Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Defense Rests…

Last Saturday, my best friend Elan and I went to the Taste of Atlanta. If you are unfamiliar, this annual event is held in the downtown area. It’s generally an opportunity for restaurants (both new and old) to gain publicity by having a booth, and offering samples to patrons. Samples cost between 1 and 3 “taste coupons” eachimage. Of course, like any other event with many booths, there are a few booths there not associated with food. One of the first non-food booths we stopped at was for a bartering club. I met an older White woman who inquired about my employment as a potential candidate or “member” of her bartering club. My answer was:

“I own a matchmaking firm.”

Raising her eyebrows, she was very interested in the notion of having a matchmaking firm as one of the many services associated with her club. We exchanged pleasantries, and Elan and I proceeded with our visit to the Taste. After the event, I came home to continue working on some items for Kings ‘N’ Queens. As a matter of fact, we began to work on marketing ideas for the company. Since our first casting is next week, and our website and Facebook and Twitter pages are now all functional, we need to get the word out. While working on ads, I asked Elan:

“Do you think I should have said ‘I own a gay matchmaking firm?’”

She paused, and then answered that in that instance, it may or may not have made a difference in the reply. She reminded me of the very recent situation in my graduate school business class when we introduced ourselves, and what we did. I mentioned that I owned a matchmaking firm, but yet again, I neglected to incorporate the word gay into the description...

It really got me to thinking about how defensive I can become when it comes to describing my business to other people. I get very defensive when discussing it with people whom are not neither black nor gay. It has still been my experience that the only people who truly understand the need for a business like Kings ‘N’ Queens are Black, gay men. I suppose that guardedness comes from years of ostracization and denigration of who I am (and other like me) and our legitimacy as men, gay men, Black men, or some combination thereof. So because I am so used to the hate, I prepare myself to defend myself in it. However, as I have grown into an eloquent, observant, and secure adult, I find that I am much more liable to engage in a shouting match (or other wastes of time and energy) with people whom are not affected by any decisions I make, including the decision to start and furnish KNQ.

Yesterday, a colleague and I were speaking about my expectation to engage with someone, and he reminded me of something:

KNQ, its concept, and its clients are NOT to be defended!

He’s right. KNQ is not illegal, immoral, or insecure. It’s a well thought out concept, designed to serve an over-influential, and yet somehow underserved community. I enjoy working for KNQ, and while I might not have my own reality show on OWN just yet, what I am doing is contemporary and necessary…because I am a visionary!

On an episode of America’s Next Top Model from earlier this season, the bottom two girls were there because while Brittany was not mentioned by the fans at the live show, Alexandria was hated by everyone there. Tyra surprising pulled the photo of Alexandria. When Alex came to accept her photo, Tyra asked her if she knew what the opposite of love was. Alex responded, “hate.” Tyra shook her head, “The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.”  Even if they hate you, they remember you. It’s when they stop caring that you have lost.

Bigots, homophobes and religious zealots may have a problem with Kings ‘N’ Queens, or the community it serves. However, I thank them for their free publicity whenever they speak against us to whomever will listen!

In the last three months, so much has happened in my personal life, including enrolling in graduate school, finding two jobs (foreign language teacher and part-time interpreter), and preparing for KNQ’s first castings and event. I am  happy  things are working out, but the sacrifices I have made for these things are great. I have worked hard to get where I am, and I know I’m always going to have people who are jealous and will try to talk me down because THEY don’t have a plan. I just have to remember, in the words of Ledisi, “Shut Up!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Can I Get Ya Numbah?

That question is often asked in the trenches of a dark, seedy bar between two people more loaded than a pair of Las OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Vegas dice! It can be very flattering for a new guy to approach you and ask you for a way to contact you whenever you cross his mind. However, what if the “number” to which he refers is NOT telephonically correlated?? Time for everyone’s favorite subject: MATH!!

It can be a very nerve-wracking discussion of course, but in the interest of illustrating the many ways in which gays should stop trying to parallelize the practices, norms, and mores of our straight counterparts, perhaps gays not need to ask the question at all. Do you wonder about the number of men (and women, if applicable) that your current husband, boyfriend, beau, or hookup has “slept with?”

