Many nights I would stay up late. I was up late fighting my eyes to stay open as I lay curled up on the floor of my closet reading. I was reading E. Lynn Harris as if the world were going to end. I had to finish devouring whatever book it was before my eyes closed for the night. Harris gave me voice, he so eloquently expressed the stories of gay black men and I wanted to be those men. In 1996 I was figuring out who I was and what I was about. I was compelled by Harris because prior to his portrayals of gays all I had known was of Mouse from Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City and I was no Mouse–nor did I want to be. Harris allowed me to live in a fantasy world and then one day I stepped out in to reality.
The real world was full of White faces, White stories, and few Blacks. I slowly found myself assimilating to find comfort in the world in which I lived. Yet, I never fully felt as if I belonged–I still don’t.
Recently I was reading an October 2010 article from TNG, Vivek Shraya seeks Single White Male, and it got me thinking: no matter how “brand new” my family thinks I may act I am still Black.”
So I drive a four-wheel drive car like they do in the Transporter movie, maybe I lounge at home in my ANF sweats, I enjoy polo shirts of a variety of colors, I enjoy reading “stuff white people like” and I eat frozen yogurt–ok that is a lie…that stuff is nasty! Right and I also identify as Jewish…I mean how assimilated am I! Well, I realize I am not at all.
My deep rich mocha brown skin disallows me from ever being fully assimilated. In my world, in the gay world in which I exist, I will always been seen as the other. There are days when I am ok with being the other its the days when I realize being the other truly sets me apart…distinguishes me as a rich layer of culture within a otherwise pretty homo-genius cultural group.
Many a day I feel more Jewish than I do feel a part of the gay cultural community. Is it wrong that I date white guys? Does that help me assimilate and seem more accepted? Its funny but the Jewish me finds it easy to connect and feel a part than the gay me.
Shraya says “The heart of this short is about showing the ways external racism is intrinsically connected to internalized racism” and I fully agree. I am glad I grew up reading E. Lynn Harris…he gave me voice, he gave me gay voice, he gave me gay Black voice. I no longer live an Invisible Life I live Just As I Am.