Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Yesterday, I began to think about love and the love in my life after receiving a couple of text messages from a friend. You see his son (15 years old) expressed how much he loved him for what he does acknowledging that it can't be easy to raise a child these days. This expression of love took my friend by surprise pleasantly and overwhelmingly.

I began thinking about love and how we all, whether we admit it or not, desire to love and be loved. It is the core of our existence here on earth. God has given us all many gifts, however, I think that the most important and undervalued is the capacity to love.
Love takes many shapes and forms in various degrees. There is platonic love, brotherly and sisterly love as well as intimate love. All love involves the desires of the heart. Intimate love seems to be the most passionate love the causes many of us ultimate joy or severe disappointment and pain.

We walk through life daily searching for love like a buried treasure. From the moment we take our first breath as we exit our mother’s womb we are in search of love. As we continue on this path called life we continue to search. Once we have found love we tend to either smother ourselves in it or cherish and nurture it so that it can grow. This love thing, the intimate kind, happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Love affects each of us differently and will have many of us acting in ways that we simply could not have ever fathomed. Love is one intangible gift that we all wish to possess and give in return. While there are various degrees of intimate love some either find it and not know what to do with it or never find it and blindly trip over ourselves in an attempt to acquire it. Searching for love can have us doing some things with people we would have never given the time of day if we were not in such a mode of desire.
We show our love for one another in many ways (Hallmark card, favorite meal, flowers, non-reciprocal kindness, etc) and there are times when this love is returned and others when it is taken for granted. I use to say the person who wrote “it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” was crazy at best. To have lost in love is devastating at best and very painful. However, as I looked over my life and the love I have had, lost and even some I have never returned when received I do not regret any of my love experiences.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (1 Corinthians 13:1-10)

Imagine what the world would be like if we allowed ourselves to give love and receive love without our misplaced conditions or limitations. Have you ever asked yourself, Could I have loved him or her more? Did I receive the love that was given to me freely? All love is not given unconditionally; however, true love is unconditional. Take inventory of your love. Allow yourself to be love and give love for it is truly a gift from God. I guarantee you that you will not regret it.

Silence is not always...Golden

When I was growing up there was a phrase that many people lived by or should I say hung there hat on for convenience…”Silence is Golden”. I even remember as a child that there were signs in my grammar school class rooms that espoused this credo. Many of us as children were told “children should be seen and not heard”. Of course as adults we then repeated what we were raised to believe. In the European culture children were allowed to speak their minds and say what they wanted to adults. Of course that was not the same in the culture of people of color. The minute you tried to immolate what Bobby or Susie said to their parents to any adult in your family or extended family (and that was anyone) you quickly learned that this was not allowed by getting a swift butt whoopin.
Now as an adult I feel that we should not have been told to be silent but to speak our minds in the appropriate setting. We should not have been disrespectful by any means. By instilling these lessons as children we have taken these lessons on to adulthood and remained silent when we really should be speaking with a loud voice. The only way to make a change is to speak up and do so boldly to allow yourself a voice in that particular space. It may not bring about the change that you may want but when you show up the people in the room will know that they can count on you to speak from your heart and mind. This in no uncertain terms keeps people in check for at times that is what is needed. You have to know when to speak and to do so from a basis of fact and not just conjecture.
I have stood on the sidelines many times and not spoken up and walked away kicking myself for allowing things to be said in my presence that I totally disagreed with. This silence thing takes over ever part of your life. Back in the mid to late 80’s HIV/AIDS began to ravage the LGBT community and yet the government was not speaking on it to any major degree. A group of activist began a campaign to ensure that the government noticed the community and those impacted by this virus. They came up with a very cleaver campaign entitled “Silence = Death”. It is a short statement but the impact was accurate and totally to the point meaning that the longer we put our heads in the sand the more people are going to die. This statement can be and should be applied to any area of your life where you have been content to stay silent for your own comfort.
Recently I have had to apply this very statement to my life. I typically try not to cause any uprising and want to keep things quiet and cordial especially when it comes to my relationship. However, I have learned that I had to speak up and make things a bit uncomfortable at times to get noticed and for the situation to change. There are those in life that love to argue, however, that is not part of my character. I did not grow up surrounded by those that argue so I do not like hearing it or being involved in it. Therefore, there are times when I just remain silent. Silence in not always golden for doing so lead to the death of my relationship. There were things affecting the relationship that WE avoided discussing in an effort to keep the peace. Not discussing them did not make them go away. When the time came to really discuss these issues it was a bit too late the relationship had already started to decay (i.e. Silence = Death). The death was not a physical one but death none-the-less. Our silence equaled the death of our relationship. Allow your presence to be acknowledged for the moment you do not do so death will be imminent.

Speak boldly and with authority for Silence is not always Golden!!!



I had the pleasure of hearing a good friend of mine tell her story and share her journey as a black lesbian mother and pastor. In reciting the accounts of her life and the journey she quoted several lines from a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem entitled "We Wear the Mask".
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
As my sister/friend finished just the first few lines of this very revealing poem I began to think on my life and how I have worn a mask for some time. I even thought about how the mask has changed as I have gotten older. The words of this poem seemed to resonate within me. The words and the meaning hit me like a ton of bricks. I can't say that my mask has been completely removed to reveal the real me. I once wore it to hide the ridicule that comes from being Black man in a society that neither loves my existence nor uphold my life as valuable. I once wore a mask to hide the discomfort of not accepting the gift the God gave me...my ability to love other men intimately. I once wore the mask of being the strong one in the family. The one that everyone knew would be successful. As I listened to her story and pondered over it I had to consistently ask myself..."What mask are you wearing now?!!!" I have been wearing the mask of total happiness for I am one that rarely complains about the difficulties that I am facing as I struggle daily; always trying to hold it together. I have yet to allow my daily worries spill over into my personal life. I am always giving and never asking for anything in return when at times I just want someone to be there for me every once in while. A hug, a sympathetic ear, a shoulder, a laugh…but I look around and I can’t see any avenue for that outlet. Most would be totally amazed/astonished to hear my worries. I have chosen to put that mask on as I leave the house in the morning for I have to keep up the appearance of having it all together. There is much pain and self doubt behind this mask. Just as I have been able to remove those masks of the past I must begin to remove this one. However this time it must be different I can't exchange it for a new one. Today is the beginning of my life as I slowly remove my ole friend to reveal the person most people do not know.
What mask have you had to wear to simply survive?