A Brown Girl Gone Gay

I’d stopped at the twenty-four-hour Kroger by my house. I’d had a full night with the girls celebrating a birthday. I’d gotten my tongue pierced with the birthday girl. We drank frozen margaritas thinking that it would help the swelling. It didn’t. By the time I sobered up enough to drive, my tongue was throbbing, swelling, and talking was out of the question. I could feel regret bubbling up in my chest. I wanted to pick up some Listerine so I’d be prepared for whatever this new piercing brought my way in the morning. Or in a few hours because it was already after two am. 

I made my grocery store run quick and the parking lot was just as empty as it was when I pulled in. I could hear movement behind me, and I turned around to see a brown man in a security uniform behind me. By the time I reached my car, he’d caught up to me.

He proceeded to shoot his shot, I blocked it with a mumbled, “I’m not interested.”

“But why?” He was a persistent fella. 

“I’m gay.” When I opened my car door, and he blocked me from getting in, I knew that wasn’t the right response. This was the first time I realized that being proud of my sexuality was dangerous. His anger was reflected in his scowl and the stiffness of his body.

“But why?”

This was over 15 years ago, and as much as I’d like to share the events that led to me making it safely home, I don’t remember what happened next. I’m sure I reacted with annoyance. I know he got out of my way. I’m positive my actions and words didn’t hint at the fear that spread through my body. 

That night keeps me from being completely truthful when rejecting men. Instead, I’d say something like:

  • “I’m focusing on me right now.”
  • “I’m taken.”
  • “I’m not from here.”
  • “I’m good.”
  • “I have a lot going on right now.”
  • “You don’t want me…”
  • “I can’t talk. Running late.”
  • “You’re way too young for me.”

That night popped back up when I was in a touristy part of Barbados with my bae walking through the streets at night and some local men asked if we were together. She answered no. They kinda cackled. We’ve walked through the streets of more countries, and cities since then. That was the only place where we had to exclude hand-holding for our own safety. 

In my bubble of Atlanta, I am lucky that I don’t have to think about my race or my sexuality very often. I can move freely being as black and gay as I want. My church is inclusive, my employer supports LGBTQ rights and is inclusive in their hiring, and my neighborhood… Well, I live in the hood and I’m not putting a rainbow flag on the house just yet. However, the biggest threat to my home is gentrification, not homophobia. 

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