Fuck Fear

I’m not one for resolutions. Hell, I’m not even one for writing down the things I need from the supermarket. This year, I thought it would be neat if I tried something different and make one of those vision lists/boards that all the vibe-y people do on Instagram.

Lose Weight

Get Drivers License

Write 4 times per week for 30 min/day

Work out 3 times/week

 

By the end, I had about 40 things on there. I started to sweat and stared blankly at my phone like Beyoncé did on the B’Day cover.

When I first turned 30, I realized that my life was truly beginning and I didn’t need to worry about rushing to finish all of these goals and action items society (read: the fucking internet) tells us to complete before it. And in this moment, sitting on the couch, I realized that this still rings true after 30.

I deleted everything from my list and came up with two words.

Fuck Fear

 

I think it’s important to realize, for me, that all the things I procrastinate and make excuses for are rooted in fear from trauma. Personal trauma and societal trauma will have you out here looking crazy if you let it.

 

And so I say fuck fear and a great 2018.

 

Forward,

 

X.D.

I Changed My Mind, I’m On PrEP

I identify as a harm reductionist. I believe in the idea of being fully aware of the consequences of risky behaviors, and utilizing strategies to reduce the risk out of them. I look both ways before I cross the street. I keep my shoes tied. I wear condoms when I have sex. I do my part in trying to not put myself in harms way of anything that could be harmful — and ironically why I was against PrEP.

I couldn’t wrap my head around not using condoms, being tested regularly, and having to take a pill for the rest of my life. In the current state of Blackness and the way PrEP is marketed, I always felt like it was some racist target to medicate the Black gay community…or something. I mean, that’s not a far fetched idea right? The Tuskeegee Experiment comes to mind.

I guess I should explain what PrEP is, no? PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected. Essentially, a pill someone can take daily to greatly the reduce the risk of contracting HIV while in addition to practicing safe sex. We tend to always look for something quick to remedy us as opposed to focusing on the root of the problem. We see it with obesity, mainly. Hydroxycut, Phen-Phen, or those bad bitch teas they sell on instagram which is a one-stop-fix-this-problem magic potion without changing any of the behaviors contributing to the heart of the matter.

“Why can’t we just work out our issues with promiscuity, dating/sex apps, and dating by proxy? A pill is just contributing to the problem.”

That’s something I said numerous times, and it’s not completely off kilter. There’s this notion in the health community that we may be pacifying risky sexual behavior because HIV/AIDS campaigns aren’t aggressive enough in tackling reducing the community viral load — in other words, the ads suck and are too soft. “Oh, if I get infected I can take a pill, become undetectable and I’m cool? Bet.” That’s one argument. There’s a few others around. I was vehemently opposed to this entire concept until last week. I went to the doctor for the first time in years.

Full disclosure: the doctor is scary for me. Nothing ever has good with me visiting a doctor or a hospital so I stay away. I have had a change of heart recently due to a health concern (it was just acid reflux, I’m fine) and I went. I had a physical and had the doctor test me for everything. I got the results in two days, so naturally I was sweating bullets. I came back negative for everything…and I asked for a prescription for PrEP.

In March, Damon Young of VerySmartBrothas and The Root wrote about the reasons why Black men don’t go to the doctor. If straight Black men aren’t going to the doctor, imagine those who have sex with men. The stigma and fear, and lack of understanding from medical professionals is just enough for us Black gay men to rub some tussin on it and keep it pushin’.

What changed my mind?

Two things: statistics and quality of life.

We are becoming infected at an astronomical rate. I have no intentions on dating outside of my race to reduce the viral load due to it being concentrated with risk. In February of 2016, the Center for Disease Control announced that half of gay and bisexual black men and a quarter of gay and bisexual Hispanic men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes. The numbers show that it’s almost common place for Black MsM (men who have sex with men) to become infected. There’s a lot of us who are in committed monogamous relationships, and someone may be unfaithful and infect another person with the virus — a not uncommon story in the LGBTQ+ community. Also, people lie about their HIV status out of fear, denial, or them not knowing since, by large we don’t necessarily go to the doctor. There’s also a lack of sexual education in our community. Essentially, we’re socialized and learn how to protect ourselves in a heterosexual way, but not when it comes to having sex with other men. With that being said, it really lessens the dating pool.

Growing up gay, the golden ideal was to date and love someone who was not HIV positive as there was a fear you could contract HIV or some other social issue. There’s a lot of us who ideally would like someone who is not HIV negative, and whatever their reasons are it’s okay. But if the numbers are showing that half of us will become infected with HIV, and by large a lot of men (positive or not) aren’t compatible with you and trash, what’s left? This is all to assume that someone is being completely honest of course.

So, I decided to take PrEP in addition to condoms (because it does not protect against all STDs) as the air bags to my seatbelt. I did it for me.

And I feel good about it.

For more information, log on to http://www.whatisprep.org

For assistance on paying for PrEP, log on to https://start.truvada.com/paying-for-truvada

 

Being Okay with Being “Okay”

I’m often surrounded by messages, or I find myself in spaces of “self-empowerment.” There’s always a brother or sister circle advertised to uplift, encourage, and inspire. It’s often filled with phrases like “live or walk in your truth” or something that is meaningful to that group regardless of how hokey it may sound.

