For as long as I can remember, I knew that there was something different about me. I had a super
creative mind, and my fascination was always with hair, fashion, and Barbie dolls. These interests were
not normal for a little black boy from Newark, New Jersey. At the age of seven years old, my aunt
bought me a Barbie for a birthday gift, and I can recall my father having a serious fit behind it. I couldn’t
understand why he was so upset, and I didn’t care. I loved my doll. Eventually, I was forced to get rid of
my doll because it wasn’t acceptable for me to have her. For that very reason, to this day, I have a
Barbie doll collection.
In school, I was teased and ridiculed by other neighborhood boys because I didn’t want to climb trees,
and play stick ball in the dirty field across the street from my house. I preferred to play jump ropes with
the girls, and maybe even hop scotch. The girls didn’t mind, but they thought I was a bit strange too.
Through most of my elementary school years, I was made fun of. Although all the children in my
neighborhood looked at me in a weird way, it never really mattered. I was who I was, and that attitude
has stuck with me and always will.
Some parents have a tendency of looking the other way when they see things in their children that might
be considered homosexual tendencies. A lot of times, they think that it’s just a phase that they’re going
through, and perhaps they might even grow out of. It’s usually addressed in an inappropriate manner. For
example, when I hear a little boy crying, and his mom or dad tells him to “Stop whining like a fag,” it sent
a chill through me. I heard those words from family members growing up countless times. Parents don’t
realize the effect that those little instances have, but they’re more powerful than anyone will ever know.
Those words cut like a knife, and are an indirect indication from the parent that if the child were to even
act in a feminine manner, he is considered weak, or softer than the average boy his age. As a child, we
have a tendency of believing what we hear, especially when it’s coming from a close sibling or mother.
A mother’s love is the first love factors in all our lives. From time we’re conceived, there is a bond between
a mother and child that is inseparable. As we grow, there are worlds of different circumstances that will
break that bond. A child coming out of the closet to his mother, and admitting that he or she is gay, is
certainly one of them. After 15 years of living my life as a black gay man, I had to stop and ask myself this
One reason that a mother might find it hard to accept their child’s homosexuality is because of their faith
and religion. In the African American community, we have a very long history of faith and belief. In slavery
days, that was all our ancestors had. The majority of us grow up going to church on a regular basis. In my
house, it was mandatory. We are taught from babies in bible school about the Ten Commandments and
what is not considered acceptable in our community. We are also taught about our sins and how to pray
for forgiveness when we do something wrong. There is also a stigma in a lot of churches, that have an
under toned message that says some sins are worse than others, when the Bible states that all sins are
considered equally wrong. There are a lot of ministers that preach to their congregations about being
gay, and how wrong it is. That leaves those in the congregation who are battling with who they are lost
and alone, especially if those individuals live on the words of their church leaders. In addition, parents are
also hearing those messages and in turn, relaying them to their children. The beliefs that we practice in
the African American community are so strong, that parents sometimes actually end up turning away from
their children, feeling that it’s the right thing to do in God’s eyes, and that leads to even more problems.
A mother always wants what’s best for her child. This is another reason why she might feel skeptical about
accepting her child’s lifestyle. Homosexuality is considered to be a dangerous life. We have all heard
stories of children being bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation. A mother’s responsibility
is to also protect and prevent hurt from the child, and by attempting to steer him or her away from the
gay lifestyle, in her eyes, she is only doing what she feels might be in the child’s best interest.
As a child moves into adulthood, mothers began to develop an expectation for their child to have children.
It’s a natural instinct for a parent to look forward to their children continuing their family names with a
new generation. Being gay can bring a threat to those possibilities. However, there are other alternatives
in today’s society that gay men use to have children. Some gay men adopt children. In our country, there
are astounding numbers of children who are deprived, and need a decent home. Also, there is always the
option of surrogacy. The initial reaction of a parent finding out that their child is gay might be that they
will never be grandparents, but there are options for us to live a happy, healthy life and still have children.
Over the years, things have evolved a little, and it is much more acceptable than 30 years ago, but there
are still issues that a mother will be fearful of. Society has taught us that being gay is wrong, and there
are people still out here looking to enforce society’s law. This is the leading cause to our young men
having sex with other men on the “down low.” The “down low” is a phrase that was created that describes
men, who usually have wives or girlfriends, but they secretly have sex with guys too, afraid that by telling
the truth, it will alter their life. The “down low” phenomenon is also one of the leading causes of HIV in
this country. These men don’t want to tell their mothers or families about their gay lifestyle because it
could ultimately destroy their lives. Jobs have been known to be lost. Mothers and families have turned
their backs, and naturally, the “down low” has caused plenty of divorces.
