Black and Latino Gay Men and The Failure Reality by Kyle Phoenix

I've worked lots of places, had a ton of jobs, started several businesses.  Recently a  friend asked me to invest in a real estate project and I dithered around giving him an answer as I was interested but had to admit that if I kept paying all my outrageously expensive school fees---I wasn't in a position to do it within the next year or so.  In fact for the past four years I've been living way below financial means---and by that I mean prior to this time frame I'd made multiples of my yearly income and spent it on---well, I don't' really know.  Good food, fun times, vacations, overpriced New York City apartments, Emporio Armani and books.  I looked back on what I believed I should've been capable of investing, at co-workers and friends who weren't in school and I felt like a failure.  I want to be honest that I'm aware of the contradiction of attending a fantastic university and still feeling like I've almost dropped out of being successful.

Yes, I know that this will guarantee a level of prosperity in my future---already in the projects I do each year of school has doubled my income if one were to calculate it on a yearly basis---again without the cost of school itself.  I know therefore that the next few years that I still have to do---and the insane prospect of another decade spent pursuing more Masters degrees are worth it.  But then an email will come along about a co-worker's promotion or new exciting job with that fun, fun, fun title and I groan inwardly that I've taken a detour off the beaten path from Success Land to grudgingly learn in It Will be Worth It Ville---we don't even have a full service positivity gas station here---it's more like a mantra than actual fuel.

I was chatting a with a fellow student about it and we started invariably talking about Black men's perception of their work and motivation.  One, that I was doing well.  And two, that I was doing exceptionally well for a Black man.  Then we started talking about Black and Latino homosexual men and the idea that sexuality/race impact them so intensely that successful accomplishments are so scatter shot.  Whenever I begin to moan and groan friends point out to me that I "do so much".  That I'm never not doing something.  That my work is maturing, growing, expanding.

But I have this niggling feeling that I should be doing more.


When I look at this it's because I see so many other men of color who sabotage themselves.  And I'm terrified of self-sabotage.  I count bareback sex, foolish relationships, flagellation through religion, depression, anger, addiction, and generally avoidable fuckery based foolishness like STDs, as sabotage.

I was just working with a friend who upon hiring a department manager, was in bed with him within a week's time.  Other managers found out and have essentially sequestered off both of them.

Someone else told me about a teacher who couldn't pass a drug test if he was spotted a baby's urine because his party habits are so intense urine gets a contact high from his hands.

Yet another acquaintance is only into a certain shall we say level of young men.  They have to be extremely young and most importantly not have comparable resources or education.  He likes them GED-less, poverty stricken, desperate and just this edge of self-destructive.  It's cost him innumerable business contacts and relationships because his sales job allows him to travel and he's always bringing the messed up youngsters along.

People may not say something about or too the above men but people always notice.  And then they gossip, judge and ostracize them about it based on gender, sexuality and the vice.


That niggling feeling I was talking about is my trying to outrun insanity.

 Insanity seems so prevalent among men similar to me, educated, intelligent, capable, brown---that I'm on constant guard to be productive, to be strait-laced ,to be conscious of my relationships and propriety.  I was recently writing a program curriculum for a LGBT organization and the director said that once he saw my name attached to the project, he knew they'd be okay.  He meant that there were so many men of color who had been floated to do the work but that they had reputations---extremely unprofessional reputations, that they had sabotaged other organizations, their own standing, their chances of going forward.

He confidentially asked me why men would do this to themselves (ironically I'm often asked...confidentially by principals, directors, executive directors, superintendents, CEO's and several social social workers about Black and Latino homosexual men we know.work with in common.)  And directly to this Exec. Dir., I said that I think Black and Latino LGBT men try to fulfill the negative bounty put on their heads by society and want to kill themselves in as many ways---physically, psychically, emotionally and professionally, as possible.  That when you live in quasi-states of Outness or in morally ambiguous professionality, you come to dislike the impostor you are.  You can only dodge and lie about your core identity for so long.  But instead of dealing with that, being out at work, striving for healthier relationships you must find some way to destroy the perpetrator of your sadness, of your disgust.  Unfortunately that perpetrator is you and therefore you're obligated to destroy yourself.

The next logical question was: "Well, Kyle, why haven't you done this to yourself?"

First and luckily, my work for years has had me comparing myself---holding up my own psyche and choices to men of color and demanding that same explanation.  To the best of my understanding so far I can offer that I've never considered my sexuality as anything but divinely created and natural; and I get rid of anything and anybody who is anti my right to have that belief system.  I don't partake in church services or family dinners where there's silence, proselytizing or questioning of who and what I am.  I often listen to men of color gnash their teeth and flay their own flesh with the borrowed whips from others...and then watch them blindly consume themselves in self-destructive behavior.

Secondly, I also don't dislike men.  Honestly I think more homosexual men dislike men than heterosexual men or women do.  That dual attraction and rejection from heterosexual men who have distrust of homosexual men.

(I think this also creates that whole delusional thinking that all heterosexual men must be bisexual.  When in truth, all human beings experiment with thoughts, feelings and actions around identity---but pretty much all settle on who and what they are in their core.  A heterosexual man might have sex with you, his female wife doesn't know but that doesn't mean anything about his core identity.  Sex can be action and not identity. )

That distrust and rejection means that like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer homosexuals get pushed away from the tribe of men.  Imagine being despised by the very thing you lust after?  Definite ambiguity and resentment there.

And thirdly, we're in a renaissance period in the world around sexuality---it's moving into the mainstream---it's normalized and legalized with covenants and protections.  But people move at the same speed.  Many homosexual men will never fully experience or appreciate the liberation now because frankly they're neighbors to it but aren't young enough to grow up in a sexuality permissive household and society.  Depending on your family structure or permissiveness even being in your 30's might mean it's too late for you to be anything but the stereotypical lonely, alone homosexual who isn't successful enough to have a"relationship" (a loving man on man, accepting relationship being damn near the Academy Award in Gayworld.)

What's left?  Maybe all those success screw ups and self sabotagers are really men who don't perceive a future for themselves beyond the moment?  Maybe they can't see themselves arguing before the Supreme Court because they are intrinsically valuable?  Maybe they've always felt valueless in their core identity because of their core identity?

When I boil this all down to that, I don't know if I feel "valuable"---I don't know how to articulate that.  But I do know that I feel obligated to trying to being something, a man and spirit of value.  That I feel obligated to, if not my father's morality, to a good man's morality.  That I feel spiritually this life is both lesson and intention, that I must make it worth something.  That I want to leave a legacy---even if it's just a Wikipedia entry---of effort.  That Kyle at least made an effort to be more than any expectations of him.

 Are you making your life worth something?  Or are you just majoring in a job, being unconscious with penetrating spurts of homosexual behavior?

Tell me what you think!
Kyle Phoenix

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Kyle Phoenix
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1 comment:

  1. What you say touches on many truths. Such personal introspection honest and courageous.

    ReplyDelete