Saturday, December 26, 2009

Make a List; Check It Twice!! Know Who’s Naughty, Learn Who’s Nice!!

It’s Christmas night, and I am sitting here, finding myself making plans to spend tomorrow with my friends using the overflow of gift cards I received for Christmas from various friends and family. The very thought of such an action excites me, but simultaneously disappoints me because of the nagging notion that perhaps my family doesn’t know me as well as I think they ought, considering the soon-to-be 26 years I have been with them. After all, I am a man, no matter how much of a lady I might want to be sometimes! Maybe some cologne, a shirt/tie set, some gym or dress socks, or even something else generically masculine seems like it might have been a better way to go, but instead, I can go play poker with my closest friends because I have a full house of gift cards. By no means am I ungrateful. I mean, at least they thought enough about me to get me something in the first place!

I started thinking about the fact that I didn’t worry about making a list. I thought maybe if I just showed up in my usually radiant glory, perhaps the greatest desires of my heart would be bestowed upon me by people whom I believe should know me better than the myriad of other people with whom I come into contact every day. It dawned on me that I probably could’ve gotten most of what I wanted had I simply made a list!!

Perhaps you might be wondering why God or Santa or the mailman of your choice has yet to deliver your husband to your doorstep. Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you haven’t been specific enough? Have you just been wishing, hoping and praying for “a man?” Well, Boris Kodjoe, Flavor Flav, and Osama bin Laden are all men. So, why wouldn’t you be happy with any of those? That’s why the bull's-eye is the CENTER of the target! Precision is key! Keep in mind that YOUR man is just that: YOURS! So, don’t be influenced by what other folks claim should be on your list. If you like a femme guy, say it. If you like them fat, old, lanky, short, or with glasses… don’t be afraid to claim that, either. That’s YOUR man. You will have to live with him; make sure it’s what YOU want!

The same concept is true for furniture or TV shows or music or food. Why should this practice be any different for finding a husband? It’s your money, time, and energy. So, make sure it counts for something! Let specificity be your guide. Take 10 minutes and think. With all of the men that you are attracted to, which physical/character traits do you notice tend to make noticeable and recurring appearances? This is the time to be honest with yourself. It’s also fine if you develop a formula or recipe for “the perfect man,” but like any recipe, don’t be afraid to dabble in deviation. Study how some combinations work on your taste buds. Experiment with different traits, and see if maybe you can at least begin to cross things OFF the list instead. You might see that some men fit you better for reasons you may not have readily seen before!

Naturally, there may be lots of varying options regarding this, but the fact of the matter is:

The first step in getting what you want is knowing what you want.

So, to close this year and to open 2010, make a list, and check it twice! Decide right now, on how you want YOUR man to look, to sound, and to be. Write it down, and make a promise to yourself that you will at least develop a set of criteria from which to start working to develop meaningful bonds with viable men. I hope you will remember and respect the differences between preferences and requirements, and if you don’t know how, I’ll discuss that in another post!

Meanwhile, if you are having trouble coming up with characteristics, but just know that you are indeed looking for a man, lighten up your holiday with Miss Anita Baker as she sings of her Christmas Fantasy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

You Need To Go To School For This!

Recently, I have just been ridiculously swamped with trying to organize KNQ so that I can finally start making some real social change in this town. So, I’ve still been reading tirelessly on Erica, and talking with a whole bunch of folks, including my friends, family, and even strangers, interrogating them for all they know regarding how to start a business, especially the formalities surrounding state and federal registration, accounting, and the more intermediate (and in some cases, advanced) topics surrounding business formation.

A few hours ago, I got an Employer Identification Number for KNQ. I know to some people that may seem like such a minor thing, but to me, it signifies the first concrete thing I can say I have done on the road to making KNQ a reality. However, even though the questions they asked were ridiculously simple (name of business, proposed address, type of business, etc.), dealing with these things has made me realize just how much I don’t know about business and all of the extra things that seem to come with it. I am doing my absolute best to not make KNQ look like some kind of slip-shot, sleazy, fly-by-night “side hustle,” but I think maybe people who pursue those kind of operations might have it made in the shade with a glass of lemonade!