But… idk.

I often wonder if the question of knowing our self worth is a bit lofty. What if, even for some of us, our self worth is to be low? I often think about science and how it applies to regular-degular life — and natural selection comes up. This idea of “survival of the fittest!” Maybe everyone isn’t meant to be a star or important. This isn’t to be confused with the idea that everyone should feel validated, because that’s a thing and should continue to be. However, just maybe, some of us are just meant to be in the bleachers while the rest of us are out there going for gold.

This comes on the heels of a thought I have about relationships — a common theme: good enough to fuck, but not good enough in which to be in a relationship with. What is it about someone that makes them only good to fuck, but not good enough to cultivate a relationship? What is it that makes the folks who are sitting in the proverbial bleachers stay this way? How did it come to be? What is it about the proverbial players who are going for the gold that makes them stand out? Stellar? I’m learning that there are roles that we all play in life. Some of us are good and comfortable being in the bleachers. Some of us are good and content on winning that gold medal.  Some of us fall in between.

Just some thoughts. Discuss below.

Happy To Be Here

My mother wasn’t supposed to have children.  She was told by a doctor in 1985 that I wasn’t supposed to happen. She calls me her miracle baby. When I was several months old, a woman stopped my mother in a store while I was in a stroller. The woman looked at me and then looked at her. “This is a special child. He’s going to do great things,” she said. My mother believed it. Today is my birthday, and I believe it too.

I thought about what to write for the longest. I thought what epic, award-winning, gut wrenching post could I write that would define this milestone, this…moment. But, then I realized the ability to even write and just being able to exist is platinum in the hood. Now that I’m here, things all of a sudden seem less complicated, less convoluted, less cluttered. Clear, even.

I’m just happy to be here.

 

— buy me drinks here: https://cash.me/$XavierDLeau

XD’s 30th Birthday Playlist

It’s my 30th birthday, everyone! I’ve decided to celebrate by putting a 10-track dope playlist on Spotify to commemorate where I am in my life at the moment.

I hope you all enjoy!

I’m Lonely And You Probably Are Too

I haven’t been able to put in words what I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. You know when you have something to say, but aren’t sure how or what to say but you HAVE to get it out? On a train ride with a friend, she pieced it all together for me, and I came I had a bitter realization about myself and…the rest of the world. Let me explain.

I often see complaints about people’s dating lives. So many people I follow on social media lament over their dating woes and lack of love lives. Most of the complaints aren’t serious and rather trivial ranging from sexual positions or if the person has reliable transportation. I find myself thinking about these things, too and often times making mountains out of mole hills.

I also log on to Facebook and bitch and moan about another FB friend getting engaged or having a baby. It’s like, why on earth would I be upset about that? Those are joyous occasions and should be celebrated by everyone. And even if they’re ugly, at least you’d have something to laugh at, right?

So it’s like…what is wrong with me?

No one ever likes to admit that they’re lonely, but I guess I’ll set myself out there and truthfully admit that I am lonely. There’s power and freedom in pulling back the layers of what’s bothering us to get to the root of the issue. I find myself scoffing at happy couples, and where I publicly say that those things aren’t bothersome for me and that I mind my own business and all that jazz. In reality, as you get older, companionship–intimate companionship is the grand prize. Going through life alone is one of the worst things on the planet when the whole entire world hates you. I’m Black, gay, opinionated, with a platform–the world hates that. The world already marginalizes me, and that’s fine. But there’s a different type of sting when your heart is marginalized, too.

I’d even further venture to say that a lot of those people who do the same thing I do are just as lonely. I’m not sure how to “cure” this, but admitting it might be the first step.

 

Or maybe it’s just the lonely talking.

Grace and Mercy

My mother used to own a Pontiac. I can’t remember if it was a Thunderbird, but I remember it being a coupe and it was grey. It looked like a DeLorean and albeit small, it was always able to handle a 6ft Douglas Fir Christmas tree attached to the roof via twine. Around the holidays, Sis (my mother, see previous posts) and I would sing carols at the top of our lungs with all the riffs and runs that our Black, beautiful hearts could muster. My favorite was “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” I sang it and my mother always would reach and hug, or hold my hand when it came to the lyric “you can plan on me.”  That memory played out in my head as I handed in my resignation letter about 3 weeks ago.

In a post on my social work blog , I talk about the things leading up to me leaving. And where I have spoken about being too old to not do things that make you happy and the like, I think one of the lessons I’ve been needing to hear through this “journey to 30” is that having people in your corner that love you unconditionally is God’s grace and mercy smack dab in your face.

I think for a good portion of my life, I felt like I had to do everything alone. That’s commonplace for Black gay men–this idea that no one will understand us sans subjugation, ridicule, or sheer hate. We become hardened and cold because of it, impacting us almost at a cellular level as this idea of thinking impacts every facet of who we are and what we become. And….it doesn’t have to be this way. God, or whomever or whatever  you believe, fashions people to be in our lives to make it through–to survive. Through journey to 30 and the lessons that come with it, I can surely attest to the power of friendship, family, companionship, unwavering and unconditional love from a support system that’s divinely ordered.

