Scarce Identity: The Purple Side

Scarce Identity: The Purple Side

d2ec576031cfa11b906fc4802eb54c13I wouldn’t say this is a Prince tribute, but between his continuation and reading Frank Ocean’s tribute post on Tumblr, it encouraged me reveal a few passing thoughts.  Since Prince unforeseen move, there is a plethora of articles, think-pieces, opinion post about his non-conforming identity as a black male.  Frank Ocean alluded to this throughout his entry,”He was a straight black male who played his first televised set with bikini bottoms and knee high heeled boots.” Prince even eased Franks own self awareness when he said, “He made me more comfortable with how I identify sexually.” Now, not to be all in the mix, but we know exactly how that went down when he pulled that New York style butch-queen stunt right before releasing his debut album. Thus, collecting his coin from the gays dashing away into the mysterious leaving his fans and the newly gay fans for dry. Hopefully, Prince didn’t teach him how to Forest Gump…I digress, though. Prince own morals permeated the lives of many in the idea of self expression. However in my coming of age when sexuality and masculinity becomes the point in question out of every pubescent’s mouth, my inner thoughts always asked how can they respect his expression and not mine?

The high heeled purple spirit in bell bottoms, hip hugging jump suits, and Halle Berry short cuts was not around when I had to prove my manhood. He was before my time musically. The only time I would see him would be flashbacks shown on MTV some random Saturday afternoon. In those moments when he is wearing one his iconic flamboyant attires, I am thirteen trying to put him in a category as many currently did to me. Is he gay? What is he? People are allowing him to do these things? Boys can wear heels, since when? What seems to be homophobic questions from a sassy kid himself, were nothing more than inquisitions trying alleviate the suppression I put on myself.  I had to be meticulous in the way that I speak, dress, and act. Picking the tone in my voice and the way my hands move about with my words was a process as delicate as plucking petals. I was poor at suppressing those categories, but in how I dress I had no control over and Prince’s tight assembles were in contrast to the standard black male uniform of oversize everything. I had no celebrity hero that was equally accepted into the straight community and LGBTQ+ community as flagrant as Prince. No safe haven for me to conceal behind or vicariously live through. Either way, people loved him for his mystery while in the same breath try to breakdown what they couldn’t understand in me and people alike, even my mother.

My dad thought he dressed a little too feminine for his taste, my mother loved his music, Daily News front cover is of him with his legs crossed in his legendary heeled boots calling him “Sexy” While I struggle to put on leg warmers in hopes that I won’t get menacing looks and sarcastic questions at the age of 23. Do you see where I’m going with this? What partitioned him from me, what made his being acceptable and praised and not the tone of my voice, or the fit of my clothes, my proper dialect,  the glide in my step, my interest in things feminine? Something as simple as going out with leg warmers on a brutally cold New York winter day was an audacious task. the alarming feeling of fear heating my chest, sitting in the back of my throat as I timidly decide if I should place my jeans over them or not. Would I get looks and sly comments? What would my coworkers think? Would my mom question my gender for the hundredth time as she did when I accidentally left foundation in the bathroom? Is it going to bring unwarranted attention? I went ahead and placed them over my knee after drilling to myself, “Don’t matter who says what to you, you bought it, you like it, it’s cold, wear it.” Then someone later asks, “What is that on your legs,” when clearly it is obvious. “Don’t girls wear that for dance?”  Although my sarcastic responses were so keenly sharp with shade, deep down I felt like I called it upon myself.

prince-08  In trying to decipher it all between him and I and others alike, I came up with the idea that Prince gave the straight community something to look past his gender fluidity: His music. As long as you give them something to look past you will be okay. Got to have that something else that will be big enough to water down their ignorance. You can’t just be a regular feminine black male. You need a superior talent. One can express freely as long as you can slay a weave, design their home, shady humor, make them best dressed at the Grammy’s, and write the best gossip column. Or in another case, sleep solely with women. That way the determining factor, who one lays down in bed with, will decide the likeliness of positive receptivity. A women can listen to Prince and wish to sleep with him, while a male can do the same and assume his lyrics are about females and feel comfortable singing them. There shouldn’t be a pass for Prince in heels and a guitar while men like E.J. Johnson; Magic Johnson son, is chastised. Along with  Miss Lawrence and Derek J being slandered because of  who they sleep with is the determining factor of acceptance.

