“Love, Simon” is me, as well as others…

Contains possible spoilers about ‘Love, Simon’…

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I saw ‘Love, Simon‘ a few weeks ago at an advance screening here in Charlotte. I loved the movie.  Particularly, because just like Black Panther, it was something that I identified with and was able to see it in a major fashion, in a normal theater, around everyday people.  Not on Netflix, alone, buried in the depths of hell where you have to know a special cheat code in order to unlock it (OK, that was dramatic, but we all know there aren’t many mainstream movies about the LGBTQ life).

The movie, as great as it was because of the representation, did fall a little short on the “spectacular” meter overall, but that’s fine.  I didn’t need amazement, or some over-the-top fanticization (made up word) about being a closeted gay kid in high school who didn’t know how to be himself towards others. It was a truthful, heart-felt movie that resonated within the audience. Especially myself.

I can’t imagine how many times I’ve felt the same was a Simon, the movie’s title character, during high school and college.  Kind of wanting to be out there, but not really knowing how (only I covered it up for most of that time).  Simon, fortunately, was more comfortable with himself at this point of time in the movie than I was back in the day, but he just didn’t really know how to live his truth out. He more so just really didn’t understand why he actually NEEDED to come out.  Like, why is it a thing? Even in the movie there was this montage about his friends coming out to his parents as straight. I’ve felt this exact way multiple times, and until this past October when I wrote my post Happy National Coming Out Day, I never really felt the need to do so.

But looking back, I wish I had…

“Who you are to the world is pretty terrifying because what if the world doesn’t like you?”

“Who you are to the world is pretty terrifying because what if the world doesn’t like you?”  This is literally the single most best quote that sums up how I felt growing up.  High School was intense and you just wanted to be liked and not ridiculed.  It didn’t help that I was probably already a little weird to the “non-cool” kids and I just kind of sort of fit in.  I was so terrified to even explore who I was in that realm because, 1. I denied the hell out of it, and 2. I did that because I was scared of how I would be looked at. But you all already know that from my other posts, I won’t go into detail here.

Simon, kind of the lone wolf in his own mind, was able to explore a little part of himself once another kid from his school decided to anonymously post a message about being a closeted gay kid on the schools message board.  Simon decided to message him and open up to him anonymously as well about being just like him. Simon was finally able to be himself, and explore a feeling that’s he’s had for a long long time.  Over the course of the next few days they messaged each other back and forth and eventually became very fond of one another.  It was sweet, beautiful, even.

Since Simon’s admirer was anonymous, Simon had to live out his love stories within his imagination.  I can’t even count how many times I’ve thought that some guy who wasn’t remotely interested in me was, and it felt weird.  It was like these “unnatural” thoughts were going through my head and I just never really felt comfortable doing that.  This movie normalized that for me.  Straight people do it all the time, why can I?  “I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story and I want someone to share it with.”

“I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story and I want someone to share it with.”

And this is when I knew enough was enough.  Simon captured this sentiment so well and it truly resonated with me.  I was tired of hating myself for wanting to love who I wanted to love.  Was I any less deserving?

Obviously, the answer is No…

So at that time, I was tired of suffocating.  As Simon’s mom had said, “These last years, it’s almost like I can feel you holding your breath,” (I held my breath for sooooooo long) “You are still you”. As I’ve stated before so many times,  I’ve realized that I’m still the same person, gay or straight, and if anybody else didn’t realize it, then that was their fault.  When I told my mom, there was a clear sense of sadness(?) (for lack of a better word) but she also shared these same sentiments. And I knew at that time everything would be OK (I may have shed a tear or two at this point…I might be shedding one right now, lol).

“These last years, it’s almost like I can feel you holding your breath. You are still you, Simon”

One of the lower points in the movie, Simon is outed by this guy who was blackmailing him (I won’t go into details) and this caused a lot of loneliness for Simon, due to some fucked up shit he caused in the first place and this is something a lot of young gay men and women have to deal with.  Speaking from a personal standpoint, I’ve been outed plenty of times and I’ve also outed some people myself (which I’m super not proud of at all).  But another quote that stood out from the movie was “I’m supposed to be the one that decides when and how and who knows, and how I get to say it, that’s supposed to be my thing!”. And he’s right.  No one should take that away from anyone who wants to make that decision.  However, Simon stood his ground and regained control of his “coming out” story even though it was already made and at that point, he realized that he was no longer afraid.

“I’m supposed to be the one that decides when and how and who knows, and how I get to say it, that’s supposed to be my thing!”

So Simon gets to live his truth, and in the end is able to encourage his anonymous love interest to live his as well.  There were some rocky/inspiring/emotional parts in getting to this point, but I really didn’t want to give a review of the movie itself, but I just wanted to describe why I feel that this movie was important to me.  I hope it inspires a new generation to be who they are, and inspire others to accept people for who they are.  Regardless of race, religion, color, creed, and sexual orientation.