 

Support (if you feel compelled) via paypal: XD@TheXDExperience.com

Work

When I first started this blog, it was for me to sort a bunch of these growing pains out. Tying loose ends, and trying to make sense of what my life has been and will be. I figured writing through it would help me, and perhaps those who read this site, help others too.

Let’s back track. I have a confession. I’m obsessed with working.

My mother always worked, and she still does. She works for a major retailer that’s in and out of hot water. It was her first and only job out of high school. It was always just she and I, and her rationale for anything and everything was “I have to work.” I find myself doing the same thing. Work is a mode of survival for most of us. It’s a source of fiscal support, and working gives you purpose…it also gives you an ego boost when you do a good job at something–a self esteem boost.

Over the last few months I realized that work, whether it was my full time job or doing ‘XD’ stuff, was an escape to not have to deal with real issues or people or things that I’m just afraid of doing for whatever reason. My obsession with work caused me to miss out on a bunch. So, I scaled back. That’s why I haven’t written much.

When Adele announced ’25,’ she explained that she had to live a little. I did too. Me not focusing on helping others, branding, or whatever and doing the things that make me happy and not worry about reproach was necessary. And honestly, that’s probably one of the hugest lessons I can take from this journey. I am too old to let life pass me by and not do things that make me happy. I am deserving of a happy life that is stress free, balanced, honest, and fun.

I spoke to my mother a few nights ago. She was just getting off work. I asked her for some money because, hell I live in New York City and shit is expensive. She obliged and she said to me that she would put it in my account when she got off of work the next day. She said jokingly, “You’ll take care of me soon, right?” She laughed.

 

“I will, once I figure this all out.”

 

“You will. Work through it.”

 

–XD.

I Don’t Want Kids

I have a niece. Her name is Noah. You’ve probably seen her around on instagram and such. She’s not my biological niece, but she calls me “Unkoh” and that’s just fine. We take selfies together with our tongues sticking out and we watch Elmo and “Spyman” (Spiderman) on occasion. My mother buys things for her, although they’ve never met. Noah’s mother, Jade, said to me recently that my mother buys things for Noah because she knows she’s not going to get any grandchildren.

When I was a kid, I always declared that I didn’t want children. I always jokingly told my parents that I didn’t want children because I didn’t want to be responsible for their hours and hours of therapy. When I came out to my mother, her immediate thought was grandchildren. I was her only “miracle” child as she was told she couldn’t have any before I was born. She figured I would get married and have children one day, eventually.

Going back to Jade’s words, I felt guilty. I’ve been wrestling with this guilt for the past couple of weeks and I don’t know how to process it. I guess a great part of getting older is this tussle between doing what’s right for you vs appeasing your parents. I don’t see children for me. My personality doesn’t welcome children in my life aside from the ones I can drop off to their parents house after a few hours. I know I can’t have kids to make my mother happy, but I want to make my mother happy. Does that make sense?

What’s interesting is that not wanting children (or marriage, we’ll get to that later) is that is has become a deal breaker in some of the men I have entertained as of late. I’m running into a lot more men who desire heteronormative romantic archetypes. In other words, I’m finding a lot of gay men who want to a lot of straight shit. And sure, having children isn’t necessarily a “straight” thing…but then…maybe it is?

I’m still figuring this all out, and I guess that’s what turning 30 is all about.

 

Anyone out there with me?

Almost

A couple of weeks ago, I sat with a friend in front of Sundaes & Cones on a bench. We caught up over artisan ice cream–I had two scoops of thai tea and taro, and he had thai tea and something else fancy. He told me about his boyfriend. They live together and their very much in love. In fact, we saw him later on that afternoon. They look so happy and excited every time they see one another, even if they had only been a part a few short moments.

On the bench, he asked me how I was doing. As usual, I began to talk about work. Work seems to dominate most of my conversations when people ask me how I’m doing. He stopped me and asked me about men. He specifically asked me if I had heard from and ex or if I was currently seeing anyone. I said no to both questions and then, for whatever reason, it all hit me.

Last year, a group of friends of mine on Twitter live-tweeted Bishop T. D. Jakes’ famous sermon “Woman, Thou Art Loosed.” We did it mainly for shits and giggles, only to find our spirits to be full and a word to carry with us. Jakes said a lot in the sermon, most of which didn’t apply to me, but there was one thing that stood out.

“We always wonder why we’re single. Whine and complain. Perhaps you’re single because God isn’t healing you yet.”

Sitting on the bench, I talked about what I was in the process of being healed from: Almosts. My life is filled with AlmostsAlmost were together but… Almost fucked but… He almost moved here but…We almost loved each other but…  Almosts add up and I don’t have any free mental or emotional real estate for someone to come in and be who they were sent to be in my life. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that it’s important to recognize what is holding you back, and ask God for healing from what you both recognize and don’t.

While I sat on the bench and finished my ice cream, God began to work before I even asked Him. I received a text message from an almost. I deleted it. And it felt good.