality that left the audience tense and taken aback. In particular the use of sexuality and sex appeal in the locker room scenes, that coupled with text that examines “dick size” and phallocentricity was maybe a little too real for most people sitting in the room.

This is where we meet character, and the necessity of the presentation of three dimensional characters. I felt that many of the characters were left underdeveloped, across the board. I found that the boys of the Charles R Drew Prep School met me on a surface level, not broken in enough to be completely actualized and received as real. I thought their efforts were extraordinary. Reggie Doles’ presentation of Pharus was not at all how I expected or felt the character to be but he sang his face off and had the energy required to hold a show as lead. I so appreciated the fact that he created a character. I could see Pharus, he just wasn’t realized. Derrick Moore stood out as well. Cast as Anthony “AJ” I found moments of honesty between he and Reggie. He had backbone and he did well supporting the rest of the cast, although over sexualized. Isaiah Roper has so much potential! As far as character is concerned he carried the amount of energy necessary to make Bobby believable. I found Mathew Jackson and Solomon Langley reserved and mildly timid as David and Junior. Ron Newman, as Mr. Pendleton, gave us complete character. He had an arch and we were able to see him range with emotion and empathy. I felt like Headmaster Marrow had such a weight or focus of being in charge, or voiced, that I don’t think it allowed Derek Savage to do much more than be an authoritative. There was space for him to go a journey of realization with all that was going on in that choir, but he didn’t.

You don’t produce a show like Choir Boy just to put on a show. It comes with a prerequisite of wanting to do something transformative in a community that generates dialogue. It is a work dedicated to expanding a conversation of understanding. I may not believe that the Norfolk State University Theatre Company and The Limbic System were able to do all of that in this presentation, but I was left with a need to examine and survey my own experiences. I wholeheartedly believe a talk back would be beneficial furthering that conversation. In fact, I’d like to host one examining themes from the show. I am left with the need to read the piece, in its entirety for increased understanding. I will always appreciate the experience of Theatre, especially in a regard like this that is vested in an effort to allow us to see each other more clearly. I enjoyed the show and I look forward to seeing it again, July 8-10 in Norfolk, VA.

This is Why I Rock

Since its inception really, Black Girls Rock has been a pretty big deal. In 2006, Beverly Bond launched an organization for empowerment with a mission to uplift and actually mentor young Black women, by celebrating great Black women. What she has accomplished is so much bigger, and ceiling shattering, than just that.

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One of the most fascinating aspects of Black women is the fact that there is this shared sisterhood of likeness. Black women have found increased ways to bond over communal experiences, similar trials and tribulation, and overall and unwavering will to overcome and succumb to greatness. It is beautiful to see how one Black woman can link herself, her voice to another, especially in media and that camaraderie has served as a platform to usher more Black women into the room, seated at the table.

Conversely, there is not a similar sentiment for Black men in media. Interestingly enough, I don’t think its a conversation thats been had, but there is no voice to celebrate Black men, particularly, and there absolutely is no bond of brotherhood.  I think its unfortunate. I mean don’t get me wrong, there are so many great Black men that I follow and consider myself a student to; Toure, Jesse Williams, Michael Arceneaux, Barack Obama, Will Smith, Marc Lamont Hill, Stephen Curry, John Legend and the list goes on and on, and on.

There appears to be a common disconnect when it comes to black men relating to one another, openly, and I think it all is rooted in the idea, facade, and/or appearance of masculinity. So much of our culture is rooted in defining a sense of hyper masculinity. Think about it, the images projected in media and reality alike all come down to a black man being a “no good” or gay. That’s the spectrum and it is those same ideas that not only limit the ways in which others view us, but the ways in which we view ourselves. Ultimately we lack in challenging those beliefs.

Prime example. Two black men go into a restroom. There are three urinals and one is occupied. Instead of standing next to another man, one of the gentlemen will elect to wait or use the toilet facility, but why? It’s all about masculinity. It is as if there is something so deep inside of us that makes us follow a stringent guideline. One that gives a head nod in passing each other in public, or deepening our voice to speak to another black man we don’t know, or even averting our eyes to one another, so as to not have to speak at all. This happens more often than not for me because in most encounters I am the polar opposite, the complete antithesis to what “manhood” looks like.

prince-lianne-la-havas-clouds-mp3-mainLately I’ve taken more notice to the whole idea of finding a formula that allows Black men to come together and celebrate each other. The untimely passing of Prince reveals much. Here is a man who broke every standard and narrative of Black manhood. He did so diligently, he owned every ounce of who he was as an artist and a Black man. From what appeared to be the fluidity of his sexuality to his religion, he was most conscious of his presentation of himself,  and he managed to do so with the respect of Black men. Moreover, the African American community.

Yet, Prince remained an anomaly of sorts. A rare occurrence of acceptance that so many people will never willingly acknowledge. Still, examine the relationship of Prince and Michael Jackson, one would expect that these two “otherlings” (when it comes to what is perceived to be Black manhood in America), to be the very best of friends. However, there is no record of friendship between the two, even with all that they seemingly appeared to have in common.

