Is It Really A Man You're So Thirsty For? Black and Latino Gay Men and Relationships by Kyle Phoenix

The most requested advice emails, the most watched TV shows, the most read blogs and the most purchased books from me are centered on MSM trying to get a relationship.  Trying to find one.  Trying to find someone who knows someone who can refer them to one.  It's like boom boxes turned up way high as soon as I open my email or walk into a room to do workshop.

"Why do men do this?"
"Why do men do that?"
"How do I handle when a man says this or says that?"

I'll tell you honestly the questions are what inspired me to start a TV show and write books for men of color to disperse the answers farther than I could in person.  

Yet we're still left with the......yearning.

I'll call it a yearning because it's rarely a desire.  It's rarely an interest in the other as anything but a place filler.  None of the men ever say---"I really wish I could find someone to enhance his life.  To give him the love and affection he may've missed out on growing up.  To tell him how wonderful and great he is, whether it's truly true, 105% of the time.  I wish I could find a man to shower with attention, love, intimacy and joy."  

They never say this because honestly, you could go down to a homeless shelter and find that man, any man who needs love.  And you can always hear the narcissism of yearning rather than the loving of desire---because it starts out with "What I want in a man, what he can do for ME.  What I need is...."  The Laundry List of demands is an empty Inbox, never a delivery center.  Now, someone you're going to punish for and with your pain, that's what you yearn for.

A yearning is for something long thought unattainable that will bring fulfillment.  A desire can be a Pepsi---but I'll settle for some lemonade if I don't feel like walking to the store.  Yearning would say that I am incomplete without Pepsi.  That life is incomplete without Pepsi.  That so many other people have Pepsi so God should make sure that I too have Pepsi.  A yearning is much more intensified than merely a desire.

What I often do or ask men simply, in a very Zen like way, is: Do you like men?

No, no, not are you sexually attracted to them?  Not do you want to have sex and love with them?  But do you LIKE men?  As a gender, a sex---dudes, guys, bros, men----non-sexually?

Then I ask another deeper question---how many men have you been afraid of?  What they would say to you or do based on your sexuality?  As a non-heterosexual man, your fear of men might've been legitimate at some point.  You were a boy who was turned on by what you could see was "wrong" or abnormal to the social group you were born into.  So you learned to deceive about your identity (a HUGE thing that we often overlook but I'll get to that later....)  

Whether it was your father, brothers, cousins, male friends---they were both electrifyingly attractive and frightening because you knew that they embodied rejection of you wholesale.  I remember coming home from school at 10 years old and my father standing in the hallway in a robe and at 6'4, having worked himself out for years, he casually lifted me up.  I was exhilarated by him, by his maleness, his power.  I could see how attractive my father was in many dimensions---in many ways I've emulated him---but I also knew that there were elements of my emulation, and frankly, boyhood crush, that I couldn't overtly announce to him.  It's socially acceptable for a girl to be "in love" with her father and boys with their mothers---but we cringe in multiple directions to think of the same gender child having a crush on that parent.  We sexualize children to a point in society---and that point is pretty much always heterosexually.

Just because we get older and can have sex doesn't mean we're better at dealing with that internal contradiction of desire and fear and the even more confusing reality contradiction of some men sexually experimenting but not having an emotional investment in being with us.  We then seek out situations---physical and emotional that trigger the reminder feeling because honestly---we were never taught how to manage our feelings and sexuality by the society around us.  Boys and girls are taught this by their family, peers and society but they're again taught to a heterosexual default.  They're taught how to date (even the oversimplification of who asks, who pays, when is it dating, when is it courtship, when is it love, etc.) but I know personally, no one taught me how to "enact" my sexuality.

As promised, if you spent any days of your youth, under 12 years old, NOT being out about the sexuality you sensed within you, you've learned to lie about your core identity.  Or better yet---let's call it a veil or shield---you know how to appear as one thing and not appear as another.  A useful skill in surviving childhood families and bullies, even in surviving small towns or physically harmful people as an adult....but wholly useless and even detrimental as an adult seeking intimacy.  It's like you've learned to drive on the wrong side of the road (internationally) all your life and tomorrow driving through traffic here in America.  Think about how many accidents there would be in that first week.