Also, in the last couple of weeks, I have somehow obtained a team of folks who can at least help me temporarily. I can tell it’s at least a labor of love. My best friend, whom I call “my wife,” Elan, was an accounting major. I completely need her help right now, and she doesn’t know how vital this is to me and the startup of KNQ. Understanding the difference between an income sheet, a balance sheet, a cash flow statement, and a profit/loss statement is tragically, I’d be willing to bet, much easier to understand than it’s made to be. I guess this is why people get Bachelor degrees in accounting. Maybe I need Accounting for Dummies?

Speaking of dummies, I also need to really be able to analyze which form of business is best for me. I certainly believe I am intelligent enough to figure this stuff out on my own. I just wish I could trust the sources I read, and felt like I had enough time to sit and read and make an informed decision. I am feeling rushed, and now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s that I’ve been talking for KNQ for about three years now, and I feel like I have something to prove. First, that I am not (nor was I ever) crazy in believing that this could happen. Also, that my best days are in fact not behind me. A distant third, is to prove to my potential and future clients that I do know what I am talking about. Maybe I should have my own reality show on MTV or VH1 or Bravo. BET is too hood and homophobic for me. Yeah, I said it!

In reality, though, I have been working nonstop on this business plan for at least this last week, and I was able to complete many of the more basic sections with relative ease. I think because it mostly took imagination, creativity, and maybe it was a bit subjective. Essentially, I had to put into words what was in my head. That was the easy stuff, like the name of the company, how it works, why my clients would choose me over the competition. Now, though, I’m trying to make sense of the more factual information, and this stuff is for the birds. Right now, it’s four major sections that are the largest and most difficult parts of the construction of the business plan:

  • Licensure
  • Insurance
  • Marketing
  • Accounting

I knew I would need a license to operate in my full capacity, but maybe aside from the original business license itself, I thought that might be all I might need, but in looking at all of the things I have to consider, including the levels on which I’m operating, I’m beginning to think that I have to have one for county, state, and one that just says that KNQ exists.

Having insurance was something I completely overlooked. I mean, I probably would’ve bought real estate insurance against fire, theft, and the like, but it never crossed my mind that I would have to arrange for so many other kinds of insurance, including liability and worker’s compensation. Certainly, I realize the importance of having insurance, but right now, immediately, all I see are dollar signs…

What I can say about licenses and insurance is that, at least they are just bought, even if it’s expensive, a lot to buy, or both. These last two are the most difficult part of KNQ, hands down!!

In the case of KNQ, both marketing and accounting require a lot of concrete fantasy. By that I mean, whomever decides to peruse my business plan will need to be convinced of two things: 1) The people who need and can use KNQ exist, and 2) KNQ will be profitable. I have to try to compose charts and graphs based on existential demographics to prove both. Talk about impossible… I mean, if KNQ is designed for Black, gay men who are looking for a long-term relationship, how am I supposed to be able to document the actual or perceived or assumed number of gay people in any area,…even Atlanta? Especially if I’m sectioning off just the men…and the Black men at that? After all, the census only includes the people they ask, and the ones who admit it on paper! So, never mind the folks like me who don’t get asked, or the people who don’t respond, or the multitude of men who claim to be private, or DL men (they are working against the cause, but that’s another story…), or the ones fresh from county or the state penitentiary. How am I supposed to account for even an assumed percentage of them?

…and because I can’t explain the existence of my demographic, it’s even MORE difficult to explain how I can make sure that these people that I can’t prove exist will pay me money to find other people that don’t exist. So, not only does this require an insane amount of research, but that of course means more time, and possibly money to try to sustain myself until KNQ really has a chance at taking off and becoming the business I know it can be.

There is a tugging at my soul to just give up and go be a manager at Burger King or something,…not that I am the killer of weathergirl dreams. I just mean, this seems like quite a bit of work for more reasons than other people face who just wanna start something more universal, like a salon or a restaurant or a bank or something. I’m just tired of the complaints, and I’m tired of my friends and I singing the same ol’ song. Which song? Ask Chanté Moore, Toni Braxton, Anita Baker, Mya, Alicia Keys, or even (maybe especially) Beyoncé.

