For years, I struggled to fully accept and embrace myself because of society’s prejudices and religious condemnation. I didn’t know where I fit in. I wasn’t man enough in some spaces and wasn’t Black enough in others. There are millions of Black LGBTQ individuals in this plight and face the same struggles in their homes, jobs, places of worship, and within our legal system. While there are tons of freedom fighters hitting the pavement for Black Lives Matter, it’s crucial to ensure the fight includes the Black lives of the LGBTQIA+ community.
I learned to be ashamed of myself at a very young age. I kissed one of my guy friends in kindergarten. It was innocent, as most things are when you are five-years-old. I was doing what all the other kids were doing who were playing “husband and wife.” But when the kids burst out with “ooooohhh,” I knew I’d done something wrong.
I wasn’t quite sure why it was wrong, I just knew all the other kids thought it was wrong. At such a young age, I didn’t fully understand the concept of the identity of being gay. I hadn’t heard of the term, I only knew I wanted a husband too. I was young, scared, broken, and confused, and because of these emotions, my little heart began to shrivel and hide. It would be a long journey of hiding my gay Black love and a quest for self-love, discovery, and, eventually, liberation.
The stories you tell becomes the life that you live. If this journey of life hasn’t taught me anything else, I’ve learned everyone has a pre-scripted narrative, and most of us live, act, and are because of the stories we’ve been told. Whether through family, friends, church, or the media, people respond to one another based on narratives. I know this to be true because I was one of them. I adopted a preconceived notion that was thoroughly ingrained in me in every area of my life – and that was boys don’t kiss boys.
Unfortunately, I allowed these judgments and opinions to control my life and let it influence how I treated and judged others. Instead of standing proud and tall, I regrettably, joined the crowd. However, my heart changed as I continued to surround myself with people who viewed gay love in all its beauty, as opposed to something taboo.
In 2015, I came out in a national publication as a Black gay minister. I took the internet by storm and received an influx of messages in my inbox of both great support and opposition. It was a full-circle moment as I read the messages. Some of the same negativity I used to spew I was now receiving. However, I understood these people were only repeating narratives and one-liners they heard. None of which were true — only a perpetuating cycle of prejudices they were groomed to assimilate to.