Interesting. My partner has had bouts of depression steaming from the military and takes medication due to PTSD. He also was on some meds that he had to stop taking because they made him gain weight.
My point...a lot of times we are more similar than you know AND a majority of the time, your problems are not unique. We as black people and men don't like to discuss parts of our true selves.
Most Dapped Posts
Page 5 of 169
- Thread: Depression
- Thread: Out at Work
I have been out at work, but my last two jobs have been in the federal government, first the military and second the foreign service. Both those positions have strong family components. So I’ve been out at work for at least six years. However, before the repeal of DADT, I was only unofficially out. I had a few buddies on my FB who put two and two together. However, being out work is not protected in 35 states so I would indeed read up on workplace protections before outing myself at work. Don't mess up your bag
- Thread: Olympic Thirst TrapsTraps
- Thread: QUESTION: In High School Were You Openly Gay, Openly Bisexual Or Were You Pretending To Be Straight?
Nick you already know I was openly gay in HS. LOL. But no seriously... explain this long story about your mom being suspect about you???
This article was a great read by the way.
In high school, I was there with my twin brother. Looking back, we both could have taken a lot of boys down. We had dudes that were VERY touchy feely with us and guys that were even BOLD enough to ask if "we were packing down there" because we are Nigerians lol. But yeah there were guys that would just stare at us and smile that were on the sports teams or whatever. They would be hot and cold. Be cool with us one-on-one then around their other overly hypermasculine acting sports buddies they would maltreat us. As high school drew to a close, we had guys that used to pick on us start warming up to us and complementing us on our clothes and our looks. I was like...."??????" I asked myself, "why are these people so wishy-washy?" Didn't understand why back then but we do now.
If we were both as confident back then as we were now, man... high school and especially college would have been very memorable. Both of us really just stuck to overloading ourselves with work and extracurriculars to distract ourselves then when we came out to each other it made sense why we kept so busy.
Both of us pretended to pretty much be str8 but my twin had a sexual experience with a guy when he was 20 I think. Thank goodness it was just over the phone back then lol. When he told me that he had phone sex, I had to clutch my pearls! LMBO JK. But yeah I was still getting used to him being openly gay with me and I was getting used to myself still accepting myself for who I was until I came out to him when I was 22. I am now 25 and so much further along in my journey. Still haven't had sex yet but it is fine. Porn will have to just do the job until I find a man worthy of me.
- Thread: Worst Roommate I Ever Had
I lived in a suite my freshman year of college. Four rooms, eight guys, and a shared living room and bathroom. Each room had two guys. They were stereotypical "bro" suitemates. Loud, abrasive, etc. First semester my roommate would bring girls over and have sex in our room. A few times was okay, but I found it annoying the more it happened. I would just sleep in the living room if I knew I was being sexiled. One night I was sleeping, he brought a girl over and started having sex with her when I was literally still in the room. I got annoyed, grabbed my blanket and pillow and went to the living room only to discover that my other suitemate was also having sex with a girl on the couch. Nowhere else to go. Tried to go down the hall to the lounge but it was used up. Luckily one of other suite mates was getting high somewhere and left his room unlocked so I went to sleep in his room. Fortunately, I sorta had my revenge later in the year. I started dating my boyfriend at the time and made sure to sexile my roommate just so he could see how it felt. Me and my dude even sorta messed around in the living room once or twice. Nothing too explicit, but definitely not G rated either. That definitely made my suitemates uncomfortable. They would lock themselves in their rooms or leave. Not trying to see no gay shit. Meh.
- Aug 28, 2015
- Daps Received:
I actually really enjoyed this. It was a very honest depiction of how two people can connect even in a short amount of time. It doesn't have that typical formula gay films use. I believe this is on Netflix
- Thread: THE INTERNET GUITARIST STEVE LACY CONFIRMS HE’S BISEXUAL – BUT SAYS HE WON’T DATE BLACK GUYS
Why do black people care about who is attracted to them?! At the end of the day, if you are not trying to date this man then go find a black man who is into black men! That's it! Don't sweat this dude. Pretty much anyone that has ties to GOLF WANG is anti-black when it comes to dating aside from Syd. Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean and Steven Lacy.... they all don't date black but my day is still fine and I know I still look fine AF just like you guys are fine AF.
Calling @African King in this because Nick just started a war lol:
I'll only answer from an African perspective.
