I was raised in the church, the Black church, the Black Baptist church. I half-jokingly and half deadass serious say I was born on a church pew. I was one of those kids that was in church 4 out of 7 days of the week. I’m a PK, as we say, a preacher’s kid. My mother is a well-known and respected minister in my small city. My family has been active in the church as long as I’ve been walking this Earth.
Being a church kid, I frequently heard I sermons and anecdotes of the immoralities of “the gays.”
“It’s just not Christ-like, ya know, a man laying with another man.”
“It’s a perverted sin.”
Imagine me, a child, hearing “hell awaits.”
I didn’t quite know what gay was, but I knew I wasn’t like the other “normal” boys at school. I had nothing in common with the other men in my family. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a boyfriend, but I knew I didn’t want a girlfriend. I remember thinking, “Whatever that gay thing is, I might be that.”
I for sure thought I destined for hell with gasoline draws and a match.
So like most of us, I suppressed my desires and ignored my feelings. I watched the way I walked; made sure there wasn’t too much sway in my hips. I watched the way I spoke; made sure my tone was deep enough. And continued to have girlfriends, I was quite the ladies man in the halls of Whitter Middle School. It was all good, I was Joanne the Scammer-ing that way through my adolescence. That’s until high school.
My freshman year in high school, a family member, who will remain nameless, hacked my MySpace (dating myself, here) account and wrote “I’M GAY!” all over it. The status, under all of my pictures, on the bulletin broad. Literally anywhere you could type, the words “I’m gay” were written there. The next day I heard all the whispers of “I knew it.” People stopped speaking to me, niggas were threatening me. It got real, real quick. So I had to go into Oliva Pope mode and “change the narrative.”
I got into a few fights, both verbal and physical. Joined the football. I went on the being captain of the football team by senior year. I was violent, which worked well on the field but not so much in the classroom or at home. Hypermasculinity, in all its toxicity, became my mask.
The mask began to crack when I got an IM, instant message, (again, dating myself) from one of the neighbor drug dealers, and a good friend of mine, asking me what I was doing that night and if I wanted to spend the night. I wasn’t doing anything, so I asked my mother if I could go and she said yes. 15 minutes later, he came to get me in his father’s truck. We, ironically, went to his pastor’s home (LOL) where his family was. We stayed for a while playing spades and joking, then went back to his house. His family still at their pastor’s house. We go to his room and watch tv, both of us texting our girlfriends. Until I feel his hands slide down my pants. This was my first same-sex experience, a desire that I have suppressed for 18 years. Two years later, at 20-years-old, I lost virginity to this same friend.
Fast forward to 22, I’m a senior in college. It’s my coworkers birthday and we’re getting ready to go out, to a gay club. I have been invited to this club during my time in college, but still being closeted, I would never step foot inside. But a bunch of other straight coworkers were going, so I thought I was safe. Until I got to said club, met a guy on the dance floor, had some drinks, and preceded to make out with this man in front of God and all of my coworkers who were present that night. There was no denying it now, but I also didn’t want to deny anymore.
But because we all know that we don’t come out just once, I still had to come out to my best friends, who are all straight and slightly homophobic, which I did later that year.
I came out to my mother a few months later after I graduated college at 23. Well, I was more forced out but that’s another story for another day. It’s been two years and they still think I’m going to marry a woman. Which is fine. Keep hope alive, I guess.
Now at 25, for the first time, I am affirmed and proud (for the most part) of my full identity. I am Black, Gay, Christian, and whole. Anyone who has a problem will just have to deal.