“I’m in love with a dude, he’s 6 foot 3, big sexy ass lips, he has a Master’s degree…”
Thus began my confession at Tuesday night’s session at The Vine Open Mic Poetry Night at Urban Roots. Yes, I chose an open mic as the place where I would publicly declare my love for a man. I have recently fallen head over heels in love with this incredibly awesome dude, and I wanted to let the whole world know. I have literally known him my entire life, but I only recently fell in love with him.
I will forego the usual play-by-play of the night’s poetry related events. Let’s face it, that isn’t why you clicked on this link. Before I get to the goods, however, I will say that two poets particularly stood out to me on this night: Tarika “Ms. T.” Chappell and Centerria “CenCity” Wright. Every other artist performed beautifully as well, but these two young ladies truly struck a chord with me in the way that they each managed to transform deeply painful tragedy into beautiful poetry. Featured artist Dr. Carlton Dorsey was brilliant, playing four separate instruments and adding his own eccentrically beautiful vocals to the mix as well. But I digress. I was there on a decidedly non-journalistic mission this night.
Let me first clear something up: I am not gay, nor have I ever been. Next, let me clear something else up: I absolutely despise the fact that I find it necessary to clear that up. I am ashamed of myself for making a declaration of my straightness. I find it very cowardly of any straight person, including myself, to make the statement “I am not gay.”
The assertion of one’s orientation, in my opinion, is not a statement that anyone should feel compelled to make to the general public, whether straight or gay. In other words, a person’s bedroom business shouldn’t be the business of anyone else who isn’t in the bedroom with him or her. Just like I don’t need to hear a gay person declare “I’m gay”, I feel the exact same way about a “straight” person saying “I’m straight.” I feel that when a straight person makes the statement “I am not gay”, if the statement is not made in direct response to being sexually propositioned by someone, it is made out of fear of experiencing the same ridicule, ostracism and social stigma that gay people face every day of their lives. It’s like saying “I’m one of the good guys. Don’t think about me in the same negative light in which you think about them.”
Nobody should experience the treatment, looks and sounds that openly gay people experience from society in general. I never had any idea what that felt like. Until I got a glimpse of it last night, that is. I’m not going to sugarcoat it either, that shit felt horrible. I can’t even imagine how I would have felt if I was an actual Gay person making the same statement I made that elicited the gasps and looks of horror that I saw on the faces of friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. What was the statement?
“I’m in love with a dude.”
As I strode to the mic, I was prepared to deliver what I thought was going to be a fairly clever play on words. I’ll file the experience under “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.” I had penned a short, simple poem earlier that evening, after having had a deep conversation with a female friend. She and I were both going through some difficult times in our personal lives and had both shared our experiences of having at one time nearly lost the desire to live. She had experienced such thoughts in the distant past; I experienced them more recently. As we talked, I told her I was going to drop in on open mic tonight, but I had no idea what I was going to say; I just knew it was going to be something original that I had never done before. My motivation was to express my love for myself. That’s all I knew at the time. We completed our conversation after 7pm, and it was time to prepare to head to Urban Roots. Then the idea hit me for my poem, and within five minutes it was written. I kept it simple and easy to memorize quickly. The concept, however, was one that I thought may be difficult for people to digest initially, but I am not one to shy away from pushing the envelope. Still, this was a huge risk, right? After all, what would people think?
Fuck what people think. I’m in love with a dude. People can read into that whatever they wish. And so they did.
I am not a homophobic person today. Once upon a time, however, I was extremely homophobic. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of an adult male – I will not call him a man – who was a member of the church in which I grew up. I was ten years old at the time of the isolated event, which took place in my home when my mother left me alone with him to paint the kitchen while she and my older sister went shopping. I was relatively physically unharmed but emotionally traumatized. Prior to that experience, I was the happiest, silliest kid you could imagine. I didn’t have a care in the world. From that point on, however, I became very angry and extremely introverted. I was haunted by the worst nightmares imaginable.
For the remainder of my childhood and through my teens and early adult years, I had a deeply rooted fear and loathing of all homosexuals. I foolishly ascribed the actions of this predator to anyone who was gay. As I matured, I eventually came to realize that it is not someone’s orientation that makes him or her sexually prey upon someone. If that were the case, every straight person should be feared because of heterosexual rape, but that is not the case at all. I masked my pain with a scowl. The scowl was my supposed protection from anyone doing harm to me again. For the most part, it worked, but on occasion my scowl failed me miserably. The son of a professional boxer who fought the likes of George Foreman and Jack O’Halloran, I couldn’t fight for shit. My dad wasn’t around to teach me. What I did learn as a youth about how to defend myself, I learned from getting beat down and figuring out what didn’t work and not doing it again. When I was 15 years old, my father started training me and teaching me the art of boxing during the summers. I eventually became quite handy with my hands, but by that time it was too late; the damage had already been done.