This isn’t about Prince. This is me trying to understand my self identity through him and question why society accepted him and cannot accept  me and others alike. No, I’m not crying out to wear heels. However, like Prince, he was an unapologetic spirit. I need to be that. Part of me is still healing from the past wounds as it still plays a part in how fully self express today. Part of me needs approval. I am working on that, I know I don’t need it. I don’t need Kid Cudi and Will Smith to make it okay for me to wear a crop top or Jaden Smith to pick a shirt from the girls section. I don’t need a rapper to be dressed in all pink for me to wear pink. I don’t need a straight male or women to vogue in order for me feel comfortable voguing in public. I don’t need Tank making a video about his salad being tossed for me to toss mine with organic toppings. I don’t need an presumably straight male to approve my fluid expression, my feminine side of a young black man. It’s the unwavering confidence in my self expression I am perfecting. Thanks Prince!

 

The Sunday Service in Whole Foods

382229_562747207078546_1208101830_nThe wonderful array of books, books, and more books, neatly placed on the shelves of Barnes & Noble  all in different size, colors and titles. Colorful literature with the only worry to decipher which lucky author will fulfill me today. I arrived thirty minutes early to my 7pm meet up in Whole Foods on Union Square eager to burn the isle of Barnes&Nobles with my curiosity. I spent the time pandering through the Ancient Knowledge & Hidden Mysteries, and Self-Help sections–my favorite sections ever! Picking up books that spoke deeply about Ancient Egypt and other Ancient Civilizations is a yearning of mine. I adore bridge the gap between my past and present. Plus, I am convinced humans were much more responsible and connected then todays dogma of connectivity and responsibility. Checking my phone after beating the strong wave of indecision that paralyzed me for the last fifteen-minutes, it read 7:04pm. Even when I try to be on time, I am late. It’s embedded in DNA like HTML Codes for me to be tardy.  I sent a text to my, in lack of better terms, friend that I am near while asking for his location for I surprisingly didn’t receive a text confirming my incessant tardiness.

I make way down Union Square park. The sun hid completely  on the other side of the world letting them know its soon to start a new day leaving the city the never sleeps to keep up the nightly duties. The bustling cars passed, people expediting streets,  and a couple romancing with the female shooting a quick look at me while laughing at her boyfriends tender kisses. Ahead of me reads the large green sign Whole Foods, fairly considerable in size in comparison to the competing stores but, not beating the famous numbers that stand high across a building. The numbers that rumored the end of the time, when in reality it just reads the time in military on the left and how many hours are before the hour struck 12 on the right.  I enter the health food realm with excitement until I despairingly saw the elongated lines.

I didn’t to come to spend anymore money though, I came to deliver these CD’s to a friend after a failed experience on trying to join their business plan–but that’s another story! I walk the stairs that was once unknown to me for many years. It lead to an open cafeteria filled with my dynamic people eating, talking, doing tarot cards and…with honor… people conducting a service of the Lord.

My friend raised his hand as I see him sitting next to people foreign to me. My blood began to boil in this short distance to him. I hoped to God that these strangers were not part of his team in which imagined him asking me belittling questions in front them: “Did you watch the CD’s? “, “No!, Well, why haven’t you?”, “You’re making excuses, you don’t have the success mentality like we spoke about. Remember you don’t want live in the employer quadrant!” Remember, remember, remember…Just know, I had comebacks for any and which way the windblown if his colleagues tried me.

At the table, an elderly lady sit comfortably in a black wool jacket with a matching hat. The wrinkles on her face etched and sketched every inch of her face. Another lady in a gray loose fitting sweater with fine short hair and supple brown skin sat on the end of the table. A black bag filled with books and a really bad, brown, unkept, shiny synthetic wig on top of it separated the two ladies. That wig, that beast, that horse hair was horrendous!  As I eyed this scene with much bewilderment,  I caught on my friend on the receiving end of the table. He sat with his legs crossed  and titled attentively listening to what I soon was about to learn.

I placed my bad on the table ready to pull of the agreement and leave immediately. No conversing, no trying to be friends, nothing but my ass on the 5 Train and my nose in my new book. “Are these your friends?” I asked with my face is slight disgust pointing at the weirdness in front of me. The lady in the gray sweater interrupts my question telling Ronald, the friend, to meditate on something. So I asked Ronald what were they talking about. I thought since the lady said meditate that this must be a conversation I would dive into with joy. Maybe these unknowns aren’t as weird as I thought to be. Maybe there wouldn’t a be rush to head home. Ronald who had on an orange dashiki I’m sure was made in Thailand and not Africa, shot a look up at me, “These are just people, we’re talking about being GAY.” Must he put so much emphasis on the word gay. I shook my head at the stupidity. I refused to get into some debate about sexuality. And for him to yet again talk to strangers, why couldn’t he sit alone like a normal New Yorker and be in his phone patiently  waiting for the CD’s? Have not his parents told him the adolescence rule about speaking to strangers. However, if they lured him in with candy…I want one.