Couple that with a lack of real world applicable and flexible skills around their own contradictory fear and desire of men and it metastasizes into yearning.  But you're still hampered by your own kryptonite of self-protection, not being out, fear, neurosis, anxiety, concern about discretion (I'm going to ask the question until my last breath----whom are you truly being discreet from?  Me, your family, your job, society, a man?  What if we changed discreet to "veiled"?  Ah.  Now we're having fun.  Imagine announcing to another man "I'm veiled about my identity."  Not so attractive when the word isn't so gentle, eh?)

That pile up is what the highway of love looks like for many MSM.

So when men ask me how to find good men, how to be with one, what to do to snag one---I listen for the level of their veil.  The real answer to any external quandary is through self-examination.  The deeper level of work is to show up emotionally as the man you're searching for.  You want to be with a man of integrity and honesty but you're....veiled about your own identity at work?  You want to be with a man who doesn't cheat and deceive others about what he does with his body yet you're veiled to your parents about who you date?  

I throw this level of internal integrity questioning out there because men often flex back rather than learn new ways---

"God will bring me someone."  
"God is preparing someone great for me."  
"I'm worth better than this but the better hasn't arrived."  

I applaud faith, whether spiritual or through a non-religious logic, but I challenge back that this isn't how we achieve anything else on Earth as human beings.  If you're job hunting---sitting and praying and waiting with faith garners silence from God.  Now continuous action and faith has always garnered results.

A good man will not coming knocking at your door or throw himself across your car hood.  Ever.  And he might pop in and out of a nightclub but it's hard to discern with such a cacophony of sensory information going on.  We have to re-evaluate ourselves first and our targets,  second.  We have to look at the fear of men as MSM.  How men are the greatest source of animus and judgment towards us, even when they have similar sexualities and their rejection hurts the most.  It's easy to trivialize and sexualize all men because being vulnerable or unveiled to the physical representation of the males who teased you, rejected you, attacked you for years, can be terrifying.  But behind that veil desire metastasizes.  And it becomes yearning.  And yearning will have you lie, cheat, steal, act out, have sex with fools, strangers and madmen because it's so intensively overwhelming that you can't see it for the screaming young desire it started out as.

What's the final answer then?

Open up!  Go be among men.  Men that you have no sexual hope with.  Men that are in sports bars, that are in college classes, men that are at auto shows, men that are in book clubs.  Go learn to be part of the gender tribe that pushed you out.  I give three fun exercises to MSM that they always balk at: 

1. Compliment/flirt with all men as if they were the same sexuality as you are.  What are your emotional positions with men: Fight, Fuck, Flee....and....?  There are more Flirt, Feelings, Fealty.  Play with Flirt.  

"That's a nice tie you have on."  
"I really like that sweater."  
"You spoke up really nicely about that issue.  I had similar thoughts."  

Flirtation is compliment not sexual interest based---many MSM don't learn this because they weren't allowed to Flirt with the parent/adult of the gender they were most interested in.  Watch an accomplished heterosexual male or female flirt and then find a way to ask them---did you have a crush on a parent?  Did you flirt with them?  They'll tell you yes!  Because that's where they trained in non-sexual rapport building.

2. Go specifically make straight male friends and acquaintances---amateur sports teams, classes, hobby clubs, business networkers.  Heterosexuals have learned that if they have a wide social circle---someone always knows someone.  Tell them you're single and looking (beyond them) and I guarantee you a straight guy will introduce you to every other guy he suspects is gay because men love tasks and being successful.  Most importantly GO ALONE.  No buddies with you---learn to walk in the jungle of life without gay insulation in women or other gays.  Learn that you as a man can take care of yourself among men without fear that they will hurt you physically or emotionally.

3. Go on platonic "duty dates" with other MSM several times a week.  Men you are not interested in being sexual with, that you feel neutral interest in----and learn to be with men that are similar to you but that you have no desire towards.  Practice dating.  That's what you missed in middle and high school---heterosexuals practice dating dozens of times---even all the way back to sending Valentines in kindergarten.  What they're really practicing is being publicly emotionally intimate and expressions of intimacy.  They're learning what works for them and what works period.

Practice healthy expression of desire and not veiled yearning and you will attract plenty of men and then you simply choose.  But if you're all tied up in knots or casting your interest to the God/wind there is no foundation for the reward to return to.  Cast out in faith---then take constant and sustained action to make it happen.  

That's how you are attractive.

Tell me what you think!
Kyle Phoenix

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  1. I wish I were younger. These are beautiful thoughts.

  2. This is excellent advise. Thank you.

  3. Great article and though I'm almost 60 I believe your suggestions are just as useful now as they would have been in my 20's.