People say that being gay is a lifestyle that is chosen, but who would choose to experience all of this? The
gay lifestyle is not glamorous, nor is it for the weak and mild. It takes the strength of a bull to be honest
enough with yourself and others about the lifestyle you choose to live, only to hope that you are not
shunned in the process. So many families and mothers have turned away from their children behind this,
and as a result, those same kids end up growing into adults who can care less about living life the right
way. They truly feel like they have nothing to live for. They have lost their foundation, which is usually
our family. These kids are looking for things to escape the pain, like drugs and alcohol. They rely on their
friends in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community to replace the family that they
lost when they decided to be honest with the ones that they loved. It’s even causing some to commit
Most times, the lack of acceptance comes from older generations of family traditions and values. It’s up
to today’s parents and leaders to stop those beliefs that pushing your child away just because he isn’t
heterosexual is the best way to handle the circumstance.
For the first time in history, President Obama endorsed gay marriage, and that is certainly the beginning
of a serious change for the LGBT Community. Hip Hop artists like Jay-Z and Will Smith also endorsed the
president’s powerful statement. It seems as if there is a stronger lack of acceptance in the African
American community than any other, and it has to do with our past traditions. I was fortunate enough
to have a mother that did understand. Even though some of my aunts and uncles didn’t choose to accept
it at first, it was my mother who lit the torch of acceptance and love. It also took counseling and therapy
for me to fully understand who I was, and to come to full terms that it was OK to be me. That’s also the
reason that I named my debut novel, Love Yourself First. There simply is no other way. When you love
yourself first, it shows. It’s an intangible spirit that people can see in you because it reflects from the
inside out. Others will only accept you when you accept yourself, and that’s a feeling that not even a
mother’s love can diminish.
For the past few years, we haven’t really had red carpet events, unless they were virtual, but things
have been opening up since the vaccinations in the United States, and Hollywood is no exception to the
rule! It was great to see the world opening back up and people showing off their hottest looks, but not
everyone that hit that red carpet made the mark. Let’s talk!
Viola Davis sealed its as always in a beautiful Alexander McQueen gown. With cookie cutter cuts outs
from the waste up and a flowing bottom, Viola looked lovely. Her natural hair just added to her beauty
and the white looked stunning against her flawless chocolate skin.
While Halle Berry usually never misses a beat, I was a little disappointed with her look in it’s entirety.
Halle wore a beauty berry colored gown that flowed across the red carpet like water, designed by Dolce
and Gabbana. It almost put me in the mind that something Diana Ross would wear. But what went
wrong with her hair and make-up? I’m not exactly sure, but the Dutch boy hair cut was a no go! Rumor
has it that she cut it herself the night before! Really Halle? And her makeup looked as if she stopped at
CVS on the way to throw on some Black Radiance while she was running late. I was a little
disappointed since Halle is generally a red-carpet staple that always brings it correct.
Regina King was the Queen Of The Night! Not much words could describe her fabulous. Regina showed
up in an Aqua Louis Vuitton gown with an Accordion effect that was show stopping. Make up and hair
was flawless, and while Regina has not always been known for being a showstopper on the red carpet,
she has certainly been making her mark more recently! Maybe it’s those Cadillac Commercial checks!
I was on the fence about Andra Day’s red-carpet look. The Vera Wang Gold dress looked stunning
against her caramel complected skin, and I love the way that the dress fit, but slit in the stomach was a
bit too much to me. I thought the slit showing her beautiful legs was just enough. Her hair and make
make-up hit the mark. Word on the street was she was trying to channel Billie Holiday, who was known
for risqué styles, and who she played in her recent biographic film. I thought the look was stunning
overall, minus the slit in the stomach.
H.E.R., which stands for “Having Everything Revealed” really didn’t do it for me. First of all, I think her
look had way too much fabric. She wore a purple hooded jumpsuit, which apparently was inspired by a
look that Prince wore years ago. She actually puts me in the mind of the late Aaliyah. If you looked
really closely, the fabric had the lyrics of her song scattered throughout the garment, which I though was
kind of cool and creative. H.E.R. is kind of in a class by herself so I guess I will give her a pass, especially
with her talented music, but she has to work on her red carpet looks. Nice try, and I loved the concept.
Better luck next time beautiful.
I was not impressed with Zendaya’s gown on the red carpet. Wearing a gorgeous yellow Valentino
dress(just the color!), I thought the strapless part could have been filled out more in the cleavage area
(If you get my drift!) Then, slightly under the strapless bra portion of the dress, there was a cut out,
while the rest of the gown flowed. I have seen her look dressed on the red carpet better. Try again
Zendaya! Better luck next year..
The truth of the matter is domestic violence has no identity. It happens in relationships of all kinds.
