SILENCE = CONSENT

Posts tagged “male

Who is Left to Love the Black Woman?

“All the good black men are either dead, married, gay, in jail or waiting to be born,” is something I heard a young lady say in a bible study once.  We were discussing the possibility of some of us in the class never getting married.  Before making this statement, she told the pastor he needed to come up with some programs so some of the women in the class could have the hope of getting married.  She then went on to give a dramatic speech called “Who Is Left to Love the Black Woman?”

I was very offended.  And the whole time she was giving her lil’ speech, I was lookin’ at Mz. Lady like she’d bumped her head.  After her speech, the pastor asked if any of the men in the class would like to respond.  So, you KNOW I raised my hand right?  And the pastor just shook his head, because he KNEW what was coming.

I stood up in front of the class, cleared my throat, and said, “I don’t think the problem here is ‘who’s left to love the black woman, but rather who is qualified!”  I also told Mz. Lady that she owed every man in the class an apology because ALL OF US in the class thought of ourselves as good men.

These days, what IS a good man?  Everyone has their own idea of what makes a man “good,” so it’s difficult to set a concrete definition.  When asked that question, most of the single men I know say they consider themselves good men.

So, if so many people (straight women and gay men) are looking for ‘good men’, why are so many presumed good men single?  Maybe the people who say they are looking for a good man, aren’t  really looking for a good man at all.  Most are seeking out “good-looking men” and are disappointed when they find that those who they think are good-looking often lack the characteristics they say they want in a man.  The truth is, most will totally overlook a man of character if he doesn’t personify what society says is beautiful or successful.  Even if the man is only trying to be a friend, he still faces rejection based on his looks.

My late Big Mama used to say, “baby, you don’t throw away a diamond because it’s given to you in a paper bag, and not a velvet box….a diamond is still a diamond no matter what it may be wrapped in.”  Big Mama knew that a good man couldn’t be measured or judged by what he has or how he looks.  A good man can only be judged by his character.  Now I’m not naïve to the fact that what we see gets our attention.  But it seems that what we see is the most important thing.  We value things that are temporal.  Good looks fade or can be destroyed.  Money and material things are fleeting and can be taken away.  But a strong and noble character is something that is invaluable and will stand the test of time.

So to all those women and men, who say they’re looking for a good man, remember that a good man (a diamond) is still a good man (a diamond) regardless of how he may be wrapped.  Think about it, that man of character that you’ve overlooked because you’re “just not attracted to him” may be the friend or partner you’ve been looking for all along.  Learn how to see people with more than just your eyes.  Maybe the problem is not a shortage of eligible candidates, but your inability to recognize a good man when you see him.

 

Tuan N’Gai is Co-Founder of the Operation: REBIRTH Movement.  He’s the author of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma,” “Little Brown Boy’s Blues,” and a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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He Ain’t Man Enough for Me

Image“I just don’t know if I can be in a relationship with him,” is what my friend said as we talked about his PNB (that’s Potential New Boyfriend).  And when I asked him why, he went on to say, “he’s just too effeminate for me.  I need somebody who is gonna be a real man.”

After that conversation, I thought about how many times I’ve talked to people who were once excited about meeting a PNB either on the internet or by phone. But after they met him in person, the story drastically changed.  They were disappointed because the man who they thought could be the love of their life turned out to be “a big ol’ girl.”  The tone of their voices when they give the details of how he walked, talked, or was too animated with his conversation indicates how disgusted they are that they were duped again by someone who presented themselves as masculine on the net or on the phone but in reality was not as masculine as the image they projected.  It’s almost sad to think that people still believe the notion that masculine = top and feminine = bottom.  Don’t EVEN get me started on the numerous profiles on any group, club or chat where people insist that if you are gonna hit them up you “must be masculine” or “straight-acting”.

So what’s the deal with “effeminate men”?  And why do we have such hatred for them?  I mean, are they any less man or less real than anyone else?  Why are they undesirable? And why is it not a positive thing to meet a man who has wholly embraced his feminine side and is unashamed of it? Furthermore, why do so many effeminate men loathe effeminacy in other men?

