The radical discovery that I had done no wrong in wanting nothing more than my 7th grade best friend’s cock inside me came as a revelation to me 4 years later.
I sat on the edge of my bed rereading Bible verses and going over and over again in my head how nonsensical it was to believe that I was destined for eternal hellfire forever for thinking a thought such as that. Like many boys, I was socialized to believe that my penis gave me supreme power over all. However, my queerness rendered all previous build up of the male ego useless. I wasn’t a man I was a faggot and as such had no right to sexual desire or expression. I had a disease. I was a pariah.
Black queer men occupy an interesting space between being male and non-male. It is the way in which we wish to use our sex that causes society to attack it so violently. I remember hearing a news story of a man that was shot, stabbed, and sodomized with glass for being gay. I felt something fall off a shelf inside me. I felt a part of me disappear forever. I suspect that this loss of power, through the erotic, is a common thing for Queer folk and especially Queer men of color who find themselves violent, state sponsored repression to be a common fixture in their lives. This loss is of great value when we look at the power that is to be derived from the erotic.
“The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.” – Audre Lorde
In this piece Audre speaks of the erotic being something that is healing for womyn and something that has been co modified and exploited by men. She speaks on it being something that is a source of power for womyn in this patriarchal society because it arises from the deepest passions for one another and can then become a radical source of healing. For queer men, we often find our sex, and power, through the erotic, to be stamped out.
It is in a similar fashion, that I believe, Queer Black men can find the beginnings of their new love movement through the erotic, through a radical reaffirmation of Black men loving Black men. It is still a very dangerous and revolutionary idea for two Black men to love one another boldly and proudly. My mind drifts to the poetry of Essex Hemphill, that magnificent poet. Hemphill created a world based around Black men’s loving of one another and their love being the catalyst for revolution.
“I want to start an organization to save my life.
If Whales, snails, dogs, cats, Chrysler, and Nixon can be saved, the lives of Black men are priceless and can be saved.
We should be able to save each other.”
“Standing at the front lines
flanked by able brothers
who miss his eloquent courage,
his insistent voice
urging us to rebel,
urging us to not fear embracing
for more than sex,
for more than kisses
and notches in our belts.
Our loss is greater
than all the space
we fill with prayers
He burned out
his pure life force
to bring us a chance
to love ourselves
He knew the simple
spilling of seed
would not be enough
to bind us.”
The last line is ever so poignant. Hemphill speaks of going beyond the physical encounters that are made to be the extent of most Afro-Queer love affairs in this patriarchal society. There is a wanting and demanding of more that must occur and that comes through an affirmation of the erotic within us.
When I think of how the erotic works for me I can think of a few distinct ways; the first being patience through intimacy.
Intimacy teaches us patience because it is an understanding of a person through the conditions that created them and your connection to them. It is an understanding that we are not beings to be looked at as a sum of the moments we are observed in but instead a sum of the years preceding that very observation.
I think of the knowledge that I am worth more than just high adrenaline fucks and blowjobs in the dark. This is not a condemnation of either, mind you. I am merely proposing that there exist more than that when we speak of the full extent of Black men loving one another. The bourgeois white media loves to harp on the myth of the DL Black man, loves to use Black Queer men as the scape-goat for Black womyn’s AID epidemic. And while it is true that there are a number of Black men living double lives and spreading the virus to their wives, it is also true that this phenomenon cannot be looked at outside of the larger society context. And that is Black Queer men’s oppression under homophobic and the suppression of our erotic self.
It now has become necessary, as it surely always has been, to reclaim our oppressed territories for ourselves. It becomes the historic task of our caste. For if we are to make any lager revolution, we must first start with ourselves and the radical affirmation that has yet to happen.