This article originally ran in the printed edition of WUSSY vol.04.
You can still order your copy here.
I AM NOT YOUR FAGGOT
It appears the masses have been misinformed. I cannot fathom how, but it seems that our advancements toward equality have been misread—utterly mistaken for a lampoon. What is this misconception: the queer man? What is his nationality, his origin, and what is his place amidst a world seemingly set in stone? As we find ourselves in your world, we find our roles to be stifling and things of triviality. The spunky cosmetologist, whom women kiki with once a week to grab a mighty hand of lingo, tips, and tricks. The exonerated sodomite who leads the black church choir like the Pied Piper of immaculate mice; his pardon sustains only as long as his accomplishments overshadow his ways and his head willfully bobs in agreement when it is said that he simply needs to be “delivert.” No clique of modern day divas finds itself complete without the grand accessory of a self-obsessed, fashion forward, loud mouth caboose that is your gay man. I search my soul daily to decipher if I am all that you think of me—fear me to be. Does the catalyst for the heterosexual demise lie deep, like a sleeping volcano, within my intent, awaiting the faintest ember of opportunity to blow? And how—with what resource? Does my heart solely beat for designer, fringe, and the musical stylings of painted fish, taught to swim and sway by my own strokes, sweat and tears? Am I simply a catalogue, by which you, mainstream America, may pick and choose which piece of me you will take today to further your own agenda? Am I a faggot?
I began to wonder about the seat, painted soft pink, that we the homosexual race have been given at the great rectangular table of American importance. It sits to the far right between the Blacks and Latinos, and directly parallel to Women. The head of this table is, of course, the Caucasian race—America. I digress. My cause for alarm was birthed long before I began this essay, retired only in my efforts to move forward in this world never meant for a man of my piceous tint, certainly not my sexuality. I am now and have always been befuddled, transfixed by the American avarice; it is for shame that you blind the eyes of a people for their way of life, only to hide in front of those same useless eyes and manipulate, rearrange their actions, call it your own, and make whatever you demonized and then appropriated acceptable in your America. But if we insist on being a candid nation, then where, and whom, would the land of caucus be without their precious pillaging and cultural raping? Who dare would condemn their own way of life? The ancestors of Funny Boys of all races toss and turn, bleed and spit, claw and scratch about their coffins in distraught humiliation. Their flames doused—snuffed out by nooses and bullets, merciless hands of every color: blood-stained by exotic fear, and shame-eyed by a community itself oppressed, only to have their crimes, worthy of brutal deaths in back alleys, riversides, and on display for the world, turned into dinnertime television merriment. What worth are their deaths now that you live their lives for them on the great American tube? It seems we are your faggots.
I fear the seat at the table has come at the high price of silence resentment. Chained now to the popular table, I believe that they believe that we must wear these abhorrent appropriations as a badge of honor, laugh with lips that should spit fire, and clap with hands of gratitude for mere inclusion and the illusion of security. This is not so. I wonder do they know all too well of the nightly struggle to pilgrimage to Giovanni’s room? Does the liberation of Perfect Paul Peace become the Harriet Tubman to their own plantation of the mind, body, and spirit? Can they see their love lives, in glorious Technicolor, in the rise and fall of same bodies from the howl of Ginsberg’s plea to a rough thick-trunked master? We Do. It Does. We Can.
I stand as a Queer Man of Color to tell you, my brothers of beautiful darkness, I Am Not your sister botched. I Am a man—same as you and sometimes better. I was not created to wage war with black male masculinity nor am I to be its new face. I am as far from the reason for our shorthand in this world as the East is from the West. I Am Not your exhibit A within the hollow walls and hearts of your Beulah Baptist and her members. My life is not to be used on your Libra scale for which you may find comfort in your own sins. I Am Not your example of the inevitability of a fatherless home. You do not get to use me as a punching bag for your fragile ego and means for a quick buck; the extravagant sway of my hips carry more sincerity than your deepened gruff could ever hope. You do not get to dress up and mock me because it’s easy; the same breath that carries the joke too carries the slur. The lemons of life you’ve dealt me, without sugar, is not a fond memory in which you may find your niche upon a stage, spreading your homophobia with the acute negligence of a cold in a kindergarten classroom, all the while counting your coins on our backs. Do you not understand that for some of your brothers, that rouge lipstick you wear for farce, could be the line between life and death for him? Do you not realize that for some of us Funny Boys, six inches erase broad shoulders and Adam’s apples; it can turn heavy footsteps into graceful strides; Bountiful inches emerge from bald scalps under the power of pride, a pride you wish to diminish. Tell me, what is the tea? Where were you when Paris was burning, and vogue was in diapers? Can you tell me how to get to Christopher Street? No. Then why can you stand on a stage and tell the stories of my life? You don’t know us, and that is why you find it easy to attack us. How can one know the plight of birds when all you see is the splendor of flight? I am your brother—perpetually too, your keeper, but I Am Not Your Faggot.
