My Tattoo Story

Tattoo story time! I realized I’ve never shared my ink all in one place, so here goes!

Tattoo #5: The Dark Mark. Slytherin here. Stay off my bad side 

tat 5

 

Tattoo #4: A portrait piece of a grizzly bear; my spirit animal. He represents strength, confidence, and bravery.

tat 4

 

 

Tattoo #3: The tribal Alaskan salmon. This one I got after I graduated from IU. It represents persistence, instinct, and determination. My closest friends know that story.

 

tat 3

 

 

Tattoo #2: a trumpet with lyrics from “bittersweet symphony;” my theme song. I played trumpet middle school through college, so that makes sense. I got this one on my 24th bday.

 

tat 2

 

 

Tattoo #1: I got this one with a friend summer of 2008 in Bloomington. I’m a Scorpio. A double Scorpio, actually. It was an easy first tat.

 

tat 1

 

I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska so I like my ink to reflect that. I love fun “just because” tats, but I prefer mine to have a direct connection to me. What to get next? Hmmm…

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“Black Trans Woman Heckled, Nearly Arrested at Stonewall Inn”

stonewall

Privilege, especially white, cis-male privilege, within the LGBTQIA+ community is a topic that needs ALL of the attention. We’ve lost at least 11 of our trans sisters of color in 2019 so far. The fact that I even have to say “so far…” my heart hurts.  This kind of behavior at The Stonewall Inn is just beyond ignorant and disrespectful. Trans women of color are the reason you get to party at Stonewall – ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UPRISING, mind you – while doing whatever for the gram and social media.  Some of us in the community need to do much better. MUCH, better.  Shout-out to The Read for reading all of you on their show and for alerting me of this story.

marsha and sylvia
(Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera)

Welcome Home, Lil Nas X!

Lil Nas X surprised the world by coming out on the last day of Pride Month, and to that, I say “hell yeah!” 

Being completely transparent with all of you, readers, I had no idea who Lil Nas X was until about the second week of June. I’m not one to turn on the radio, EVER, so I tend to miss the Top 40 trends unless they’re being discussed on one of the many podcasts I enjoy. 

Old Town Road began to haunt my earbuds and speakers after I stumbled across a clip on my Instagram feed; probably some trade twerking to the song, I’m sure. From that moment on I’ve been listening to the track on repeat and have added it to my overall music rotation. Also – I finally got a chance to sit with his latest project, 7, and have been digging it more and more with each listen. 

Here are the tweets Nas X shared:

nasx tweet 1

nasx tweet 2

(X highlights Pride colors on the cover of his EP, 7.)

 

I connect with his first tweet so deeply. I vividly remember the night I decided to come out to my closest friends and family. I was away at my first semester of college in Indiana and they were four hours behind in Alaska; MySpace was the main social girl back then, Facebook was still blooming, so I wasn’t creating any epic posts back in 2005. 

The email I sent to my inner circle had a similar tone as Lil Nax X’s tweet: “Hey, this is me. We can be cool, or y’all can have a nice life without me.” I won’t get too much into comparing my coming out to Lil Nas X’s because this is his moment; and what a moment it is! You’ll hear more about my coming out story on a future episode of my podcast, Thanks for Coming

Nax X also encouraged us all to listen to the lyrics of the track, C7osure (You Like) closely:

“True say

I want and I need

To let go

Use my time to be free

It’s like it’s always what you like

It’s always what you like

Why it’s always what you like?

It’s always what you like, huh

Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow

No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go

Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take a hold

This is what I gotta do, can’t be regretting when I’m old

Brand new places I’ll choose and I’ll go, I know

Embracing this news I behold unfolding

I know, I know, I know it don’t feel like it’s time

But I look back at this moment, I’ll see that I’m fine

I know, I know, I know it don’t feel like it’s time

I set boundaries for myself, it’s time to cross the line

True say

I want and I need

To let go

Use my time to be free

It’s like it’s always what you like

It’s always what you like

Why it’s always what you like?

It’s always what you like, huh

Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow

No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go

Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take a hold

This is what I gotta do, can’t be regretting when I’m old”

Source: LyricFind

In the end, Lil Nas X was ready to live his truth, out and proud. Not only is he making waves on the country charts – after all that controversy and ignorance he faced – as a black man, but now he’s facing the hip-hop/rap part of the industry. We’ve seen queer artists break the mold in other areas of music, but hip-hop and rap historically have been tougher audiences for queer performers to capture. While toxic masculinity is definitely a thing, and we won’t dive into that today, there has been an outpouring of support and love shown by peers of X online. This makes me very happy.

One last note for all you readers as more comes out about Lil Nas X, queerness in hip-hop/rap, sexuality and representation:

Continue to love and support the artists and music you love. If somehow you’re reading this blog and don’t fully support LGBTQIA+ rights, I charge you to be open and move in a more positive direction. Now that the rapper has come out as gay doesn’t make the song any less of a hit, or him any less of a human being. 