Re: Homophobic upbringing/home country - that's just the hand we were dealt with. If you knew that the worst case scenario about being "exposed" as gay/bisexual is a tortuous death and the best case scenario is being disowned by your family, friends, and your community you would be paranoid too. It's a whole thing: I am sure you've seen videos/articles about people being exposed in Jamaica, Cameroon, Uganda etc and what happens to them?... It is also mostly psychological(especially for those living in the West) , sometimes I wonder if it would be as bad as I make it if I ever came out to my family or friends, but we'll never know now will we? Speaking from personal experience, it has been an uphill battle... Everyone just assumes I am straight, so I learned to play the game and go with the flow. I can't say it hasn't been exhausting. It is a full-time job being an actor, after all...and I can't do that DL shit...I just can't. So, I've handling this the best way I can: First, I stopped worrying too much about "coming out". I realized it wasn't that important to me.
I am naturally an introvert, not big on public speaking or big-ass weddings; I mostly fly under the radar. So, I'll continue being myself. Second, I stopped worrying too much about what everybody else thinks about the way I live my life. Yes, I won't give my mom some fantasy daughter-in-law or some superman grandkids, so I'll learn to live with that and she'll do the same. It'll probably take me a while to get to the point where I volunteer telling folks that I am gay/bi, but if I am caught slipping, I won't deny the charges.
I just wish dudes would stop asking me what I think about this girl they saw on Instagram and what that ass look like or what have you: someday I am just going to be like "forget the girl, did you peep dude's ass tho? bubbly amiright?"
Re - Fem Africans - Oh they out there . I know a few lol the difference is that they aren't usually that conspicuous. They are usually pretty chill and easy going(contrary to the "fem" stereotype) Just folks like us trying to get through the work week unnoticed.
I mean, I get it. I do. But I dislike how discussions on racism in the gay community always revolve around sex and attraction. It always involves men of color wanting to be desired by blonde hair, blue eyed Billy and Bobby. Like who cares? Why do we feel like we need to be desirable to white boys? Let's talk about real racism in the LGBT community. Like how a lot of resources for HIV/AIDS research amongst LGBT organizations dwindled once gay white men were no longer the largest victims of the epidemic. Despite the fact that gay black men are still infected at increasingly high rates. Or how the majority of hate crimes amongst LGBT people are people of color especially trans women of color. And yet organizations don't necesssarily reflect that. Those are real discussions of race and racism I want to have. Not whether or not Bobby likes black guys. Wanting to be desired by white men, in my opinion, just feeds into white supremacy.
I want to be in one "eventually" because I want the partnership, union of love that I can't from get from family and friends.I believe that just because relationships fail doesn't make them less valued. I won't get the same bond that will come from a "relationship." Why can't we see 2 masculine men flourishing together without beating each other physically. No competition, wiling to be wrong and submit to each other.
If no one takes that risk? 30 years from now we will be in the same space asking the same old tired questions. I will admit now that my attitude is gone.I didn't know that the young fraternity couple were not together. It would not have been posted.
But, that won't be every gay couples reality. Just because those are not highlighted doesn't mean they don't exist. Every one argues whether you are in a sexual relationship are not. That is part of our human make up. We cry when we get are ass whopped, by parents, someone dies, or losing a job. We can't let that be a reason to block ourselves from one of the highest and intimate love possible.
- Thread: Question for Masculine Bottoms
There's nothing wrong with beugh a masvjmasc total bottom.
I think because people have associated bottoming with femininity and the fact that mostly fem bottoms tend to be visible in the media, it's harder for people to imagine masc total bottoms especially black ones.
Just do you.
- Thread: What I HATE About Pron
I just can't use my vidster or xtube. To me its not user friendly like xhamster and pornhub.
*Screaming dudes who sound like women.
*Kats who push rope.
*Muthafuckas pissing every damn where. I'm like...who is gonna clean this up?
- Thread: Trendy or Overly Trendy Dudes
I know I come off as cynical and bitter, but this shit is yet another reason why I'm over the gay scene and these trendy gaylebrities, party promoters, bartenders, socialites, etc...
Trendy Nikkas be wearing space boots and tight wool sweaters with zippers and leather patches like its normal.
I was 15. He was 17. High School. Being in a relationship as a teenager is one of the whackiest, craziest, hormonal feelings ever. When we first became intimate, I realized how inaccurate and unrealistic porn really was. I remember after the first time, I felt like I did something wrong and just sat there without saying anything. That had more to do with internalized homophobia than anything else.
I learned that gossip spreads fast in high school. People can be messy. I was outed soon after. But I also learned that most people didn't really care.
I learned that I would never have the same feelings for a girl as I did with a guy. When I dated girls, everything felt robotic. I didn't know when I was supposed to kiss her or what I should do to her. With a guy, there was still a learning curve, but everything felt more natural.
I also learned that it's normal to really reflect what's going on. I found myself thinking things like, "Wow, I'm actually kissing a dude. He has a mustache." lol.
Basically, it's a unique and interesting learning experience.
