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

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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,

What’s Making Me Happy This Week?

Good morning, friends!

I’m writing this just before 8:30 am Eastern time, so excuse the exclamation. You’re probably thinking “turn down, dude, it’s way too early for that.” Forgive me, I’m just trying to will some energy into this post and today’s intentions.

In honor of one of my favorite NPR podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour, I wanted to start sharing what’s making me happy on a weekly basis. The daily grind can be extremely draining and make it hard to strive for excellence, so it’s important to focus on the little things; the simple bits of joy that keep anxiety and stress at bay.

It’s been a trying winter season and the seasonal depression that came along with it has been real. With that being said, what’s making me happy this week is being able to refocus. With the arrival of warmer, get-outside-and-take-the-dog-for-longer-walks weather, has come a much needed boost of energy. For the past few weeks I’ve been meeting workout goals and getting back to feeling good; inside and out.

Something I’ve discovered about myself is that I need alignment in my life. If I’m eating healthy, staying physically active, and taking moments to enjoy happiness, I feel so much better than I do while I’m getting caught up in what task I may or may not have time to get to today.

This isn’t to say I’m not getting work done and having a ball. Think of it as a daily refresh and remember: how you organize your life influences the kind of energy you keep around.

What’s making you happy this week? Let me know in the comments wherever you’re reading this.

 

J.

Check Out Our Podcast!

Are you a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and queer culture? Well you should be listening to our show! Thanks for Coming has new episodes every Monday wherever you get your podcast:

Show description:

Weekly round table discussions on topics in pop culture, queer life, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. We love a drag queen and a stiff drink.

 

tfc spotify

 

We’re very proud to announce that episodes are now available on Spotify; How cool! If you’re having  a good time with us, remember to rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and your other preferred podcast platforms.

 

Listen to the show:

iTunes

Spotify

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more links at ThanksforComingPodcast.com

 

 

Seeing Red

When frustration strikes, she doesn’t hold back. Every couple has their expectations when it comes to their partnerships, but what happens when wires become crossed? Is that pile of laundry still stacked in the corner forming fresh wrinkles with every hour that passes? Do you find yourself having the same conversations about relationship items that need improvement? Whatever it may be, those are just two examples that rest at opposite ends of the frustration reasons spectrum. Here are some tips to help keep frustration at bay and your partnership healthy:

Time – Give the scenario a moment. We don’t have to collect all the answers and solve the problem right this second. Most of the time, an issue or touchy subject needs time to breathe. If you’re having a tiny disagreement, try waiting twenty minutes or so before approaching the topic again. Not only will this give you both a second to recapture some zen, but you’ll also adjust your approach when you reconnect.

If the problem is heavier or in the danger zone, do your best to allow necessary space in between communication or problem solving. It’s easy to jump the gun and rage if frustration is boiling over and you haven’t had an adequate resting period. Maintain the cool so productive conversation has the chance to breathe and flourish.

 

red block

 

Space – Walk away if the need arises. We all watch reality television, and know that circular discussion or yelling won’t fix anything. Do yourselves a favor and press pause. Go to different rooms – or for a drive or a walk – to allow the minds a recollection period. You’ll thank yourselves later when you notice the progress made in the resolution. The trick is safely processing the problem with yourself, and allowing your partner the same. Take care of number one so you can take care of others.

Communicate – We say this all the time on Gays in the Life. You have to communicate clearly and safely. You want to be honest with yourself and your partner. Share your true feelings and why you have them in the first place. This is not an attack. Communicate this and remember to listen.

When tension is high, or you’re at your last wits end, things can go left at an accelerated rate. Save yourselves the drama and don’t even go there. You’re adults. Listen to each other, be honest, and respectful. This gets easier with practice. So do your best and be kind to yourselves with this one. Communication pros aren’t manifested overnight.

 

red block

Special note: These tips apply to email and texting scenarios as well. Reading text is particularly tricky when dealing with frustration in relationships and marriage. You’re already on edge if a resolution hasn’t been met, so the brain will immediately highlight each word in red. To avoid constricting progress, read the text or email a few times and process the communication. From there you can decide to respond or wait a bit before following up. Use your best judgement and be open.

Remember these few tools the next time you find yourself furiously responding to a text, dishing out silent treatment, or screaming like a psycho at your partners. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Happy loving.