SE-LAH: “BECOMING BITTER: BLACK GAY MEN AND THE PAIN OF BEING JADED”



Posted on June 4, 2011 by Yolo Akili




I woke up this morning with a lot of the young black gay men I work with on my mind. So many of them, younger than 25, always talk to me about this fear they have of becoming bitter. They are always telling me “I just don’t want to be bitter and jaded. I don’t want to be an old “queen” who’s angry at everything and everyone and can’t let anyone get close.”

For so many of them, the only older black gay men they experience are those they saw as angry, jaded, a “mess”, or simply bitter. (I want to acknowledge that sometimes these connotations are connected to disdain for so called “feminine” attributes, but that’s another blog.)

In so many of my conversations with them, it never fails to come up-this fear that they have no choice but to fall in line with that pattern. The fear is because they often feel there are no other models or options.

This “bitterness” is also often connected to the fear of being single or alone. Unfortunately not many of us have witnessed older black gay men in relationships in older age. We also have failed to understand that being “single” or without a romantic partner, doesn’t mean we can’t have brilliant, beautiful and productive lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t be happy. The reality is, many of us haven’t learned to be happy with ourselves, much less, with someone else.

Yet going back to bitterness I have to acknowledge, as Black Gay men in this world, where we have experienced and do experience so many assaults on our self worth daily, where many of us have lived and are living through the HIV/ AIDS sexual health crisis that has taken so many of our friends and lovers, where our communities and churches often degrade and attack us, it’s hard not to become bitter.

Living in a world where relationships are often competitions for control and power, where we as men have been socialized to “read” each other aggressively instead of communicating our concerns compassionately, where six pack abs, prison masculinity, economic superficiality and lite skin are too often the unrealistic markers of dominant desire- its hard not to be bitter.

As black gay men on very different levels of experience, we struggle with this and so much more daily. The world that we have created can be a horrible place. And it’s hard not to become bitter.

But you know what? I still believe we can make a choice.

Let me explain further: I understand “bitterness” to be when we have allowed life’s experiences to harden our hearts. It is when we move through the world allowing our past experiences to cloud our vision and create unhealthy self fulfilling prophecies based on those wounds, seeking at every turn to validate what we have experienced in the past as real in the present.

Bitterness is anger on its way to becoming hate.

Anger is healthy. Yet when we don’t go beneath the anger, to acknowledge the pain that is there we end up staying with the anger and often ending up directing it inwardly-as depression, or outwardly-as rage. Hurting ourselves, or re-creating the cycle on someone else.

Most of us have not been exposed to or given tools with which to help us process our anger. Most of us have not even been offered the opportunity to express our rage and pain, we are so often silenced by communities and society. So today, I wanted to share some beliefs and ideas that help me with my anger and with not being bitter-with the hope that maybe one of them may be helpful to you.


1) Check your perspective

Check the narratives you tell yourself about who you are. Are you kind to yourself? Or harsh? Do you berate yourself, or lift yourself with compassionate accountability?

Do you forgive yourself for what you couldn't do, didn't know how to do, or weren't able to do at the time? Do you see your relationships, failed or otherwise, as opportunities to learn and grow, or just spaces where you were “done wrong” as if you played no part in the chaos of it?

What decision did you make that created the situation, or the situations you are in now? How can you be accountable enough to let go?


2) Stop the comparisons-

There is only one you. And if you were meant to look like, be like, be shaped like, and be smart like anyone else, well then you wouldn't be you. And considering the divine creator of all this made you the way she/he/it did-then it must have thought you were damn good. And you are. YOU are your own standard!! There is no comparison. Comparison is a tool used by those with lack of imagination and disrespect for divine order. Like who you are. In fact, love who you are. How you look, and how you are, at whatever place you are, love yourself. And if you want to work on things about you-don’t start with judgment and hate, it doesn't help. Your body responds and all you do is slow down your ability to shift. Be loving to yourself and the rest will follow.


3) Face your Fears- Too many of us are held hostage by fear in our lives. We have created all these imaginary monsters that we think are going to make all these horrible things happen to us. Take the time to

face your fears intelligently head on whatever they are. Remember, “Fear is faith in reverse.”


4) Learn Yourself. Learn your wounds, your issues and challenges. And don’t just justify them-find a way to have a different relationship to them that does not hinder you in the present. Find a therapist, or a counselor. Except help from others. If you we were meant to do it all alone, or to figure it all out by yourself, god/goddess would have just dropped you on an isolated rock somewhere in a remote part of the galaxy as opposed to this rock which is actually teeming with people who can and would love to help you. Seek them out.


