Black & Latino Men And Their Success by Kyle Phoenix
I've worked a lot over the years, towards my own personal version of success. I've had the unique opportunity to have worked for several Black and Latino MSM organizations as a coordinator, a teacher, a counselor. One of the things that comes up is the role of success as individuals and within the framework of dating and/or becoming a couple. A point, a problem that comes up between men is the imbalance of success. Men are socially taught to compete with one another, so what happens when you're emotionally and sexually tied to the competition?
I've had the experience of doing well, seemingly from the outside, we all look better, simpler, sleeker, more successful from the outside. The work from the inside, the nights of unwavering focus, the hours working on projects is rarely seen by those who then look at the train in motion. Even this, the world wide web of Kyle Phoenix in blogs, books, TV show, newsletters, magazines, book tours, classes, is like the tip of the iceberg to all the work and time I've had to put in. So when old friends come back and make comments, suggest simplicity to my outcomes or worse yet, throw some shade onto it, I wonder, aloud and privately, if it's just man to man competition. But then I got some green envied flack from a female friend too. So it comes up between friends too.
But maybe what connects these observations and experiences is the target, an MSM Black man. I wonder if within the paradigm of others thinking of me, was I suppose to ever be successful? I mean I could be the bestie who goes to bars and strip joints and to shop with and go to the movies but was I suppose to ever move outside of that box? Was I suppose to do more than go to a 9 to 5 job and earn a certain number and complain about my job and express constant misery at the rat race? What was I suppose to be?
I remember when I would be counseling other men, couples, about this issue and I never thought so many in my life would attack, vanish minimize my own success. I get so many accolades, from new friends, from strangers from grateful students....and that's fantastic. But what about the past? What I've learned so far is that success is a process of steps and in those steps you move from one frame to another, like a movie script. In high school, my high school lover never moved from the neighborhood and I realized that then. In college, several past loves have settled into being all the things they railed that they would never become---staid, boring, stuck in the rat race at jobs that don't even fit their degrees. Then in my adult years---friends and lovers---have fallen into two categories----those who weren't doing what their highest success would be and those who were. Now I see that there is a bridge, a choice, a path from which one you'll be. The one trying to materialize your success and not.
There isn't much expected of MSM. Beyond titillation and sex and fabulousness and occasionally activism, people, even MSM, expect very little of MSM, especially Black and Latino men, Maybe school, maybe a job. But definitely hung. Definitely fabulousness.
So if you're out there, trying. If you're trying to do something, something incredible. Know this: they all can't come with you. In fact, as I learned from Lisa Nichols, the doorway of change, of one's personal success is only big enough for one person to fit through. You go through alone. You go through the doorway, through a hallway for years, alone. Maybe you come out on the other side and decide to go back, to retrieve relatives, old friends. But a lot of them can't come. That's the price of success, that's the secret of success: you have to know you can't bring most of the people you know with you. That's what the guy you're with or want or pine for or dumped you knows---that in order to walk through the doorway to success in a business, in a marriage, in love out of the closet with you----he'd have to let so many people go that he'd be alone.
And most people are terrified of being alone.
The second price of success is you have to be able to tolerate, endure being alone.
The third price is this insight comes to you when you're through the doorway, when you're far enough through the hallway that when you look back, when old friends, relatives and perhaps eve new lovers yell at you from the threshold of your doorway to come back, to be with them, to let go of your efforts. But maybe their words, their comments, your regrets are the last vestiges of ashes flaking off as you go to and become the new thing....that perhaps our strictly heterosexual counterparts aren't as lambasted from breaking the confines of.
Or perhaps they too have their own confines, it's just not as pronounced or sexuality related?