On Friday’s episode of Anderson, the new talk show for the famous (and sexy!) CNN reporter with the last name Cooper, Anna Faris (of Scary Movie fame) came on to promote her new movie, “What’s Your Number?AC1In this movie, Anna plays a woman who is led to believe that “the one” may have been one of her 20 exes. So, she goes on a quest to look all of them up in the hopes that the second time around will be the love she missed before. The movie came out yesterday.

During her interview on Anderson, Anna discussed the idea of asking your new friend about his sexual experiences. Of course, as expected, there was also a psychotherapist on hand to assist with the philosophy behind this and a few tangential issues. I wondered how many of us even think about that number, and what a certain number would say to us about our potential beau. Do we expect that the men we date have been with half the town simply by virtue of being male, or do we think a little more logically and take into consideration things like lifestyle, libido, and age?

I think gay men are only mindful to the past of our exes in the sense of their possible exposure to STDs, particularly HIV. In my experience, gay men are only concerned with catching the next major STD on the “cure list,” and given the current state of medicine with regard to the world eradication of HIV, people (but particularly gay men) seem to be less cautious* about dating or relating with “poz” men.

When I say cautious, I just mean that many people do not see HIV as the “death sentence” it used to be back when it was the virtually unsolvable puzzle during its discovery to the American public in the early 1980’s. Many of us are aware that the disease exists, and either know someone who has it (whether they even know it or not), has slept with someone who has at least been exposed to it, or we have it ourselves (whether we know it or not)!

That said, think about a few things, and answer these questions in the comments section:

  • Would you ask your lover (someone you are or intend to sleep with) for their number? Do you think it’s a conversation worth having?
  • How willing would you be to offer your number? Would you lie about the answer? High or low?
  • Given our current state of affairs, including medical advances and social consensus, of what importance is a suitor’s number to you?
  • Is 5 a lot? 20? 100? 500? Is there a “too many?” If so, what is that number based on?
  • Is it better to have a high number or a low number?

The psychotherapist for the show, Dr. Heide Banks, remarked that the only thing that matter in a relationship is THAT relationship. What she means is that new boyfriends should not concern themselves or their new dates/suitors with regaling, reminiscing, or regretting ghosts of boyfriends past. Leave the past where it is. Learn the lessons, and move on with someone new. I tend to agree.

To conclude, I will just note that while I think knowing that number (either of yourself or your suitor) is important for a few reasons, I certainly don’t think that it is telling of the kind of person you are as an individual. I would be wlling to bet that if more of the guys that many of us have been with were at least as interested in monogamy and commitment as they claim to be, many of our numbers might be halved! What do you think? True or false?

Therefore, I think it only fitting that Salt ‘N’ Pepa have the last word on this issue…at least for now. After all, in the end, it’s None of Your Business!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

They’re Not Called WEAK-ends!

StylishMan1Hello, loyal readers! I apologize again for the lack of posts, but things have been looking up in my personal employment life recently. I have gotten five job offers, and while I can handle most of them simultaneously, once any of them ask me about promotions, I might have to make some decisions…but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, huh?

In any event, lately, I was recently in attendance at a birthday party. I knew the guest of honor through a few degrees; I barely knew his name. It was at some dive bar in Atlanta.  In any event, I put on a face as many of the patrons in the bar were not people with whom I might otherwise socialize. Usually, when I correctly hypothesize that this will be the case when I attend social gatherings like this, I wonder how many of these folks find dates.

The thought crossed my mind again last night, of course, and as such, I began to research how to approach any of these folks, if the spirit moved me… I did see one fellow in whom I might have been interested, but his attitude made me hesitate an approach. So, I thought about how other people end up talking at all in these situations where people don’t seem to be aware of how off-putting their scoffed faces, sighs, and rolled eyes can be to potential interests.

I found this article on Yahoo! that talks about how women should approach men. I wondered if the same items (could) ring true for the more introverted of us out there.