I highly suggest you go and see this movie.  You will enjoy it.  You will cry. You will smile. You will get angry.  You will lose all hope in humanity. You will gain it back. Your heart will be full.

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Homophobia…A Story/Rant

I recently read a post about Frank Ocean’s father suing him for defamation about a derogatory slur used back when Ocean was younger.  It was about Homophobia in the black community; and it got me to thinking. Thinking about my own life and growing up dealing with my own homophobia up until I “came out”.

In my experience, there’s always been this issue with black people, specifically black men, standing up for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Sure, they don’t mind that you’re LGBTQ, and they even hang out with you and meet your significant others, but in the back of their mind, they still have a problem with it. They might not admit it, because they might not even know they have a problem with it. But if you ask any of your friends that claim to be LGBTQ supporters how they view sex between two people of the same sex, what would their reaction be? (This can also be another topic because being Lesbian compared to being Gay is a crazy double-standard, but we’ll visit this next week, maybe).

I’ve seen where people who say they “don’t care” that people are LGBTQ, tend to have a problem with supporting the overall LGBTQ community. You know, going to PRIDE, hitting up a gay club, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race…you know, those types of things. I don’t know the ultimate reason why this is the case, but I’ve been personally told that there is this stigma that if you associate with a person who is LGBTQ, other people will automatically assume that they, themselves are LGBTQ as well. So I guess it’s just people trying to avoid being identified as gay or something because of their own insecurities.

And we don’t want that now, do we? Especially in the black community.

I’ve read plenty of articles about being gay in the black community. I experienced it first hand, it was the main reason why I didn’t really start to live my life truly until about 25, MAYBE 26. It was an issue…being black, growing up in a black church. Seeing some of the other boys being teased when I was younger and being made fun of because they “acted gay”. I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want it to be me because to be gay was to not be masculine. To not be cool.  To like girly things. To basically lose your “man card”. To be thought of lesser than.  I knew how parents reacted when they found out their child was gay. They were ashamed and I didn’t want to shame my family.

(And to the beautiful people who grew up going through this, I can’t imagine your struggle, but I know that you are one of the strongest groups of people I will ever know.)

This is what’s “taught” in the black community. No, not literally, but it IS learned. Be it through the media, through family, friends or whatever, it is learned. And sure, some people will say “well now things are different and we’ve come a long way”, and that may be true, but there’s still a problem with homophobia, especially around the straight, black community.  And the first thing I think about when my mind is directed to this is that there’s this “issue” about the demasculinization of the (black) male. And I truly don’t even understand this train of thought (maybe I’ll pick up a book one of these days). This homophobia found in the black community fueled my own homophobia throughout my childhood even through most of my college years.

I went through college as a straight male. Had girlfriends, had sex with them, it was fun, sure. But when it came down to it, even during one of those relationships I was fighting something that was always there. And I knew it was always there. Juggling between both sides of the spectrum.  But the little black boy from the small town where everyone knew him as a good christian boy couldn’t let that be seen. I’ve said some hateful things in the past about the LGBTQ community, knowing I was a part of it myself, only so that I could save my face and not be accused of being gay, when in actuality I was the whole time. I’ve hated myself to the point where I tried to “pray the gay away” multiple times. I went to church, listening to sermon after sermon thinking that something was wrong with me. I listened to family members, talk so much shit about LGBTQ people that it fueled this self hate.

I’ve suppressed it so much that I became somewhat of a “Pro” at being straight to the general audience. People I knew or hung around on a normal basis always knew or had somewhat of an idea, but generally speaking nobody really caught on. Again, because of the black community, I didn’t want to be ridiculed or shamed or whatever. And to this day, there is this “thing” within the gay community about being gay but not “looking” gay (another post for another time).

Even after coming out, I’ve had straight people tell me that they like hanging out with “gays like me”, because I’m “different”. Which translates to, “I don’t mind hanging out with you because you don’t look gay, therefore nobody will think I’m gay”. And I’m so tired of hearing this. Just because you’re “OK” with it isn’t enough.

Again…

I want you to show it. Truly, show it and be ok, out in public, loud and proud that we’re cool people. I want you to support me by going to events like PRIDE and to Drag Shows. I want to talk about my life with you in detail just like you talk about yours. I want you to go to a gay club and party it up! And no you don’t HAVE to go, but at least entertain the possibility. THAT’s when I know you’re actually OK with it. To tell someone you don’t mind that they are Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, or Queer, and then not support them afterwards is an empty statement. It means nothing and I will always assume that you will always have a problem with our community; And until you get your insecurities straightened out, I don’t want your half assed support.