When we started this website 8 years ago (then under a different name), one of my main motivations was to highlight the Gay and Bisexual Black male creatives that didn’t seem to be getting any press coverage elsewhere. Especially those that leaned on the more masculine side of the spectrum. Never did I think we would make it this far so quickly.
Yes, I said the dreaded “M” word: Masculine. Believe it or not, there was a time (8 years ago) when there were hardly any narratives from the masculine gay man’s perspective. We were told to “live in our truths,” which at that time meant to be more effeminate or to just be quiet and embrace flamboyant gay culture.
Obviously there is nothing wrong with those perspectives, we just didn't relate to them. They didn't speak to our personal daily struggles, thoughts, interests and perspectives as Black gay men who grew up adopting (admittedly) straight, hyper-masculine culture. We were a weird hybrid of gay man.
At that time, “The DL Chronicles” was only form of entertainment that I saw elements of myself and others like me.
For those reasons, these masculine gay men sharing their reality through art were basically ignored or were called “boring” for not being more flamboyant by the predominant voices in the “community.”
“They need to live in their truth and stop trying to be straight,” is a paraphrased comment we saw shared by self-described “Snap Queens.”
We pushed back on that. Even when we didn’t necessarily love the content that they made, we went out of our way (and spent many unpaid hours) writing reviews and conducting interviews with Black Gay Filmmakers, Writers, Stand-Up Comedians, Actors, Artists and even the highly sought after “Gay Rappers.”
The first openly gay rapper that I “discovered” was an artist named Bry’Nt, a young, handsome rap artist with a quintessential New York “Latino Fan Club” vibe (for better or worse) and a heavy mix of Lil Kim influence.
While the notion that a ‘gay rapper’ already existed intrigued me (despite Angie Martinez and Wendy Williams still searching for one hiding in the mainstream), at the time, Bry’Nt didn’t appeal to me musically. What he did do for me was to introduce me to an entire community of talented openly gay rap artists already active and eager to make it big in the music industry.
The first rap artist that we devoted an entire blog post to was a nonchalant, mild mannered (for better or worse), impressively talented wordsmith from St. Louis who went by the name of of Last Offence (aka Lasto).
Published on November 17th, 2011, my reviews of Lasto’s debut mixtapes “Run A Lap” and “Not for Non Profit” demonstrated that, unlike most other gay bloggers only interested in their sexual positions, we were more interested in the lives of the artists and the art itself.
In subsequent years, we had conversations and interviews with other Out rappers such as the aforementioned Bry’Nt (who we then crowned the King of Gay Battle Rap), Kaoz, Earthtone, Fly Young Red and many others were featured or highlighted on the site in one way or another.
[TL;DR: We have supported our community in our own small way and have the receipts to prove it.]
Although these musicians varied in their overall appeal and skills, the one constant with them all was just how difficult it was being openly gay in Hip Hop, a genre of music with hyper-masculinity and homophobia so firmly embedded into its DNA.
Even to this day, vile YouTube content creator DJ Vlad is still throwing hyper-masculine hotep rappers in front of cameras and asking them about homosexuality and trans people.
Joe Budden hosts one of the most popular Hip Hop Podcasts in the history of podcasts, yet the words “suspect” and “no homo” are still uttered by him and his co-hosts on a frequent basis.
And even this month we’ve seen ‘religious homophobia’ rearing its ugly head on social media during the discussions on musician Tank’s recent comments on sexuality:
Despite all of that, this happened:
Given our 8-year journey on Cypher Avenue following the accomplishments of Gay and Bisexual men of color, I’m immensely proud of Lil Nas X. And I’m happy to say that we featured Lil Nas X on this site even before he came out publicly as gay.
Lil Nas X adds another milestone to a long line of them.
On Oct. 22, the RIAA announced that Nas X’s “Old Town Road” had been certified 10-times platinum after selling 10 million units. The single, which has seen remixes featuring Young Thug, Billy Ray Cyrus and more, has gone diamond.
As we alluded to up top, this is just the latest Lil Nas X accomplishment. Earlier this year, the rapper broke the record for the longest-streak of No. 1 placements on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Using a memorable hook, comedic southern drawl and Nas X’s keen understanding of social media, his breakout single surpassed internet phenomenon status a few times over.
Many long time readers may have noticed that in recent years, our coverage of LGBT entertainers and content creators has diminished. This is partially due to time constraints, but more so it is amazing to see just how ‘common’ mainstream content featuring Gay and Bisexual men of color has become.
From famous Lil Nas X to infamous Jussie Smollett (formally) of Empire, from Frank Ocean to Moonlight, From Dear White People to the dozens of web series and Soundcloud musicians out there, gay men of color are no longer relegated to sassy queen hair dresser stereotypes.