1. Be direct. I will agree almost wholeheartedly that the majority of gay men could benefit from this one. Many of us like to talk about “keepin’ it real,” but are usually unable to handle the unabashed truth, especially if it offends us, saddens us, or makes us take a REAL look at what we are (not) doing. If you are interested in a guy platonically or romantically, don’t let that intention become ambiguous. As our friend Wendy Williams has in her talk show theme song, “Say it like you mean it!

2. Be indirect. The practice of asking your (hopefully pre-attached) friends to go scouting for ordered prospects does not seem to fare well in adult life, in my experience. However, I also understand how paralyzing the fear of rejection can be for some people. However, I will say that I know many a man who would rather appreciate an interested party confidently asserting himself and asking about the likelihood of a phone call or a date.

3. Come up with a plan. This paragraph was going to become a separate post previously, but I’ll touch slightly here. When you are attracted to someone, but before you approach, you should develop a plan, not a ruse. You don’t have to resort to trickery, but the idea of doing “something” “sometime” is not appealing to most people. If you express an interest to a guy about your desire to date him, and he doesn’t reject you, ask questions to help you refine your plan. Ask about his interests (food, movies, music) to help you both have a good time, and learn about each other in the process. Dinner, a show, and drinks IS an acceptable date.

4. Don’t come on too strong. It’s easy to lose the fish, even after you’ve got it on the hook. Be nice and your genuine self. People are generally pretty good at detecting lies, fear, or insecurity. Confidence is magic; arrogance is tragic.

5. Don’t over-plan. It doesn’t have to be a “meal fit for a king…or queen.” You should just be casual about the entire flow. It’s nice that he has agreed to spend hours of his life with you. So, be grateful, but don’t grovel. Ask him to a specific event. “Would you like to go to this show/movie?” “Wanna grab a bite sometime?” You can make other details by letting the date take its course at the time.

You know, they say when you have to give a speech or do any type of public speaking, you should start with a joke. Try that. I don’t have any jokes for you, but if the punch line works, you might be able to lead in with “I Love Your Smile!” Here’s Shanice…

Friday, July 29, 2011

Long Time, No See…

I apologize to the handful of readers that I have on this blog, whom I know have been eagerly awaiting my next entry lo these last few months. I made a promise to myself to write more often, but it seems like that has gone the way of other New Years Resolutions. In any event, I have within the last week had a few encounters that made me want to write a post regardingHandshake the sexual nature of long-standing friendships.

Over the last week or so, I have had two very similar situations, but in those situations, I did not have the same role. Let me explain…

In the first of these, a guy with whom I have had a rather dysfunctional pseudo-relationship for years, texted me to shoot the breeze I assume. After not having heard from him for a few months, I made a joke about wanting to get together and “get it in.” He starts on this tirade about how he wishes he could find friends whom are not interested in sex. I made the following points:

  • You shouldn’t make someone feel guilty about liking you. You might find that it might not happen as often as you like. Also, many people find it difficult to admit that they like someone in the first place, and the least you could do is not make them retract into that shell it took more than you know to emerge from! Just keep in mind that…
  • Just because someone wants to have sex with you doesn’t mean that sex is all they want from you. People don’t generally have sex with people they are not attracted to, especially if multiple engaging conversations have preceded such activity. …even more so if the conversation was not sexually charged. Besides,…
  • If friendship is your ultimate goal, you shouldn’t engage in sex. People always say that sex complicates relationships. How right they are! Some folks like to put a time limit on how long they must know someone before they decide to engage sexually, but I’ve got more to say about that in another post…but…
  • Once you engage in sex, especially if you do it multiple times, it becomes virtually impossible to revert to a sexless friendship. Again, this is yet another lesson that people tend to have to learn the hard way. People may tell you that they have done it, or know someone who has, but I also know lottery winners. It’s possible, but not probable. So, to conclude…
  • If you would like a friend, you should learn to be a friend. This is largely in reference to your contact and interaction with the person in question. Regular, friendly contact may help to suggest the desired level of non-sexual friendship.

