Momma’s love child is what she called me. She said it with joy and pride, but her eyes could never lie to mine. Big, dark brown with an almond hint that only that you could see if you were close enough to me–my eyes were her pride and joy. I was her man-child. She warned me about the danger of those eyes, full of mystery and intrigue, and their impending danger, waiting to break the hearts of young girls. I never wanted girls. I was a child of women. I was raised by women. I loved women. Black women. Full women of color. Full breasted, thick waists, strong arms and rhythmic thighs..those were the places I took refuge. A black boy looking, knowing that home rested somewhere in the bodies of black women. Noting could reach me there. But I didn’t want them in that way. Not sexually. No, it would be a violation. I loved black women. I could not do the things that my uncles, (fore)father(s), cousins and kin folk had done. I could never hurt them. The thought pained me. Sex was pain. Good never came of it.
I told Pastor this. He tried to convince me that my “affliction of the flesh”–my love of men–was due to my fatherless upbringing. He was implying that there was deficiency in the women of my life, they lacked the power-resolve of a man, therefore allowing this “spirit of homosexuality” to arise within me. My face burned. I did not know whether homosexuality, as he called it, was a demon, it was not my real concern. I was upset that he had insulted my mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, kinfolk..calling them a failure, calling me their failure, marking those strong, thick bodies as inadequate. In that moment I willed myself into loving my queerness, or at least beginning the journey. In that moment, at 15 or 16, I linked my authentic demonstration and commitment to self love as a reflection of my love of the work of the women that came before me. The Pastor had implicitly asked me to trade my pride of the women who had reared for a deep shame, he wanted to trade my burgeoning feminism with a desire for heteropatriarchy and misogyny. My stomach hurt. It was as if he had reached into my chest, down to my bowels and begin to twist and squeeze my intestines. I was angry, violated, paralyzed and distraught. I ran from his office, from his church, from his covering, into the arms of my grandmother.
I had began to accept my queerness because my grandmother had long ago planted a resilient seed of self love within me. Every morning that I woke, and every night before I slept, she would summon me to her bosom, caress my cheeks and remind that “I love you forever, and ever and always” just before kissing me on the cheek and bidding me goodnight or good morning. The love of a black woman is stronger than the self hate of a black boy, especially when consistent. There is something invincible and enduring about that type of love. It envelopes you. It dares you to submit. Black men don’t like to lose dares. It enveloped me and brought me from the brink of disrepair. She knew I wasn’t simply gay, but queer, my politic was emerging. I had long ago disavowed gender-based expectations of me–I could braid, cornrow, dye, perm, curl and cut hair much better than all of my cousins and many of my aunts. I jumped rope. I boxed. I was a track and field and football champion. I loved to dance, sing and act. I recited Malcolm without prompting. Maya Angelou was favorite. Prince, Michael, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Maxwell, Snoop, Ice Cube, Tupac and Nas…those were my favorite artists. I was a poet. I loved my long hair, especially curled. I was also a great shot. I had a quick temper with white boys–they feared me. I kicked ass. I was gentle with people of color–I could see and sense our collective pain–sometimes I would be completely still and silent, just to bask in our togetherness. I relished the black men’s nod as a cultural-spiritual experience of the highest order.
I loved being black. I was embracing my queer affect. I was not ready to be a black man though. I feared black men. I loved them for a distance, but they were dangerous. They had violated my mother, my aunts, my cousins, my grandmothers. They were to be loved. They deserved love. But, you “couldn’t trust em’ as far you could throw em’.” They always had some little trick it seemed. They’d make you love them, grow comfortable and just as soon as you closed your eyes, you’d find your heart flip flopping on the ground like a fish out of water, struggling for air, looking pathetic. You’d taken the bait and it wasn’t even your first time being hooked. “A dog that brings a bone carries a bone.” So much trouble. It seemed to reside deep within them. I looked like them. I had all their features. Thick, soft, full lips. Deep brown eyes and long lashes. I was slim and muscular, a natural athlete. Witty, to a fault, with a winning smile and thick, enduring hair that protected me from the sun. It scared me. I was beautiful. I loved myself. I knew I was a piece of art. But..I didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t want to cause pain, so I ran. I became Tabias, the anti-normy black man. I was a “new black” in my little brain.
But then I was taken into handcuffs. Slammed on the ground. Lips bleeding. 16 years old. Handcuffs tight around my wrists. We were driving across town the first time, going 29 in a 30. Caught. Speed (slow?) trap. We–Jerry, Nick, Denzell–my two best friends and my younger cousin, looked dangerous. We put in jail. Our parents were called. Curfew violation…except the city had no curfew. The next time I was protesting the death penalty–the officer asked me if I wanted to know what the electric chair felt like. Word. I was less afraid of dying this time, because I was beginning to live. They had already killed my cousin Quendell. Let him choke on his own vomit. Mysterious deaths. Black boys kills. Black men mortally wounded. I was young, gifted, queer and black. I wasn’t wounded. I was dangerous. I knew it. They knew it. I knew that they knew it. I became a black, queer man, unafraid of the str8 fuckers who would shame me by day and attempt to be fucked by me at night. I was amused. White boys feared me and lived for my gaze–so i thought–i later realized I was simply a walking porno in their screenplay, a fuck scene they became obsessed with but were never qualified to unravel, understand or experience. Sex with white boys was a particular type of therapy–I gave them my rage, roughly, through complete domination–they loved it, not knowing I hated them. I loved one, he was amazing. A true lover. Until he broke, first himself, then the rupture of love ethics began..and I re-met myself as a lover of men of color. No boys. No white supremacists. Not simply men of pigmentation, but men of color, men who were about living in color, with colored folks, no fucks given, unless it was for the struggle or liberation. Men who made my brain hard and gave me wisdom with their lips, love through their hips and sex through their acts of care. It was a mind fuck. First Latinos–Puerto Ricans–then Palestinians–then black men. Dominicans. Black men. Men that are black. Brothers. Lovers. Homie. Lover. Friends. I learned to have homies, lovers and friends. Black as night, brown as mahogany. Skin blended and interwined, not knowing ends or beginnings. Love and loving bodies..no objectification. Loving, bodies being loved, loved bodies, love on bodies, caresses, kisses, affirmation. Affirming caresses, Loving kisses, kisses of love. Feminist, Queer, Black sex. No fucking. Just sex. Sapiosexual homosexuals. Versatility. Stress free. Nirvana.
It was a barter. A trade. A win. You can have your racial-sexual terror, your heteropatriarchy, your respectability politics, your “real black men”, “new black” politics, masculinity jocking, trade-boys, your “no fat-femmes-out-asians-vers-poz-diseased” fuckery. I’ll take them all. Give me a poz butchqueene who gives no fucks about the way the world reads her/his/their/zhe body, but instead reads your their essence, their tattoos, their survival tactics, with grace, drama and grit. It was a trade. A trade of prisons for power. A trade of fuckery for freedom. A trade of languishing existences for loving praxis. A trade of white supremacy for unadultered, liberated blaqueerealness. It was a trade and I won.