And it only took 8 years.
Just as Lil Nas X owes a small part of his success to the gay rappers that paved the way before him, Cypher Avenue deserves a little credit as well. And by ‘small part’ I do mean very small. Clearly, 20-year-old Montero Lamar Hill’s success is of his own making. However, we have no idea if the creative work and visibility of Bry’Nt, Lasto, Kaoz and others had some indirect influence on Lil Nas X, an artist who clearly grew up on the Internet, YouTube, Social Media and blogs like Cypher Avenue.
I’d like to believe that he did. Hell, even we did…and we continue to do so to this day. We researched tons of bloggers like Rod McCullom, DJ Baker and others before starting our own site. We even supported the young bucks that came after us (#RIP to Mused Magazine).
Creatives, we’re all low key watching each other. We all occasionally see someone doing something online (or in public) that we want to do as well. Some of us get so motivated that we just dive into the deep end and join the pool, while others sit back lurking, supporting us from afar.
Without knowing a thing about blogging, Ocky Williams and I dived in and started what would eventually become one of the most visited Black gay websites on the planet. This is not an overstatement, we had a crazy, unexpected (and controversial) run for a minute. Even to this day, there are still no other LGBT websites that speaks to and for our niche audience (for better or worse). Many of the long time readers have since connected in meet-ups and have become friends IRL.
So what’s the point of this blog post? To pat ourselves on the back and take credit for Lil Nas X’s achievements? Nah, that was all him. And homophobia still exists. Transphobia still exists. Stereotypes still exist. One may ask, has anything really changed at all?
My answer is “Yes.” Baby steps.
I think the point of this essay is to just revel in and be proud of this moment in history. A moment in history that we are a part of, even if in a very small way. History may not write about the contributions of those pioneering gay rappers, but we did, in the moment.
I have accomplished a lot in my short life, but one of my greatest contributions to society as a whole has been sharing my “truth” through this website and sharing the work of other underrepresented gay & bisexual men like me as well.
We didn't start this site to become gay famous or to get dates or to get into gay clubs for free. It was to fill a void in the stories and conversations on being Gay Men of Color.
I have a sense of pride and purpose when I get emails from men saying how much this website has helped them. When the members here tell us that they have made best friends through initially connecting on this website, I feel that the unpaid work and sacrifices to keep this site going have been worth it.
Even if only 100 people saw an interview or web series review, those 100 people may have NEEDED to see that to help make them feel more accepted, or to inspire them to make something as well, or to expose a non-LGBT person to a way of life that turns out to be not too different than their own.
I can only imagine how someone like Lil Nas X, a person who has reached millions more people than us, must feel. The pride, the sense of responsibility, the pressure to succeed and make mistakes in public. I don’t envy him but I appreciate everything he’s done to live in his own truth as an artist and hopefully inspire others as well.
I’m excited to see what the future holds for us.
Here’s to the next 8 years…and beyond.
How to Make Friends as a Grown-Up | Nerd Fitness
This is not a pity post or a cry for attention.
I have been in Atlanta for almost 5 years. I feel like I have only actually made acquaintances. I have not been able to make a new friend that I did not know in some form prior to moving here. By friend I mean a person who I talk to, visit, hang out with, and do activities with on occasion who shares mutual interests with me on a platonic level.
Honestly it's been very lonely at times here and I have felt isolated and closed off despite what any photos I have posted may have one to think.
"So often we let little connections lapse and fizzle out because each person assumes that the other would reach out if they wanted to… so then neither one does… and then the other doesn’t, either."
While I have met people here things just kind of faded away or we've drifted apart for whatever reasons. The above statement has definitely been me. Now I wonder if all of my disconnections were in fact this. As person who has felt they've put in efforts to connect, my analytical side keeps track and notices when the ratio of me making the first contact is higher than that of the other person's. It's tiring feeling like you're the only one reaching out. I decode that to mean "you're not interested in hanging out with me and that's fine at least you're not ignoring me, I have not been impressing upon you that you'd think of taking initiative with communication with me first. Noted."
I have been told I'm a "great guy" "hilarious" "smart" often but it gets hard to see that for myself when others get invited to places or always have people to hang out with and talk to. So then I constantly wonder what is wrong with me if all of those adjectives are true. I mean how could they be if my phone hardly rings or text alert hardly goes off? I have questioned for a while if I'm just not likeable as those adjectives are not mutually exclusive to likeabliity. Again I'm told I am likeable but don't give off that I'm actually approachable. So I'm working on body language going forward.
