The Fragmented Musings of Aging With Age

I have survived being abused as a child. Physically by my father in the form of discipline because that was all he knew and called it love and sexually by a teenage cousin exploring the surge of testosterone while taking advantage of a younger cousin who was sensitive and “ different.” I don’t feel mentally or emotionally burdened by either situation.

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Pearls

In my walk from young adulthood to now, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Before landing in Washington, D.C. 24 years ago in 1995, no one told me how challenging that phase of life would be as I came to grips with accepting my sexuality, which was anything but a straight line.  I had no roadmap to figure out what was happening or how to navigate any of it. Back then, any literature that was black, gay adjacent that I could get my hands on, I read. It wasn’t until I discovered the works of E. Lynn Harris and James Earl Hardy that some of what I had been carrying around regarding my sexuality started to make any kind of sense. As liberating as that felt, it was also terribly confusing.

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Gray Hairs

When I was in my late teens, maybe seventeen or eighteen, I freaked out after spotting a gray hair on my head. My parents teased me mercilessly for days afterward, especially my dad who was the first to tell me that plucking the traitorous string would only bring more in its place. I ignored my dad’s warning and plucked the gray out of my head, becoming obsessively diligent in keeping my facial hair gray free. At the time, I didn’t think I had “earned” it. I wasn’t wise. I wasn’t working to the point of showing any signs of old age. Although, unbeknownst to me, I was stressing, Stressing out about somethings I wasn’t ready to face. And stress could cause grays, but at eighteen? Ridiculous.

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I Found My Purpose While Aging With HIV

There is something about the age of 50 that changes you. For some, there is dread and a sense of disappointment with the lack of accomplishment. While others are motivated to begin living their lives with a sense of purpose. For me, it was a little of both.

I reached the age of 50 on September 17, 2007. I was well into my career in IT and 10 years into my relationship with my now-husband, Stewart. I began feeling anxious; material possessions, a beautiful home, a stable relationship, and an active social life were no longer enough. I needed more, I was at the beginning of a journey. A journey to find my purpose. A dream that is just being implemented today.

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That Day

Thinking about what I would write when speaking about HIV and aging for me has been a journey of self-reflection. I can't acknowledge all I have been through without genuinely reflecting on “That Day”  I was diagnosed. You see, I never thought I would make it to 25 years of age. I truly thought my life was over, and there was nothing left to do but wait for my inevitable death. For three years after my initial diagnosis, I lived to die.

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Survivor's Remorse

It was New Year’s Eve, 1995. Essex Hemphill, Easy-E, and Glenn Burke had all died of complications from AIDS in the past few months. A shadow of death was all around the Bay Area. Still, life went on, at least for some of us in San Francisco. A few friends had gathered in an apartment to wrest whatever happiness we could from an end of the year celebration.

We later discovered that 1995 was the peak for AIDS-related deaths in the U.S. It claimed over 41,000 Americans that year. 

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A Quick History of Black Queer Characters in Horror

Thanks to the recent success of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us, Black horror has become a force to be reckoned with in the horror genre. The subgenre has always been there, but not taken seriously outside of the mainstream horror audience and academics alike. Although there were several pieces written about black inclusion, or lack thereof, throughout the years. A quick Google search for “Black Horror” pulls up a lot of these pieces, as well as suggested watching lists that chronicle not only black participation in horror, but the history of black horror itself. However, when you do a quick Google search with the terms “Black gay horror,” you will find little to nothing concerning the black queer experience in horror.

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Rent Control

In August of 2018, the new owners of the Darlington Apartments in Buckhead delivered 60-day notices to each of the building’s 612 units, stating residents would have to move out of their homes or else face eviction proceedings. These notices initiated the beginning of a mass eviction that put many people into a state of panic, with lasting repercussions that affected the entire Buckhead community.

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Natalie McLaughlinComment
Assuming Position: The Second Season of Pose

The category for Pose is icon. Its impact cannot be adequately measured even by gushing reviews or spiked ratings. By its second season Pose set a series of milestones including television's largest transgender cast (MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross and Hallie Sahar), the first Black trans woman TV writer/producer Janet Mock, and last night’s historical Emmy win for Billy Porter, the first openly gay Black man to be nominated for and win lead actor in a drama category.

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Do Discussion Groups Still Matter?

Something special happened in Oakland in June 1986. Three Black men wanted to do something about the isolation often faced by gay men like themselves. They met, and that meeting planted the seed for a group called Black Gay Men United (BGMU). Each of them, in turn, invited three of their friends to the next meeting. Within months, the group had a steady core of 15 to 18 men who met each month. I was one of those men.

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Alex Langford
Striking Vipers

On June 5th, 2019, Netflix dropped the fifth season of its dark anthology series, Black Mirror, to eager audiences, myself included. Due to a new job and other extraneous forces, though, I couldn’t devour the three-episode season in one sitting like I would with previous ones. However, the episode titled “Striking Vipers” kept popping up in many of my remaining social media feeds, provoking in-depth discussion among those who had seen it. When I did finally get to the episode, I was left with metaphorical blue balls at what had just transpired on my screen.

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Mark O. Estes
The Magic of Basements and Living Rooms

Overlooking a sparkling spring view of the Atlantic Ocean from a Fort Lauderdale hotel conference room, I sat among a group of activists and community service workers talking about art as activism and what makes that igniting mix possible when it strikes.

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L. Michael Gipson
Another Solder Gone

I am not a soldier in war. I do not belong to a gang in the middle of a turf battle. I am not confined to a poorly operated prison (though Trump’s America can feel like that sometimes). I’m not in the midst of a sudden global contagion. Yet, I know 20 Black men across the U.S. who died within 365 days and only a handful were reported to have died of AIDS-related complications.

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L. Michael Gipson