Still confused as to how meditation met with being gay in a discussion, the old white lady rises from her seat in disbelief. “Something is wrong with you,” she said to Ronald.  Ronald combats her phobia  by telling me how she believes being gay is wrong for, yet of course, religious reasons. She turns to me slipping through the cracks of the tables, she was very soft spoken, so caring the tone of her voice that her ignorance felt loving and right. It wasn’t.  The lady in gray finally looks up at me. I was caught by surprise by her crossed eyedness. Things just now got too awkward. “You gay too?” asked the delicate toned elderly. “Nah, I’m straight. I don’t go through their struggles,” I said sarcastically. See, this the deal. I don’t like foolish questions that is none of anybody’s business. In these scenarios, I purposely lie in front of your face. It messes with ones prejudice or fools them completely, in the same moment, their ignorance speaks for them, as they often don’t hold back on words. “Good for you, You should speak to your friend about it,” Grandma suggested.  The lady in gray asked the same invasive  question so quickly with diligence it came off more as a proclamation then inquiry. I completely ignored her and looked to Ronald who still sat his chair sullen. His face appeared docile, innocent, and pale in expression.  The lady in gray goes in this whole sermon after Betty White trailed her nun looking ass out of our vision.

She rants horribly on how Ronald needs to meditate on his life decisions. Then detailed explained God’s workings in first person as if her consciousness was high enough to even speak for an entity the human race as a whole is slowly trying to understand. And so she went on:  “You see that lady next me I didn’t know and when she told me to take off my wig, I knew that was God speaking to me because she is a lady of faith, this is how God works. He expresses himself through you and I. He left his word. Don’t worry I accept you.” This angered me, how are you going to say you accept someone and tell one to meditate on how to live their life? When I addressed that to her, she fires her acceptance to me. Bitch, I don’t need you to accept me! I don’t even know you! How dare she flaunt her fake forgiveness in my face. The audacity of it all, be it that miserable, disgraceful relationship between her and that dirty, filthy, shit colored wig! I wanted to tell her so badly to meditate and accept that furry animal she hides under.

Instead I zipped my bag and left with Ronald following after me. The incident moments before I left in the past though Ron still felt indifferent. I made a pit stop at the Bank when he asked about my next moves, “I’m going home.”  He remained quiet before spilling out his feelings, “I’m really hurt…” I didn’t pay any mind, I was too focus on the ATM and how much money I was going to withdraw. I think twenty is doable. To be quite honest, I didn’t really care how he felt.  He has this tendency to speak to me in a chastising way especially during our business ordeal. A nasty distaste is left in my mouth refusing to care at all.

” I need a hug,” he commanded. At this point, was he just trying to stall? Because, I’m not for the nuisances and the woe is me narrative. No one told him to speak to strangers and actually sit there defenseless.  He actually agreed to meditate  on it! He made them feel right, he made himself feel weak. I glanced at him sharply, “Aw, you feel bad?” He nodded meekly before me. Just when he thought I was going to confide him in my arms like a protective brother, I pat him ever so lightly on the back. “Aw You’re a big boy. You’ll be ‘iight. When people try to undervalue me in passive aggressive ways I ignore it, or read the shit out of them, depending on the battle.” I cracked a half way smile hoping he caught the undertone shade I threw.  “You know before you came,” He started, “They old lady said, something worst then AIDS is coming my way and I am going to suffer.” My  eyes widened in disbelief. “Yeah, and to the black lady she said ‘You should take off that wig. I know it’s fake. You’re never going to get a man with that hair on.’ ” I blurted out laughing so hysterically I collided with a few pedestrians. I couldn’t believe the level of hate was going on at one table! He stood there lifeless in his poise as I tried to pick myself up and regain my composure. “I’m sorry,” I said wiping the saliva off my chin, “The health read is horrible  and this is why I don’t indulge in bitter people like her but, she flamed that other chick so badly. Now that was a classic!” He didn’t move an inch. “You know,” Ronald continued, “It’s hurts more because I am a Christian too!”  I took a deep sigh, knowing this was my cue to go home, “Well, these are your peoples. This is what they do. Hey, what can you do about it.” Placing on hand on his shoulder giving him a few shakes to wake him up from his state, I bid farewell.

I got my ass right on that 5 train, with my nose in my new book called, Science of the Mind.