This whole shit has built up so much resentment and regret in me. I resent the fact that the black culture had made me feel broken. I regret calling whomever I called a faggot that word growing up. I resent that the church made me feel dirty and unloved. I regret not standing up for what was right when I saw an LGBTQ person be ridiculed and judged for who they are. I resent the fact that I waited so long to be a part of a community who tries to do nothing but live life as they are.

And you can blame it on your beliefs, blame it on your personal preferences, blame it on whatever, who cares. We’re fighting right now for our spot in the the world and we’ll keep on fighting long after you’re forgotten about.

“Today, I got time…”

There’s this saying from a YouTube video (that I’m kind of ashamed to even share here) that I’ve just really been embracing recently.  It’s kind of been my mantra.  “Usually I don’t have time but today, I got time”.  And the funny thing about this is that I thought I didn’t have time before, and that I just gave no f*cks, but come to find out, I do give a f*ck and I INDEED, got a lot of time.

Most people tend to say “I don’t have time for ______ today”.  But recently it has come to my attention that if you don’t have time for someone and their BS at that moment, you better find time soon because whomever you didn’t have time for then, WILL be back with that BS later.

So yeah today, I got time, and will considerably have A LOT of time moving forward.  I’m over ignoring ignorance and childish behavior, and I will no longer participate in it because honestly, some things just need to be nipped in the bud there and then.

So when you want to say some racist shit to me, I got time.  If I’ve told you “No” on multiple occasions and you’re still in my face, I got time.  If you defend Donald Trump and sincerely think he’s a good president, I got time. If you say some LGBTQ-phobic shit, I got time.  If you feel like you are going to disrespect me or anyone else I care about, I got time. If you’re on some anti-feminism, misogynist BS, I got time. If you come for me and I ain’t even send for you, I got time.  If you text me some off the wall mess, I got time.  If you lied to me and I find out, I got time.  

And sure, sometimes people just need to be ignored, but there are some people who just don’t understand. So for the ones that don’t get the silent treatment, I will, for sure, have time for them today. 

And for the friends who you got time for, but seem to still not get it, it may be time to cut them out completely… 

Because ain’t nobody got time for that…

Happy National Coming Out Day

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To the people who can’t be themselves…

To the people who are judged by who they love…

To the people who are looked down on as a lesser person…

To the ones who are scared…

To the ones who are depressed…

To the people who feel like they can’t smile…

To the people who feel like they don’t belong…

To the ones who cry every night…

The ones who feel like they aren’t enough…

The people who feel out of place…

The people who have suicidal thoughts…

To the people without a support system…

Just know…

We Are Here For You!

I don’t have a coming out story. I never thought I needed to officially announce it, and I kind of still don’t, but I know how important this can be for our people. I mean, when you think about it, I guess I “come out” on a regular basis (Note the irony of this whole thing).  Life as an LGBTQ person can be hard as hell and as you’re reading this, I hope your mind is actually understanding the words, rather than making judgments and assumptions about what I’m currently typing.

LGBTQ people face the challenges listed above on a daily basis just because of who we are and who we love.  Unfortunately, this personal aspect of life gets the negative attention of so many people in the world.  But living life should be all about showing and spreading love to others, not hate. Coming out is an important step in that, where we are finally open to loving ourselves as we are; and even if we don’t make a big announcement, it’s just as important for those times where we share it privately with family and friends.  Some of these challenges listed above can be caused by not loving who we are and this is why Coming Out is such an important moment. It’s a heart wrenching moment though, no matter how old we are because we never really know how people are going to react.

Yes, in 2017, we’re still worried about how people react, even if everyone seems to be “progressive”.  There are still evil people in this world that will wish the worst on us just because of this.  It’s still a real thing.

And as we get older and as we tell more people, that worry goes away, and we tend to not care as much for what people think of us, but that comes with time.  But even though that initial struggle is over, we still face challenges. Discriminatory, hateful, and judgmental behaviors are still no stranger to our community, as well as a slew of other BS that we have to fight through. And even though we feel like giving up, we keep fighting. We fight and fight until we win.  It’s worth it because WE’RE worth it.

It took me too long to realize that.

Coming out is only the beginning, and from there things may get harder, but they will definitely get better. I know that’s contradictory, but you’ll understand. When you can live life with no regard of what others think about you, and you finally feel that weight being lifted off of your shoulders.  It’s magical. I felt as if I have finally gained control of my own life.

It’s a beautiful moment.

So I’m standing here (or sitting, because I’m typing), as a member of this wonderful community. The one with happy smiling faces, that also tends to frown sometimes because of idiots who comment on news articles, to say that you are not alone and we are here for you!

Happy Coming Out Day!

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