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

stifling questions

burying hurt

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 authenticity

to the sound of the genuine

to creativity

to grace

to freedom

Letting my little light shine – brightly! – in hopes that it might be a beacon of hope for others on the journey.


Being alive



5 thoughts on “alive

  1. Wow!! Where did you learn to write like that?
    You are gifted, BTM–always have been.
    FYI, I now use “the place where I’m from in some of my first year classes. I want students to claim who they are early.

  2. Dang! Did my little cousin just write this! Can you say MIC DROP….. (2 times!) This was awesome! There is nothing like the release of chains and be you! You go boy! MIC DROP one more time!

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