Sisters, Sorors, and Fag Hags must meet: Let’s have a kiki! Lock the doors tight for I’m about to let you have it! My Povich voice strong, I declare that in the case of Queens v. Kweens: We are not your double. In this case, art does not imitate life, but life itself simply is art. I Am Not your mistake. I Am Not a mistake. Martha, do not moan; do not bellow the loss of my wretched soul for if my life itself is a sin, then your contempt for me will find us in eternal summer together. Do not snare your eyes, let not your lip curl into a snarl for I’m simply quoting your bible on such matters. I do not want your man. If I can encourage him to live in his truth, then he was never yours to begin with, and it is I who should point the finger of theft at you. You and your condemning eyes and gossiping tongue; you, who finds a sister in my kind when you must be made beat and complete, yet we are stranger when you witness our oppression; you with your vulgar silence. How loud and boisterous you are while blowing our egos into the stratosphere when our talents benefit you real girls. How many of us would still draw breath had you reneged from the safety of silence in our defense? Do you not know the fruit of your own womb? I Am Not your fan; our matching styles is not an homage. You don’t get to accuse me of wanting to be you simply because I allow myself to swim into the deepest depths of my femininity fearlessly; the sharks of masculinity do not smell the blood of my ego cut by the rough edges of a bigoted patriarchy. Pretty girls, wonder no longer for our secret lies in plain sight: We are free. Sweet freedom rings in every blushed cheek, in every long lash, in hairy hands intertwined—bound by gold, in every popped gum and sassy, “Slaaaaaaaaaay!” We are not prisoners to pronouns; we do not long to be dictated by colors. The same leaf that covers the vagina too covers the penis. It’s all relative, don’t you see? They are not yours to own, and neither are we. I Am Not Your Faggot.
America, The Great Gilded Jerusalem, come now and receive your portion. This land is your land, but this land is also mine. The definition of what it means to be a man like me is for me, myself to define. My origin is the same as yours; we are all children born under the yellow sun. My nationality comes in all shades, and like you, who also comes in many shades, I Am human. Like you, my sexuality is not my decision, but I have decided to stand firm in my truth as you stand in yours. Given the choice between fire and gate, I’m sure the simple sow would not stress to wander or take sustenance from the hands of strange men. As far back as I can remember, and further, I never found myself in deep contemplation of the marvels of club and fang. I was too busy in fear of my unnatural natural. The promises of aching bodies, a lifelong affair with fear, segregation, and death taught me to hide; these treats that Funny Boys are promised straightens the back and lowers the vibrato, births liars and kills the desire for honesty. You taught us your tradition of lying, America. You defined us without proper research, as you did the natives, African Americans, even your own flesh in garbs from a different land. A sin. A crime. A secret. A choice. And now a trend. But originally, a faggot.
I stand as a Queer Man of Color to tell you, my beloved land of cotton, I Am real. I Am capable of defining myself. I do not need your opinion on which of my many shades bear more importance than the next; they are all beautiful. My culture is my own to share. My lifestyle is not an exotic destination for wonder bread women soon to be wed. My life is not yours to shorten with man-made viruses and balls of hot lead; it is not your place to decide whether I wear baggy jeans or a flowing summer dress drowning in lilac print. You do not own me. Release your mind of Columbus, for you did not discover me. You have no clout of taxonomy, so you cannot name me. As Baldwin preached on the origin of “nigger,” and how all words describe its creator, I Am unshackled from the term, for “faggot” is yours. I accept no ownership for your creation. I have, and had, nothing to do with whatever shortcomings you found within yourself to be threatened by me. You may do with it whatever you please. I am no longer your scapegoat. My voice will no longer lower its thunder so that the rain of your whispers be heard. Never again will my smile be persuaded north or south by the cut of your eyes, the snickers of jealous hearts, or the jeers of intrigued-masked hatred because I Am Not Your Faggot.
It is with deep conviction in the immovable soul of queer Black men, an unmeasurable amount of appreciation for the exceptional Black same-gender loving writers who have come before him, and a sense of social responsibility that guides Kendal Déaunta Edwards, when writing on the realities of living Black and same-gender loving while in America. This Stillman College alum has written for several LGBTQ magazine, urging readers to #BeEncouraged when addressing hot topics relevant to Homosexual existence.