This posting showed up in my inbox today and gave me some independent, objective advice I had not really considered and ways to work around them. Maybe I have been too black and white and robotic when meeting people or engaging in Conversations? I don't consider myself charming or that interesting. But I can say I've been skeptical and cynical. My best friend suggested to not use past bad experiences as the expectation. I am definitely taking that into consideration.
Maybe people are actually trying to talk to
/with me instead of my perception of them talking just at me?
We will see.
Cypher Avenue is a community that is constantly changing. We sometimes have heated or uncomfortable discussions, but through it all, members care about each other.
We take mental health seriously.
If you or someone you know is currently battling a physical or psychological crisis, please call 911 immediately. If you need someone to talk to for any reason, including for thoughts of suicide, please follow these instructions:
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
-Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
-Use the online messaging service here: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
For the youngins, contact the Trevor Project in these ways:
-TrevorLifeline—A crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
-TrevorText—Text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available Monday through Friday between 3pm–10pm EST / Noon–7pm PT
For more information, you can go here: Get Help Now – The Trevor Project
TrevorSpace—An online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends.
Trevor Support Center—Where LGBTQ youth and allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity and more.
Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
Finally, if you're interested in learning about depression, this is a great place to start: Depression and How Psychotherapy and Other Treatments Can Help People Recover
@Nick Delmacy @OckyDub
Moonlight’s Jharrel Jerome and Ashton Sanders won Best Kiss at the MTV Movie and TV Awards Sunday, beating out heavy kissers like La La Land’s Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
Sanders, 21, and Jerome, 19, were both shocked as they walked onstage to accept the award, but it was their speech that stood out even more.
“I really have to start with saying thank you to my parents,” said Jerome. “I love y’all so much. But on a real note, I think it is safe to say that it is OK for us young performers, especially us minority performers, to step out of the box. It’s OK for us to step out of the box and do whatever it takes to tell the story and whatever it takes to make the change.
“This award is for that,” he added. “It’s for us artists who are out there, who need to do whatever it takes to get people to wake up.”
Others nominated in the same category included Beauty and the Beast’s Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, Empire’s Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, and Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick for Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates.
Cover art from Black Man in a White Coat, by Damon Tweedy.
As a doctor (who happens to be a longtime Cypher Avenue member), I suppose I should have said something sooner. But I think now is as good time as any.
Primary care is integral to your health. Just like maintenance is important for your car, it’s also important for your body. It’s not good enough to show up when you’re sick- you need to periodically check in with your doctor to anticipate problems you may not even be aware that exists.
For full disclosure, again, I’m a primary care doctor. Yes, I do this for a living. My purpose here is to help you think about optimizing your health and to help you determine where there might be improvements.
Primary care for men who have sex with men (MSM) is like most primary care- preventative. MSM is not a PC term- it describes behavior, not orientation, so it’s more useful.
Before you go to see your doctor, prepare an agenda of issues that you’d like to discuss. This will help guide the interview and possible interventions.
Ideally you should have a doctor (or PA or NP) who is open to you and is not judgmental. I’m one of those people. Yes, I have many gay patients…and even though I’m not out to many of them, I think the word might be out that there might be a young, black, gay male primary doctor who prescribes PrEP and also does home visits. I say this to say, find someone you trust. And if it doesn’t work, ask for a transfer or seek another provider. There are plenty of LGBT or LGBT-friendly clinics around.
These are some of the things I discuss with patients:
*General health, hospital admissions, family history, current medications, allergies.
Social stuff like living situation (is it secure or not?), work life, drug or substance use (smoking increases risk of cancer, alcohol increases risk of cirrhosis, other drugs increase STD risk and dependency).
*Depression and anxiety – both very common with at least 20% of the population experiencing at least one episode in life.
*Fitness, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol.
*General immunizations like flu and tetanus.
*Age-specific concerns like osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, erectile dysfunction (yes, also happens in the 20s!).
Specific MSM Issues
Sex practices – I break it down. Are you top? Bottom? Vers? Using condoms or not? Using drugs during or not? HIV status of partner(s)? Number of recent partner (s). Yes, all uncomfortable questions, but important to ensure we can decrease risk factors. This ends up being a long discussion since I also recommend STI testing and provide education on PrEP and even PEP (pre and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention).
Intimate partner violence – friends, it happens. We need a plan to keep you safe if it’s happening.
Cancer screening (if necessary) – including prostate, testicular, colon cancer, rectal cancer. Please note that information regarding screening has changed, and generally, NO, you DON’T need an anal pap…unless you are HIV positive.
Immunization Status – Hep A, Hep B, HPV (until 26), bacterial meningitis (everyone)
STI Screening – when done properly, you should have every possible site of exposure tested. So, if you’re an “oral top” (or whatever people call themselves now… ), your penis and throat need to be cultured/tested. Vers dudes need 3 site testing – throat, penis, rectum. For “total bottoms”, 2 sites. This should be done at least every 6 months. For some, every 3-6 months is needed. You’ll also need blood tests for: syphilis, HIV and at least Hep C. Know your status friends!