Whether its an African American relationship, Latino, White, Gay, Heterosexual, Trans-Transgender, or
interracial. The list goes on, and its simply not about the type of person or what the relationship is
defined as. It’s really about how dangerous it can be, being aware of it, and getting out before it is too
There are a lot of different forms of domestic abuse. Most people think that it could just be a fight with
your significant other over who didn’t do the dishes. Or perhaps one you are working too much causing
the other party to have to take on responsibilities that they wouldn’t normally have to, leading to
heated arguments that might become physical in certain circumstances. However, these are just
scenarios that may be considered basic, and once the tension dies down and things go back to normal.
But then again, do they? If these instances take place ( as many others), it can begin to draw a strain on
the relationship and escalate to more serious circumstances that can become dangerous, and before
you know it, you find yourself in a domestic violent relationship without even being aware of it.
As I stated, domestic violence is not just a physical aspect, just a popular one. There is verbal abuse,
psychological abuse, manipulation, intimidation, financial, spiritual, mental, and so many more. In fact,
you can be right in the middle of the fire and never even realize it. In my experience, it’s not until you
get out of it, that you realize once you’re on the outside looking in, how much danger you just might
have been in. In certain instances, you will have lost your self-esteem, mistaking the violence for the
other party loving you, or just afraid to leave because you’ve been involved so long that you might think
this you aren’t worthy of finding another relationship. Again, there are all kinds of scenarios, but the
most important thing is learning the signs, and being strong enough to make the choice to handle it, or
get out before it destroys you. And it will. Over time, you won’t even recognize who are anymore.
For a long time, I used to think that domestic abuse was only found in heterosexual relationships. It
wasn’t until I found myself in a domestically abuse relationship that I realized that gay individuals are
just as capable of being victims as anybody else. It started out really subtle. Maybe a heated argument
which would eventually escalate to being hit, or a glass being smashed against the wall. But then
apologies were made and things went back to normal, until it happened again. But this time, things
started to get worse, and before I knew it, ten years had passed. I thought he loved me, and looking
back, he probably did. But it took me to see that love is not the only potion in a relationship that makes
it work. I also thought that because we were both men, it wasn’t as serious as it would be if it were a
male and female. Why would I? My mother always told me that you never hit a woman, so if I were in a
relationship where I was being hit, I’m a man and I could hit back. Somehow, I didn’t see that as a
domestic violent relationship. If that wasn’t enough, there was cheating, mental abuse, name calling,
and so much more. Before I knew it, I had high blood pressure, a therapist, and a psychiatrist. I even
ended up on medication for anxiety! And I still didn’t see the signs. I was paying the bills. But the most
difficult part was having End Stage Kidney Failure, on a dialysis machine 3 times a week in the midst of it
all. I thought I would never find anyone that could accept that, amongst all the baggage that I brought
with me, so I decided to stay. Eventually, enough was enough, and I looked back on 10 years of all the
trials and tribulations I had endured. Any finally, I got the strength to walk away, and I never looked
back. It was then that I realized that my things could have gone way worse. I was holding onto
something that was toxic, and it was deteriorating me. And going to dialysis three day a week,
maintaining my blood pressure, and other health issues, my relationship was only making things worse.
At first, I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen (After you are with someone for
10 years, it’s a natural emotion) I did miss him, after I had to get a restraining order and have the police
escort him out of my apartment. But day by day, things got better. My blood pressure went back to
normal, and I found myself at peace, even though I didn’t have that warm body next to me every night I
was so used to. It got easier. And honestly, despite all the toxicity in our relationship, I still love him.
However, I learned that it is ok to love someone and not put your life in danger. As I said, I didn’t even
For me, the hardest part was forgiving. It has been close to 3 years since I have maneuvered my way
out of that relationship, and I am happier now than ever. I learned to focus my energy on things that I
want out of life. But the most important, and challenging part of letting that hurt go is forgiving. I
forgave him for the things that he did, as I forgave myself for things I did (because I wasn’t perfect
either), and allowing myself to fall prey to this for such a long period of time. I think he has grown and
learned a valuable lesson from all of what we went through. We have a friendship now, and we check
up on each other from time to time because we both know the love will always be there, but we just
weren’t compatible to be in an intimate relationship. I even know his new boyfriend (who is older than
me, and I think he needed that guidance that I was unable to provide) And now that I’m on the outside
looking into all of what I endured, I can appreciate and learn from that.
You should always know your self-worth, and never settle for someone just to say you you’re in a
relationship. Everyone wants love. But lowering your standards isn’t worth it, and that person will see
you coming. Just the same way that when you set your expectations of what you want out of a
relationship, the other person will respect those standards and work hard to live up to them. Love
should never hurt. It should always elevate and bring happiness to your life no matter who you are.