Update from the Unlovable Nigger Faggot

Open letter to my therapist

Update

Dear Therapist,

Been a while since I had to sit on your couch and get your help shrinking my head down to a manageable size, but I guess that was the point of my coming to you in my early twenties. So I could get some help figuring out how to manage on my own.

I first sat on your couch as a 24-year-old, recent UCLA grad and told you: “I need help with my self esteem.” For the next several years, you were there for me as needed, like an athlete’s trainer.

At the time, I felt like the ugliest, most “unlovable nigger faggot about to die of AIDS unless he finds a man to be his miraculous cure-all” in the whole wide world. And then some.

As it turns out, I found neither the man nor the cure, but I did find myself, a miraculous discovery in its own right. I also found a way to keep living and dreaming, even while doing so as my generation’s worst nightmare: death by AIDS.

Update

You helped in tremendous ways. Thank you. But there was one question you often put to me for which I had no answer. “You must be doing something wrong,” you pondered aloud when I droned on about my loveless love life, “what is it that you’re doing that makes you always single?”

After further review, the 46-year-old former patient has the answer.

What I was doing wrong was living under the false assumption that the people of my generation—my peers, my classmates, my co-workers, the guys at the gym, the clubs, the bar—I was living under the false impression that they were open to falling in love with someone like me.

Which me? Let me put it this way: when’s the last time you heard anyone say, “I just need to find the right black gay guy with AIDS to settle down with?”

The hetero-identified see me as some pre-conceived, negative stereotype of “black” and “fag,” and couldn’t care less about my romantic dreams. The homo-identified pretty much follow suit.

A lifetime of personal experience dictates: 85% of all gay men, regardless of race, don’t date black men, which means 85% of all gay men, regardless of race, have pre-judged every black man alive, sight-unseen, as not worthy of love or sex, which means 85% of all gay men have already pre-determined my worth before knowing I even exist.

To 85% of all available males, I’m neither a good catch nor a bad catch. I’m black, which in their minds means I don’t even warrant consideration. I’m an invisible man living an invisible life. Most of the gay men around me refuse to even look my way.

“Not every single gay man is racist and AIDS-phobic, right?”

Quite visible, however, is the blatant prejudice of 85% of all gay men, regardless of race. Thanks to the digital world, that hatred is preserved in countless online profiles that reveal a truth many black men have suspected for decades: most gay men, regardless of race, are racists against blacks.

Log on and behold the evidence: the infinite variations of phrases like WHITES ONLY, WHITES AND LATINS ONLY, NO BLACKS, NO ASIAN–it’s all there for anyone to witness, quantify and study. The river of hatred runs deep. De facto segregation is alive and well in the hearts and minds of many a gay man.

And then there’s AIDS. There was a time when the gay community reacted to the pandemic with compassion, a time when so many of us were infected, we had little choice other than banning together. That time has passed. Now, like the rest of the world, the gay world treats AIDS like leprosy and people with AIDS like lepers.

Never mind the fact one can have a healthy, safe-sex life with someone HIV-positive. For many, the preferred method of safe sex has become: avoid anyone who isn’t “clean” and “disease-free” (online phrases as popular as “whites only.”)

Where does that leave a black man who was disease-ridden before some nervous gay guy coined the term “disease-free?”

“To walk in America as a black homosexual living with HIV/AIDS is to walk in hostile territory.”

But not every single gay man is racist and AIDS-phobic, right? Of course not. Unfortunately for me, personal experience dictates: of the gay men who date black men, 90% (or more) of those men are self-described “bottoms” looking to be “topped” by a big black Mandingo dick (attached human being optional).

As if the sole worth of a black man is his penis and its ability to morph into a dominant, mindless pummeling tool.

Cultural implications of this near-sighted fantasy aside, that’s not me. Simple as that. Where does that leave a black man who has zero interest in playing Mandingo?

None of the above factors make me single. They just make not being single all the more challenging, especially when one is a young, hopeful black man full of headstrong ideas about finding love and living some kind of American Dream. Truth is, in the sea of life, very few humans even consider dating and loving someone who’s black, HIV-positive and not a big black Mandingo machine.

For me, the pool of available men is miniature. The odds of finding a good catch are downright infinitesimal. And that’s before getting to the compatibly round, where two people discover what, if anything, they have in common.

“Very few eyes are open to dreaming of or caring about someone with my credentials.”

Not until my forties did I truly appreciate the volume and depth of the fear, hatred and ignorance of own my generation towards a person who happens to be black, gay and living with the “deadly virus” that first rocked our world when we were sexually-active young people.

Never before have I been so aware that the fear, hatred and ignorance comes from both heterosexuals and homosexuals. To walk in America as a black homosexual living with HIV/AIDS is to walk in hostile territory and feel that hostility in some way every signal day.

As a young adult, I was foolish and naïve enough to think that as I made my way through the world, I was being evaluated on my own merits, looks, accomplishments, smile, hopes and dreams.

Turns out, I was being evaluated by narrow minds that have yet to consider dreaming with me at all. Those minds were, and still are, for the most part, minds that view me through their own preconceived notions of blacks, gays and persons with HIV.

Didn’t mention it much during my time on your couch (too busy dealing with AIDS!), but my childhood was violent and lonely. The world outside wasn’t a much better place. Like most teens with faggy tendencies in the 70s, I had zero social life, limited social learning and no “BFF” to help work out life’s equations. Ditto for college.

A month after college, the AIDS bomb exploded within, infecting all social and sexual development in my twenties and thirties. Like most gay men, I was just trying to survive the war until medical reinforcements arrived in the late 90s.

Cut to my late forties, the only real time I’ve had to breathe and work out who I am. Now that the air has cleared, I see the surrounding landscape with clarity.

I grew up dreaming the dreams of the kids my age, equally schooled on life, love and romance by the Brady Bunch, Happy Days, etc. Like a good little boy, I thought that I, too, could play the game of love and all the rules would apply to me. I thought that I, too, had a fair and equal shot at the American Love Dream, especially if I brought out the best in myself, inside and out.

But that was not the case. That was never the case. My male peers, the candidates for my affections, most of them dismissed the possibility of me before ever laying eyes on me.

Sure, some of them only look at women that way. But some of them look at women and men. And some of them only look at men.

Many eyes may notice me. Who wouldn’t take note of a tall black man in one’s line of sight? But now I understand: very few eyes are open to dreaming of or caring about someone with my credentials.

I’m happy to say I’ve been cured of the false assumptions of my youth. Now I walk through the world with a realistic view of the way many, if not most, Americans feel about another American who happens to be black, gay and living with HIV/AIDS.

The truth angers and frustrates me but it also empowers me, like an athlete who better understands the rules of the game. Now I look in the mirror and see a much different person than the world sees. I see a beautiful boy. I see an amazing man. I see courage and strength beyond my deepest imagining. Best of all, I see a head that fits perfectly on my shoulders.

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