by Prentiss J. Haney
It’s that time of year again, the holiday season. I know when you think of Christmas, you are filled with joy, love, and happiness. It is a time that we spend with family, bringing home loved ones, and reflecting on our year. However, this year, there is one Christmas miracle that will not be happening on 34th street.
‘Tis the season to be honest right? Well here it is: I am a hoe. By hoe I mean that I am currently engaging in consensual non-monogamous relationships with men. I’m not in an open relationship. Things aren’t “complicated”. I am not searching for the one through trial and error. I just choose not to be with one man. This makes the “bringing home loved ones” clause of our holiday traditional a bit tricky because the way my phone is set up, who I ‘loved on’ last night may not be one I love on Christmas Day (or Christmas evening for that matter). With the looming expectation of marriage and grandchildren all on the horizon, I honestly cannot deal. So after careful consideration, I have decided not to bring a partner home for the holidays.
I am telling you this because I am tired of being respectable and thinking of ways to avoid stigma at the dinner table to make you feel comfortable. This is not okay. So this year, momma, I’m holding you accountable.
If I were a straight man, you would not question my partners. I could bring a different girl home with every change of the season, and no one would blink an eye. Sadly, I never believe this could be true for my men. I use to have a one-year dating rule before introducing my partners to you because I wanted you to believe I had serious relationships with serious men. I wanted to present them as a gift to appease you. I wanted you to respect my sexuality through a heteronormative lens. But now, I choose not to normalize me. Normalizing my life to heterosexual traditions doesn’t help you know me; it’s destructive to the life I actually live which is liberating, loving and free.
No longer will you hold sexual stigma against your black queer son. See, I know what parents of queer men think. Because of fear and stigma, parents shame our promiscuity, in a way that they would not shame a straight son, because they believe this myth that if he is promiscuous, “my gay son will contract HIV and die.” This could not be any further from the truth. As a black gay man, I know that I am at high risks of contracting HIV, but HIV is neither a death sentence nor a concern in my life. If I did contract HIV, I would have my support network, HIV treatment, and other community resources to live a happy, healthy life. HIV should not be your concern, my honesty should be your concern. I want to be honest with you. I want you to know that I am practicing safe sex and I am on PrEP, a pill to prevent HIV transmission. I want you know that when my phone goes “Doo-du-doot,” that it only means one thing. But, first, let’s accept that I won’t be your gay “performing straight” son. Performing straight in actions or values.
I am writing you this now, during this season, because our journey to understanding my sexuality, my queerness has always been tethered to the holidays. I remember when I came out to you the day after Christmas in 2009. I could never forget the moment. The words that slipped down your tongue, you could barely utter them out your lips. I made sense of those words and answered you with just as much hesitation. I stood there, present and gay, in front of you. I was out for you. It was hard, but we made it through.
Like that day, we can make it through this holiday season knowing the truth about me. I am not your conservative, long-term boyfriend-having son who has missionary sex only on Wednesdays after Empire while listening Gladys Knight. I am better than him because I’m vulnerable with you and I want to know the full me.
Even though the years have passed and you have grown to understand me, I have to tell you being a black queer isn’t easy. So let’s sip some eggnog by the fireplace this season and I’ll tell all about my freak-hoe ways.
Prentiss J. Haney