Bathe me in air that has no social, political or financial conditions. I want to feel free. I just want to go on more adventures, be around artistic energy, connect with creative people, learn new things about life and grow. For the first time in six years, I want to taste the sweet fruits of my labor. Last year, if you remember, I wasted a lot of the time that you and I spent together. Instead of utilizing the space you gave me to develop new ideas or create colorful content, I wallowed in the routine of ‘woe is me’. I sat in your face each day and complained about what you were not doing for me, when I should have been taking advantage of the resources you had already placed in my reach. There was even a moment when I completely turned my back on you and refused to accept your favors. How they looked to me up close and personal wasn’t at all the way I envisioned them to be in my head. You allowed me to be selfish and ungrateful in those moments. However, you also refused to gift me with anything new until I showed appreciation for everything I had already unwrapped. I thank you for it. I learned that you cannot and will not move me to the next phase of my journey until I’ve mastered the tools, completed the tasks, aided the people and conquered the fears associated with each level of life.
Here I am Summer, another year later. Since you and I last met face to face, I accepted and faced the challenges you gave to your sisters to hand down to me. Fall forced me to open my heart to a complete stranger who I met online. I thought he was going to become my new love interest after I left my number beneath one of his Instagram pics. You knew all along that his purpose was merely to reignite my artistic passion; an ability to create fictitious plot lines that parallel real life situations. I kept telling the universe that I hated talking on the phone. As a result, it became increasingly difficult for me to build new relationships with other people. My guards had been up for so long, that my fists were blocking new friendships, associations and romantic love from reaching my heart. Fall challenged me with a new sense of vulnerability. For the first time in years, I was able to experience that familiar connection with someone from a distance. Though he and I never met face to face, Fall allowed my emotions to paint a story that affected the lives of many others, ‘boi inv sible: No Miracle On Monday’. I wrote and for the first time, voiced a coming-of-age tale about a sixteen year old boy named Isaiah. In a single day, Isaiah was confronted with deep rooted insecurities regarding his race, class, gender, sexuality and body image. The creation of ‘boi inv sible’ allowed me to find my voice again in front of the camera, as well as through the written word.
By the time Winter unpacked her bags on my front step, I had already been introduced to the three people who were chosen to help me meet this new challenge. I had not regularly stepped outside of my creative, comfort zone at the start of this New Year. As a result, Winter challenged me to practice a skill that she knows I’ll need in order to be successful in the next phase of my journey. Using resources that had already played a huge role in my public, online platform, Winter encouraged me to interview other people. She told me that the universe needed to see how well I could engage with individuals sitting alongside me on camera. I needed the practice of asking questions and controlling a conversation that had little to do with my personal experiences. Winter felt that I had already proven I could captivate an audience on my own merit. In due part to the fact that I was asking the universe to bless me with a television platform, I had to demonstrate an ability to use my present resources in a TV-esque manner. Winter intentionally created two practice sessions that would draw incredible attention to my brand, but would force me to see success, as well as shortcomings.
In a video release called, ‘My Boyfriend Is The Bait: Poppa and Redd Balenciaga’, I interviewed a young, gay, black couple. For thirty minutes, we discussed the intimacies of their relationship, coming of age in their biological, family structure, as well as their individual roles in the ballroom scene. The interview was very successful, as I asked direct questions, received complete responses, and created what felt like a healthy conversation.
Two months later, Winter presented me with the challenge of sitting down with Micah Dixon and talking to him about his broken relationship with transgender model and celebutante, Amiyah Scott. The interview was released in two, fifteen-minute parts and was panned by many viewers who aren’t members of my core support circle. A lot of the comments stated that I talked too much, asked leading questions and seemed to side with Amiyah Scott. While the viewing audience had no idea that Micah was incredibly nervous and had stopped the interview a few times during filming, I had to accept my flaws in the ways in which I conducted our conversation. I thought I would make Micah more comfortable if I figuratively held his hand throughout the interview, but my approach seemed to alienate the viewing audience. I didn’t initially realize that Winter was also testing me. She wanted to find out if I would run and hide behind my computer screen as a result of the public backlash and character attacks that resulted from the ill fated interview. Winter knew that I emotionally couldn’t handle the criticisms that saturated my platform when the first chapter of my literary series, ‘Dupont Circle’ was released in 2010.