I met a man from the United Kingdom a while back.  In our lengthy conversations, he taught me so much about how different people in Europe think versus how we think in America.  He told me, “T, it’s not uncommon for men in the UK to think of American men as brutish or barbaric.  And it’s strange that what you all call `effeminate’ we just consider it to be sophisticated unless it’s like over the top or something.”  He went on to say how most people in the UK have a live and let live attitude.  As long as people are respectful of each other, nobody really bothers anyone else.  His saying that made me to seek out other people from different parts of the world and ask them about what is considered masculine or effeminate in their cultures.  It amazed me how the definition of masculinity and femininity varies from place to place.

The truth of the matter (in my humble opinion) is masculinity and femininity are opposites on the same human spectrum.  And even though some of us can’t accept it, ALL OF US fall somewhere between the two and not necessarily on one polar extreme or the other.  We all come from a man and a woman, masculinity and femininity lives inside all of us.

Being a same gender loving man, I know that what we call masculinity can be sexy.  It’s attractive.  But I submit that often times the most “masculine” man is not necessarily a “real” man.  My father taught me that a real man loves God, himself, and others.  A real man takes care of his responsibilities.  He is respectful.  He’s trustworthy.  He honors his word. He has a kind heart and is faithful.  He’s strong enough to be gentle and sensitive.  He stands up and is willing to fight for what he believes in and is unashamed.  He’s unafraid to take the road less traveled and is able to be independent.

After thinking about it for a minute, I discovered that most of the men I know who possess the qualities my daddy taught me to have are not considered the most masculine.  The so-called masculine men are more often those who are so uncomfortable with who they are they’d rather lie or die than call themselves gay in public.  They will not boldly stand up and make their voices heard when it’s needed for fear of someone knowing that they are attracted to the same gender.  But who is often the first in line to stand in protest when injustice rears its ugly head?  Who is often unashamed of who they are and will not lie about their identity?  Who is often strong enough and unafraid to be who they are no matter what?  In my experience, those who we call effeminate are the ones who seem to possess the characteristics of “real men.”

Now, I’m not saying that traditionally masculine men can’t be real men.  Nor am I saying that who we call effeminate are all men of noble character.  The point I’m trying to make is it’s important that we not try to define each other with some binary either/or system. It does us all an injustice.  We need to learn how to accept and embrace each other.  Look at each other and judge each other by “the content of character” (thank you Dr. King).

And when it comes to relationships, just how do we know that the very man we’ve prayed and asked God for; the one who will love, respect, be faithful and honest with us isn’t a man who falls closer to the feminine side of the human spectrum than we think he should?  Why can’t we embrace each other in spite of the one of the many things that diversifies us?  When will we learn the importance of stretching out just a little bit and learning from people who are a little bit different from us?  We just might be surprised when we discover that we really aren’t all very different.  I mean, we ARE all brothers…right?

So, my bruthaz (masculine and effeminate): keep being who you are!  Don’t let anybody tell you that you are less than what you were created to be.  Let’s stop writing off bruthas as less than because they are a little different.  Learn from the diversity, don’t let it divide.  Embrace each other and celebrate our similarities.  Let’s continue to believe in our own greatness.  Let’s strive together to be the real men that this world is seems to need so desperately.

Tuan N’Gai is the co-founder of the Operation: REBIRTH Movement, the author of “Will I Go To Heaven?  The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma”, “Little Brown Boy’s Blues”, and contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living.”  He currently lives in Chicago, IL.


About to Get My Head Cut Off

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I’ve been trying to figure out a nice way to express what I’m feeling inside. I’m once again facing the fear that I won’t be liked if I say what I truly feel, the way I truly feel it.  I’m afraid of being harshly judged, or even worse, not being heard at all if I dare to set myself free from this prison of silence.  I guess, I’ve lived here so long, it’s become second nature.  I’m used to having to compromise my own feelings so everyone else can be comfortable.

