15 things I wish I knew when I was young, gifted and Black

1983, Age 21.

Once upon a time, I was a young black man with a bright future. Educated. Articulate. Well-adjusted. Good grades at good schools. My long departed ancestors, the ones who only knew slavery, they would have been proud of me. Matter of fact, I think they’d still be proud today.

At age 48, I may not be as young, but I’m still gifted and black. I haven’t let my talents nor my ability to adapt and survive go to waste. College Degree. Four novels, five Lambda Literary Award nominations.

But what if I could hop in a DeLorean, travel back in time and give myself a little advice? I’ve made a list, in no particular order, just in case I happen to find the right vehicle to get me to the past, then back to the future:

• The only people who matter in your life are the people who always need to know: Are you dead or alive? Are you well, and if you’re not well, is there anything I can do to help?

• If someone hurts your feelings, tell them. Say, “That hurts my feelings.” Their reaction will reveal something very important about them, namely, whether or not that person cares about your feelings.

• If a man notices you but doesn’t look at you, he’s not interested.

• If a man doesn’t look you in the eye, he’s probably not interested.

• If a man can take his eyes off you, keep in mind: he can take his eyes off you.

“A man can tell a thousand lies, none more prevalent than: I’ve never had sex with another man.”

• When a man say’s he’s too busy, what he really means is: he’s too busy to make time for you. That means: he doesn’t see you as special enough, so you might wanna move on, and find somebody who thinks you’re worth their time.

• A man can tell a thousand lies, none more prevalent than: I’ve never had sex with another man. Men fuck around. With women. With men. With pillows. With animals. With blow-up dolls. With makeshift holes. With whatever’s necessary to get them through the night.


• Most men fuck around with other men without ever talking about it, even with their own brains. Men just do it. No talking. No thinking about it. No verbalizing. They just do it, then move on, blame it on the alcohol et al., that is, if the act is given another conscious thought.

• Some men do admit to fucking around with other men, and act it out for all the world to see. Nowadays, they call themselves gay. However they got there, these men have chosen to create and embrace a gay culture, much in the same way some ethnic groups create symbols, etc., that represent some but not all of their type.

• You yourself don’t have to be homo, hetereo or bisexual. You also don’t have to declare yourself one way or the other to anyone. You’re free to sample to buffet of life. Try the dick and the pussy! If someone asks you about your sexual tastes, you can say, “Why, do you want to date me?” Otherwise, it’s none of their business.

“Gravitate towards people who find you special.”

• You live in a world where most people’s brains have been trained to dream of you in limited ways, ways not based on who you are, but based on their preconceived notions of black people, as seen on TV and the movies and in America’s ignorant racist past. Most Americans haven’t even considered the possibility of you fitting into their WHITES AND LATINS ONLY world in any real and intimate way. It’s no reflection of your worth, more a reflection of America’s retarded vision of beauty and love.

• The world has yet to imagine you as beautiful, strong, confident, secure, intelligent, wise, smart, sexy and worthy of their time and their dreams. It’s up to you to imagine it for them.

• Gravitate towards people who find you special, who want to know what makes you tick, who appreciate your journey, your work, your interests, your imperfections, your passions, your feelings. Look for men (and women) who don’t want to take their eyes off you.

• All the good deeds you do, the good moves, good decisions, right decisions, all the best foot forwards, all the times you’re at your best, those times will pay dividends beyond your wildest imagination. The more you’re at your best, the greater the odds of success.

• All the bad decisions you make, the bad moves, bad choices, bad times where you’re at your worst: learn something from it, use it, forgive yourself, dream of better outcomes emerging from your darkest moments. Always and forever, dream the better dream.

This is me, when I was young, gifted and black: