boi inv sible: No Miracle On Monday

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BoiInvisible1

It was November. The fabric of the fall season had sewn itself against the backdrop of Northeast, DC. Sharp winds streaked across my windowpane, blowing dead, crinkled leaves against the early morning air. I was stitched between the tattered comforts of my worn mattress and the dingy, white, twin size comforter that had held me for the past fifteen years. The walls shook between an echoing of metal, clapped against cup-shaped, cast metal. It was one hard, resounding hit after another. The church bell hung inside of the tower directly across the street from my second floor bedroom. It wakes me at 6am everyday. As the striker hits back and forth on the flared, thickened rim, the wind recites, ‘ding-dong-ding-dong’. A heavy banging swings into the softening horizon. Rays of purple and yellowish sun rise beneath the arch of the clouds. Orange squiggles of light begin to dart between the two beige sheets that my stepfather has draped along the plastic rods on my window. It’s another, dreadful Monday. I knew that everyone in school would be talking about homecoming weekend. My best friends would verbally lash me for skipping all of the festivities and events. The day would somehow feel like my burial. I’d need a miracle to simply get through it.

While lying flat on my back, I saw shadows of tree branches quilting patterns along the ceiling. My mother would say it was the lord’s way of blessing our home at the beginning of each day. When we were children, she told us that the shadows were God’s arms and every room would be protected. Growing up, my mother instructed me to say my prayers whenever the shadows began to tap the listening walls. Without moving, I silently recited the same prayer I had been sending since the seventh grade. “God, its me…Elijah. Please, make me like all of the other boys.”

I’m counting down six weeks, three days and eighteen hours before Christmas vacation. The date is marked on my calendar of famous writers; highlighted in the same month that features my hero, James Baldwin.

I peeked across the room to make sure that my older brother was still buried in his bed. There was a half hour left before the force of Jelani’s clock alarm would yank him from beneath the sheets. Thirty peaceful minutes gave me just enough time to do what I always do when I first wake in the morning. I turned onto my left side to face the wall; making sure that Jelani would only see my back if he were to get up early. Placing my right hand on top of the blanket, I quietly slid Baldwin’s ‘Giovanni’s Room’ novel from inside of my pillowcase. It was the only copy stocked in our school library. A peering glow from the sunrise provided just enough light for me to travel between the lines of Baldwin’s infamous tales. His words made me think of a far-off day when I wouldn’t have to bow my head beneath the clouds. There would be no shame. No threats of having sin beat from my body. No one to forgive me for being black, feminine and frail.

My unclean thoughts could somehow fill the daylight and swallow up darkness. A place that had no language of rights and wrongs. Where I longed to be. I was so captivated by how ‘Giovanni’s Room’ detailed the social and romantic relationships between men. I would lie here for a moment, waist deep in helpless desires. My loins began to stretch. I had no power over this longing to feel and experience nakedness. A freedom illustrated between these pages. Since starting high school three months ago, I’ve read all of James Baldwin’s essays. My English teacher only required that we journal our thoughts and other findings from ‘Notes Of A Native Son’. However, I’ve begun to lose myself in Baldwin’s entire collection of work. He and I both paint the world with words.

I do not like being the first in the bathroom every morning. The cold licks my hideous skin, spreading across the unsightly pimples that are forming on my cheeks and my chin. My bare feet chill into clenched numbness against the freezing tiles on the floor. Standing in the bathroom mirror also forces me to see everything I hate about my face. Maybe Monday wouldn’t be so bad-looking had I not skipped my haircut on Saturday. I intentionally missed my appointment over the weekend to avoid the awkward, barbershop conversations. It’s uncomfortable having to change the topic whenever my barber begins to ask about the football game I clearly didn’t watch and whether or not I have a girlfriend.

I half sat and half leaned on the sink while brushing my teeth. I missed my father. Though most of my childhood memories include him nodding on the stoop outside of our house, he was always the first awake and walking around downstairs in the mornings. Even though he often reeked of whisky, I was too young to realize that he was an alcoholic. Some nights, my mother would yell for Jelani to help her drag my father from the curb in front of the church. Since he was always sitting there when I arrived home from school, I guess I thought his job was to guard the building. Whether my father was sitting outside at night or slouched across the couch in the living room, I always felt protected when he was around. I remember that he would carry me on his shoulders as we walked to the corner store on Saturday afternoons. He always wore the same pair of burgundy corduroy pants and a mustard yellow T-shirt. If it were cold outside, he’d throw on this worn, black leather jacket that smelled like mothballs. I’d hold mother’s grocery list in my fist, while gripping steadily the sides of my father’s head. He always bought me a twenty-five cent pretzel stick from the plastic jar that sat beside the register. He’d pull me from his shoulders as soon as we walked through the front doors of the store. My father would sit me on top of the counter and hand me two quarters from his sock. I’d pay the man with one and shove the other in my shoe. For years, I watched my father pull his dollar bills from inside of his sneakers whenever he needed to pay for anything. I guess I figured that’s where I was supposed to save my money too.

We’d leave the corner store, and my father would carry the see through, plastic bags back to the house. He’d then have a tiny, paper bag stuffed inside of his leather jacket. When I asked him what he bought, he told me it was his medicine. I remember a time when the brown bag fell onto the kitchen floor as my father lowered me from his shoulders. Glass shattered and dark liquid began seeping through cracks in the tiles. My father insisted that he’d clean up the mess, but my mother still began to cry. It was the first time I ever heard my parents screaming at each other. My mother would only shout in church on Sundays. And my father only yelled the time he caught me playing with Janna’s Cabbage Patch Kid. He yanked it out of my hand and said, ‘only sissies play with dolls Elijah!’

‘Get out punk. I need to take a shit’, Jelani shouted in his abrasive tone of voice. Even though I wasn’t finished getting dressed, I’ve learned to not argue with my older brother first thing in the morning. My stepfather will only defend Jelani, and my mother will argue with my stepfather for taking sides. Standing up to Jelani ruins the start of everyone’s day. Instead, I gave myself one final glance in the mirror, grabbed my navy, paperboy hat from the sink and began to walk out of the bathroom. Jelani slammed the door as I stepped away, hitting me in the lower back with the brass knob. A stabbing pain shot down the inside of my left leg. Gripping the top of the bannister, I fought back tears. Anger combined with helpless fury welled up in me. I grabbed my navy pea coat and grey, wool scarf from my bed. On my way leaving out of the front door, my stepfather yelled from the dining room, ‘why your pants so damn tight, Elijah?!’ I stopped and looked at him, very quiet. My stepfather had hardness about him. He chiseled his way through life, grunting his dissatisfactions. He rarely spoke two words to me, unless it was to criticize the way I walked, who I hung around, or even how I dressed. I placed my paperboy hat on my head and replied, ‘my pants aren’t tight…they just fit.’ My stepfather swallowed a fork full of scrambled eggs and then said, ‘well, your brother doesn’t wear his pants like that.’ Silence falls again. Before I could respond to yet another one of Glen’s comparisons between Jelani and I, my mother began to walk towards me from the kitchen. She was a sanctified woman who did everything she could to make life easier for me. My mother had a Cinderella soul. She was carrying my lunch in a white, plastic, grocery bag and wearing her sweet, nurturing smile. My mother shouted, ‘have a glorious day at school Elijah!’ Glen let out a huge grunt as he fell back into his chair. My mother then handed my lunch to me and wrapped her arms around my body. This was her way of defending me against my stepfather’s verbal lashings. I faked a smile as I turned away from my mother and walked out of the house.

The leaves created a natural quilt pattern that layered the ground in various shades of red, yellow and green. Adam was waiting for me in front of the church. He stood on the main sidewalk directly across the street from my front door. When I reached the pavement, I paused and looked in Adam’s face. He had clear, dark brown skin. His face was angular and his slanted eyes set deep within their sockets. He and I stood 5’10, shoulder to shoulder. The brown pea coat that Adam was wearing blended with the canopy of trees that lined the walkway. Adam and I called one another brothers, as we practically grew up together. His mother moved the family to our neighborhood when we were both five years old. We’ve attended the same schools since Kindergarten.

I was still wearing my make pretend smile. ‘What’s wrong Elijah?’ Adam asked. Adam knows my moods, even when I’m silent. He and I got to be, for each other, what the other missed. Adam had two younger sisters and always wanted another boy around. I had Jelani, but hadn’t felt close to him since my father passed away. I continued smiling and responded, ‘everything man. It’s everything.’ I put my hand on Adam’s back and nudged him to walk down the street alongside me. I didn’t want my mother to see me upset, as I knew she was watching us from the front window. Adam and I began to make our way down Branch Avenue. I explained to Adam that it was becoming extremely difficult to ignore Jelani’s bullying. Combined with my stepfather’s nitpicking, I told Jelani that it felt as if I was living with vultures. They both seemed to circle around and close in on me at the worst of times. It was as if they could sense my spirit dying, but circled lower to eventually feed off of me. Adam was already familiar with Jelani and Glen’s preferred way of living. He had been at my house enough to witness their ignorance towards everything and everyone that didn’t fit their one-way mold. Me included. Adam put his hand on my shoulder as I told him that I couldn’t wait to graduate and move out of the house. He reminded me of our lifelong pact to travel far away from Washington, DC. Our plan is to room together as freshman at whatever college or university that grants us both full scholarships. Adam said, ‘but in order to get to that point Elijah, you have to somehow fix your mind to get from one day to the next.’ Adam and I were both fifteen, but he spoke about life as if he had lived once before. ‘You have to avoid thinking too far ahead. Face the day’, he declared.

As Adam and I approached the bus stop, a group of boys stood clustered around the corner storefront. Most of them were dressed in dark sweatshirts, jeans and Jordan sneakers of some kind. I recognized one of them. He comes over to the house often to play video games with Jelani. I don’t know his name, but I definitely remember the face. He squinted while staring at Adam and I place our book bags on the ground. I slightly tilted my head back and chin up, to greet him like I usually do. He tossed his fist in the air and tilted his head as well. Now, all of the boys were looking at me. There was a stitch of silence amongst the group of boys before one of them blasted from the background, ‘you know that faggot?’ The group erupted in laughter. They playfully beat each around the shoulders. I leaned towards Adam and whispered for him to not turn around to face the boys. Adam prided himself on defending me. He wasn’t afraid to fight and he didn’t care about getting hurt in the process. Before Adam could utter a single word, loud music roared behind us. As I then turned around, I saw Jelani parking my stepfather’s pickup truck in front of the store. Jelani and I made eye contact. He turned his gaze towards the driver side door as his friend approached the truck. ‘I think it’s really foul that your stepfather lets Jelani drive his truck and he never offers you a ride to school.’ I responded, ‘It’s cool. I wouldn’t have anything to talk to him about in the car, anyways. Id actually rather catch the bus with you.’

The beat of the morning was unsteady. A mutable rhythm seemed to pace throughout the room. My math teacher stood at the front chalkboard. She requested volunteers to assist with our test review. No one responded. Even though I knew the answers, it was a heavy feeling of embarrassment that kept my hands pinned beneath the desk. Constantly being told that I sound like a girl or speak too softly weighed down my desire to talk in class. I was the only ninth grader taking Algebra II Honors. Sitting in the back section of Mrs. Beechman’s room, I tried to bury myself behind the rows of upperclassmen. I slouched down in my seat while keeping my gaze lowered between the series of math equations in my textbook. Mrs. Beechman made a habit of calling on me whenever we would make eye contact. As long as she couldn’t see me, I figured I would avoid answering any questions in front of the entire class. The room was quiet. A slow tempo of warm air blew from the ceiling vent. Mrs. Beechman slammed her teaching guide on the front table and told the class to close our notebooks. ‘Fine! Clear your desks and take out a pencil!’ Mrs. Beechman shouted. ‘If no one needs the review, it must mean that you’re ready to be tested’, she continued. The room erupted in sighs. A gush of relief flowed through my body. A pop quiz meant that we would be instructed to work in silence.

I met up with Janna between classes. She walked down the hallway swinging that thick behind of hers. I swallowed my grape juice while Janna shouted the lyrics to some Kelis song. Her voice sounded like pistols. People stared at Janna. She would lock eyes with the other girls especially and give them that yes-bitch-I-know-I’m-cute look. Janna had a round face, penny size dimples, hazel eyes and perfectly white teeth. She was pretty and had already become the center of attention at school. The first floor was filled with maroon streamers, gold balloons, sparkly confetti and various championship banners hung from the ceiling. Our football team won the homecoming game over the weekend. The entire school was still hung over with excitement. I, however, felt as if I was being embalmed alive. My physical body was present inside of the school building, but I didn’t exist amongst my classmates. Janna and everyone else around me seemed to have found their place within the crowd. Janna’s big hair and beaming personality naturally made people want to gravitate towards her. Even the upperclassmen girls who were intimidated by her popularity, still waved when we walked by. ‘I know! Lets take a picture!’ Janna yelled, as we were walking towards the cafeteria. I told Janna that I didn’t want to take a picture, as I didn’t like what I was wearing. Janna stopped in the middle of the hallway, turned towards me and gave my outfit her classic, once-over. She pulled her crinkled hair away from her face, raised her left eyebrow and looked me up and down. ‘What are you talking about Elijah? You look handsome! Best dressed boy here.’ I had on a pair of dark denim jeans that were cuffed at the bottom, black utility boots, a white oxford shirt and the black suspenders that Adam bought me for my birthday the month before school started. I guess I was still reeling over the comments that my stepfather made about how tight my pants fit. I didn’t want to pose with Janna in the hallway; drawing added attention to my skinny legs. Janna handed her pink cell phone to her friend, Melissa. She then pinned me against one of the grey, metal lockers. Poking out her butt and pressing her breasts against my arm, Janna instructed Melissa to take a full body shot. Playfully, Janna snapped, ‘Elijah, you better smile BOY…or do something sexy. Don’t ruin my damn picture.’ The camera on Janna’s phone flashed twice. I tried to look comfortable while posing beside her.

Janna and I have been friends since the first grade. While Adam and our other classmates were playing kickball or tag on the playground, Janna and I would be digging to China near the steep hill. Our teachers in elementary school always paired Janna and I as partners for class field trips. She would split her ham, cheese and cracker Lunchables with me, and I would give her half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Even when our seats would be placed apart from one another in the classroom, we’d still slide notes back and forth between the desks. Janna and I have just always been close. Whenever she meets new people, most of who happen to be other girls, she introduces them to me.

Now that Adam’s schedule has been changed, I felt awkward being the only guy sitting at a lunch table with Janna and her new girlfriends. They all talk to me, of course. However, I now wondered if everyone else in the cafeteria looked at me as being a sissy of some sort. At least when Adam would sit across from me at the end of the long, laminate table, it appeared as if we weren’t co-stars of ‘The Janna Show’. I was nervous about having to defend myself, again. Aside from Adam, guys in school never talk to me unless we are forced to work together on a science lab or other group project. The majority of my friends have always been females. I didn’t realize how different or weird it was until the boys in middle school began to tease me about it. Some of them would call me Elizabeth instead of Elijah. Janna would curse in response. She dared any of them to call me Elizabeth a second time, in her presence. She would pull her poofy hair into a thick bun and challenge anyone who made fun of me to also make fun of her. Janna has always been ready to defend me, especially if Adam wasn’t around.

From the corner of my eye, I could see Jelani standing against the floor to ceiling, cafeteria windows. His dark, masculine complexion and broad, vertical stance positioned him at the center of attention. He was posted up alongside three other juniors from the track team. I watched them with bitter eyes as they were laughing and pointing at the table of girls from my Creative Writing class. I hated the way Jelani treated other people, especially me. He doesn’t speak if he is walking with one of his friends. We at least played video games, watched television and walked to the store together when I was in the fifth and sixth grades. Now, I can’t even ask him for a ride home from school. Though my newspaper meetings end the same time as his track practices, he’ll say there isn’t enough room for me.

I’ve told him to stop pushing up on Janna. He makes repeated comments about her ass whenever he sees us walking together. His eyes always move over her body. Janna smiles and rolls her eyes at him, but I think it’s disgusting. It would seem that Jelani would look at Janna as his little sister or younger cousin.

As fourth period lunch ended, I could hear Jelani’s voice chanting above the cluster of other voices. ‘Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake!’ belted from him as I walked beside Janna and her friends. The harmonized laughter from Jelani’s track teammates infuriated me. They were following behind us as the crowd dismissed from the cafeteria. I had never before expressed to Janna how irritated I was by Jelani’s advances towards her. I figured that she wouldn’t entertain his nonsense. Janna was a big flirt when she wanted to be. She dropped her purse on the floor and stopped in the middle of the doorway. She stuck out her tongue, rubbed her fingers through the back of her hair and started shaking her ass. Janna was wearing grey leggings that accentuated her full curves. Melissa laughed and started chanting in unison with Jelani’s clown posse. I darted ahead of them.

I loathed crossing the big, burgundy corridors that led to the gymnasium. This is the worst part of my day. An intolerable heaviness formed in the pit of my stomach as I slowly dragged my body down the long, dark, basement hallway. While captains chose the other, more athletic guys to join their teams, I was always the last pick. As beige, concrete walls frame my journey to PE, I can’t help but to want to skip class, again. I intentionally missed eighteen days out of forty-five during the last quarter. I also only changed into my gym uniform eleven of those eighteen days. Coach Miller gave me a sixty-five as a first quarter grade. Even though it’s considered passing, my mother was very disappointed. In the teacher’s comment section, Coach Miller reported, does not participate fully in class, attendance is unsatisfactory and does not present proper and appropriate class materials. Avoiding gym class in middle school was easy since I played the saxophone. Band was a year long, mandatory elective for all members. During the first week of this school year, I begged the ninth grade advisor to assign me any other class other than Physical Education.

Adam was already changed into his gym shorts by the time I entered the locker room. He was standing shirtless, bow-legged and barefoot, while shoving his jeans and boots into his book bag. Since the start of second quarter, Adam has been weight-training afterschool, three days each week. I could already see results in his upper body. Adam’s pecs were sitting at attention, his back looked wider and his arms were definitely thicker. Before we started high school in September, Adam and I spent the summer talking about putting on more pounds. We were supposed to start lifting weights together. I instead joined the school newspaper. As I sat down at the end of the wooden bench, Adam laughed and said, ‘I see that sixty-five got your ass in here this afternoon.’ ‘Barely’, I responded. Adam grabbed my neck with one hand and playfully pulled me backwards. He then leaned over me with his little smile and said, ‘well, you’ll enjoy these next few weeks of swimming bro.’ The heavy knot instantly grew larger inside of my stomach. I was going to have to stand barechested in front of my entire gym class. While swimming is one of the few sports that I excel in, I hated my puny body.

The white, drawstrings on my gym shorts were tied extremely tight. I would normally have my tee shirt tucked in to prevent my shorts from falling down. Standing half naked around the pool caused me to freak out! My heart was beating like a fist banging on a locked door. I could feel my fingers trembling. They were cold and clammy like fish scales. Adam stood directly beside me while Coach Miller called roll. As each of my classmates names were called, I couldn’t help but notice their bodies. I avoided making direct eye contact with any of them as I snuck quick glances of their torsos. I was still the skinniest amongst the group. This was the first time I was seeing the other guys in my gym class half dressed. While changing in the locker room first quarter, I always took my clothes off in one of the bathroom stalls to avoid moments like these. I couldn’t wait for Coach Miller to blow his whistle so I could jump in the water. I desperately wanted to hide.

Wringing wet and funky with chlorine, I dried off while facing the lockers. My towel was wrapped around my waist as I slid my shorts off. I was afraid to peel my gaze from the cement wall. The fear of being seen naked or someone else seeing me, see them naked kept my eyes mounted forward. While Adam was rinsing off in the showers, some of the other guys walked into the aisle to congratulate me for swimming the fastest laps. It was the first time I had ever heard my name spoken inside of the locker room.

The remainder of the day felt like that moment between reaching the top of a roller coaster ride and dropping 144 feet into the depths of unknown territory. I was now tall. For once, I finally felt like all of the other boys in school. It made me wonder if God had finally answered my prayers by making me normal. I walked down the center of the third floor hallway with a gigantic smile on my face. Janna stopped me as I was headed to Spanish class and asked why I was grinning so big. I told her that I swam the fastest lap speed during gym. She jumped, brushed her hands through my wet hair and then grabbed me tight around my upper arms. Janna then shouted, ‘my winner…you Elijah, are MY winner!’ People were slowing down in front of Janna and I to see why she was once again yelling to the top of her lungs. Her enormous personality had a way of crowding open spaces. This time, the stares didn’t make me feel awkward or uncomfortable. In my mind however, I questioned whether or not this day would mark the beginning of my happily-ever-after. Had the listening walls finally heard my silent cries?

It was now four o’clock. Mr. Gibson ran afterschool newspaper meetings the same way he taught our last period, English class. Everyone sat around a semi circle of wood finish desks to toss ideas back and forth. It forces the group to engage with one another directly, I suppose. Aside from Mr. Gibson, I was the only other black sitting amongst seats that were filled by white students. I didn’t mind, for I rather enjoyed being the ONE everyone turned to for advice when completing sensitive article assignments. Since the majority of the student body was black, I did often wonder why I was the only African American student on staff. Mr. Gibson suggested I sign up to write for the school paper in the beginning of the year. He was impressed with my first thesis paper and said he enjoyed my unique, writing style. I guess he has become the only teacher I relate to outside of school. He took me to a journalism workshop in Georgetown a few weeks after I officially joined the paper. Hanging out with Mr. Gibson on a Saturday made me look at him a little differently than I do the other administrators. He’s only twenty-five, so our conversations reminded me of how Jelani and I would possibly talk to one another if Jelani ever spoke to me at all. I remember during our first staff meeting, the Editor-In-Chief of the paper assumed I would be interested in doing the sports column. She probably thought that black boys in Washington, DC didn’t enjoy life beyond the basketball court. I initially accepted the position, for I didn’t realize that I had the option to turn it down. Having no idea how I would cover games that I never attended, I later expressed to Mr. Gibson that I felt more comfortable writing editorial pieces. He spoke to the Editor-in-Chief days later. Together, they obliged my request.

An early fall sunset illuminated the tips of the bright red oak trees that framed my ride home. It was now a quarter after five. As I sat in the rear corner seat of the transit bus, I thought about Adam. He had been teaching me to take precautions when traveling the city alone. Adam insisted that I sit in the back row whenever we weren’t together. He said the back row provided the best view to see everyone. Adam said to never place myself where someone I couldn’t see would be able to watch me. I directed my gaze outside to witness the city get darker between each bus stop. I somehow didn’t want to go straight home. My mind wandered as I thought about James Baldwin’s adventures in New York City; the ones I had repeatedly read about. I recounted in my head the stories about him meeting other writers and artists in Greenwich Village. As I imagined living somewhere like Manhattan or Harlem, I envisioned myself sitting outside of a tiny café. I’d sip coffee beneath a white, bistro umbrella and people-watch between writing journal entries.

My daydream was then interrupted by the acrid smell of smoke. I looked up to notice three guys sitting near me in the rear of the bus. They all looked familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place their faces. The thicker one of the group had taken up two seats on the opposite side of the back row. He was looking at me from the corner of his eye and moving his lips soundlessly. The visible wear and tear of his clothing made me think that he had just left his job at a warehouse or something. I saw the other two staring at me from their seats as well. They kept tapping one another on the knee and motioning their fingers towards me. The bus driver peeked at me through his long, rearview mirror before turning into my neighborhood. It was then I realized that the guys were a part of the group that hung out in front of the corner store.

My stop was coming up. I wanted to ring the bell, but the muscles in my arms were frozen in fear. The thought of these guys following me off the bus made me wish I had Janna or Adam sitting beside me. My first mind told me to remain seated and simply allow the bus to roll by Branch Avenue. I figured the boys were getting off there anyways to do whatever it is they do on the storefront at night. If I got off at the stop after Branch Avenue, I could easily take the alley behind the church. Id cut across the street in front of Adam’s house to get home. Jelani nor my stepfather would care if I made it home tonight or not. However, I knew that my mother would be heartbroken. It was the thought of seeing her smiling face at the receiving end of this Monday that forced me to get up. As my mind raced between the ideas of being ambushed by the group and my mother finding my mutilated body lying in the street, I began fidgeting with my house keys. For a moment, I felt silly even having these thoughts about three guys I didn’t know.

I fearfully lowered my gaze to stare at my shoes. Though my tiny fists probably wouldn’t inflict severe pain during a fight, I knew the front of my utility boots could. Lifting my right arm to pull the bell, I stood and began walking towards the back door of the bus.

The boy wearing the black thermal shirt and black puff coat turned his head towards me. He was sitting in the seat directly across from the back door. His wicked gaze traveled from my shoes, resting on my book bag and up to my face. I caught only a glimpse of his eyes before turning to face the outside. I shuddered as I could see the window reflection of all three boys standing up behind me. I held tightly to the silver pole that was parallel to the back exit sign. My house keys were now clenched in my right fist. The taller, light skin boy had a devious smirk wiped across his face. He kept looking back and forth between the heavyset boy and me. Neither of them seemed too threatening. However, the guy in all black appeared to be someone who could be capable of anything. I recognized him as the one who called me a faggot after I spoke to Jelani’s friend at the storefront.

The bus finally stopped on the corner of Branch Avenue and Hampstead Road. As the backdoor swung open, I felt a brisk wind blow against me. My body filled with panic as I walked down the exit stairs. My throat tightened for a brief moment. I tried slowly to breathe-in the air that was smacking against my face. The tingling of pins and needles in my toes made it difficult for me to walk. I knew once the bus driver pulled away there would be no one to protect me. ‘Where’s your little boyfriend?!’, the one in black shouted. I didn’t respond. The two other boys laughed while standing behind me. He continued, ‘you heard me FAGGOT.’ I turned to face the group of boys and said, ‘I’m not that.’

A high-pitched squeak from the brakes on the bus drowned out whatever the boy in black said next. His eyes were cold and empty as he jumped towards me. He grabbed the collar of my coat and viciously shoved me to the ground. When my face hit the concrete, I heard a familiar ringing sound in the distance. It was a torn, chilling metal, clapping against the evening skies. Curling my body into the same fetal position that I usually sleep in, I covered the back of my neck with both of my hands. The thick lining of my coat seemed to cushion the heavy blows from shoes kicking and stomping my body. It hurt then it didn’t hurt. As angry hits then streaked across my face, I could still hear the chime of church bells in the background. Sharp knuckles pierced my skin causing blood to gush from my nose. I laid nowhere. Shadows from tree branches framed around me. My body was being protected. I wanted to scream for my mother, but I knew she wouldn’t hear me above this Monday night storm. It had come. It was doing its damage and then it would hopefully be gone.

The clouds would no longer cover my scars as dusk turns to dawn. I stumbled across Hampstead Road with my torn book bag still strapped to my back. The three boys had darted into the darkness. My foolproof plan to pray away my differences had been outnumbered. I was coughing and crying beneath the streetlights that lined Branch Avenue. The air was foul with the smell of mothballs and whisky; the same scent that stayed in my clothes for weeks after my father would lower me from his shoulders. I felt his presence in the series of short steps that led me closer and closer towards my front door. The dollar bills I had shoved deep into my left sock after buying snacks at lunch were now soggy and sticking to the bottom of my foot. It was as if my father was taking this walk ahead of me. A barrier of protection from the intolerable world. He spoke a silent language in my ear this night. Over and beyond the thoughts of what I would tell my mother or how Janna and Adam would react, I heard my father saying, ‘Get home, Elijah.’ Blood trickled down the side of my face, but I somehow wasn’t in physical pain. Shame fell away from my heart, even knowing that Jelani and my stepfather would see my wounds. I felt no more threats of having to defend myself against their verbal lashings or the physical blows from strangers. There was no need to be forgiven for my being feminine, soft spoken and frail. I began thinking about what Adam said to me in the morning as we walked down this same street. And he was right. I had to face the trials and tribulations of each day in order to celebrate the triumphs of tomorrow. There was no majestic place I could travel to escape my way of living. No faint ability to blend into the crowd. No miracle. No miracle on Monday.

The Male Stars Of iCloud’s Hacker Hit List

icloud50

By now, everyone has been made aware of the nude selfies that have been spread across the World Wide Web. Various female celebrities including Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, Jill Scott and Kim Kardashian have fallen victim to a hackers sweep of Apple’s now infamous, iCloud. Apple iPhone users are able to snap photos using their iPhones and then back up those pics and other files to this now ‘glitchey’, operating system. Two weeks ago, nude selfie’s and other types of suggestive photos were stolen from actress, Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud system and plastered across the internet. The pictures spread like wildfire across blogs, internet sites and other online forums. This then began a weekly cycle. Two or three nude photos of female celebrities posed in their bathrooms – using their iPhones to snap intimate photos of themselves have been shared for public viewing. Many of these actresses, singers and other starlets have come forward to either deny the validity of the stolen shots or to state that the photos were specifically taken for their husbands and boyfriends. While some of us truly feel that these photos violate the privacy of these hardworking women, many others have copied and pasted the uploads to their tumblr pages, Facebook walls, Twitter timelines and Instagram as well.

This onslaught of female celebrity photos posed naked in their home mirrors has made the rest of us wonder: WHERE ARE THE HACKED PHOTOS OF OUR FAVORITE MALE STARS? Many of the male celebrities own iPhones and willingly share their half-naked photos on social media regularly. I think I speak for my thousands of readers and viewers when I ask, “can we please hack into their iCloud accounts & upload the below the waist shots they’ve snapped, saved or deleted?

So many of my supporters have been contacting me and asking for my thoughts regarding why the male celebs aren’t being attacked as heavily. Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that men aren’t as sexually objectified in society as the everyday female. A man isn’t necessarily measured as being only as powerful as the size or arousal factor of his bare chest, exposed buttocks or erect penis. Men are not seen as the object of sexual glare or voyeurism. Men are considered to be the subject. Therefore, what society creates in the form of visuals to sell or market products and ideas is the female form. Basically, it’s assumed that “no one really cares” to see a naked male body, and those who do don’t exist in the majority.

However, I am to believe that the contemporary man has grown to not only spend more time in the gym sculpting his body, but he also enjoys showing it off. Over the past few years, male celebrities have used social media as their stage to put their physiques at center stage for their adoring fans. Many of them flirt with their iPhones while standing in their bathroom mirrors and covered in nothing more than a towel or boxer briefs. These male stars are proud of their bodies and are waiting for an opportunity to unwrap them.

If these hackers would simply shift their interests a little to the left, I’m quite sure they would find great pics hidden in the iCloud accounts of this HIT LIST

AUGUST ALSINA

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NELLY

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TANK

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RL from “NEXT”

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SAGE THE GEMINI

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CASH OUT

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SAMMIE

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DIGGY SIMMONS

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FRANK OCEAN

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JASON DERULO

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MARIO

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LIL ROMEO

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BOW WOW

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TYGA

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NEYO

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TREY SONGZ

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USHER

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MICHAEL B. JORDAN

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DRAKE

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MACK WILDS

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TERRANCE J

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IDRIS ELBA

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LUKE JAMES

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NICK JONAS

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JUSTIN BIEBER

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These fellas are proud of their pecs and satisfied with their overall, physical form. It is their pleasure to have fans fawning over their toned and chiseled physiques. Since they are celebrities, many of their publicists won’t allow them to simply “leak” their own uncensored, bathroom selfies.

So…lets do these handsome gentlemen a favor by hacking into their iCloud’s and showering the public with the goods. Let the male cycle begin NOW.

Trying To Explain To My Mother That Im Not The “Woman” In My Relationship

Couple enjoying dinner

Good afternoon Xem,

I hope this email reaches you in spiritual peace and wellness. I want you to know that I pray for you just as I would my own brother. I have so much respect for what it is that you do not only for the LGBT community but for mankind as a whole. You really are a spiritual warrior and I know that God has amazing things in store for you. I am writing to you this afternoon because I am having a very difficult time trying to get through to my mother as of lately. Xem, my mother and I are extremely close, especially now that she and my father’s divorce has been finalized. I consider her to be one of my very best friends. It has been tough for her emotionally trying to accept the separation, as well as now living in our house alone. I recently moved out to live with my boyfriend, Troy. He and I are both grad students at UIC here in Chicago. I lived home during my undergraduate studies, which is when my father first moved out. My mother is very supportive of me and my relationship. She treats Troy (my boyfriend) just like her second son. His mother isn’t at all supportive of his sexuality. They have a very estranged relationship, so he and my mother have established their own special relationship. We usually invite her over to our place on Sundays for dinner. She and I will cook together, which is something we’ve done since I was probably thirteen years old. It’s my way of trying to maintain some consistency in her life now that she feels I’m all she has left. However, it irritates me so much Xem that my mother doesn’t seem to understand that just because I cook for Troy and I or she sees me wiping up the table once she comes over, that I am not the woman in my relationship. My mother raised me to be able to take care of myself. Before she knew I was gay she would always say that she never wanted me to have to rely on a woman to do everything the ways that she had to do for my father. So, for me it’s just natural to keep everything in a certain spot or to try new recipes and things. Troy does not know how to cook and when he does call himself cleaning, I end up having to go behind him to really CLEAN CLEAN if you know what I mean. LOL! Even though my mother and I discuss practically everything, I do not discuss my sex life with Troy, with her. Therefore, she doesn’t realize that Troy and I have always had a very equal relationship, if you know what I mean here as well. LOL! My mother is only 56, but her idea of gay relationships is so stuck on who plays the man role and who plays the woman. She always asks me ridiculous questions like, “if you and Troy get married, will both of you wear tuxedos or will you wear something else?” I fall out laughing at this lady because it’s like she expects me to come down the aisle in some ballroom gown or wedding dress. She will also joke but really being serious when she’ll tell me to just drop out of grad school to spend my days with her and let Troy take care of us once he graduates. It’s a little frustrating because I know she really means what she says. Now I will say that Troy is taller than me and he is thicker than me. I guess from the outside looking in, my mother and others may see us and assume that because of the physical differences, we have strict roles in our relationship. However, even if that were the case Xem, why is it that I would have to be looked upon as the “woman” or Troy’s wife. Do you know what I mean? I just really don’t know how to explain to my mother the difference between straight relationships and my relationship. As much as I truly love my mother and get along with her, it’s when she makes these comparisons that I sometimes just want to scream and throw my plate at the wall. I try not to get upset however because I know she means well. Troy thinks the entire situation is hilarious. Like yesterday when she came over and saw him watching the game and doing his homework while I was trying to change our bed. In her mind I think she sees Troy as the role of my father who would spend Sundays doing office work and me playing her role as my fathers wife, or ex wife now. That’s what it is. How can I possibly break things down to her in a way that she will finally understand? I look forward to hearing from you soon if you see this and can reply. Also, I don’t mind if you choose to post this on your Xem says site. I love reading your advice!

XEM SAYS…

Believe it or not, your mother’s misguided idea of how gender roles shape same sex relationships isn’t so farfetched from how many others examine the romantic union between two men. Your mother only understands her position in the world as a woman, a mother and a wife. As a result, the traditional practices and values that have defined those positions since the beginning of time, frames her perception of how you are also to exist in this world. Your mother understands how a man typically acts as a husband to his wife based on her personal experiences living alongside your father. In contrast, your mother also understands how a woman typically acts as a wife to her husband. However, now that she witnesses you, her gay son, modeling some of those same actions alongside your live-in boyfriend, she only has her personal experiences to use as comparison. As a wife, she cooked for your father and cleaned the house while he watched television and worked from home on Sundays. When she visits you and Troy, she sees you changing the bed linens while Troy is doing his homework with the football game playing in the background. Your mother’s perception then is that you have taken on a traditional female role, and Troy is playing the traditional “man of the house”. Your romantic relationship with Troy is probably her first time ever witnessing two men living together and loving one another, up-close. At the age of fifty-six, your mother uses her past experiences to figure out present situations that are new and unfamiliar to her. She honestly thinks a label is supposed to exist on how you interact and engage with the man in your life.

It is important that you explain to your mother, the way you stated to me – that you and Troy have established a very equal, romantic relationship. Make it clear to her that you label Troy as your boyfriend, as he labels you with the same title. Let her know that with those “titles”, the two of you expect the same levels of courtesy, consistency and commitment from one another. Remind your mother that she is the one who raised you to be able to prepare a meal and clean a house without the help of a spouse. Tell her that even if you were a straight man who was married to a woman, you would still be changing bed linens on Sundays and cooking dinner for the family if your wife was unable to. Remind her that your wife would then still consider you her husband, and would not alter her perception simply based on your ability to cook and clean. Your mother may not realize that Troy does indeed clean up on a regular basis even though he doesn’t necessarily do a good job. Explain that contemporary culture has widened the gap between what is considered traditional male roles in a relationship and what is seen as modern day, male performance.

To really lay the situation in her lap, talk to your mother about the “masculine work” you perform in your relationship, but compare it directly to the “masculine work” your father played as her husband. For example, inform her that there are times when you come home from class, take out the trash, plop in front of the TV and call Troy to bring home dinner. It may seem trivial to have to water the details of your love life down to such ground levels. However, older people sometimes have to see things from the very point where they stand.

I think people in general are more comfortable when they are able to specifically categorize other people. It’s a part of our human makeup to mentally make sense of how others operate in society by labeling the roles they play within it. You’re actually very blessed to have a mother who has the desire to understand the dynamic of your relationship with your boyfriend. You may want to consider the fact that your mother inquires about your gender role because she is afraid to directly ask you questions about your sex life. Because your mother obviously equates you doing the chores to a display of feminine behavior, she may also assume that you are always “biting the pillow” in the bedroom. You made it clear to me that you and Troy practice a very equal, versatile, sexual relationship. Possibly, it would blanket your mother’s understanding of your relationship if she knew that Troy wasn’t the strict, sexual aggressor between the two of you. It is universally understood that women traditionally “lay on their backs” to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, if your mother knew that you are sometimes on top of Troy as he lays on his back for you, she would be forced to erase the comparison between you as the “woman” or female figure. I know openly discussing your sex life with a parent or sibling can be extremely uncomfortable. However, since the two of you have established a close, best friend relationship, it may be easier to share those details with your mom.

I’m not sure how long you and Troy have been together, but over time, I truly believe your mother will witness the balance in your union. The more she sees the two of you engaging with one another in and outside of your home, the more she will begin to understand that a same sex relationship isn’t necessarily framed by traditional, gender roles. Be encouraged in knowing that you are one of the lucky few; having a mom who embraces not only your sexuality, but also your decision to live openly with the partner  you love. Continue to cherish every moment that your mother spends alongside you and Troy, for it’s her silent prayers helping you two remain united. Believe me. She feels at peace knowing you have a special man in your life.

The “Jocelyn” Runway Performance That Brings The Entire Crowd To Their Feet

JocelynAmongst the now internationally recognized ballroom circuit, Female Figure Runway has become one of the most competitive and eagerly anticipated categories. Transgender women, men dressed in drag and biological women as well, walk against one another to snatch the trophy or cash prize for ‘runway ruler’ of the night. The larger and more grand the particular ball, the more female figures that turn out to grace the floor with their poise, decorum and perfect model effect. Last year, the annual LATEX BALL was once again held in New York City; the home where gay houses were built and the first balls were birthed to the nation. The Latex Ball was hosted at Terminal 5 on August 16, 2013 and was sponsored in part to support HIV prevention and awareness.

Towards the end of the night, the Female Figure Runway category was called to the floor. Little did anyone know, runway would reign as the most entertaining and talked about category amongst the spectators that crowded the three-story venue.

A woman who walked under the stage name, “JOCELYN” was able to sit down every other female figure who dared to compete against her. The commentators and judges were all initially taken aback by Jocelyn’s very professional runway presence. Then, as she continued to grace the room, it seemed that Jocelyn had a few tricks up her sleeves. No other competitor could stand against Jocelyn, as she revealed a new twist to her routine each time she paraded down the runway and back again.

HOWEVER, it isn’t until the 15:30 mark that Jocelyn brings the entire crowd to their feet. I have probably watched this video fifteen times since the footage was released last August, 2013. What Jocelyn delivers to the crowd in those few captured moments seals her standing in ballroom history. WATCH how the crowd reacts to Jocelyn’s secret weapon. Her performance overall is just so polished and refined from the very beginning of the category, until the ‘WOW’ moment that solidifies her win.

 

Later, it was revealed that Jocelyn is a professional supermodel. She walks runway for Ebony Fashion Fair as DEONNA PINKERTON – and has been positioned for the past four years as a leading face for the Ebony brand. I absolutely LOVED this moment and I know many of you will enjoy it as well.

I Don’t Understand Why I Was Stood Up When He Was The One Who Planned The Date

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Let me start off by saying that you have been such a blessing to my life Xem. I smile when I see you smile in pictures. I get sad when I watch you cry on videos. I get excited when I see you posting new blogs and I feel disappointed when you don’t. lol! To me and this may seem crazy but I feel like you are apart of my life. I had just graduated from high school when I first watched your video about the 5 types of guys that travel to sizzle in 2011 and then I spent that entire summer literally watching every video you had ever created. I’m being completely serious right now. Your entire self has been so comforting for me through my college years. I am a senior now at Hampton University and I find myself at a crossroads when it comes to dating or meeting someone who will actually be by my side as I enter into the next phase of my life. To know that you are single has always been very puzzling to me because you’re so smart and you have all of this special traits that I admire. I began to feel like maybe Xem just has really high standards but now that I see how guys truly are I’m beginning to understand what you have probably had to deal with as well.

I was stood up last Saturday afternoon by a guy I met through Instagram. He sent me a DM during the summer basically just telling me that he thought I was cute and really liked my pictures. I also thought he was attractive which is the reason why I started following him in the first place. Usually guys like him don’t try to talk to me because I’m what you could consider a feminine type and he is very masculine based on his pictures. I was really surprised to even receive a message from him because after I followed him I never liked or commented his pics. He asked if we could exchange numbers to get to know one another and I agreed. We started texting one another on a Thursday night but our conversations were always very dry. He replied to all of my questions with one word answers and would sometimes take like 20-30 minutes to reply at all. It got to the point where I simply wasn’t interested in texting with him anymore. Then out of the blue a week later, that next Saturday he asked if we could talk on the phone. I really didn’t want to but was curious about how he would sound. I called him that Saturday night and he didn’t respond. I didn’t bother to leave a voicemail. I just figured he was out or asleep. It was around 9pm. Then he called me that Sunday morning but I was at church with my roommate. We eventually talked that night and our conversation was surprisingly very interesting and entertaining. His voice was so sexy to me Xem. He was very talkative on the phone and told me stories about him growing up and moving away from home at 17. He talked about how he bought his first house at the age of 21 and had been collecting vintage cars for the past 5 years. He told me he lived in the Western Branch section of Chesapeake, which is like a 30 minute drive from Hampton. The majority of the time for the next few weeks I would wait for him to call me because he’s a personal trainer and nutritionist. He doesn’t really have set work hours. For like the next 3 weeks he was very consistent in calling me every night and we would talk about everything, more than I’ve really opened up to a guy about since high school. He would joke and say that I was high maintenance and that guys like me never paid him attention years ago. He told me that he never even had a boyfriend. It really shocked me to hear him say these things like that because he is so handsome and has a banging body. I guess this may seem weird, but I started catching feelings for him because of how special he would make me feel on the phone. I asked him if he talked to other guys the way he opened up to me and said he had not in years. I suggested to him Labor Day weekend that we should finally get together and meet face to face. He said he was busy. Then he set a date for that next Saturday after Labor Day at the Six Little Bar Bistro. He said he had been there several times before and thought it would be a great place for us to spend some time. It’s a spot right here in Hampton. I told him that I didn’t mind driving to his house but he insisted that he really wanted to come down this way.

We talked everyday leading up to that Saturday except for that Saturday morning. Which was odd but I knew that he had two clients that morning. We were supposed to meet at 2oclock outside of the Six Little Bar Bistro. I waited like 20 minutes Xem and then texted him to say that I was going to get a table since the restaurant was getting crowded. He didn’t respond. I ordered an appetizer and a glass of water as I waited and it was now probably 45 minutes later. I called him because I thought that maybe there was traffic between Chesapeake on the 664. He did not answer my calls. I sat at the table looking around and continuously checking my phone. He never replied to my text messages or returned my calls. I finally left the restaurant around 3:30. I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING FROM HIM SINCE THEN. I do see that he’s still posting pictures on Instagram so I know that he’s alive. I have DM’s him and he will not reply to me there either. This is the weirdest situation I have ever experienced with a guy in the past four years. I do not understand what I may have done wrong. I even left a voicemail saying that it’s okay if he changed his mind about us meeting face to face so soon. I offered that we could still just talk on the phone and continue getting to know each other. He will not say anything to me or reach out. What do you think happened based on all that I have shared with you? I was wondering if maybe he showed up and saw me from a distance but didn’t like how I looked in person even though I look just like my pics.

XEM SAYS…

Please know and understand that the reasons why this guy did not show up for the scheduled date has little to do with you, directly. I have never been stood-up by someone who I was scheduled to meet for the first time. However, I have endured situations where the other man involved was too uncomfortable or insecure to spend one-on-one time with me. I have often wondered if I rushed the initial date or whether or not I said something to scare off the other party. Then, as I began examining our conversations and previous interactions, I realized that the problem existed long before the guy and I ever met.

You stated that during your phone conversations, the other dude would joke and say that you were high maintenance – and that guys like you never paid him attention years ago. He also told you that he never has had a boyfriend in the past.

This information should have immediately let you know that your new guy was dealing with various self-esteem issues. Despite the fact that he now has this “banging body” that you described, he obviously didn’t appeal to certain types of guys prior to his transformation. A large part of why this guy has worked so hard to build this “banging body” is to garner the attention of the ‘high-maintenance’ men who never seemed to look his way years ago. In his mind, despite how he may presently look on the outside, parts of him may still feel unworthy of the praise. It’s easier for him to mask the insecurities through pictures, text messages and phone conversations. However, face-to-face, he was possibly afraid that you would notice his lack of confidence. A lot of guys who appear to be very attractive and well put together on social media apps, are quite insecure and emotionally wounded once you meet them in person. The realization of the two of you actually sitting across from one another, possibly sent him into a frenzy of social anxiety. He would be faced with old demons – making him feel he didn’t belong with certain guys, or otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance of establishing a relationship with someone he deems as being better than him. The newfound, online popularity doesn’t heal the day-to-day discomfort that some guys experience within themselves.

Additionally, this man made up in his mind that you were high maintenance. I’m unsure if he came to that conclusion based on your enrollment at Hampton University or maybe as a result of the other interests you shared with him over the course of your phone conversations. He may have also looked through your series of Instagram pictures and determined that your surface lifestyle is beyond his norm or comfort level.

It is possible that this man doesn’t own the home or all of the vintage cars that he spoke about over the past few weeks. Maybe his employment as a personal trainer and nutritionist isn’t as stable or lucrative as he has alluded to. As a result, he didn’t show up to meet you because that first date would ignite further inquiries into his daily life. Eventually, your café dates would turn into sleepovers at your apartment and then time spent at his “alleged” house in Chesapeake. This guy may not own a car or a home of his own. Keep in mind that he insisted you not meet him at his house when you suggested taking the drive instead of him traveling to the Hampton area. Yes, he could have simply been taking caution – not wanting to invite a new individual to his residence. However, you must remember that people are able to easily create lies and scenarios about how they live when there isn’t great expectation of meeting the person they are lying to.

Also, the same way you unexpectedly caught feelings for this man, he may have begun to feel similarly about you. His intentions from the very beginning may have been to simply flirt, exchange pictures and move on to someone new. The fact that you two actually connected beyond physical attraction may have scared him. He knew showing up for your date would possibly intensify feelings on his part. For whatever reasons, maybe he isn’t in a mental or emotional position to build the foundation for a healthy relationship. After all, this man has never actually existed in a romantic relationship with another guy. His fear is possibly that he doesn’t know HOW to date or engage with other men beyond online flirtation or basic, phone conversation. Social anxiety is a real disease, especially for people who were treated as outcasts during their childhood and/or teenage years.

Overall, I believe this man was afraid to meet you. He possibly felt that you were out of his league and would reject him after that first, face-to-face encounter. His wounds have not healed from the lack of attention received from men in the past. It could be that he exaggerated the lifestyle he lives, and therefore didn’t want to face the embarrassment of having to reveal the truth to you. Then, there’s the possibility of this man having grown so comfortable with meeting other men online, that he simply doesn’t know how to engage with other guys as it pertains to being romantic or getting to know others in person.

You have certainly dodged a bullet, as you do not have time at this point in your life to build another man’s self esteem. You are soon to be a college graduate and should be involved with a guy whose confidence will compliment the journey you’re about to face in the world. Meanwhile, don’t allow this isolated incident to prevent you from eagerly accepting the next lunch or dinner invitation…because there will be many others.

 

 

I Now Regret Letting My Best Friend Move In With Me When He Had Nowhere Else To Go

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Hello Xem. My name is Andrew. I don’t mind if you share this letter on your website because at this point I am extremely fed up. I have been a fan of yours since 2010 and I very much respect your point of view on the different issues you discuss with us. I don’t want to take up too much of your time because I know you get so many of these requests on a regular basis. So to keep it nice and sweet, I am at the point where I feel my friendship with one of my best friends is in jeopardy. He has been living with me since March in my one bedroom apartment and it doesn’t seem that he is making attempts to move out. He lost his job around Christmas and began borrowing money from us to pay his bills, so we thought (there are 3 of us who have known each other since high school). He told us that he was going to be receiving unemployment and would pay us back once the checks began coming in after the processing period. He said that would be in January. Well, we come to find out that he used the money he borrowed not to pay his rent or other bills in full, but to still buy gifts for other people. Then, when the new year came around he was trying to play catch up on his car note and gas and electric and rent. So, none of us (the 3 friends) knew that he was borrowing money from all of us. Something happened with the unemployment whereas he wasn’t able to receive the checks. I guess he started receiving eviction notices in March and his car company even began calling me looking for him because he was so behind on his car note. I became really concerned and because I love him like a brother I offered him to come stay with me until he could get back on his feet. I’m a bank manager, so I know that we do summer hires every year that most often turn into full time positions. I arranged for my best friend to interview in April for one of the three teller positions that was opening in June. I basically tailored his resume so that his skills would fit the teller position requirements. Everything was arranged for a Wednesday afternoon. I even allowed him to drop me off at work using my car that day, go back to the apartment, get dressed later in the day and come in for the 1pm interview. He never showed!!! I thought something happened to him so I began panicking and calling him and our other friends. He was asleep the entire time!!! This has become who he is now. He sleeps through the entire day and is up throughout the night blasting the television or asking to use my car before I go to bed. When I give him leads for different positions that are opening in different places he doesn’t follow through by faxing his resume. I have a fax machine and scanner at my apartment, so he doesn’t need to venture out to an Office Max or anything.

I also don’t feel that he respects my things. He sleeps in my living room every night, but he doesn’t fold the sheets or blankets or fix the couch when he wakes up. He doesn’t clean out the bathtub once he takes a shower or even do anything for that matter. Our other friends warned me to not allow him to move in with me but he honestly had nowhere else to go. His parents moved to Texas two years ago and that’s when he moved out into his own place here. His sister is away at college in Minnesota, but goes home to Texas during her breaks and we (the 3 of us) are basically his other family so to speak. I’m the one who welcomed him into the house, so how can I ask him to leave now? I know he is unmotivated right now and probably depressed in certain ways, but when I try to even talk to him he doesn’t want to discuss anything. I think it would push him over the edge if I asked him to leave, but our other friends are saying that he needs to hit rock bottom before he stands on his own. Do you agree with that and how would you handle this situation? I know I wrote more than I expected. Sorry. I hope you will still respond to me.

XEM SAYS…

I absolutely agree with how your circle of friends feel regarding your present living situation, and the circumstances that surround the mutual best friend. Your heart was obviously in the best place when you opened your home to someone who you consider to be a brother. He was facing hardship and you provided what should have been a temporary cushion to soften the heavy blows of life. However, you made the mistake of not setting rules and framing a timeline for your best friend to follow prior to moving into your home. While we’re sometimes unable to predict how long it will take for someone to “get on their feet”, I feel that allowing a friend to live in your home for 2-3 months is more than fair in aiding in their process to restructure their financial life. When we fail to set expiration or due dates, the people closest to us will subconsciously take advantage of that opening. We extend ourselves out of a pure love for a friend, but that friend becomes so comfortable that they begin to depend on our helping hands. You have created a situation for yourself where you are now taking care of your best friend, as opposed to your intention of helping him once again take care of himself.

If it truly isn’t in your heart or your spirit to send your best friend out into the street immediately, it is time that you give him a deadline to move out of your apartment. If he knows that he now only has until November 1st to find another place to live, I am confident that the deadline will light a fire beneath him to vigorously search for employment. Your best friend is obviously not a dead-beat, otherwise he would have never been able to maintain his own place or vehicle for the past two years. He certainly possesses marketable skills, as he held a full-time position prior to losing his job last December. So, the issue isn’t that he can’t find a job or a new place to live. The problem is that he has become complacent and refuses to move his feet.

In the meantime, you must also create basic rules to govern your household. Treat your best friend as if he is your roommate. In essence, that is your living situation for these final 2 months that you will allow him to live in your home. Make it clear to him that you need your rest at night and therefore, he needs to monitor the volume of the living room television. Give him the responsibility of cleaning the bathroom every Sunday and mopping floors or vacuuming on Saturdays. Sometimes, as this is true for a lot of men, they won’t initiate cleaning – but they will follow a routine of straightening up behind themselves when they are instructed to do so. Remind your best friend that even though he sleeps on your couch every night, that area isn’t considered his bedroom. Ask him to please fold the sheets and straighten the pillows each time he wakes up and starts his day.

If your best friend is offended by your deadline date or taken aback by the new rules you set in place, he will possibly leave on his own. You cannot feel guilty if he catches an attitude and decides to move out now. This grown man has lived with you, rent-free for the past six months. Honestly, you have already extended yourself beyond reasonable expectations. If he decides to stop speaking to you and continues to associate with the other friends who refused to let him live in their homes, then he doesn’t value your friendship. You have provided for him in ways that no one else was willing or able to do during these dark moments in his life. Though he may be depressed or frustrated at the hands of his present circumstances, he has also made you feel uncomfortable living in your own home. It’s unfair. A large part of maintaining a healthy friendship is being able to look at someone you care about and say, “HERE IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE”. If they continue to cross those boundaries, that’s your cue to cross them out of your life.

I Can’t Stop Checking My Ex’s Social Media Now That He Seems Like A Totally Different Person Online

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I love you Xemmy you have no idea! I know you’ll probably never see this email but I’m sending it anyway because any response from you would help me along the way. The problem will still affect my life by the time you ever see this so here it goes….me and my boyfriend have been broken up since May. He said he couldn’t deal with me knowing so many people here in Connecticut and always going back and forward with new people on Facebook. It bothered him that I would talk to “strangers” as he would call them or sometimes hangout with friends of friends that he didn’t know. My ex is a police officer that I also met on Facebook last summer of 2013 Xem, so it’s pretty crazy to me that he would constantly chastise me for having casual conversations with other people on Facebook as well. That’s exactly how he and I met. I always made sure he knew that I wasn’t flirting with other guys or having inappropriate conversations. I would even let him read my conversations but he would decline the offer. He just kept telling me that it got on his nerves but he never said he wanted me to stop or anything. My ex boyfriend is 32 and the type of guy or WAS the type of guy that would go to work, come home, eat food and just lay around. So even if I was at his place when he arrived home that’s what he would do. I would get bored slightly even though I loved being around him and that is when I would check my Facebook page just like anyone else. I just turned 24 and I enjoy doing things outside of the house and I think that’s nirmal. There isn’t a lot that goes on here Xem so to be able to reach out and meet people in other surrounding areas sort of opened opportunities for me to branch out socially NOT for hooking up. So when my ex would complain about it I would ask him if we could go out together or do something instead. His response would be that he was tired and needed to rest up for work. So okay! I wouldn’t complain about it. I just stayed on the computer or my phone. The thing is NOW that we are broken up my ex boyfriend is all over Facebook and has even opened an Instagram page. I found out about the Instagram page because his pictures are uploaded on his Facebook wall. And it’s like now he is a completely different person. He posts pictures of himself working out, I see him checking in at the movies on Facebook and doing stuff like going camping with these people he never introduced me to so they have to be new. It’s like now that we aren’t together he all of a sudden likes to have fun and update his pages practically everyday. He gets all of these likes on his Instagram pictures from random people but especially from this one guy who leaves the same winking emoji under EVERY SINGLE PICTURE. And the guy is someone I met on Facebook like 8 months ago that knows I was in a relationship with my ex at that time. I want to beat his ass Xem! I created a Instagram page but never post pictures on there. I do follow my ex on there but he can’t see my face or anything. I don’t even care about Facebook or being online like that anymore. I try so hard to stop myself from reading his Facebook since he never deleted me from his page. Even when I don’t go to his page specific his check ins and status messages pop up on my timeline. My stomach drops everytime I see pictures of him in new clothes or out with new people, but I’ll still look at his Instagram almost everyday. I get really pissed reading all of his flirty comments and sometimes I just want to say something but I don’t. He hasn’t replied to any of my text messages or phone calls since we broke up so its almost like going to his Facebook and Instagram is my only real connection to him. How do I stop myself from looking at his updates? It’s like even though I know its going to hurt me or upset me I look anyway. Does that seem crazy to you Xem?

XEM SAYS…

There is absolutely nothing “crazy” about having an unyielding desire to read your ex boyfriend’s social media updates or wanting to see his newly uploaded photos. However, it is unhealthy for you to actually give in to those desires by actively visiting his Facebook wall or Instagram page on a daily basis. The two of you split up only four months ago. As a result, both of you still exist in the beginning stages of your healing process. By continuously texting and calling your ex boyfriend, you are seeking answers and explanations that weren’t made clear to you during the breakup. His approach to healing is to engulf himself in the online activities that seemed to steal your attention away from him during the time the two of you were together. Both of you are responding in normal, human fashion.

You are visiting his social media pages regularly for the exact reason that you stated: his Facebook and Instagram updates are your only present connection to him and his life over the past few months. Your longing to see him, to hear from him or to know how he is living is temporarily fulfilled when you read a new online post or see one of his recent pics. However, the fact that you know you no longer play a role in these changes and activities explains why that gut-punch feeling hits your stomach the moment you see that he’s doing just fine on the surface. As selfish as it may seem, it’s extremely painful to witness our exes living well.

Just keep in mind that people don’t post the photos of the moments they spend crying, sad or hidden beneath their blankets at home. Your ex may not be as carefree and joyful as it seems. In turn, you have lost your desire to post online regularly because it was that one habit that caused you to lose the man you obviously love.