5) Make your life what you desire; brick by brick:

A large part of our reality is about interpretation. It’s about how you choose to see what’s happening around you. Republicans and democrats witness the same phenomena everyday, and both have a totally different idea about what is happening. This “interpretation of reality” does not mean crazy shit won’t happen to you, or unfair shit won’t happen, it says instead that how you look at it makes a big difference in what you can learn!


6) S.I.N= Self-Inflicted Nonsense: You were not born, nor are of evil or wrongdoing. You were born into circumstances and situations, systems and societies with ideas and beliefs that created a reality for the people who brought you here… Anything that happened to you is not a reflection of your worth, only a commentary on how the world is ignorant to your beauty and value as a human being. Don’t let their neglect become your own.


7) Trust that the relationship you need will find you and celebrate the relationships you have. Too often we devalue our good friends, who, like lovers, are often our emotional supporters. We also can be self-defeating in thinking that; Ill never find someone, or there ain’t no good guys..yadda yadda. Let that talk go. Trust you deserve to have a partner that you love.

Hope this is helpful loves! Remember, bitterness is a choice..and so is love. Choose wisely! You have everything you need within you to make what you desire a reality.

In love, peace, and solidarity,

Yolo







Enjoy!!!!






Thank you for reading,






Kyle Phoenix


Email: kylephoenixshow@aol.com


Website: http://kylephoenixsite.com/


Blog: http://kylephoenixshow.blogspot.com/2012


Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast

I Want to Be Anything BUT Black, Gay or a Man


Recently I was wandering down memory lane and I came upon past students, friends and friends of friends who delved deeper into the spectrum of being feminine and effeminate.  I started thinking about some of things I noticed as a Youth Coordinator for young men of color under 25 and the struggle I had in balancing a racially conscious program, a sexuality conscious program steering them towards manhood and the resistance they put up.  By resistance I mean Britney Spears and Mandy Moore and Sailor Moon---not simply a level of diva interests (I didn't/couldn't listen to Beyonce for several years because of the inundation from them around her) but an affinity to these young White women.  I noticed it, I started thinking about critical racial theory and I did some shows on it, a video or two and kept it moving.  As the coordinator and as a teacher I was and am challenged with the fact that society is changing, thew world is changing and I always want my students to take advantage of that and express themselves truthfully, artfully, but most importantly fully.  In fact I want them to know the projections people put upon their race, mitigate that and transcend race.  Transcend the limitations and quotas and judgments and do the same with their sexuality. Even more, more, more importantly, I want them to define their sexuality however they feel it, healthily.

But.....

Then a few days ago I was with a student in Harlem when a----person strolled by.  6'2, 215, born physically male with very little make-up but a shoulder length weave and sauntering and flaunting and having a Naomi Campbell strolling moment across 8th Avenue.  My straight student was aghast, I noticed the person and kept it moving.  I'll rewind here and say one of my certifications is from THINY (Transsexual Health Initiative New York) because there were several borderline, possible transsexuals in that youth program several years ago.  Even further back I've had long term friendships with.....persons who were divining where they were on the sexuality, sex and gender spectrum,  I'm so cautious with the word "person" here because I've even had students a few months ago who were physically one place and displaying, acting like another.  The best tactic I've learned and practiced for over a decade, is to allow an obvious person to define their gender and sex and take it from there.  I heartily recommend this to everyone, it saves, time, stress and distress.

But........

I noticed that most of the sex and gender players were Black and Latino males.  Now, I'm a huge proponent of Keith Swain's Alpha and Beta theory---in fact I kick myself for not running the nationwide emotional and biological survey that he did because I noticed some of the same characteristics in men years ago too.   Some MSM/gay men are Alphas and some Betas.  I figured that I had a passel of Betas in my programs.  But then in getting to know them---fathers were absent.  There was a lack of cultural self-knowledge as well.    Then I have a few clients who have been dressing and living as women, taking hormone supplements and even illegal silicone injections to develop breasts and hips and buttocks.  But they, several having the financial means, haven't pursued sexual reassignment surgery.  What gives?


A couple of weeks ago I started adding up all of the biological males I've met who are "playing" with sex and gender.  I say playing for lack of better word.  Last year while facilitating a workshop, it started delving deeply into transsexual land and I was clearing up misnomers and such---primarily with this group of men because there were two men in the room who I confidentially knew while dressing.presenting male had emotional questions about their sex and gender.  That's natural.  They enjoy some dress up and have considered seeking deeper therapy to reconcile their questions/inner confusions.  The Beta definition of extra estrogen really has helped them, by the way.

