Happy Pride Month! I’m working on sharing more of myself that hasn’t been honored or uplifted. While Pride celebrations have been turned into a party where large companies and corporations can show off how they embrace the rainbow-- for me, Pride is a moment where I reflect on my queer journey. Often during Pride, I reclaim time that I spent crying over women that I didn’t deserve or versions of myself that didn’t serve the world. This year, I reflect on my relationship to masculinity.
I recently released my first poetry collection SIR: a dedication to boihood and black queer love. This romance that I have with boihood started when I was in elementary school. The visibility of my classmate’s black, masculine of center mother was my first inclination that I was queer. I remember being in love with staring at them. They would come to pick up my classmate early on Fridays and I would be waiting to get a look a their newest haircut or latest sneakers. I also admired and was attracted to the boys at my school. Mostly I was attracted to the freedom that masculinity seemed to offer them. The boys in elementary school could wear the masculine attire that I wanted to wear.
Immediately, my mother scolded me for performing this dangerous act and asked me if I was a dyke. I had no idea what dyke or the word gay meant. I simply was just exploring what brought me joy in the world and trying to figure it all out. My first love was and has always been masculinity. In high school, I dated a friend that I played varsity basketball with. We both presented ourselves as studs and shared our first sexual experiences together. We dated for much of the time I was in high school. I remember loving her and feeling more alive than I had ever felt.
Once, when we were at the movies, an older, butch, black woman approached us as we were making out and told us we weren’t supposed to be together; that two studs together was worse than being gay. In high school, I was still mostly in the closet and not nearly as confident as I am today. I believe we both let that experience and the stereotypes of being masculine of center, break us up. We called it quits the summer before I went to college. In college, I went on to only date femmes and I would even go as far to put phrases such as “femme only” or “stud looking for femme” on my Black Planet account. I shamed others for their stud for stud relationships and I avoided showing affection and care to other bois in fear of what others may think of me.
Today, I date a beautiful black femme woman but we both have a relationship to gender and sexual attraction that is very fluid. I see the beauty and complexity that is masculinity. I’m not afraid nor do I feel shame when attracted to it. This growth has been supported by the love of my community and the privilege of living in California, place where people call you on your shit. I write this piece, as a reflection of my experience, an apology for those that I have shamed and a moment to come out during Pride. Many folks don't know that my journey into the “life” started with an S4S relationship. I hope this inspires, uplifts and heals those that need it.