But if I’m going to grow, and conquer the fear, I have to confront it head on.  It’s not going anywhere any other way.  Sometimes I feel like I’m John the Baptist, and it’s only a matter of time before I’m beheaded for speaking the truth… or at least the truth as I see it.

Since moving to Chicago, I have heard daily reports of young Black men killing people.  One weekend, more than 40 were shot.  More recently, 15 shot in one day. We are being exterminated by our own sons, brothers, cousins, uncles… and for the young ones, our fathers.  I mean, what the fuck has these kids so angry?

I understand poverty is a bitch.  The economy has everybody in a vice grip but, REALLY?  It’s so bad we kill ourselves?  These young, misguided warriors are killing each other over “turf” they don’t even own!  They have no mortgage, or no deed to ANYTHING.  They “feel disrespected” because someone accidentally bumped into them in the store or at the club.  Here’s one… “someone disrespected they bitch.”  Or, someone has a pair of sneaks they want, and instead of getting a fuckin job, and working so they can buy them for themselves (like real men do), they bust someone over the head, or kill them.  Just for the latest Jordans.

This makes me angry. I’m angry because it seems nobody is doing anything to stop it.  Those with the resources to provide services to our community are doing nothing!  And those of us who ARE trying to do something, we speak truth to power only to be written off as heretics.  When we present possible solutions to our problems, we are barely taken seriously if at all.  We are told that our possible solutions will not work without even giving them a try.  I guess if someone other than the “leading blacks” can get any attention or credit for doing something good in the community, is too much of a threat to their non-profit salaries.

Instead of doing something… ANYTHING, it’s easy to just pass the buck and place the blame.  It would be easy to blame the mothers.  We know where they are right?  In the club with THEIR mothers, seeing who can twerk the best. When they get drunk, their “men” instigate fights so they can proudly post their ratchedness on WorldStar Hip-Hop.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be on WorldStar?

We can blame the absent fathers too, right?  When “thug” is what it means to be a real black man, and when little boys are being beat (some to death) for the simple human act of crying, what do we expect?

How about we blame “the man” or “the system”.  We all know that the United States of Amerikkka is set up for blacks to always be second class.  Oh no, wait… i forgot… blacks are too lazy, shiftless and trifling to get up off their asses and do whatever it takes to help themselves.

LET’S BLAME THE CHURCH!  We have churches on every corner in our ‘hoods and they are POWERLESS.  We have MEGA CHURCHES!  Beautiful, pristine, gated, prosperous, state of the art MEGA CHURCHES that have all this Holy Ghost, and all this faith and power, but can’t do ANYTHING to serve the ‘hoods they sit in.  All this “good news” being preached, and our elderly are afraid to sit on their own porches.  We have al this anointing, and power to cast out devils, but our daughters are undercover ghetto porn stars.

I guess it stands to reason the churches are powerless when Qua’shawn is giving $100 or more of his dope money to his grandmother every week, she puts it in church every Sunday, and the pastor (who doesn’t live in the hood) is using said money to pay for his Escalade and to send his kids to college.  I mean, who gives a fuck that Qua’shawn, Malik and Pookie, who paid for the new church building, will be a convicted on drug charges, will NEVER be able to vote again, will spend time in jail, and will have no opportunities to do anything differently if and when he gets out?  But, Praise the Lord for the new sanctuary, right?  And the church doesn’t see this as a problem. The black church’s REAL problem is gay people wanting marriage equality.

What I’m saying is, instead of asking, “Who is gonna do something?”, we should be asking “What can I do?” Each of us has the power to do something.  We can call for more police patrols in our neighborhoods.  I mean, it works for the rich white people.  Are WE not paying more taxes than THEY are?  We can use the power of our vote to put pressure on our elected officials to do more on behalf of our neighborhoods.  We can organize neighborhood watches.  The church and do much more than than pray, like open their doors for youth programs.  The church can be a meeting place for the community organize and educate the community on how to preserve our neighborhoods and save our children.  We can do something constructive to get our kids off the streets.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  We cannot afford for any more of our people to senselessly die.