Meanwhile, I do advise that you take the step of temporarily deleting the Facebook and Instagram apps from your phone. Sometimes, we check our social media pages by habit, and not necessarily because we want to know what our friends are doing every hour on the hour. Deleting the apps from your phone will at least aid in your ability to not visit your ex boyfriends Facebook or Instagram pages when you’re out and about. If you find that deleting the apps isn’t slowing down the rates at which you check his social media pages, it then becomes necessary to delete him from your Facebook page altogether. When we sign-in to Facebook, the individuals whose pages we visit the most will always appear at the top of our timelines. To avoid having his updates shoved in your face, it’s probably best that you remove him from your friends list. Once you do remove him, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll then request his friendship anytime soon. Also, because you don’t utilize Instagram for your own enjoyment, please get rid of the page you created to basically keep tabs on your ex boyfriends life. You are not emotionally ready to handle the level of newfound attention that he is receiving in the form of photo “likes” and flirtatious commentary.

Your ex boyfriend is thirty-two years old and you are now just turning twenty-four. He approached your relationship from the standpoint of someone who has obviously existed in numerous, romantic situations. An experienced man isn’t going to directly tell his partner to stop engaging in certain activities or to cease interaction with specific people. You stated that he, “never told you to stop communicating with random guys on Facebook”. Instead, he repeatedly expressed to you that it bothered him and made him feel uncomfortable that you communicated with strangers online and then spent time with individuals he had never met. It was his expectation that you would respond to his discomfort by changing your habits. Your compromise was to continue the internet behavior, with a side offer for your ex boyfriend to read your online conversations. For the sake of saving your relationship, you could have minimized your online interactions to simply communicating with people who your ex was already familiar with. Since you say the two of you met on Facebook, it is already ingrained in your ex boyfriends mind that you utilize social media as a platform to meet guys beyond the boundaries of establishing strict friendship. Men who exist in their thirties have usually endured so many relationship challenges, that they aren’t going to battle with their partners about issues that have repeatedly been addressed. If the problem persists, they will simply remove themselves from the situation without a great deal of explanation. His complaints, as he sees it, were explanation enough.

Now, it seems that your ex boyfriend is utilizing social media in ways that he didn’t take advantage of when the two of you were together romantically. He is updating his Facebook wall regularly and posting daily photos on a new Instagram page. This is common behavior of the partner who was constantly complaining about a specific issue or individual while existing in the confines of the relationship. When someone breaks off a relationship because their partner would not stop engaging in a certain activity or hanging around a particular person, that someone often becomes intrigued by those specific elements. They will place themselves in situations in an attempt to experience everything that seemed to be of overpowering interest to you. This is a part of their healing process; hence your ex boyfriend’s increased level of social media activity.

Because social media consumed a great deal of your time and acted as a distraction to the relationship, your ex is simply trying to figure out why Facebook was so special or even now, how Instagram could present the same or similar power. He may have also kept you as a Facebook friend to vindictively throw his “good times” in your face – in an effort to make you experience the same hurt or frustration he endured while the two of you were together. 

Either way, his behavior right now is very temporary, but certainly a normal reaction for someone who didn’t understand why their partner was so consumed by a specific activity.

While we often convince ourselves that we can’t stop checking our ex’s social media pages, we very much have control over breaking the habit. Sometimes, it becomes necessary that we consciously remind ourselves of the pain that beats against our stomach the moment we lay eyes on their new photos. Other times, it’s necessary that we unfriend or block that individual from our page in an effort to force ourselves to not look at a post or pic that will negatively affect the remainder of our day. A large part of letting go of someone we love is having the strength to cease all means of communication. Since social media plays such a huge role in modern day interactions, removing someone as a friend on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram often gives us the space and time necessary to truly heal and move on with our personal lives. Only you have the power to take that initial step forward.

Another Holiday Weekend Where My So Called Friends Didn’t Bother To Include Me In Their Group Plans

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As Labor Day Weekend is coming to a close, everyone has begun to upload their group photos from the local pool parties, different out of town excursions and final summer outings at the beach. Meanwhile, you are sitting behind your computer screen and suffering from feelings of rejection or dealing with other self-deprecating thoughts. As you’re seeing pics of fun times filtering through your social media timelines, it’s tough to not wonder, “Why was I not invited?” – Another holiday weekend passes by and all you’ve done is clean up, watch movies and order carry out for ONE.

It’s easy to begin questioning whether or not you’re to be considered socially awkward when you’ve spent three free days behind closed doors and no one in your life has bothered to call or text about making plans. Your friends who decided to stay in town never made mention about going out to eat or getting drinks at the downtown bar, and the guy you’re sort of dating never said anything about coming over to keep your company. As far as you were concerned, everyone was going to lay low, lounge around the house or maybe engage in family activities. However, seeing pictures of people you thought you were close to, hanging out with others you don’t even recognize has made you feel out of the loop. You aren’t necessarily angry or upset, as much as you have become frustrated by not being included in the group activities.

Often times, we see or hear about our friends spending time with their other associates and we make ourselves feel insecure about those relationships. We assume that we are being intentionally left out of “exclusive” outings. As a result, we force ourselves into this mode of questioning our friendship status with certain individuals. It rarely crosses our minds however, that no harm was meant by the parties involved that did not directly include us in their group plans. Circumstances simply created a moment where a circle of people came together for a social event and you were not in attendance. It may seem shady on the part of your good friend, but you have to keep a few situations in mind…

THE PLAN WAS SPONTANEOUS – Every outing isn’t scheduled or detailed ahead of time. Sometimes, plans fall through with one circle of people and your friend is invited to join their associates at the last minute. Since your friend isn’t close to the majority of the group they’re being asked to hangout with, it would be inappropriate for him or her to simply invite you to come along. Their intention may have been to stay in the house the entire weekend. However, your friend never said that they wouldn’t go out if an opportunity presented itself. Did you make any suggestions to your friend for you both to see a matinee movie together or to randomly grab a cocktail on some uptown rooftop? NO.

THE OUTING HAD AN UNSPOKEN OPEN INVITATION – Sometimes, our friends assume that if they are hosting a cookout, movie night or game party at their place, you automatically know that you’re invited. Since the two of you have known one another for so long, your friend doesn’t always deem it necessary to formally ask you to come over or stop by. If you understand the dynamics of your relationship with certain people, the ones you are closest to consider you family. Family is usually the first to arrive with helping hands and possibly a homemade dish as well.

YOU DON’T GET ALONG WITH A PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE – Your friend has decided to attend an event where the majority of the attendees will be a group of individuals you don’t like or enjoy mixing with. On numerous occasions, you’ve made it clear that you don’t want to be present in the company of certain people your friend hangs around. Keeping this in mind, your friend didn’t even bother to mention the plans because they knew based on past experiences that you’d be uncomfortable or annoyed. YOU SAID IT.

IT WAS ASSUMED THAT YOU ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE PLANS – Your friend sent out an Evite via email or created a Facebook Event. The digital invitation was sent to you along with everyone else days in advance. Somehow, between your busy schedule and other responsibilities, you had not been able to check your online inboxes. You can be bothered by the fact that you missed the party, but you can’t be angry at the host for not personally calling or texting to invite you. We are adults living in an age where most people plan casual get-togethers online.

YOU NEVER SHOW UP ANY OTHER TIME SO WHY SHOULD THIS EVENT BE ANY DIFFERENT? – We tend to exclude ourselves from group activities so often that our friends become too frustrated to even make mention of an upcoming party or get together. While your second job, romantic relationship or financial obligations don’t always allow you to hangout, the people around you become use to your absence. When the invitation list is being created, it’s assumed that you won’t be able to attend for one reason or another. The fact that you’ve missed the past three or four outings makes people think that you’re too busy or preoccupied to participate. Begin making yourself more available to socialize in public and your name may inch itself back to the top of the invitee list.

Most often, it is a harmless misunderstanding between friends that results in one person not being formally invited to attend an event, or another individual never hearing about a particular outing. However, we can’t rely upon our friends or other people to fill the voids in our lives. While being left out of group events or holiday weekend plans can be hurtful, our happiness or sense of comfort should never depend upon inclusion in social circles or other activities. It is the responsibility of the individual to engage themselves in solo tasks and hobbies that are just as entertaining behind closed doors, as hanging out with other people in public. Create situations for yourself where the absence of an invitation cannot create a hole in your attitude, mood or demeanor.

Xem VanAdams Releases A Personal Statement

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I love and embrace the fact that the large majority of my supporters truly respect my talents and look up to me as a “big brother”, boyfriend-in-your-head, loving friend or even a father figure. However, I’m just really starting to become ANNOYED that people hold me to a completely different standard than they do some of the others. Please understand that before I am ‘Xem VanAdams’; a public figure who enjoys writing and speaking about social issues or relationship topics, I am very much a human being. You may have been introduced to me through an online video or article post that focused on a serious, relatable matter. Then, you probably began digging for additional content from me that was created along the same lines. By natural order, you may have decided who I was in those moments and somehow placed me in this mental box of purity and other straight-laced confines. You assumed that because I speak a certain way or that I think along certain lines, I’m simply not allowed to be silly or sexual. You mentally painted me onto a canvas where my everyday personality and common interests aren’t given room to color outside of very black and white lines.

THAT’S COMPLETELY UNFAIR!

In my real, everyday life, I too enjoy looking at male celebrities or listening to TOP 40 music on the local radio stations. I too enjoy posting a shirtless pic every few weeks to show off the hard work and dedication that I’ve invested into building my body. I too am allowed to cruise MyVidster and make casual mention of it online if in that moment, I feel comfortable doing so. I AM NOT A MONK.

Every single pastor, professor and political figure you’ve ever come in contact with engages in the exact same activities as the individuals they serve. I have never presented myself publicly as being holier than thou. What many of you must remember about my platform is that I have been a present force for over six years now. When many of you discovered me circa 2008-2010, social media had not risen to the degree where it presently burns. As a result, I didn’t have to promote my content or myself across various platforms. I didn’t have to tweet at the high points throughout each day to stay connected to my audience. I wasn’t forced to update two different Facebook pages with links and status messages during peek hours in an effort to increase my web traffic. There was no Instagram in existence for me to post pictures regularly in order to maintain the attention of my readers & viewers in between the release of projects. All I had to do was release a video on Youtube once each week and post to my Blogspot or XemVanAdams.com. I wasn’t being pressured to meet quotas in order to receive a monthly paycheck from Google.