Black men have difficulty accepting each other. I deeply believe that there is a craving, and a space available for us to shape the thoughts and experiences of Black boys in this country through the lens of media and entertainment. Black men are brilliant, intelligent, solution oriented, problem solving, handsome, compassionate, resilient, protective,  genuine, and unique. I am a Black man. This is why I rock. Because I stand on the backs of my ancestors, because I believe in the oneness of the human experience, and because I readily accept the challenge to reshape the standard of our Black identity, as well as the plight of community instead of angst in each other.

#relationshipgoals.

I have been actively pursuant of a relationship, with myself, for a few weeks. And, from my  “first date” I realized that I don’t act like a single person; rather my mind hasn’t been single in quite some time. I took myself out to the movies, had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, and even had a margarita! I was so impressed with the fact that I enjoyed my time out, with myself, alone. Especially because I spend so much time alone, it was great to come to the realization that I can have a good time out here in these streets, all by myself.

I think that’s probably one of the more important things to come to terms with, as an adult, friendships and relationships just require a certain discipline to maintain and you have to get used to the idea of spending time alone. That’s probably been my biggest hurdle and the toughest to get accostumed to. I’ve already learned a few things though: 1. Going to see a romantic comedy at night is not the best idea (i.e. The Perfect Match ) 2. When dining alone, stay clear of margaritas. They will have you thinking, and searching, and wishing, and praying for a man, any man. I digress.

As a people we don’t spend nearly enough time finding ways to discover who we are, alone. It’s not something that we’re taught. I find that to be interesting and complex because when I think of my own family I can remember my mother being alone for years. Her focus and discipline was fixed on raising her children and in hindsight it’s much easier to notice that she lacked the companionship of a partner. Even my great grandmother, she’s the matriarch of the family, an older woman, and she’s spent the majority of even her adult life, alone. It’s disheartening. Again, something I don’t think I’ve ever considered growing up; however, as an adult I’m able to note that her experience, and that of many of the people in my family, does not fit into the idea or fantasy of happiness that I assumed would consume my life, by thirty.

Social media helped to shape the fantasy of #relationshipgoals. You can search through the hashtag all over the gram or fb and you’ll find endless images of people in these picturesque relationships. It is a facade, a glimpse of happiness, or what appears to be happiness; however, more often than not that glow of happiness is stationary, forced and captured in stillness, and that’s the extent of it. Destroying #singleselfesteem one post at a time.

Just take a look and survey the people in your life. The advice you’re giving your friend about living their best life, putting themselves first, or even communicating honestly with their partner that things aren’t working anymore. Perception increasingly becomes reality and the reality of the situation is that we find ourselves in these situations, these relationships that are actually pleas, or bargains to just stay together because its consistent, convenient and pacifying.

Sex is another factor of disillusionment. It will make you believe in something you should not, not to mention have you sacrificing ideals, morals, and the needs of your own just to fulfill, or feel complete. From Meagan Good and Devon Franklin to Ciara and Russel Wilson, I’m being moved to take a vow of celibacy. No joke. Eliminating sex may not bring me my husband, but I think it’ll make way from him. Also, it will give me the chance to shape myself without the need of it.

Needless to say, I’m finding ways to challenge the things that I have been conditioned to believe. Especially in terms of relationship. Life’s journey is one that filled with change so there is no fault in experience, we are all just finding ways to be greater.

It’s a wrap! The Sunday Afternoon: Top 5

I come across so many things in my newsfeed during the week. Believe it or not, I pretty much read or watch everything that comes through. I love pop culture, just like the rest of you. Beyond that, I really do pride myself on supporting my friends. So, since I’m still single, still having difficulty maneuvering friendship, and still mildly undisciplined, (when it comes to sticking to these self proposed deadlines) I’ve decided to implement a blog series. On Saturday’s, the day I find myself bored and catching up on sleep, I will post The Sunday Afternoon: Top 5. These are the things I found most engaging this week that you may share in similar interest with or find beneficial as well. Without further adieu, in no particular order:

1. T.D. Jakes Isn’t Homophobic; You Just Weren’t Listening Clearly

During his interview with Marc Lamont Hill, the Potter’s House pastor stated his beliefs on the black church and LGBT community, so what part of that didn’t you understand? 

Michael Arcenaux, mentioned here before, is an amazing writer. He actually gave me his email address a few weeks ago and provided me with insight and advice when it comes to being a writer. I have followed him for years. I love his style and his offering feels close to mine. He contributes to so many outlets, but he took to The Root to share this story. It was a great read. If you didn’t, you should check out the interview T.D. Jakes did with Huff Post Live too. But, you’ll find I agree with him, Bishop Jakes does a good job balancing the issue and as common as his sense should be, he is proving to be completely progressive in terms of the LGBT community and the church.

