Being Black and Gay in America ~ Part I

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“Stacey, I think I’ve always known I was different.”

A couple of years ago I attended a literary event in Ashville, North Carolina. There was a gentleman there by the name of J’son (Lee) Green. I sat in a seminar he facilitated and had a chance to meet and speak with him afterwards. I found him to be both charming and comical and I was pretty sure that he was gay. I later learned that there was much more to him. J’son graduated from North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Speech Communication. He is a commercial property manager and accomplished writer. J’son was named the 2013 Author of the Year by SGL BOOKLOVERS magazine. Just Tryin’ To Be Loved and How Could My Husband Be Gay? are just a couple if his literary works. I follow him on social media and have grown quite fond of him.

With so much division in our country among gender and racial lines, I couldn’t help but wonder how it all affected a man that fell into both categories. I had questions, very personal questions and was honored when J’son agreed to my interview request. Maybe his story, his life, his answers to my questions will provide a little clarity, a little understanding for all of us.

Our Conversation:

 J’son, first let me congratulate you on your marriage. I’ve never seen a happier newlywed. Tell me, how did you and your spouse feel when you first realized that the U.S. Supreme Court was legalizing gay marriage?

Thank you so much Stacey!  To answer your question, my husband and I were not together in June 2015 when the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.  Our love story is a very unique one.  Although we’ve loved each other for 10+ years, our relationship was a very challenging one.  I was that friend who had sworn off relationships, and content being single.  When my husband and I reconciled in September 2015, it swept me away.  I was not looking to be in a relationship, but there were two things that stood out in my mind—the man that I had loved for so long, was now the man I had always wanted him to be (and vice versa), and marriage was finally a reality for us.  We had no doubts that we wanted to marry each other, but it was still all so new, and we had so many questions.  It was almost surreal.  At the end of the day, we knew it was about the two of us.  That’s why we ended up getting married two months earlier than planned.  We had waited long enough.  Being married is great. Sometimes, though, it will hit me in random moments—I married this man. I have committed my life to him. I am so blessed to have such a loving and handsome man. And it wouldn’t have been possible a year ago.

Beautiful, you two sound like you were made for each other. But now I want to take it back a bit, J’son. When did you first realized that something was different for you. When did it click that you didn’t have the same attraction to girls that other boys had?

Stacey, I think I’ve always known I was different.  This is going to sound stereotypical, but I always migrated toward girly things.  As a kid, I heard whispers about my uncle, Jimmie.  “Don’t turn out like your uncle.  You know he’s that way,” my aunt would say.  As she said “that way” she’d hold her hand parallel to the ground and pivot it left and right.  “You don’t want to get that disease,” she added.  Uncle Jimmie was flamboyant.  He moved away from our small rural town in North Carolina to pursue a better life, and surround himself with people who were not trapped in the Baptist rhetoric that saw homosexuality as this nefarious sin greater than any other.  I guess in some ways, I followed in his footsteps. 

Either directly or indirectly, it sounds like your uncle was quite an influence in your life. Given the things that were said about your Uncle Jimmie, I’m curious to know how you thought your family would handle the truth about your sexuality vs. how they actually did? How old were you and what made you say “screw it” and tell them the truth about who you are?

I’ve struggled with my sexuality for most of my life.

Marriage

As a child, I remember my great-grandmother taking me to church each week.  Sunday after Sunday I sat in that pew and listened as the pastor condemned gays and lesbians from his pulpit.  I was a precocious child.  I knew he was talking about me.  Even at that young age, I knew.  My family reinforced these teachings and it was psychologically damaging to my development and self-esteem. 

As a result, I was in the closet well into my 30s. There was a huge internal battle as it related to my sexuality, and my relationship with God.  It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I came to terms with who I was.  My therapist said, “Before I can help you I need you to decide if you’re gay or if you’re straight.”  That seems so simplistic, but it really came down to living my authentic self.  I knew I wasn’t straight, but I didn’t want to disappoint my family and friends, and I was afraid of what others would think of me.  In therapy, I began to focus on me.  In retrospect, I can’t believe I gave people so much power over my life.  After that, there was no more being in the closet for me, honey! 

I’m now 46, and there are still folks who have an issue with my sexuality—even my own family.  In fact, my Dad hasn’t spoken to me since I got married.  You’re the first person outside of my network of friends that I’ve shared that with.  It hurts, but I can’t dwell on that.  I mean this respectfully, but I can’t give his bigotry precedence over my happiness.  That’s something he needs to deal with, and I have given him all the space he needs to do so.

I will continue to be out and loud until being LGBT is no longer a big deal.  I’ll shut up when folks no longer see LGBT folks as an anomaly.  I will continue to speak out as long as LGBT gay youth are killing themselves because someone instilled in them they are not enough. I will continue to speak out until others realize LGBT lives are worth living. 

Rings

This was just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Be sure to read the conclusion of this very candid two part interview with J’son Green.

~Stacey

Follow Stacey on IG @ scovingtonlee, Twitter @covingtonlee, and find all of literary works @ www.amazon.com/author/staceycovingtonlee.

 Click here to read Part II

 

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