(Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)
In the past, it was important for me to believe others perceived me as someone who knew where he was going in life. Someone who had a good life, a good career, knew everything to know about the world; someone to envy or at least, have an intellectual conversation with. It was a cover to prevent people from discovering the real me, that I was in the category of “other.” I’ll call that protection fear. In college, I learned that distance can help prevent people from getting to know too much about me and my experience leading into adulthood reinforced that: getting a new job in a new city, forgetting old friends to get new friends, not ever having enough time to call home. Distance and perfection, I carried them like hand guns. I was so used to flaunting them, that they became my hands. Slowly, I learned to let go of distance, but perfection I had to hold on to. Perfection, in its own right, is truth and truth is incontestable, until proven false and nothing is false anymore, only less true. Today, the most important person in my life, just called me shallow. Now I don’t know who to blame: me, him, or the world. The world, as in, the idea of things; how men think, survival; the rules of effective communicate; multi-tasking in a post-digital area; being a good boyfriend. A friend of mine worked at a national forest and had to learn deescalation techniques to take the fire out of heated situations. She would mimic the escalated persons behavior and recognize their feelings. It always worked. Why aren’t their deescalation manuals ready and available at bars? At this moment, looking back, I never knew where I was going.
For my Diary of a Natural Gal Style Files interview, I worked with an amazing crew to shoot the pictures. The photographer was Garen Hagobian and the stylist was Rico Cherry. I can’t wait to post the full interview here. Here is an excerpt:
Kisha Roby: I would describe your style as sultry school boy, where do you draw inspiration?
Victor Yates: Is that a good thing (laughs)? I use to only wear black and gray. That’s it. Then my best friend started picking out clothes for me that I wouldn’t normally wear. I went from school boy realness to wearing cowboy boots, with khaki linen cut off shorts, and shirts and sweaters from the 80’s. I love 80’s Adidas shorts, vintage designer clothes, and conversation pieces. Today so many things inspire me. I like patterns, textures, and bold colors and mixing things together that the average person might think is strange. Since moving to Los Angeles my thrift store obsession has grown. Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland are my top thrift stores in L.A. But out here thrift stores are like coffee shops.
Kisha Roby: When did your passion for writing begin? What is your ultimate dream for your writing career?
Victor Yates: I started writing poetry at 14, after reading Maya Angelou’s work. I loved libraries and would read a lot. Also, my mother loved books and she would buy books for me as well. I remember trying to read The Firm, by John Grisham, and not being able to understand it. I hope to write quality fiction books and venture into short stories and writing plays.
Photographer: Garen Hagobian
Stylist: Rico Cherry
Email: rico243@yahoo dot com
Interviewer: Kisha Roby for Diary of a Natural Gal
Check out the teaser video to my interview with Frenchie Davis for GBM News. She talks about everything from her new single and the video for, Love’s Got A Hold On Me, to the Voice vs. American Idol, to questions about sexuality. Stay tuned for the interview.
Frenchie at 12th annual GLAAD Tidings Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lina Jaros Series titled “Beyond the Walls”
i looked at my cell phone. mom called. i didn’t hear the phone ring. i purposely set the ringer to silent. hearing merry Christmas or happy anything makes me a bundle of nerves. the holidays remind me of family. i try to distance my family to keep the unspoken things between us unspoken. how do you articulate mom i’m gay over the Christmas turkey. mom that’s why i have never brought a woman home for the holidays. holidays are too awkward as a gay black man. there’s always an empty seat at the table.
i tend to disappear around the holidays. they remind me how lonely gay life can be. the longest relationship i’ve had lasted one year. we were young and thought we loved each other. i think we loved the idea of being intimate more. relationship building was a foreign language to me.
my dislike for holidays started in 99. my boyfriend and i were in college in atlanta. we were inseparable. i was supposed to spend the holiday with my family. i decided to spend time with my boyfriend instead. he had an apartment off-campus near lenox mall. i remember calling my grandmother saying that i would call her on Christmas eve. i didn’t call her. i didn’t call on Christmas either. i called the day after Christmas. i said i would call her the next day. i didn’t. i stayed at my boyfriend’s apartment until new years day. we watched the countdown on TV drinking Asti Spumanti champagne (I threw the cork and label away two years ago) and fell asleep on his fire engine red sofa bed. i caught the marta and bus to my grandmother’s house in stone mountain. the garage door was open, which wasn’t strange. i saw grandma on the cordless phone talking. she looked upset like she was crying. she was crying. she looked up at me, jumped up, and gave me a big hug. i thought someone had died. she thought i had died or something tragic happened to me because i didn’t call her. that stayed with me for a long time.