STI screening is really important since untreated STIs facilitate HIV transmission. So yes, chlamydia increases the possibility of contracting HIV. That’s one reason why the health department calls people to tell them about possible exposures. I can’t stress this enough.
Whew, ok that was a lot. Let me know if you have any questions @NikR
Read the whole post here.
By Pedro Fequiere
What’s up, y’all? I’m Pedro. I’m 24 years old, and like most black men my age I have to be extremely careful with what I choose to wear.
Every day, we are essentially dressing for survival.
Throughout my life, I’ve experienced a collection of microaggressions — from employees following me in stores to women gripping their purses at the sight of me. At 13 years old, I was detained by the cops on suspicion of something I didn’t do. Just the other day, a woman grabbed her child and hurried into a store to get away from me when I was walking around the block. I don’t want to be another statistic and have my appearance be the blame for it. But I won’t conform and change my appearance just to make people feel more comfortable around me. I dress myself exclusively to fit my mood, which is often “laid-back/something I can skate in” chic, or whatever. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’m curious to see how much of an effect my wardrobe choices have on my life as a young black man in Los Angeles.
So to find out, I decided to dress up for a week and then dress down for a week to see how people treated me.
1. I must perform the same activities in both weeks.
2. While dressing up, I must have my shirt tucked in and wear a tie and/or blazer.
3. While dressed down, all outfits must be something I can comfortably sleep in.
4. I will not expose my tattoos in either weeks.
5. I will not change my typical behaviors or act differently than I normally would.
Thoughts while dressing up: I felt pretentious, uncomfortable, and embarrassed, especially because of the blazer. A certain Kanye West line came to mind when he says, “So I don’t listen to the suits behind the desk no more / You n****s wear suits ‘cause you can’t dress no more” on “Last Call.” I softened my walk to mute the piercing click-clack of my shoes, my belt had to be constantly adjusted, and on top of it, these pants were giving me a slight wedgie.
Experiences: The woman who worked at 7-Eleven greeted me with a smile and instantly asked, “What is THIS for? Meeting or interview?” “It’s for work,” I said, as I grabbed my change for the bus. She raised her eyebrows and subtly nodded her head. This was within the first 10 minutes of my day, and I thought to myself, Damn, this is going to be an eventful two weeks. My bus pass had insufficient funds, but before I could use the change I got at 7-Eleven, the driver told me it was OK. That was pretty tight. I got to save my change.
For lunch, I headed to BLD, a kind of upscale-ish lunch spot. The service was cool — the server seated me at the front of the restaurant and I received my order ahead of two gentlemen who were there before me. I walked over to Chase Bank and the security guard not only opened the door for me but also gave me a heads-up about signing a waitlist to be assisted by a teller. On my way out after I asked him where the ATM was he chased me down to inform me about the available parking, assuming that I drove, but I had walked.
Thoughts while dressing down: I felt much more comfortable in my hoodie and sweats. I didn’t have to worry about the click-clack of the dress shoes or if my belt was in its proper place. An anti-suit ’04 Kanye West would be proud.
Experiences: I saw the same woman at 7-Eleven and she only asked me if I wanted a receipt. My bus pass, again, had insufficient funds, and the driver didn’t move the bus until I put a quarter in and began to pay the fare. It was then she told me I was OK to go. So I still got to save my change, but it was slightly different this time.
I went to BLD for lunch again, and was greeted by the same server. This time he looked toward the back of the restaurant for a place to seat me. He ended up seating me in the front, coincidentally by the cash register. I received my food fairly fast and he asked me if I needed hot sauce, paused, then added salt and pepper. I caught him looking at me in his peripheral during my meal. At Chase, the same security guard only greeted me with a head nod. Nobody assisted me as I walked in, and after sitting there for several minutes, I remembered to sign the waitlist. The teller who helped me last week was walking a client out and after passing me a couple times, he finally approached me.
Thoughts while dressing up: I was much more confident in what I was wearing. I was relieved without the blazer because I felt like I was giving off Secret Service or press conference vibes, and without it I was just some corporate dude doing adult stuff. That comfort was shattered as soon as the click-clack of my shoes announced my arrival. I prefer to be seen and not heard. Although now I have a newfound respect for galloping horses.
Experiences: I went to the gym, punched in my phone number, signed in with my thumbprint, and was greeted with a “Have a great workout, Pedro.” At CVS, the cashier said, “How are you doing, boss?” and I got a “good evening” from the greeter at The Last Bookstore downtown. As my man Ice Cube would say, “Today was a good day.”