Some of you have children, and I KNOW the kids absolutely go crazy for Old Town Road. Don’t let your ignorance steal that joy from your kids or yourselves! Let the damned song play, keep YOUR mind out of the gutter, and don’t form narratives that aren’t present because you may view the artist a little differently. 

Allies! Continue to share the love with Lil Nas X, support his art, and help people understand how big a deal this is. We are in a time where discussion on topics of race, inclusion, and equal human rights is of the utmost importance – especially for queer people of color. The work will never be done, so let’s continue to lift Nas X up on this new adventure. 

Thanks for stopping by everyone! I’m going to listen to “7” again 🙂

More on the Country removing “Old Town Road” from the Billboard charts.

 

Cruised

The shower area of the gym is steamy, warm, and a most welcome feeling with the chill of winter’s approach outside. I towel off in the shower stall so I don’t track a pool of water into my private changing area, before I notice the tanned, dusty-haired, blonde that had been making eyes at me across cardio equipment. He’s an attractive guy – beefy, with body hair in all right places, and an ass that looks like it could feed a small family – but I tend to lean more towards dark-haired men, and let’s not forget that I’m off the market.

Our shower and changing rooms were right next to each other, and there are only three showers so the space between the two is small. Removing his towel so only his front was covered, he offers carnal grin. “Good morning” he says, still holding the towel with only a couple fingers just under his navel; revealing a wet torso and thighs. “Good morning. Did you have a good workout?” I know exactly what he’s up to, so I slip into my changing room and calmly close the half door.

Making sure the door doesn’t slam, I leave him alone and exposed in the small area between shower and changing room. I begin to dry off as he answers my question, and the small talk continues the entirety of my getting dressed. Fully dressed I make my way out of the changing stall. “See you tomorrow” he flirts with another grin. “Later! Have a good day.”

My inner Beyonce tends to surface after all of my workouts – various songs of hers play in my head (complete with choreography) when I notice changes in my body as I’ve already lost 100 lbs – making me feel strong, awake, and confident going into the work day. The influence of Scorpio season and the fact that I had just been cruised at the gym had my inner Queen Bey slaying the stage; dropping it like it was hot all the way to the car. It wasn’t even 7AM yet! I can’t wait to tell S what happened.

The Orange Trail

Fact: I hate getting dirty. I hate bugs even more; especially ticks!

Growing up in Alaska, those little blood-sucking critters weren’t anything I ever had to deal with or had encountered until I moved to Indiana. Getting out on the trail is an easy workout, and we live pretty close to a park here in Indianapolis, so why not get out and enjoy some fresh air.

Back home in Alaska you get more scenic and mountainous views. There are trees everywhere, but the trails I frequented didn’t involve trekking through mud or doing tick-checks when I got home. Okay, sure, moose and grizzly bears are far scarier than ticks… but give me a break! Ticks are just #$%#$^#@#$@$^^&$% to me (laughs).

Usually if I’m in a scenario where I’m not having the most fun, or I’m working through a tough moment, I go silent. That is me processing whatever thoughts are bouncing around my head at the time.

I’ve never been a whiner, but I am very honest. My dad would tell me all the time growing up “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” My aunties would blast me with the classic line “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Family and friends would jump down my throat accusing me of being a wet blanket if they perceived I was having a terrible time. Those of you who know me have seen the majority of my facial expressions, and know that I don’t have to use any words to communicate how I’m feeling most of the time. This is something I’ve learned to contain… for the most part.

I’ve learned to communicate that a situation may be new and that I wouldn’t put myself in any scenario that would make me uncomfortable.

Hitting the trails with S has been funny, mostly because if we encounter a long stretch of muddy non-sense, or have to go through a tighter trails with brush – more chances of getting TICKS – I simply say “I’m trying. You know I’m trying.” I’m sure S is getting a kick out of this inside, but he’s very supportive.

We’d planned to get out on the fitness trail today, but Mother Nature has other plans. It’s been pouring cats and dogs this weekend, so I’m NOT going anywhere near that trail until it dries up a bit. Hey! Don’t judge. I’m taking baby steps here.

Oh! You can find a clip of the trail adventure on my Instagram profile.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

J

Pride Started With A Riot.

Pride is a time of joy, celebration, and being unapologetic in how you exist in today’s world. While Pride events take place all year round, let us not forget how we came to be as out and proud queer individuals who can – for the most part – celebrate in our fiercest heels, tightest tanks, and deliciously worn leather during the entire month of June. Pride is a time of remembrance and reflection as much as it is a party.