EVERYTHING I POST IS VERY STRATEGIC. EVERYTHING! Marketing 101 will teach you to grab your potential customer with an enticing visual and then slide the message or sale directly behind it. If you’ve paid close attention to the ways in which my social media pages are updated in association with the core content, you’ll notice a balance between surface imagery and quality sustenance. My platform does not rely heavily on celebrity gossip, reality show reviews, award show critiques and other mainstream topics of interest. As a result, to maintain my high reader and viewership, I must constantly attract new followers.

Joe and Shmoe may start following me on Twitter because someone retweeted a Twitpic I posted of Trey Songz taking a selfie in his underwear. However, immediately following that tweeted pic will be a link to my latest article posted on XemSays.com or my most recent video uploaded to Youtube.com/XemVanAdams. Joe and Shmoe are more than likely going to click the link and then be turned on to my real work. It’s very calculated ladies and gentlemen. On average, each of my articles is read 5,300-5,500 times over a 30-day period. That traffic would be cut in half if I did not use certain types of images to attract the common reader. I don’t have the luxury of posting a link once, sleeping the rest of the day away and waking up to full readership or viewership. Unlike some of the others, I have to actually dedicate 50% of my time to simply promoting my material. Part of that promotion is also sharing content that is associated with my target audience, but not necessarily a direct parallel to the stories, articles and videos I create for that particular group. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? – No, I’m not going to record a video discussing Kim Kardashian. However, I will post a new picture on my basic, social media pages of North West posed in the fall 2014 Chanel ad. A random, Facebook friend named David Collins may see the picture in his timeline as he is scrolling one evening. Having only followed me because he liked my avi three months ago, David Collins may have NEVER read a Xem VanAdams article or even so much as watched a Xem VanAdams video. NOW, because David is home from work and has a little time on his hands, the chances are greater that he will go from ‘liking’ the pic of North West to now scrolling my entire wall. Once David begins perusing my Facebook wall, he sees a photo of a guy he finds attractive. That photo is attached to a link that connects to my article of the day. David reads the article and not only loves my writing style but also relates to the situation Ive described or the advice Ive given another reader. David Collins begins visiting my website daily and then discovers my youtube channel in the top header.

The reason why 15,000 people will watch me sit in front of a camera for 15-30 minutes and discuss a real, everyday issue is because I’ve shared many facets of who I am over a course of time. I’m not going to pretend that I’m some thirty-something intellectual who walks around each day preaching about sexuality, giving love advice or being serious from sunup to sundown. I pride myself on being vulnerable, honest, approachable and HUMAN. A large part of me being HUMAN is also sharing my appreciation for the male form, new music, paparazzi pictures, selfies and other social media ingredients that are mixed to create a substantial following.

Sometimes, in order to attract the attention of common individuals, you have to reel them in with conventional images, popular hash tags & headings, or mainstream interests.

As you obviously exist as a part of my core audience, please allow me to express myself in a personal and professional manner that has proven to be effective. As I eventually move beyond my sole, online platform, there will be additional sides of my character revealed as well. I’m not apologizing for any of it. At the beginning and end of each day, I feel very PROUD of what I have managed to accomplish in such a short period of time. I cannot and will not pretend to be a boy scout simply to appease those who mentally created that image of me a long time ago. I was never that person, even when I recorded “Young, Black & Gay In America” in August of 2008. Smart guys are allowed to be sexual. Pop culture junkies are allowed to discuss politics. And I must be allowed to continue sharing myself freely – until the powers that be are paying me to brand my media content separately from connecting to my audience, personally.

Men & Their Obsession With Shoes: It’s Not Only A Female Fetish

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The shoes you wear on a daily basis can send silent, visual cues to the rest of the world about who you are. Upon initially meeting someone new, one of the first things they will do is glance into your eyes or capture a mental picture of your smile. Then, without conscious thought, that individual will look down at your feet to see what type of shoes you are wearing. In that moment, a man’s entire surface character can be defined.

WHO IS THIS GUY & WHAT DO HIS SHOES REVEAL ABOUT HIS AURA, PERSONALITY & STYLE?

While it’s universally known that many women are possessed by an uncontrollable urge to shop for new boots, sandals and heels, the modern man also suffers from this contemporary, shoe obsession. Now, more than ever, men are aware that what they wear on their feet will be noticed by women and other men the moment they walk into a room. As a result, guys everywhere are choosing shoes that can be worn on different occasions to compliment their mixed styles at work, on a date, while with friends on a Friday night or praising the lord at church on a Sunday morning. Not only are men purchasing shoes specifically to attend different events throughout each season, they are also selecting multiple colors of different styles to wear with each of their ensembles.

Men who grew up in conventional households usually experienced a childhood where their parent(s) purchased new shoes once each year – two weeks before the first day of school. Those shoes were usually a gleaming, white pair of low top sneakers with clean laces and a sturdy, outer sole. As young children, we were told to take our sneakers off upon arriving home in the afternoons, as to not dirty -up our “school shoes”. Still, during recess, we’d play kickball on the playground in our sneakers, not giving a second thought to all of the scrapes being carved into the leather, toe-cap. While sitting bored at our desks waiting for the other children to complete their classwork assignments, we’d rest the back of our feet on top of our sneaker heel tabs. Before the end of September, our new shoes looked completely worn out …but we didn’t care. Shoes merely served the purpose of covering our feet and keeping our socks dry during inclement weather.

As we grew older and matured into our pre-teen and early teenage years, we began to pay closer attention to the shoes we wore on our feet. We would get a new pair of sneakers two weeks before the first day of school and then a new pair of boots for Christmas. Four months later, we’d request a third pair of shoes for Easter to then last throughout the spring and summer seasons. The teenage boys who were a little less fortunate, whose families couldn’t afford multiple shoe purchases, still took great care of the one pair they owned. Using tooth brushes, old rags and Comet cleaner, or that special foam spray from ‘Foot Locker’, that one pair was kept in immaculate condition. Our shoes became a staple of not only our sense of fashion and expression of style, but also a representation of the man we were becoming.

As adults, men have begun to invest just as much money and time into purchasing footwear as the women and other ‘fashionistas’ who exist in their lives.

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While the rest of the world is asleep at night, there’s a group of men feeding their shoe fetishes by placing new orders online via trendy, web shops like, CreativeBoysClub dot com, and searching the latest footwear releases on the HIGHSNOBIETY website. The shoe-obsessed, modern man isn’t walking into chain, retailers and standing in line with everyday shoppers to purchase the new, luxury flats. These guys have an unapologetic affinity for high-end, designer sneakers that aren’t readily sold at the local, athletic shoe stores. These are your premiere, sneaker obsessed men who go ga-ga over a one-of-a-kind design. Their fetishes include every brand from the Dior Homme high-tops, to the Balenciaga tone-on-tone sneakers, and the entire Giuseppe Zanotti 2014 collection. These guys place themselves on various mailing lists and online shopper newsletter threads. This private practice secures their leading position as one of the first to own this fall’s, Diet Butcher Slim Skin High-Tops – to be purchased in red patent, black, blue, olive green, cadet gray and white…of course.

Then, you have your guys who care about their kicks, but aren’t necessarily aroused by the luxury brands. The classic, Timberland boot, otherwise known in urban neighborhoods as butters, have become a symbol of power and aggressiveness. This particular brand has been made famous by male rap stars and athletes that exude dominant personality traits amongst their peers. As a result, the classic, Timberland boots have become a staple of hyper masculinity and surface confidence. Guys who tend to be a little rough around the edges will purchase multiple pairs of this rugged style of boot, as to always be wearing “fresh butters”.

In contrast, the guy-next-door who also likes to follow footwear trends will always purchase the latest release of high top Jordan’s, Jeremy Scott’s newest Adidas, anything on the Zumiez shelves from the SUPRA brand, or one of Nike’s recent line of sneakers. During his casual outings to summer concerts, cookouts, the local bars or even just to do a day at the mall, your guy-next-door craves to remain in the forefront of foot fashion. This particular guy who owns multiple pairs of the famous, Jordan sneaker or has a closet filled with black & white Adidas shoe boxes, is sending the visual cue that he values style, doesn’t mind investing money into his wardrobe and enjoys fitting into the fashionable crowd.

However, the cultural, Renaissance man who is about his business doesn’t care as much about fitting into the crowd as he is concerned with leading it. He compliments his knit sweaters, tailored suits or blazer and dress pant combos with a smart, cowhide, leather shoe. This man-in-charge selects a hard bottom as his footwear of choice. His obsession is with pointed toe, sleek oxfords. He owns wingtips in the conventional black, but also mixes in shades of light brown oxfords for business lunches, walnut colored Steve Madden boots on casual Friday and maybe a dark chocolate, suede desert shoe to wear with jeans or casual slacks on the weekends. Since he abandoned the minimalist square toe shoe ions ago, his new fetish has set a standard amongst his peers and other business partners.

Meanwhile, the laid back, artistic types or rather reserved, male students aren’t able to save a lot of money to strictly purchase new shoes. However, they have managed to save every flip-flop and casual sneaker they’ve owned in their adult lives. The male, artist type and struggling student are mostly obsessed with comfort. His closet is filled with Vans and Converse to match every color splashed across his canvas of creations. When he does have extra dollars to his name, the artist or student will fixate on the light, skinny sneaker that is sitting on the shelf or thrown in the sale bin at Urban Outfitters. If he has to dress up for a presentation or special affair, there’s an entire row of Sebago loafers and classic docksides lined on the bottom deck of his closet. Though his look may appear to be thrown together as he jumps from classroom to classroom on campus, the shoes he puts on his feet always punctuate his intentional effort to walk in style.

The modern man has easily moved away from owning only one pair of shoes, to now filling his closet with various styles and multiple brands. HOW MANY PAIRS OF SHOES DOES ONE MAN NEED? The answer to that question depends upon how obsessed he is with owning enough footwear to accommodate the many demands of his lifestyle.