As a significant part of moving beyond this level in my journey, Winter had to be confident that I was now strong enough to endure harsh words and other online critiques from those reading or viewing my public material. I was very relieved to have not been affected by the not so pleasant feedback. I think that it helped me to have shown the footage to my dear friend Sheriea before the two-part interview was released. She basically told me the same exact things about my personal, on-camera performance that I later read from viewers. Winter taught me two lessons during her season. She allowed me to see my strong and weak skills as it pertains to engaging with others in front of a camera. She also taught me to trust and somewhat rely upon the honesty from friends and other confidante’s before sharing my work with strangers.
When Spring came around me with her bright smile and colorful aura a few months ago, I had no idea the type of challenge I would be forced to conquer. Spring has always been my favorite. No offense to you. I knew she would test my character or refine my skills in one way or another. However, it was unclear if I’d be using my familiar resources or if Id be exposed to something new. Spring came to give me something that I truly needed at the time, but first she wanted me to prove my consistency. I began sharing my life through written and spoken words six years ago. However, between the dawn of 2011 and midway through 2013, I did not produce content on a regular basis. Summer, you already know that I would become increasingly frustrated with what felt like a lack of mainstream opportunities. Though I had received awards for my work, appeared on numerous radio talk shows and had built a successful online following, there were plenty of times where I still felt like a failure. I didn’t understand that this phase of my journey wasn’t designed to focus on me, but more so created to reach those who felt silenced, uninspired and somewhat broken. I didn’t grasp the fact that when I stopped writing or when I took extended breaks from recording videos, my actions created a sense of abandonment in the hearts and spirits of those I serve. Yes, it took me a long time to comprehend the fact that I am being used to serve the people. This position was chosen for me when I moved to California to be with you in 2008. Now it’s understood that there was never supposed to be a huge, tangible ‘payoff’ for my contributions and work.
However, Spring did present me with an honor and a gift for the work Ive shared over the years. In due part to the fact that I consistently wrote and posted new articles to my Xem Says website, Spring put me in the physical presence of those who love me from afar and somehow benefit from my words. In a very impromptu planned meeting, Spring brought a special group of my supporters together in New York City and wrapped their arms around me. She gave me the gift of reassurance. For three hours, she allowed me to physically experience my purpose on earth through direct interactions with those I serve. She then honored me by allowing art director, Khary Steph to invite my work into the first volume of Pink Rooster Studios’ ‘THE TENTH’ Zine. I don’t always accept offers to partner with other artists, but Spring forced my hand. I always selfishly think, ‘how is this collaboration going to further my career?’… as opposed to ‘HOW WILL THIS CONTRIBUTION SERVE THE PEOPLE?’. An original piece I wrote called, ‘Seeing Ourselves Behind The Selfie’, was published alongside the works of some of the most talented and recognizable personalities amongst the black, LGBT community. When the opportunity was initially presented to me, I had no idea that the project would be released in the professional style of a 160 glossy-page, hardback book. The honor presented me with the unselfish ability to say that I am officially a published writer.
Now, Summer…I’m standing on the side of this cliff waiting for you. I’m not sure whether you want me to jump first and have you catch me or shall I stand here until you present the next challenge? Honestly, I am ready to take the dive and Im carrying your god sister, FAITH in my front pocket. The last time I turned my back on my comfort zone and leaped off the ledge, I landed in Los Angeles, California. It was during my time living in North Hollywood that ‘Xem VanAdams’ became a face, a voice and a personality on computer screens across the country.
I’ve now accepted my responsibilities and have learned my role as a servant of the universe. I have been obedient and have conquered the challenges that your sisters placed at my doorstep. I carry with me the lessons learned at the hands of Fall, Winter and Spring. So…from you, I once again ask to be bathed in air that has no social, political or financial conditions. I want to feel free. I just want to go on more adventures, be around artistic energy, connect with creative people, learn new things about life and grow… into who I’m destined to be.
See You Soon,