“Pride started with a riot.” This quote has been haunting me on Instagram and Twitter. Okay, fine. It’s probably just the internet doing what it does best and marketing to its target audience, but I feel a way about it. I’m now 32 years old and have had plenty of time to reflect on my journey as a gay, black man as I exist in the queer community. I think about the day I figured out I was gay. I reflect on all my relationships and how they’ve matured or stayed in my past as I’ve grown into my queerness. I think about how I was in my early twenties when it came to navigating new queer relationships. I think about what my interracial, gay marriage means to me and the message we want to send as a couple to our communities.

Every year I look out and around at the LGBTQIA+ community members and think if they’ve taken a shot or twerked in the name of any epic queer leaders. People like Marsha P. Johnson,  Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, Alexya Salvador, Laverne Cox, or those who were peacefully enjoying themselves at the Stonewall Inn when the riots broke out in Summer of 1969.

My intention is not to make a blanket statement and imply that we as a community don’t take moments to remember these powerful individuals. I’m just curious if we know our history and reflect on them in our Pride celebrations. As mentioned above: Pride is a time of remembrance and reflection as much as it is a party.

With all of this in mind, I want to encourage all members of the LGBTQIA+ to continue educating family, friends, and allies.

I’m particularly triggered when people accuse myself or others of throwing our sexuality in their faces. “What do you mean throwing my sexuality in your face? By sharing my experience and by existing?” I usually find myself mildly entertained and suppressing the urge to raise an eyebrow or two when I get comments on the blog as they relate to fragile male egos or ignorance in general.  Please remember to be safe and respectful of everyone’s boundaries on topics of queer culture and what Pride means, but don’t ever let anyone diminish your existence. Internet trolls are going to troll, but give those who may require some time a chance at understanding. We get to choose our circles and family, you know?

I’ll leave you with some items to reflect on as our respective Pride celebrations approach:

  • Our trans brothers and sisters need our love, protection and support. ESPECIALLY TRANS WOMEN OF COLOR. In 2019 already, there have been six fatal attacks on trans women of color.Say their names:  Dana Martin (31), Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon (27), Claire Legato (21), Muhlaysia Booker (23), Michele “Tamika” Washington (40), and now only hours ago, Chynal Lindsey (26).
  • Racism and a lack of body positivity exists within the queer community still. “No fats, no fems, no Asians… White only, please… BBC (big black c**k) this way!” is what you will find on plenty Grindr profiles. Don’t be one of those queens online that fetishize myself or other based on who they are as people; only wanting them for that. We aren’t objects. We are human beings and most of us have been battling identity issues our entire lives. Do better and call your “friends” out politely when you catch them slipping.
  • Respect the pronoun. Please try to use peoples’ preferred pronouns. We are past the excuse of “It’s too hard to change now after all these years!” Try. Be a decent human being and have some manners.

Stand firm in who you are. What does Pride mean to you and what has your journey on the rainbow road been like? Pride is supposed to be fun, so have your fun, queens! Just remember to take time to reflect, check in, and support the community you love and are very much a part of.

J,

5 Married Years Later

Today is S and I’s fifth marriage anniversary. This question is beyond cliche to ask in a post like this, but, where did the time go? Five years isn’t a long time at all, and so far our history together has felt like a whirlwind and a lifetime all at once.

Let’s see, we started dating Summer of 2011, moved in together Summer of 2013, got engaged, bought a condo, got a puppy, got married in 2014, I completed my degree at Indiana University, we’ve both been on massive career journeys, and during all of this have had a lovely niece and two nephews join our family.

Life is going to life, and it did just that. We’ve faced our ups and downs and have managed to navigate darker days with the grace of a Swan Lake prima ballerina. Our relationship has been an easy one for the most part, yes, but that’s not to say we haven’t had our bumps in the road.

At times my content can slow down because I’ve been busy, sure, but it’s also because I may not feel like I have anything to share. I love seeing happy couples post on Instagram and in other corners of the internet, but I have to wonder, how many of them are actually happy? Are they posting all this lovey-dovey bullshit just for the gram to grab a like or two? I’m so not into that.

I love love, but love is hard. If what I’m seeing from happy couples online is their truth, then great! That’s amazing. I try to be honest with my readers and followers, and I connect more with those I follow who share this sentiment.

 

jamal stony 1

(Us on New Years Eve 2011, a few months into dating)

 

S and I have been married for five years, but come October, we will be together a total of eight years. I’ve written about what we’ve learned in our relationship a number of times on Gays in the Life, but one major lesson sticks out to us in this moment:

Honesty. You have to be honest with yourself, and with yourselves as a unit. If you’re not, you will fail.

I’ll leave all my lovers out there with this tip. Seriously, take this with you moving forward; it’ll change the game:

Check in with each other! Check in on each other’s personal goals, any issues you both may be working through, mental health, happiness, and darkness. Over the years we’ve learned not to take reactions or things said personally because you never know what someone is going through.  If you’re able to level with yourself in honesty, you’ll be able to help your relationship stay just as honest and strong.

Happy Anniversary, S! I love you so much, and thank you for being a constant source of strength and inspiration for me. 

XXOO,