Thoughts while dressing down: I made sure I wore this outfit the day I drove to work because of the red flannel. I’m conscious of where I’m going and the colors I wear, because I can be mistaken for a gang member. My legs were cold and my slippers’ lack of traction made me self-conscious.
Experiences: I wasn’t treated any differently at the gym, but people aren’t usually in their Sunday best anyway. The cashier at CVS was looking at me in the corner of his eyes but didn’t say anything. I crossed the street, and a man in a shirt and tie rolled his windows down and turned his music up. He was playing Future and made sure that it caught my attention. Even though I’ve had Dirty Sprite 2 on constant rotation, it weirded me out having this man actively seek my attention with it. At the bookstore, I got standard hellos and goodbyes from the employees.
Thoughts while dressing up: I’ve been getting compliments from my co-workers, so I was looking forward to getting snazzy and completing my outfit with a tie. I’ve also gotten accustomed to waking up earlier and ironing my shirt and slacks.
Experiences: A neighbor, who has literally never made eye contact with me before today, smiled and said, “Good morning.” I went to Lulu’s for lunch and the owner welcomed me with a smile and led me to my usual seat. My order got messed up and I was given fruit instead of fries, but the woman waiting my table quickly fixed that.
On my way out, a group of middle-aged men moved to let me pass through. I headed over to Meltdown Comics, where I felt out of place because of my clothes, yet right at home because I was surrounded by the things I love. At Vacation Vinyl, I got a “What’s up man?” from the guy behind the counter who followed up with “Are you looking for anything in particular?” He got excited when I asked him about a Turnstile record and we started a conversation about hardcore and punk bands.
Thoughts while dressing down: I threw on a simple hoodie with sweatpants that fit better than my previous day’s gear. I mentally prepared myself for the microaggressions I was going to experience during my morning routine while reminding myself to act as I normally would.
Experiences: I felt good walking to Lulu’s for lunch, but the hoodie-sweats combo wasn’t the best move for the warm weather. I saw the same waitress and she quickly announced my order to me before I could get a word in. On my way back to work, a valet almost ran through me and I low-key had to jump out of the way. At Meltdown Comics, I found a comic by an artist I went to school with, so I asked the employee how one can submit their work to the store. He asked me about my Tumblr account, and liked my work! That was really cool. In my experience, visual artists have always been accepting, but I especially appreciated that moment of validation.
Thoughts while dressing up: I felt really fresh! I liked the turtleneck because it covered up my long-ass neck. Not a fan of the blazer, but the turtleneck evened it out. And after the third day, these slacks weren’t too bad. Third day’s a charm, I guess.
Experiences: I had to run after my bus and hop on at the next intersection. The bus driver smiled at me as I thanked her. When a few black teenagers got on the bus, I felt like their elder in my getup. I went to the Beverly Center and immediately felt so formal and stiff, like a total dweeb. I decided to work my way from the mid-level stores to the luxury ones. At Express Men, the associate was really courteous and told me about the current deals, then left me to shop. I wasn’t as comfortable at Club Monaco, where the employees were on shoplifting-prevention watch. They started a fitting room for me, and one of the women told me she liked my outfit, which made me feel less like a dweeb. I headed over to Louis Vuitton and browsed their shoe selection, where an employee told me, “We have a lot of styles, great colors.”
Thoughts while dressing down: I love this hoodie and would probably add it to my actual wardrobe if it wasn’t so oversize. I was a little wary about how people were going to treat me at the mall this time around, but I wasn’t as self-conscious as I was last week.
Experiences: I went to Express Men and there wasn’t an associate in sight so I walked around. Eventually a woman appeared and asked me if I needed anything; I told her I was just browsing, and I caught her staring at me a couple of times as I looked around. When I requested a size check at Club Monaco, the woman seemed annoyed but she eventually found the shirt. It was frustrating at Louis Vuitton because not only was it obvious that they had two sets of eyes on me, but also because nobody bothered to acknowledge me as a customer. Before I had the chance to look at anything, or even make it much past the entrance, a security guard approached me asking if I had any questions. At this point, I was so bothered by the experience that I wanted to leave, but I checked out the shoes only to be ignored by the man working there.
Thoughts while dressing up: Getting dressed up is cool. I feel fancy, but not myself. I’m glad this is the last day because I’m running out of outfits! Walking around like this makes me feel more important than I actually am. I’ve also noticed more people wearing suits, in the same way that I noticed everyone with locs once I got my hair locked.
Experiences: At the bus stop, I noticed that my fly was open, which made me realize that I haven’t changed regardless of the clothes I wear. My headphones were on full blast as I did my best J Dilla head-nod rendition. A woman took the seat next to me on the bus, even though there were a good amount of available spots.
Thoughts while dressing down: I was relieved and happy that this was my final day. I questioned why I really did this experiment, and “I did it to piss myself off” was only thing I could come up with. It has been a trying week.
Experiences: As I waited for the bus at the bench, a car pulled up on the far right lane and left an unreasonable amount of space between it and the car ahead. The only thing in between the cars was me. Maybe it was just keeping a safe distance, or maybe locking their door was too mid-’90s. An elderly couple also kept their distance from me at the bus stop and waited at the corner. As I saw the bus down the street, I got up and stood behind the couple, allowing them to get on before me. They instantly got up and took the bench. The older man finally understood my gesture as the bus pulled up to the stop. As I walked to my second bus, a woman moved her purse to the shoulder farther away from me. I couldn’t help but walk with a lot less pep in my step and I actually got emotional putting that in my notes.
During my dress-up week of blazers, ties, belts, and loud-ass shoes my initial discomfort faded as I noticed my treatment improved. It was really surprising to see how frequently I was made aware of my identity once I was dressed down. I would love to give people the benefit of the doubt, but they weren’t isolated incidents. There were multiple moments where I felt unaccepted and feared.
It’s this same assumed uneasiness that can cause a police officer to shoot an unarmed black child, teenager, or adult. This predisposed perception of black men being violent criminals gives others the consent to write off our mistreatment as something we deserve rather than prejudice and injustice. What I wore while dressing down is no different from what an average college student might wear to class. But why does a women need to protect her belongings from me in broad daylight? Why must it be for an interview if I’m dressed up? Why does a group of retail associates need to divert all their attention to me when I’m in a hoodie? Or why do they feel I’m more approachable with my shirt tucked in? I don’t know, but I shouldn’t have to change what I’m wearing to not be feared.
A Black Man Wore Different Kinds Of Clothing To See If People Treated Him Differently
- Thread: Why We Do What We Do
Below is a comment we received via FaceBook...
"Good evening, I want to greatly thank Nick Delmacy and Octavius Williams for the creating such an incredible venue for black gay men who are proud of their masculinity and don't conform to stereotypes. Recently, I've been enjoying Inside The Mind of Octavius Williams video clips, which has personally resonated with me because, as a homosexual black male who grew up in one of the most repressive states of the US South (Alabama), I can surely relate to the yearning for belonging to one's own black male peers which had been elusive for me. I now reside in Florida.
I was never sexually molested and had both a mother and a father in my life married and living together, contrary to common views/misconceptions about homosexuality. I was naive to the fact that my peers made it clear that I was different and ostracized me, although I wasn't behaving effeminately yet I stood out to them. I even tried to fit in with the local LGBT community during my college years, yet I stood out like fish out of water. I had so-called gay peers to call me stuck-up just because I wasn't down for whatever or gave in to their sexual demands. Hell, I even had gay white peers to say I was 'acting white' just because I didn't match what they saw from a damn hip hop/rap music video. I, too, have found myself being more of a loner because of past bullshit and drama from so-called friends/peers. And to add insult to injury, I grew up having to deal with the emotional loneliness and the fact that not even my relatives (and parents) truly understood me because of their own personal hang-ups about homosexuality.
- Thread: From the heart...
I posted this on FB last week and I'm sharing here too...just in case someone needs this...
Mental illness is serious! Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, OCD, PTSD and other mental health issues ARE REAL! If you feel something isn't right or you're constantly battling internal issues that you don’t understand, it doesn't make you weak to seek help. It’s not disrespectful to your religion to seek therapy instead of “praying it away” or “not claiming it”. It’s not something to sweep under the rug or be ashamed of. Let go of your pride.
Remember this, we're not as weak as we think...but we're also not as strong as we think.
For me, there are times I wish I could turn my brain off due to constant worrying, negativity and OVERTHINKING that can lead to drastic mood shifts. I've felt hopeless and useless. I've been to (and still frequent) VERY dark places. I’ve battled with addiction. Hell, I've been suicidal. I’ve lost years of my life wanting to do so much, but feeling defeat and angst before I even start and didn’t know why.
However, one of the best decisions I ever made was to seek professional help and begin healing from the inside. It's NOT a destination, it's a journey…a rocky journey that I’m still on seeking strength, answers, purpose and more importantly, to BREAK CYCLES!!
I want anyone going through this to know that you are NEVER alone and it's ok to admit that you can’t fix it by yourself. I want to see everyone win. I want everyone to understand that they're good enough. I want any and EVERYONE who may be struggling to overcome it. So, take it easy on yourself, breathe, HOLD TIGHT TO YOUR FAITH and NEVER feel bad for taking care of YOU!
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