friday august 6 was an incredible milestone 4 me. god blessed me with 50 years of life on planet earth. i felt compelled 2 affirm, honor & value the gift of life by sharing a few thoughts here, albeit briefly, about being 50, black, male & same-gender-loving in america.
someone told me a long time ago every day above ground is a blessing so live it like its the last day u have. or something to that effect. my memory these days is as reliable as a cell phone call not dropping in the middle of an important conversation. or one you're too afraid to end bcuz the person on the other end is boring you to, in the words of actor/comedian bill murray, h-e-double hockey sticks.
i don't live my life like its the last day i have. somewhere along the way i developed a nasty sense of entitlement. perhaps u could call it spiritual arrogance? i have a way of dismissing folks who don't stimulate my body, mind or spirit. & not in that order, either. i've become so detached from folks, when i meet someone who excites me emotionally, intellectually or spiritually i just don't know how 2 react or what 2 do.
one of my cousins in chi-town, a gifted writer, once said, i believe in referring 2 an anonymous member of our wacky family, "i can only take people in small doses." my quintessential spirit connected with her insight immediately! what a relief 2 know u don't think uniquely when tryna deal with challenging family dynamics. but i digress...
black men die prematurely in america: rick james, gerald levert, tupac shakur, luther vandross, i.e. lest i 4get the assassinations of malcolm, martin & medgar. 50 is, indeed, a cultural milestone 4 this african-descended brotha. when i stopped drinking & drugging in the summer of '95 i knew i needed 2 take care of myself in a serious way: the revolution will not be televised but i can still get my shit together b4 god calls me home.
i stopped telling folks my age many, many yrs ago bcuz nobody believes me. apparently, i don't look like a 50 year-old black man. the brotha at work. the brotha at school. the brotha on the corner. the brotha in the gym. the brotha on christopher street, wall street or 125th street. the brotha on bet, cnn or pbs. like michael jackson told ola ray in the landmark '83 thriller video, "i'm not like other guys." while peeping paul mooney, the godfather of comedy, at caroline's on broadway last saturday nite he said "michael was not a pedophile, but he was definitely x-files."
michael jackson was born 342 days b4 me & died suddenly last june.
after all the pain i've endured - most of it self-inflicted - i used 2 wonder why god kept me alive when so many of my heroes & sheroes are gone 2 soon. as my father put it, "god did not put u on this earth just so u can feel good." damn, damn, damn. seems being of service 2 my community has divinely energized my compromised immune system: my negative sense of self has been replaced by a positive concern 4 others.
african people have been in america since 1441. we've been called everything but a child of god, yet i like calling myself black. black like miles davis. black like grace jones. black like tiger woods. yeah, i went there. have u eva felt like a tiger in the woods? like someone was chasing u & u d'nt know why but u started running nowhere fast? whycome white folk wanna b black, until the police come? ok, i'm being silly. perhaps i don't know where i'm going with this latest post?
on tha real, i'm grateful 4 a life worth living. i'm grateful folks trust me with their feelings & shortcomings. i'm grateful 4 the gift of self-awareness. i'm grateful 4 an intimate relationship with a loving god. i'm grateful 4 friends who care about my joy & my pain. i'm grateful my sexuality is fostered with the spirit of self-determination. i'm grateful 4 organic & vegetarian food. i'm grateful 4 thrice wkly workouts at the gym. i'm grateful 4 daily prayer & regular meditation. i'm grateful 4 my apt in the village of harlem. i'm grateful 4 integrity, respect & self-love. i'm grateful 2 b grateful :-)
i'm single & unemployed. most brothas i know are single: str8, same-gender-loving, or otherwise. the unemployment rate 4 black men in nyc is almost 50%. been that way long b4 a black man moved into the white house. my newfound reality? i've learned 2 b happy with or without money, with or without a partner & with or without the approval of others.
...how old am i? yes - i'm really 50 & free 2 b me!
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.