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!