I am from the only thing you have in this life is your name
and even though it was my name, it was really the family name with which they were most concerned
life wasn’t about making a name for myself or creating my own narrative,
but about playing the part, benefiting from it, and eventually dying happy (?)
that those after me would live into the same script, reap the same benefits,
and continue the legacy
I am from respectability politics
being most concerned with what others thought about us – about me – and rarely, if ever,
tending to the matters of my own heart
living according to some self-imposed, familial standard for others to aspire to
Careful what you do, son. Somebody is always watching you.
I am from bad math
working twice as hard to get half as far and you’ve already got two strikes against you
– you’re black
But that’s just one thing, dad
I know, son, but that’s just the way it works
hmph – I’ve hated math ever since
I am from bad theology
from black bodies, washed in red blood, becoming white souls
from internalizing hatred of all things black because someone else failed to do their homework
because someone else preached what would keep the pews filled, the people dependent,
and the offering baskets overflowing
because someone else settled for what would shout the people as opposed to what would help them
from True Love Waits
hearing marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman and sex could only happen
in the confines of this God-ordained arrangement
learning to fear my body before I was aware of all of the beauty that it possessed
relegating core aspects of my personhood to the margins because they weren’t consistent with
the normative claims of my faith community and family unit
trying my hardest to fit in the box they said Jesus wanted me to
I am from affirmation
You’re so anointed.
God’s got a special call on your life.
You’re gonna be our next (insert church staff position here)!
I am from questions
Do you have a young lady in your life?
It’s about time you settled down, isn’t it?
What if I introduced you to my (insert family member here)?
Do you think he might be gay?
I am from liminality
articulating the no with increasing levels of difficulty, decreasing levels of certainty
holding in tension the affirmations of my past and the ever-growing desires of my heart
learning to own them both
affirmations that identified gifts too distinctive to deny, too complex to confine
desires too rich to restrain, too intrinsic to ignore, too valuable to cast before swine
fearing the future
knowing that I was reaching the point of no return
knowing that some who claimed to love me the most would hurt me the worst
knowing that some would hide behind heteronormative, sorry-excuses-for
interpretations of four scriptures and disregard the larger story
knowing that some would claim not to choose not to understand
embracing the unknown
the way forward becoming clear
because somebody said that it is only this that makes us free
because my truth opened to divine grace unlocks the potential for newness and life more abundant
liking who I see in the mirror when I wake up in the morning
fully accepting every part of me – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the queer
being unafraid that a mannerism might betray me
no longer averting my eyes from knowing glances
boldly staring bigotry, hatred, heterosexism, homophobia, and ignorance in the face and declaring –
You have no sting here! You have no victory!
Doing better because, now, I know better.
Smoking what I sell. Practicing what I preach.
Losing myself. Discovering him anew.
Writing my own script. Telling my own story.
to the false self that I’d become
to living a heterosexual fiction for the sake of someone else’s potential discomfort
to being afraid of speaking my truth for fear of judgment
to the paycheck that pimped my gift without accepting my person
to the sound of the genuine
Letting my little light shine – brightly! – in hopes that it might be a beacon of hope for others on the journey.