an accidental approach
red lights mute faces
he’s facing me
an awkward pause
i can’t make him want me
a handshake then an embrace
i can’t make him want me
Image by jbiddulph.com via Flickr
I walked in knowing I shouldn’t have gone. Gay clubs are depressing when you don’t drink and when you’re alone. I met a guy, a Spanish guy, name Alberto, last Thursday at a straight bar. He grabbed my shirt as I walked by. We danced together. He wanted to dance. I didn’t. It was so uncomfortable. I imagined no one was looking. Alberto sent me a text message. I’m going to the club. I want to see you I responded. He didn’t respond back. I called. He didn’t pick up. I decided to go. Two the women at the cash register gestured with her fingers. Her hair was teased and gelled and curled in a circa 1980’s redneck do. I looked at around. The red lights accentuated the smiles of the older men at the closest bar. The older men were posted at the front bar. Inside, the younger men crowded around the larger bar. I passed two empty rooms. The feeling in my stomach dropped. I couldn’t see Alberto. I scanned the front of the bar. Henry. I could spot Henry anywhere. Henry is a man I see off and on. I knew I would see him. Even though he claims he hates the gay club. He whispered in the ear of a waif twink. The feeling tightened. I wanted to leave. I looked back at the red room. A hat floating caught my eye. Between the hat, a cute, chubby face. Alberto. He walked into the other room, circled the bar, walked past Henry, gave him a look of recognition, and walked around. We hugged. I think I going to leave I said. I just got here. I need a drink he said. He walked to the bar in the red room. I pulled out a chair in between both rooms. Henry was gone. I looked over. I couldn’t see Alberto. I saw Henry talking to a different man. I walked behind me. I wanted him to hug me. He walked to my side, in front of me, and turned around. I didn’t see you he said. Whatever I said. He extended his arms out. I turned away. Don’t be shady he said. I hugged him the way I wanted to hug Alberto. Tight. Close. Intimate. I wish more gay men hugged like this. I called you. You didn’t pick up he said. Whatever I said. Don’t he said. I’m leaving in a minute. Let me find my friend and I’ll leave too. I looked around for Albeurto. All I saw were single men everywhere. I felt disgusted. Why aren’t more gay men in relationships? I looked around again. There was nothing else left to see.
he poses in the bathroom mirror
head tilted left
benson and hedges cigarette pressed
against dark lips
white towel around his waist
he smears foam shaving cream
little strokes, cut
memories of our mothers
I wait for it
the wink and the nod
hand to waist
it’s dark enough
for this to be ok
come this way
no come this way
he walks his way
if I walk his way
we might be seen
he walks back by
hand to waist
come this way
no come my way
he walks my way
he takes my hand
and we’re dancing
this is the first time
I’ve done anything like this
is this the right place
for two men to stand
(Updated May 14, 2011)
- the wink and the nod: a poem (victoryates.wordpress.com)
I’m a listener. Listening is a natural ability I have. The sound of another person’s voice. The subtlety of a hand dropping a pen to a legal pad. Language. Body language. I hear the things most people don’t catch.
My friends, Tracey and Becky, are sitting in the backseat. Tracey says Psalm 37. I tune out “Que Me Coma El Tigre” and listen. I getting a tattoo of Psalm 37 on Sunday. Psalm 37 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
God will give you everything you want Tracey says.
In prayer, God or the deity you pray to, is the listener. Does God listen to gay people? I ask myself that question sometimes. Churches draw a line between the bible and gay sin. You can’t be gay and believe in God. As a gay man, I can’t distinguish the two. I’m a spiritual person. I pray. I meditate. I workout. I think spirituality has more than one appearance – what happens in church. There are so many more layers to it.
Image via Wikipedia
I have a great respect for the bible. I think it’s very romantic like poetry, especially Psalms. The Psalms are my favorite. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Only a poet could write that. The desires of your heart – to desire is to listen to that inner voice within.
I wish I could desire women. It would make life so much easier. I love looking at beautiful women. Beauty is beauty. My heart, that inner voice, desires another man to listen to me complain about nothing in particular.