Okay, I’m done. I put it as nicely as I could without editing out my passion.  I feel I’ve grown up a little bit.  I’m a little bit less afraid.  It feels good.  I finally got that off my chest.  I’m even putting some anti-violence programs together to propose to local churches and the police departments.  That’s SOMETHING, right?

 

Tuan N’Gai is the co-founder of Operation: REBIRTH, the author of “Will I Go To Heaven?  The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma”, “Little Brown Boy’s Blues”, and contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living”


Are You Afraid of My Blackness?

A young man I was mentoring called me to vent about what he perceived as a negative experience.  He was FURIOUS!!!  He was leaving a job interview in a building downtown when he was joined on the elevator by an older white woman.  Though he was professionally dressed, his “swagger” still seemed to show.

According to his account, when the elevator door closed the lady moved as close as she could on the other side of the elevator and clutched her purse, being sure to not make eye contact with him.  He said it was obvious she was afraid.  She honestly thought he would do something to her or try to take her purse.

He was livid that she would think that of him.  “Don’t nobody want that ol’ woman, her p***y, OR her dayum purse!” he said.  He rode the bus and walked home from his stop insulted that someone who didn’t even know him would thing that about him, and would make it known with their actions.

When he finished venting, I asked him to listen to what he told me.  I repeated, “The white woman got on the elevator. When the door closed, she retreated to the opposite side and clutched her purse. Why?  Because she was afraid of you.”

“Yeah”, he said.

I asked him, “when are you gonna realize the power you have?” When will you glory in the fact that as a young black man, your very presence is so intense that it intimidates people who aren’t as strong as you are, and it challenges their ignorance?”

“Dayum!  I didn’t think about it like that,” he responded.

Even though I was in a position to minister to him, this entire scenario was a lesson to me as well.  I should no longer view my blackness as a hindrance or curse. I should embrace and glory in it.  Hell, my blackness is more than beautiful…it’s downright powerful!   The fact that I’m a black man is a gift.  It’s a blessing.  It’s an honor that God saw fit to bestow.  It’s a reason to celebrate.  I also realized that my blackness is a call to responsibility.  The power that black men possess is one that should be used to bless the earth.  When I think of the intelligence and talent we possess, it makes me so proud to be who I am.  I just wish there were more black men who were vocal about their Black Pride.

The funny thing is how white people get afraid, offended and worried about black men having, vocalizing and displaying their pride.  It truly incites fear within their very souls.  I think that fear is a response to their internalized guilt for how we’ve been treated in the United States of Amerikkka.  I think Black Pride is such a bright light that it shows them their inferiority.  Maybe they are afraid because they know if we ever start to walk in all the greatness that lives within us, the white privilege bullshit will end, and the chickens will TRULY come home to roost.

It’s sad to think an entire generation of black men know nothing of their history.  They have no clue of the greatness that is manifested on the earth because of their presence.  I think knowing how Benjamin Banniker, a black man, contributed inventions that changed history would make them proud.  Knowing of Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, black men, giving us literature that transcends time would get them excited.  To know how the athletic accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Arthur Ashe, Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan revolutionized sports forever is simply amazing.  To have knowledge of  Medgar Evers, Malcolm X,  Bayard Rustin, Dr. MLK,  and countless other civil rights icons would make them proud of their blackness.  To know of men like Thelonius Monk, James Cleveland, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince and countless others who personify musical excellence and genius, would be an inspiration.

Having the opportunity to mentor younger black men has helped me realize that we, as a black men, cannot allow the fear or ignorance of others to make us think negative things about ourselves.  We cannot allow anyone but us to define who we are.  We cannot accept what the media says about black men as our personal truth, but rather present such a positive and powerful image they can’t help but tell the truth we want told.

