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” each. 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!”