But.....

What about the biological males who were dressing.living 24/7 as females?  All Black/Latino, most with absent or sexuality discriminating fathers, all having been sexually abused and all having issues with being Black/Latino.  In fact they all gravitated towards White "new" names (Amber, Alexis, Tiffany, Crystal----exoticized or seemingly Upper Class names), identities, identifications, social groups, best friends and entertainment idolizations.  I started thinking about is it so hard being a Black/Latino male in America that given the "out" would one rather be a female---if you could pass---or even someone who was an "other" (presenting as in-between or deliberate gender confusion) before being a man of color?  I started thinking about the psychological impact of being raised by single mothers of color.  Men of color raise boys to manage racism, they teach them tactics on how to deal with prejudice, discrimination; transfer instincts of when to react and when to back off/down.  But several racial psychologists have figured out that women teach boys both the perils of racism and the fear of misogyny and rape, which is the double psychological concern women or color carry in society.  From a father you learn how to handle the problem, from a woman though you learn you're in danger, no, really and They---the Boogeyman They are going to harm destroy you and there's nothing your primary protector your mother can do.  In a sense she's suggesting that you're on your own in the jungle.  Conversely girls learn from single mothers how to be strong women who are independent, self sufficient, maybe don't  need a man and how to raise children.


Some males find mentors, uncles, brothers, cousins, teachers, etc. who example and teach manhood to men of color or even more progressive, a woman is aware that cats can't raise dogs so they deliberately find men to mentor their boys.  But what happens to homosexual boys who may feel like outcasts to begin with due to sensing their sexuality is different, they get a big heap of a mother's fears and inability to teach racism negotiation skills and then they're cast out into society at 15, 16, 17 years old?  Is it easier to just abandon the foreign male gender/sex and instead "hide" in the female guise?  Why would they do this?  Well, in many ways society makes "space" for women, even transsexual women.  While women are victims of patriarchy and misogyny it's still a notch about homophobia.  A woman has value and acceptance that one might not get as simply an effeminate homosexual.  The individual can even wrap themselves in the illusion of being a woman with a man who might like the illusion of a woman socially but wants to be with the physicality of a male.  Suddenly we're in a mental/emotional miasma of homosexual/Same Gender Loving males finding a way to obviate the intensity of racism in America.


I've been African American for several years now, had social experiences with racism and even relationship racism/prejudice from Black, White, Latinos, Asians, (but not Aboriginal/Native Americans yet) and I can see how it would be easier to live as a Black woman.  I'll admit that there was a time when I liked someone who liked me and liked a woman and I thought to myself---she trumps me because....well, she's a woman and at the end of the day, she can, even if she were as brown skinned as me, sit at a Thanksgiving dinner with him and all of his family and have his babies.  Women of color in American society tend to be employed twice as much as similarly qualified males because historically of how Black/Latino male are perceived and feared.  I can even see how someone would want to be an obvious feminine "person" who might garner sympathy, pity or people would be helpful to avoid being labelled homophobic.

Is the use of hormones and illegal silicone injections and shocking public displays the extreme of this revulsion.fear of being a male of color?  My concern, maybe it's from teaching so long is I worry about drag queens and strippers and gender players and the in-betweens because while I know maybe, here in NYC we're living in the 21st century, it's not the same everywhere.  And you can't live in gay club or just with your gay community forever.  At some point you have to come out of your cocoon and deal with the mass societal reality that the rest of us do.

But is it really that serious to want such an out of being a man of color?  


Next Time: The Physical Extremes People Go To NOT To Be Black, Latino, Gay Or a Man

Enjoy!!!!

Thank you for reading,

Kyle Phoenix
Email: kylephoenixshow@aol.com
Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast

America's Newest TV Scriptwriters Contest





ABOUT THE CONTEST
James Lassiter and Will Smith of Overbrook Entertainment have joined forces with the ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment—a group of leading national advertisers intent on finding and supporting exceptional family content—to find the most talented undiscovered TV scriptwriters in the country. Overbrook Entertainment’s vision, together with the Alliance, is to produce and support extraordinary family entertainment.

Because family entertainment means different things to different people make sure your script is unique and emotionally relatable to today’s family. Submit either your 30-minute comedy or one-hour drama by 1pm PST, March 21, 2013.

For more information---http://www.scriptwritercontest.com/



Enjoy!!!

Thank you for reading,

Kyle Phoenix

Email: kylephoenixshow@aol.com

Website: http://kylephoenixsite.com/

Blog: http://kylephoenixshow.blogspot.com/2012

Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcastDivider line