Purple Haze and “(No) Homo” Ways in my School Daze
This blog is in response to Ocky Williams’ Raymond Helped Me Realize I Was Homo.
We all have some insight about who we are and it is clear that, for some of us, the paths toward who we are were paved by stories written in adolescence. Here is my take on one of those stories in those years:
High school. I was a little different than a lot of boys “in my weight class:” We were cool- taller than most, had muscular frames, made jokes about the girls, picked on smaller dudes, but I never played sports. I ran track, never competitively (even as a masculine kid growing up, the locker room was scary as hell- I refused to go anywhere near it), and I was in the orchestra. Yes, the orchestra (massive nerd alert).
At my “in-the-hood” high school, somewhere on the East Coast, the marching band and orchestra were housed in the same room. We sometimes practiced at the same time. There was this dude in the marching band. I’ll call him Bass-head, because he played the bass. He came in as a junior my sophomore year. This dude was everything: 6’1, football body, dark, hyper masculine: the way (I gotta admit) I like them. Here I was: 5’11 (thought I am 6’1 now), athletic build, thick, dark, and a wearer (or bearer) of glasses. I was kinda timid (in the nerdy sense) but I still had “stain” so people fuk’d with me even though I was in the orchestra.
Purple Haze. One day, sophomore year, Bass-head started talking to me. “You play the violin?” I’m like, “Yea.” I really wanted to say, “Nicca, it’s in my hand aint it!?” After that, we would chat about random sh*t, from football to our school shows to the movie Drumline to music we could play. Then it happened: Purple Haze (Cam’ron) came out. This was my shit! I mentioned it one day to one of the football players (who was also this dope dude) and Bass-head (when he saw me talking to the dude) came up to us and was like: “Yo, you should come chill with me.” Later that day, Bass-head came to my spot, picked me up, and we rode around our hood all night. We spent the night (and many, many nights after) eating taco bell (lmao), talking shit (trying to be deep), but mostly listening to this album. While we listened to the entire album, the song Suck it or not was somehow always on repeat. This dude would play this song and give me these weird looks.
Missionary, back shots, pop it off, rock it off
I tell you right now if my cock is soft
But I want head before and after, top it off
On ya knees, show you how to top a boss
Lick, suck, deep throat, stop, cough, hop on, hop off, lollipop off
I know it’s white, but here come the hot sauce
EVERY-TIME-THESE-WORDS-CAME-UP, he would be looking straight at me: rapping the lyrics in my ear, always mad close. When our eyes would catch the others, it felt like he was looking into me, like he knew. I didn’t really know (about being gay), so the fact that I thought he knew freaked me out. So, my heart beating hard in my chest, palms sweating, I would cower closer to the passenger door and say, “I gotta get home.”
“(No) Homo” Ways. Bass-head continued this ritual with me until I graduated high school in 2006. Thinking back, I knew (even then) that this was more than just two dudes chilling. It had to be. I was still highly under experienced (I didn’t have sex until I was 18), so the thought of him picking me up from school was enough to get me off. I started to really notice when he would “chirp” me (We had boost mobile, lmao) while I was in school (he had graduated) and say, “Yo, I’m outside. Leave school and come with me.” Yes, my hormones were outta control. I would leave school (it was my last year anyway) and do whatever this dude wanted. Then there were those moments when he touched me. He used to (purposely) rub up on me and go, “My bad.” Too many times he would comment on my backside. “When I get a girl, I hope her a$$ is as fat as yours.” He invited me to his crib. No one was ever home. He would walk around in his boxers. We would play fight (he in his boxers) and he would lay on top of me. And still, when I felt like something was about to happen, I would be like, “Yo, I gotta go home.”
The last time we chilled alone, we were in his room. He had other friends downstairs but he invited me up. He was wearing baby blue short and no shirt. He told me to sit on his bed and he started showing me the condoms (magnums) he had. Then this chick came upstairs and was like, “Bass-head, J-Stoob want you.” When she left I said, “We only got four minutes” (remember, Avant came out with that song the year before). I swear to God, Bass-head leaned in mad close, his hand behind me as if he were leaning in for a kiss, and said, “For what?” Young, dumb and scared shitless about being gay, I jumped up and was like, “To say what I gotta say…” I started singing the song. This dude’s face though: he looked mad as hell. When J-Stoob came up, Bass-head started talking about getting bit*%es and loving pu$$y all while looking directly at me. We didn’t speak after that.
(Sidebar: I lost my virginity this night. To another dude. He was 23 and said exactly what he wanted. Talking with him was different. It was a hookup with a dude I met in a church the day before (that’s another entry). It felt simpler. That’s why I gave it up.)
School Daze. Bass-head and I spent a lot of time together and I agree with Ocky, we had some very intimate times. Some nights, after we heard about someone who had gotten shot, we would sit in his car late and talk about how scared we were to be next. He would say things like, “Nah, I got you.” or “You ain’t going nowhere. You’re special.”
Point: Bass-head and I did this dance back in high school and I do appreciate it for what it was. Yet while next year marks my tenth anniversary graduating from high school, I have to say: my interactions with other masculine queer black dudes remain the same: We dance and dance around our physical and verbal engagements, never getting to say exactly what we want. I have been largely successful with some dudes in getting what we’ve wanted, but by the time we were sweaty and breathing heavily from sex, the moment somehow didn’t feel as special. The exhaustion I felt after our sex had more to do with having to do so much just to have sex. What is it about this interaction that is so attractive, at this point of our development as young (yet maturing) masculine queer black men? Are we still haunted by homophobia, afraid to evolve into the beautiful, masculine queer black men that we are? Are we really thrill seekers that have dedicated our romantic selves to the art of deception? Are we dancing to protect ourselves from the possibility of a physical altercation with a dude that we read wrong? Or are we, after having been hurt by (and having hurt) so many dudes, hoping to feel the kind of intimacy we did when things felt simple and exciting with our “Bass-heads” or “Raymonds”?
Bass-head, too, helped me realize I was a homo. He also taught me that masculine queer black men could only engage in sex and intimacy through an intricate, complex system of signs of guessing and hoping. He, like so many men I have engaged over the past ten years, taught me that relationships with other queer black (masculine) men has to be a tango of risk and anonymity: that I have to want, to express and do our attractions in my head while our bodies move, touch, and feel in the dark behind our eyes. Unspoken, but when discussed, the words that leave our mouths are the lyrics of homophobic (self-hate) songs on the albums of haze by which we “diddy bop” to, grooving to the bass that destroys the intimacy that we can no longer have.
What do you all think? As always share your thoughts and/or your own experiences.
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This was beautiful and true, and my heart feels all of this. I too remember those beautiful young men, we needed one another so much.