In the other situation, another long-time friend (though not as long a time as the first) put me in the opposite role. I refused him sex, and he got frustrated, asking me why I did. I suppose my empathetic and peaceful nature stifled me from breaking my friend’s spirit. Although, it apparently went to no avail. He followed up with a text message, stating that he wouldn’t “bother [me]anymore.” I responded by asking for clarification in the notion that “because I won’t sleep with you, you don’t want to be my friend anymore?” In short, his response was that he was “addicted” to me…no puns intended.

Perhaps the points listed above would’ve saved me a lot of trouble, but sometimes it’s difficult to put your thoughts into words, I suppose… While it’s a bit dated, and slightly inaccurate for a few reasons, Jermaine Stewart is still right when he sings that We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Excuses, Excuses…

Yesterday, a fairly good friend of mine sent me this article, in which the author gives a top 5 list of the reasons that MEN who are reluctantly single remain that way. I must preface my opinions below by informing you that I am assuming that the author is discussing STRAIGHT men, but I also assume that most of these principles apply.

In short, the article explains five different prototypes of men who seem to remain single despite being otherwise irresistible. Let’s see how many of these men we know, shall we?

1) The workaholic: I believe I told you a story that alludes to this very idea. I still believe that a very large percentage of us put all of our energy into working because we believe it’s one of the few things that we seem to have direct control over, unlike our love lives. Unfortunately, though, this attitude will eventually lead us to the Coming to America conundrum in which we will have to decide whether the interested party is really into us or trying to get into our wallets.

2) The partier: The author refers to these men as those of us who think we are too flashy or sexy to remain with one guy. These are the guys that say, “I’m just here for entertainment.” Personally, I don’t know how true I believe those statements to be. I suppose I could understand, but I definitely get the sense that many of these guys are just saying that so as a defense mechanism, especially if they strike out. I do think that at some point, these guys will notice that true friends will become fewer as they get older…never mind being the 50-year-old at the club with a bunch of 30-year-olds (or younger!)

3) The shy guy: I think many of us are not so much “shy” as we are green, or “ladies in waiting.” What I mean by that is many of us spend our lives being different and attempting to conform to a world that doesn’t seem as supportive of us as they should be. We are conditioned to believe that we are less than, and for that reason, coming of age can be a very rocky period. In our proverbial emergence from the cocoon, we usually put a very similar practice into our dating lives. We want men to approach us for two reasons: a) We’re used to being rejected, and certainly are not going to put ourselves in an environment so that it may happen again (with the initial low self-esteem stemming from childhood experiences). …and b) we are used to seeing the chivalrous nature of Prince Charming as he sweeps an unsuspecting damsel out of her distress, and have longed for the day when someone will come and rescue us. Shy guys should engage in more interactive activities that stem from previous interests. Team sports or anything on Meetup come to mind as avenues for finding people to befriend.

4) The picky guy: According to the author, this type of guy is the one who is a serial first-dater. He has yet to meet anyone with whom he feel attracts him in all of the ways he feels necessary: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially, sexually, etc. I feel like I know a lot of men like this. However, I think the issue is not in finding “perfection,” as the author states, per se. I think the issue is more in compatibility. Some people are in tune with themselves and they know what they like or are willing to tolerate. Some of these items might seem trivial, but they are nonetheless important to the individual suitor. I do think there is a large bit of truth to the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” However, I also believe in redemption, and second chances. Gay men do often appear to be quick to cut someone off over something apparently minor. I think giving someone three dates to give you a more well-rounded opinion might lead to a more informed decision.

5) The miscellaneous guy: I assume for brevity’s sake, the author just lumps the other small percentages of men who don’t comfortably fit in any one category above together.

I would have to say that in my professional opinion, I believe the above types are very much many of the guys I have met, or know, or believe I will someday work with at Kings ‘N’ Queens. Making time to date, engaging conversation and giving people a chance are three excellent ways to ensure that even if you do stay single, you can honestly say you gave it your best shot!