It’s time we get back to teaching our sons, nephews and cousins about the greatness from whence they come.  We have to embrace the beauty in our diversity.  We can no longer use the evil perpetrated by white men as an excuse to dwell in mediocrity.  We have to accept our blackness as a “something extra” that God gave us to succeed, whether white men are afraid of it or not.


How Many James Craig Andersons Have To Be Murdered Before the “Leading Blacks” Say Something?

Who knew that having a black President of the United States would wake up Amerikkka’s true feelings?   For years, where racial slurs and “off color” comments about race were consideredpolitically incorrect and downright ignorant, to speak hate speech is now allowed because it’s our “constitutional right”.

Now that the Congressional Black Caucus and other supposed civil rights organizations have had their fill of the racist kool-aid, what’s next?  I’ll tell you… the senseless killing of black men in the streets of the “greatest country on earth” and not even leading blacks are saying anything about it.

According to police, early on the morning of June 26th, James Craig Anderson, a 49 year-old African-American auto plant worker in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, was set upon by a group of white teenagers who beat him while screaming “White Power.” Then one of them got behind the wheel of a Ford F250 green pickup and ran Anderson over, killing him.  And what did the the 7 white boys get?  NOTHING!  The ring leader is out of jail on house arrest AFTER an area pastor told police this sort of thing would happen if he wasn’t taken off the streets.  The 2nd hatemonger was charged with only simple assault.  And the rest?  Well, we have yet to hear about what will happen to them.

Where the hell is Al Sharpton, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, the CBC, NAACP?  I guess the kool-aid they’re drinking is spiked with some BS that has them asleep now.  Or maybe the photo ops aren’t big enough for them to say anything about this case.  They sure didn’t think the POTUS being referred to as a “tar-baby” was important.

But then again, why should they?  They have arrived.  They are the leading blacks.  And no matter how passionate or apathetic they appear to be on camera, black folks will eat up whatever they say.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they are being paid by Republikkkans to say nothing.  And they have the nerve to wonder why this generation coming up has no respect whatsoever for them or what they claim to stand for.

I’m not discounting the work they’ve done.  I’m not even saying they haven’t done good for Black America or the country as a whole.  I AM saying that the struggle isn’t over.  And since these people have been elected and/or anointed “black leaders” they are OBLIGATED to continue to speak out against hate speech and violence against people of color.  If not, they need to pass the torch to people who can and will stand up for justice.  My late grandmother would say “shit, or get off the pot”!

To the CBC, NAACP, NAN, NBJC and all the other “civil rights organizations” who have a national platform I ask, “How many more James Craig Andersons have to be run over and murdered before you say anything?  Or does your silence equal consent?

SEE THE VIOLENT VIDEO OF THE MURDER HERE… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbMsZM-eO4


Operation: REBIRTH

Since 2004, I have been proudly working in social justice ministry.  Being the co-founder of Operation:  REBIRTH (www.operationrebirth.com) has been a joyous (and sometimes frustrating) labor of love.  Over the years, I’ve been blessed to meet hundreds of people, speak on countless panels, conduct workshops, appear at book signings and preach at churches all over the country.  I have been adamant that Operation: REBIRTH would not be an organization, but a movement whereby homophobia is defeated, and justice reigns for all people.

The first thing we did with Operation: REBIRTH was to call the churches who preach and practice homophobia to the carpet in hopes of creating dialogue that would bring the community together so much needed healing could begin.  We learned early on that as marginalized people, if we are ever going to make ground in claiming our rightful places we will have to work together to make it happen.  Unfortunately, the church seems to be uninterested in embracing diversity.  So, Operation: REBIRTH took the stance that we would support the LGBT affirming or “radically inclusive” churches to build.  Once again we found that in most cases, the affirming churches were more interested in building big churches vs. building strong communities.