If not me, who? If not now, when? I need a little bit of inspiration after such a daunting revelation. Please remind me, Chanté, that This Moment Is Mine.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins With A Single Post

Longway1My name is Steven Austin, and I am a 25-year-old native of Atlanta, Georgia. I have identified as gay since I was in the 9th grade, back in 1998. I have been searching for a husband since that time. Although I have never lived in another American city, I have had a chance to meet Black, gay men from all over the United States because many of them have moved to Atlanta (in small or large part) for the same reason I have yet to leave: finding a permanent relationship with another loving man of color, such as ourselves.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been interested in the mediums through which humans communicate, both verbal and non-verbal. That interest has led me to learn and become fluent in English, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. I have also become heavily interested in the dynamics of gay male relationships, especially those within the African-American community, given our mental and social conditions surrounding the definition and subsequent branding of our sexuality, both within ourselves and our reception by others.

I have been talking about starting Kings ‘N’ Queens for almost two years now. I have been speaking to many of my family and friends about their opinions and beliefs regarding my success in running a matchmaking firm for Black gay men. The responses have been encouraging. So, I have continued to research this venture to make absolutely sure that I indeed want to begin this journey that could change my life, and the lives of countless others. I have read a lot from Erica, and many of the subsequent articles and comments from visitors to her site. While I was reading her posts yesterday, a friend of mine with whom I was chatting asked me what got me so interested in this idea.

I said, “Well, I've always been interested in the way in which people communicate. Not to mention, the reasons for which people ostracize and demonize gay people. So, I figured that most of the reason is because straight folks see us as deviant...and from the looks of any gay pride parade, it's no wonder. My goal is to help us be seen as just as regular as anyone else by sustaining more permanent relationships with like-minded individuals. I intend to do that through a series of seminars and "dating games" where clients will have the chance to put my consultations into practice.”

Many things have happened in my life to deter me from starting this business, but recent events have led me to make a huge decision. Last week, I lost my job as a middle school Spanish teacher. As you might expect, so many people have been wondering about me, and immediately I was a bit depressed, but when I thought about it, I think God, fate, the cosmos, or whatever supernatural force you believe in…was trying to tell me that that was not where I was supposed to be. I do believe God will speak to you sometimes if you are just still and listen to what’s going on.

I returned to these blogs, and came to a realization. I’ll be 26 next month. I’m single, childless, and now jobless. I know, however, that I will be getting a full check in a little over a week. I think that this is the perfect time to really try to make Kings ‘N’ Queens work. I have a good $1,500 that I know I could freely invest into this business without seriously damaging my lifestyle. I know there are plenty of people reading this wondering how someone my age with my experience feels that he is in any position to be counseling countless others on the pitfalls of love and dating in the gay world. I can only answer that question by inviting those people to subscribe to my blogs, read my books when they are published, or come schedule an interview. I have much to say, and only need one hand to count the number of people who have ever told me that I DON’T know what I’m talking about!

So, now, fully convinced in both the necessity and the desire for my business, I have started this blog as the first step of this 1,000-mile journey. I'd like my blog to be a forum for people, not just Blacks, gays, or even men to dialogue surrounding our interpretations of what happiness is for gay men, and how we can find that, especially as it relates to our relationships. I have encountered too many discouraged men in this town and across the country who seem unable to build and sustain a permanent relationship with another man. They have helped me to decide to write this blog to help us all remain cognizant regarding things we should do to construct, develop and maintain these relationships we claim we desire. 

If you are motivated to change the social conditioning of our brothers in an effort to help our relationships with each other (both platonic and romantic) become more fulfilling, please post a few comments so we can help each other get on the same page.

My blog is a blog designed for "black, gay male unity."

Follow me on my journey to revolutionize the conditioning of gay men in Atlanta and subsequently, the world over. I’ve got an Early A.M. Attitude. How about you?