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bossladydreams.com

2. My friend Stephanie Williams is a boss. She started her own business a couple of years ago, Bella Mechelle Cosmetics, offering affordable handmade skin products, and she goes after her dreams head on. I love it. It is awe inspiring for me to see her, a college graduate, mother of two, walk boldly into the direction of her dreams! #BOSSUP. Recently she started a blog, bossladydreams.com and she offers so much real life transparent experience that we don’t get from the movers or shakers in “the business” Check out her blog and skin care line.

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3. Janet Mock, So Popular! I’m so glad she’s back. Janet is another one of my great inspirations and heroes. I love everything about her and I could go on gushing for days. She took a two week hiatus but she is back on MSNBC Shift every friday unpacking the biggest stories in pop culture. I often hasten to her opinion! You can catch her show every Friday at 11AM or find and tweet her on twitter.

4. I don’t care who you are, everyone should have something to aspire to. If you are not one to implore the use of vision boards, which is totally fine, s11379096_1152747934750669_515563061_nometimes it is easier to see yourself in someone else. No, not in a creepy way. But in a way where you can appreciate the work, relativeness, ambition, or styling of another. Someone who aesthetically agrees with the same things you are gravitating towards. Put your IG crushes aside and pick out the person you identify with. Mine is Twaun Samuel. I started following him on instagram years ago. He is deeply dapper and his look is how I see myself, grown up, you know? living my real life. It’s constant motivation. Since then, I’ve found that he’s a writer, (like me) gay, (like me) and a lawyer in DC serving for a congresswoman (like me, as soon as I get through law school)  

5. My favorite show on TV right now is POWER! It is so good. I wasn’t able to get into Empire, but this show puts me on pins and needles every episode. I didn’t think it could get any better but last weeks episode has to be the best so far. The cast, acting, and writing are all on 10 and the season premiere is on tonight! I will be watching!

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Well, that’s five! And, that concludes this weeks wrap up. If you happen to be into any of the five mentioned or if you did get the time to check any of them out, let me know what you think. I’m interested. Also, if you’re like me and find yourself clinking on links through the week, take a second and bookmark them so you can share them with me here! Support is a two way street and I am grateful for yours. Finally, don’t forget to subscribe and rate the podcast, The Sunday Afternoon.

See you Sunday.

Would you attend my wedding?

Upon invite, of course! At twenty eight years old, there is no denying the fact that I live in a world filled with engagements, weddings, and baby showers. They completely surround me; either at home or work, its an age where you’ve no choice but wonder the decisions being made over your life. I’ll admit, this isn’t the first time I started to plan my own wedding or come up with baby names for that matter, and in my adult life. Moreover, as a single person! But, I won’t be judged.

A few weeks ago, shortly after the Unites States Supreme Court made history in recognizing the fact that the constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, I had an epiphany as I discussed marriage with my best friend. He is straight, happily married, and is a father  to the most beautiful baby boy. The ruling was announced and he wanted to know my thoughts on the issue. No strangers to open, honest communication amongst one another, we gave our stance and thats when I had a moment of realization.

In nearly a decade of friendship, adult friendship at that, it had never occurred to me that my best friend would not be my best man. I made a joke about him being the best man at my wedding after we shared our difference in opinion and he was almost baffled at the idea that it was something I had not come to accept; however the reality of the situation was that its something that hardly ever crosses my mind in any capacity.

What may be one of the more precious gems of this friendship, and so many alike that I share personally, is that my sexuality rarely rears itself visibly. Sure, I am accepted, or seemingly so, but I’m grateful that I share in the experience of relationship that is not predicated on anything other than my being. My identification as gay is not the basis of my friendship. Nevertheless, I could hardly fathom joining one in holy matrimony and not having my closest friend an active participant.

It made me think. Is it possible to accept someone for who they are and not support all of who they are? Is a refusal to attend my wedding an act of rejection? Is friendship contingent on only the things that we appreciate or perceive to be viable from others? I was filled with questions, and they weren’t just because of one best friend. This was what felt like an encompassing of gray area on my life. From family to friends I was bracing myself in an effort to accept, myself, that I experience a multitude of love with people in my life that do not all agree with my lifestyle. And that is perfectly fine.

I drove to work with this realization the next day, eyes filled with tears stained. Not at mourning or any lose. I had already come to the understanding that no difference in opinion will be indicative of love, respect, of friendship. His unwillingness to accept my wedding invitation means nothing to me. It has nothing to do with me and taking it personally would only prove itself nugatory. We each have a basis of idea, opinion, or belief that is telling of our own lives and the way we see the world. We see things differently. We see each other.

The supreme courts decision of marriage equality is to ensure that the right to marry is upheld and respected across this country, fundamental rights are inalienable and need to be afforded to all persons. That decision has absolutely nothing to do with the faith, mission, or purpose of anyone who might feel differently.

The tears that I cried that morning were engulfed with an enormity of gratitude, grace and favor. To  know and experience the love of God, family and friends; those I’d not even be foolish enough to question there attendance, is what took me in. That foundation in which dreams are made of, and mine increasingly realized.

Be honest! Let me know if you’d come to my wedding! You can share why or why not in the comments below!

See you Sunday,

PS If I were wearing a dress it would undoubtedly be the one photographed above.

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