So, here we are in 2011.  After years of not updating the O.R. website, we are still seeing thousands of hits per month.  We are still getting hundreds of emails from all over the world asking for support, pleas for prayer, and asking if there is anything we can do to help people gain momentum in their communities.  We are proud to say we have helped people and are still regarded as leaders in the fight to kill homophobia and injustice.  Me and my partner in crime are amazed that something started seven years ago is still relevant work.  And no matter how badly we wanted to just let it go and be whatever it has been, we can’t.  The need for Operation: REBIRTH is too great.  This is something that is bigger than we thought it would be.  The work is bigger than us.

So, as co-founder of this profound movement, I would like to reiterate that YOU are Operation: REBIRTH!  I also ask what are you doing… what work CAN you do to help take the movement further?  What can you do to make Operation: REBIRTH a living and breathing organism, and not just a website or group on Facebook?  And since “silence equals consent”, what is your voice saying?

I promised GOD that I would honor the ancestors and the loved ones I’ve lost over the years by fighting the good fight of faith by empowering as many people as I could to lift their voices and cry out against injustice or abuse in any form.  Join with me and countless others all over the world.  Together, we can continue the legacy of those who came before us and make the world a better place for those following in our footsteps.


Realness

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES, AND MAY THE BEST WOMAN WIN!

RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite shows on television.  Anyone who knows me will be able to attest to that fact.  I’m always intrigued by the Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent that most drag queens possess.  Their being able to transform and create the female illusion is the ultimate for me.  One of my favorite contestants this past season was Mariah Balenciaga.  HUN-T WAS FIERCE!!!  Mariah captured everything that is femininity and presented it with class, elegance and REALNESS.  To me, she pays true homage to the feminine.  To me, the realness factor is paramount.

One thing most drag queens have is quick whit and sharp tongues.  It’s really an endearing quality.  And I love the ones who “keep it real”.  Keeping it real, one would assume would be defined as one always having the courage to be truthful, to walk in integrity.  “Realness” would be a good thing.  In a perfect world, whether in full geech or in real life, being able to truly serve realness should be something we all aspire to.  But more often than not, like good drag, what is perceived as “realness” is just an illusion.  For some people, their realness is just as deep as the makeup and costumes they would wear to lipsinc for their lives.

In this day and age, it seems like people actually prefer illusion to realness.  What does it say about us?  Have people become so jaded that we’d rather present and celebrate illusions than living authentic lives?  Has “keeping it real” become an illusion itself?

Too often in gay culture, we see people say and do mean and hurtful things to other people.  It’s normal.  In fact the arrogance and cattiness is expected and seen as just a part of being gay.  But does it really have to be that way?  It’s one thing to read someone for pure filth because they are coming for you and you haven’t sent for them… that’s merely self defense.  But it’s quite another to just be mean and hateful.

Usually the mean and hateful queens are truly insecure little boys (or girls) who are trying to present the illusion that they are grand.  People who are ALWAYS in “reading mode” or are always catty are trying to hide something.  They are trying to hide the fact that what they are presenting is not reality.  In fact, their reality is too hard for THEM to deal with, so they treat others badly trying to make themselves feel better about their own lives.  It’s really sad when you think about it.  When it’s easier for a person to attempt to live their illusion than present a real person to the world, there’s a big problem.  It’s dangerous for the lines of realness and illusion to be blurred.

One thing about drag, when it’s done well, it’s very entertaining.  Being able to serve realness is indeed a beautiful thing.  And from what I understand, one can make MAD coins.  But when the music stops, when the deejay and the crowd goes home, and the lights go out, the illusion stops and real life begins.  Sure, we all have a persona that we present to the world.  Thing is, what we present to others should be the real us, not an illusion or a character we’ve created.  If one truly has the courage, keeping it real is more beautiful than any illusion will ever be.  If only more people understood that.

In the classic movie “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, the late Ms. Vida Boheme taught us one valuable lesson that everyone must learn to live… REAL queens always use their powers for good, and in every situation, seek out the opportunity to help others.  THAT my dear, is better than the best illusion.  It’s realness at its finest.