When asked, I usually just say I broke up with my American boyfriend who I was in a cyber space affair with, because it felt at the time like the most necessary thing to have done, as I had begun to remind myself, too many times, that I was supposed to be in love with him.
If prodded, I invariably say I did it because I was turning into a virtual fraud of sorts, despite myself.
Although this really isn’t about my boyfriend, who didn’t mind us remaining ‘intimate’ friends after I upturned myself to him; he is the only person who knows why I broke up the formality of our relationship, the only person I couldn’t find words to manipulate or coat the probity of what I partially saw him as; a benefactor, a financial cistern to relieve me of my monetary thirst, a dependent on material niceties I never had (that never even came through, because he’d sensed I might have been up to that, from past ordeals), up until now it is how I have always seen relationships, especially with privileged men.
Perhaps, this instinct, moulded from a wrong, home grown ideology through restraining stretches of homophobia in all sectors of mundane interactions, that gay relationships seem to be a hit-and-run construct, something to take in snippets, and if need be that the union would have to last longer, there ought to be a yardstick or another motive based on anything but love, or at least affection.
Always, I expected the men I was with to foot the bill of whatever commercial issue we engaged in, I looked forward to having him pay my transport fares and even give me pocket money, in what I believed was an ultimate exchange for my body.
Although, this isn’t the fault of just a flawed community, but rather the combination of too many flawed histories, trying to ply the ridges of modernity, exposure, and growth.
But we will return to a shade of this sort of history later.
Many times, when I stumble upon a Facebook profile/update with a despairing makeup such as this:
16, sweet boy, from La-La Country (most likely, a homophobic one). Love to give head. Sweet bottom that can satisfy, looking for rich sugar daddy, (preferably) white- which would come with a picture of a young boy with an uneasy smile, in prudent clothings behind a meagre background or an erection or a sizable backside concealed ostentatiously beneath filmsy briefs.
I am reminded of myself. I feel the pang. The weight of desperation and loneliness. How did I even begin to weigh this side of me then?
Perhaps as something necessary beyond an escape plan, a route for many boys like me to find a heart for the aimless body we bred, unconsciously, naturally.
And what other avenue might be receptive to such self- sabotage than a Facebook international group for gay men, originally for black gay men only, both in and outside America, which can be said to be a subtle fight back at racism in the ambit of gay relationships in the west, but gradually grew accommodating to people of all races, from countries unheard of to familiar ones, and with more than two thousand active members whose virtual convergence became a form of reinstruction for me.
From cool headed, relationship oriented-usually bearded- men from the south and north of America, to hookups looking for brothers nearby, over to aged men seeking young bloods or anybody interested in a conjugal, to nicely formed twinks from the Philippines or Costa Rica, from love chortling men finding, needing, and waiting, for ‘the love of my life/my next boyfriend’ from Ghana or South Africa to ever sombre ones finding ways to discourage relationships from the lenses of their bitter experiences, notably also, there were the attention seekers ( and getters) from anywhere, quick to tease with their bodies and phoney captions scourging for true love.
Whatever the fix, you are sure to find a piece of you in the Black Men For Relationship Unity(open) group.
There is a way that people’s experiences, views, rants, declarations, memes, witticisms, attitudes and personalities no matter how virtual, and seemingly untrustworthy, can go a long way in having a positive or negative impinge on us.
Like it had on me.
Before my immersion into this pool of revelatory gestures, I used to believe my thoughts were for me alone, that there was no way any boy like me could understand how much I disregarded my body and what I hoped to do with it, from here a gradual inconspicuous relearning kicked off; homophobia began to take on a bigger frame, questions found answers, locks found keys, and reflections ran rampant at every scroll.
Somehow, I was made to believe strong unions can spring up from anywhere, without occasion, even from something as infinitesimal as a comment thread, where I met my (ex) boyfriend.
I have been made -through bright, random, pithy, thought pieces dissecting some opaque facet of gay life, pictures encouraging the prospect of profound love, ingenious posts sometimes comical, expressive and other times naïve, as well as vibrant, impactful conversations- to understand, and be able to see a man beyond the shape of his body, to see a man not just as an object of confirmation to my unique sexual construct, but as a complement to my realisation of the wonders I can perform, not just because I am gay, but simply because I am human.
Most importantly, this group taught me the theory of choice; the inalienable freedom to choose to either be a dickhead or a responsible person.
As much as the width of this space allows for some covetous liberation, it also serves as a spring board for flawed histories to outperform the originators of their unfortunate pasts.
When I was just a young boy, already self aware, but with slight notes of religion induced doubts, I had my first sexual experience with a man I remember now as enigmatic and unknowingly treacherous, he was 28 while I was 14.
I remember when he told me how old he was, we were sitting across from each other on his flat mattress, in a studio flat he shared with a church colleague, perhaps our sixth sexcapade then, I thought it right, that our ages would be sort of even. I believed it was right we were supposed to be sleeping together even if he was some good manipulator of my tender emotions.
I carried this notion through my teenage years, and when the seams of my ignorance began to catch a tear, I took to lieing through dates, because my body was already adept at dealing with older men, I made sure to add an extra year or two to my original age, just so I might be looked upon with the eyes of one with the accreditation of legal consent, I got so used to it, that it inadvertently cost me friendships-which I could never handle except on intimacy based ground-, the chance for self-preservation and a few healthy states of mind.
And so, I am able to relate with the boys on the BMFRU group, who had been thrust into the objectification and not the appreciation of their bodies, and others who might also have gone through physical and psychological homophobic attacks from family or friends, especially the former.
I am able to reconcile with the naughty structure our bodies take in where by we are unable to merge into the arms of someone our age, because it doesn’t follow the basics of what we were inducted with- what we shouldn’t have been inducted with.
And so I can say I understand the desperation, the reason for it, from a subjective view point that echoes, however I cannot justify it because there are other dignifying ways to rewrite our flawed histories.
Self-love; a self absorbed attention towards ones related matters, a space of existence where only ones safety and survival matters, a sensitivity to the workings, miracles, joy, strengths, and weaknesses of ones body, a way of taking care of ones mind, sorting out demons slowly, and learning to avoid the prick of the past, so as to rub off that goodness on others around us.
Is what I learnt from the group. A bit cliché, archetypal, repeated over and over again, yet without a loss of authenticity.
This can help us find freedom despite our respective suppression. From this we are able to find the possibility of pushing hard to measure up to equal standards with the people we truly love, knowing that we can also split the bill, and pamper our lovers in the stead of expecting to be pampered with our destructive insecurities, and not just allow ourselves be seen as possible thirst quenchers, and them our (unofficial/derogatory) source of livelihood, and in some cases the quickest yet most personality degrading ways to get out of a homophobic community to somewhere albeit legal, but almost less so, to people we are unable to ever care for.
When I remember why I did what I did, why I can’t keep calling my ex our personalised endearment from a staunch façade with a truly broken identity, why I cannot keep urging acute emotions out from an inorganic source, just to keep the union and prospects afloat, I am reassured that there is much more to me, than I have allowed myself to believe.
And as safe as it’d be to heap it all on homophobia, I have the prerogative to live, and love positively, and to attempt to suck at the sweet seedlings nestled between the pains of our collective LGBT struggle, and I mean that in no materialistic way.