I resented my father for not being there to protect me. I resented my mother for leaving me at home alone with a man I felt like she shouldn’t have trusted, even though I trusted him myself. I resented my abuser who forced me to lie face down on a cold linoleum floor while he attacked me, and afterwards threatened me by saying “if you tell, you’re going to hell.” Most of all, though, I resented myself. I didn’t fight; I probably would have lost, but I didn’t try. I didn’t run; I probably wouldn’t have gotten very far, but I didn’t try. My resentment grew to the point that I eventually fell out of love with myself.
A person who doesn’t love himself cannot properly love anyone else. Eventually, after experiencing divorce after divorce, failed relationship after failed relationship, move after move, job after job, church after church, business after business, hustle after hustle, I finally figured out that the person I was running from was going with me everywhere I went. When I finally conceded to the fact that I couldn’t escape him, I felt like the only way of getting rid of him was to leave this world. I didn’t attempt to take my life, but I simply didn’t want to be here anymore. I just had a moment. It was a very dark, emotional moment where I felt the world crashing in on me. My demons finally caught me, after chasing me for years. I wanted at that moment to just close my eyes and go to sleep, and I didn’t care if I didn’t wake up. At that moment, I wept. I began to pray. Something in my spirit told me right then to reach out and get in touch with David Threatt.
For the record, David Threatt is not, I repeat, is absolutely NOT the “dude” with whom I am in love. David is my homie, no doubt, and I have mad love for him, but not that kind of love, gat dammit. I felt like I should clear that up. When I began to recite my poem, David, among others, looked as if he had seen a ghost. We had just gone to a college basketball game over the weekend with our children, sitting shoulder to shoulder chopping it up in the stands. The expression on his face was priceless; if I had to caption it, it would simply say “what the fuck?” I saw similar expressions on a whole lot faces, along with a cacophony of loud random “aw naws” and “oh shits” and “this niggas”, and some very animated movements, including some folks appearing to head for the door. There was such an uproar that I actually had to start my poem again from the beginning. Yes, that meant I had to repeat, “I’m in love with a dude.” The whole time I was thinking “shit, I can’t wait to get to the end of this poem so people understand who and what I’m talking about” because for that extra long minute and a half, until I got to the “punch line”, I might as well have been gay as Liberace.
But I digress. I texted David that Friday night and confided in him that I was having suicidal thoughts. David is a suicide attempt survivor himself who now works with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has spoken to Congress about the subject of suicide prevention and traveled nationwide as a spokesperson for the Foundation. He is the proprietor of The Hair Café as well as a promoter of local events and sponsor of The Vine Open Mic Poetry Night at which I was reciting my poem. But on this particular Friday night, he was simply my friend and brother.
David immediately replied to me and went into ministry mode. His reply began “Aw naw bro. I’m here for you Doc.” That’s all I will share with you here, but suffice it to say my brother spoke life back into my spirit. I decided that life was worth living. I took stock of my blessings: My life, my health, my children, my family, my friends, a sound mind, my gifts and abilities, all of my needs being met, and my relationship with my God. I put my life in perspective. I looked at myself in a different light.
I consciously made the decision to fall in love with me. To celebrate my decision, I decided to say a poem on Tuesday night as a way of publicly declaring my relationship status with myself. Hell, I’ve done it with everyone else I’ve kicked it with. Why not do it for me?
And so it went:
I’m in love with a dude, he’s 6 foot 3,
big sexy ass lips, he has a Master’s degree,
a masculine brother, but please understand,
in our relationship, it’s clear that I’m the man.
He honors and respects me, and treats me like a king.
He never, ever sweats me, he just lets me do my thing.
He has a good ass job, but he’s sometimes a little short,
’cause that nigga pays mad child support;
but I respect him for that, he takes care of his own,
and in a couple more years them little niggas will be grown.
Sometimes we go out, and sometimes we stay in.
He’s not only my lover, but the brother is my friend.
I’m in love with a dude, he’s 6 foot 3,
but don’t get it twisted,
the dude is me.
Brian C. Scott