How many of these men do you know? Which one are you? Why do you think these men exist, and what do you think they should do? I still believe that many of our initial problems in getting together have to do with our inability to Stop To Love. Here’s Luther:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Proverbial Man In the Mirror

A good Blogger friend of mine, Prince Toddy English, recently wrote a post on a video by local Atlanta poet, Yolo Akili.

(I have not watched the video, nor do I think I will. It just doesn’t sound like something I would be interested in…based on the reviews I have read)

Mirror1Todd slightly discussed three points in his post. Initially, he directed viewers to Yolo’s video, including embedding it within the post (like all good bloggers should). Then, there was a discussion surrounding the idea of dating one’s self if you were not you. After a few jokes, a RuPaul quote, and a stifled self-reflection, Todd hypothesized that he would at least give himself a chance. [I’d give Todd a chance, too, but I digress…]

Finally, Todd went in on a point that he heard in the video that struck a nerve with him and a few other visitors to his site and Facebook page. Apparently, being “masculine” is the “in” thing now, to the point that its absence commonly stifles what would otherwise be a very fairy tale-like relationship. Todd asked his readers for their opinions on this notion. What is the importance of masculinity in a relationship between two men? Many people offered their opinions, and mine is below.

I am sure that as a matchmaker, I will have to have this discussion for I’m sure more than a decade before attitudes and mindsets change. I can certainly understand the idea that generally (and logically) most gay men are attracted to the masculinity of men. I will also say that as a man who is not always seen as the most “masculine,” (yet not quite “feminine”) it does seem to be a very arduous task to convince potential suitors that I am neither a thug, nor a diva.

Granted, there is a population of gay men who are self-defined divas. They are the stereotypical types that most of the rest of us strive to avoid. They can be gossipy, loud, overbearing, and in many cases, one-dimensional. I think that while there are some (possibly “few”) men who gravitate towards and purposely exclusively date the more effeminate men, too many of us are boxed in with a group whose culture is studied to be learned. We are not allowed to be our authentic selves whose interests and actions are independent of our sexuality.

In the end, like other subjective terms, men should stop holding potential suitors to a standard which they cannot define.

Todd ended on a note with which I would have to largely agree. Being a man is way more about being self-sufficient than about a prison record or a large piece. It’s about being a provider, a protector, and a professor (one who professes, not a teacher)…to quote Steve Harvey. Maybe Salt ‘N’ Pepa and En Vogue can help explain Whatta Man is…

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

___ Birthday!!

It’s 3:30am, on the morning of my 27th birthday (which I probably wasn’t destined to have), and instead of feeling excited about the possibility of what’s about to come, I’m sitting at my desk, feeling very unloved and angry.Cake1

So many thoughts went through my mind as I tried to decide how to handle this post. I have so many dreams and goals left deterred or yet unfulfilled, and on top of everything else, my reality is not one I thought I would endure, nor one in which I would like to continue living. I am very distraught these days.

Every morning, I make a point of watching The Wendy Williams Show. …and of course, Wendy makes me smile with all of her silly and campy banter about people I largely couldn’t care less about. However, I have to genuinely say that I have NEVER seen anyone love their job so much while appearing to be doing what they were destined to do! I want so much to have that same happiness for myself, but have grown extraordinarily weary in my efforts to achieve it. I would go into greater detail, but I don’t believe this is the place for that. Suffice to say, however, things have not worked out…

I’m not entirely sure what exactly I am writing about. I thought about writing about my three birthday wishes. I thought about trying to somehow tie this post into romance, even at the discussion of my romantic life. I was trying to be clever, but I guess it’s just not in me right now. I may be rambling just a bit, but I do often do better when I’m dealing in truth. Right now, I feel like I did when I was in Japan. There are feelings of hurt, shame, and desire within me that I continue to shroud with a fa├žade made from indifference, loyalty, and inspiration.

As you can see, there were none of my magic lines in this post. Perhaps because I’m in such a… we’ll say “serene…” state. I am really hoping that things turn around for me at some point. Meanwhile, on this 25th day of January, in the year 2011, I will let Sarah McLachlan help me reflect on the events in my life that almost brought me to (and sporadically keep me fighting against) the Arms of the Angel