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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Proud.




Ok so I must confess I’ve never come out and in truth I hate the word and term as to me it implies I ’m hiding something. To me there was never anything to hide even if it meant when answering a question often asked truthfully by bigots and bullies could mean you’d get beaten up or abused verbally. 


I didn’t tell my parent or siblings as my relationship with them was never strong. I’ve never really been understood by my family, being privately fostered from 0-8 and living with my sister and a foster nanny meant my mother and two brothers who lived in London & I in Somerset, would have a certain sort of distance. That wasn’t the only thing as with two brothers only a year apart they could form a connection similar to twins, develop tastes in sports, music, food, friends that seven years younger and less masculine I just didn’t. I listened to Brandy they listened to Murder C, I wrote stories they played basketball. I always felt pushed, poked and punished for 

being me and not like them. 





In regards to my friends at the time, things had started to go wrong, we were no longer the children that had been bound by the past, the present was was just that, the future seemed like it was far away but the cracks had began to show. 

We no longer liked the things that bound us in the past from Dragon Ball Z, playing gameboy advance or collecting pokemon cards. The present was about girls, designer clothes, sports and who had the best phone and acquiring it by whatever means necessary. Violence seemed to always be in the air, guns, knives, robbing etc - I wanted out. 





At 15 I was sent to a referral unit for hardly ever attending school ( I found it boring and patronising that they taught us at the level and pace they did.) I was destroyed as I was fully capable of getting the grades and passing my GCSE’s but the school thought I wouldn’t ‘apply myself’. This turned out in hindsight to be one of the best things that happened in my life, I stopped going to the referral unit and soon I was going to Heaven every Wednesday that put on a night mainly for LGBTQI, POC. 





This opened my eyes completely changing how I looked at myself and my colour. I wasn’t the odd one out anymore, there were so many gays of all races, shapes and ages. This led me to the decision that I no longer wanted to be where I was or in fact who I was, I wanted to discover myself and understand my sexuality. I had a burning desire to find a place where I could live my truth and I did finally at stonewall housing. 





At Stonewall I met the coolest, craziest most energetic people, everyday was a party and I felt freer by just even being in their company. We had left the world with its hatred and discrimination behind. It was here I made some of my closest friends. I entered lost and emerged found, due to Rasharn living upstairs, he was studying fashion and I’d go and pour through his copies of Vogue & I-D, eventually I decided this is what I love. I applied for The Fashion Retail Academy and  soon after we started the menswear label Jaiden rVa James.





I cannot be an activist fighting for equality if I feel ashamed, I can’t speak loudly and proudly if at any point my voice shakes or is lowered to a whisper! I’am a gay man who loves and finds beauty in other men. I see no shame in my desire and if anyone tries to make me do so they’re not a friend, family or ally and those who do are living proof that battles have been won yes but the war still rages on.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Privilege is a priceless power.

Look it up: racial shame, racial hatred, racial bias, racial stereotyping, racial abuse. 


There's many things that one has to suffer when living in the lands of a majority that seeks to suppress you. You grow tired and weary of the eye rolls and people saying you're playing the victim. 


Privilege is a priceless power that  can be used and abused, even 

if the persons not consciously aware of it. 


I always say to those who ask about being black, that maybe a trip to Asia or Africa will help them experience the 'social construct' of race for the first time. As they look different maybe they'll be treated different nonetheless. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

All my friends are wasted!

All my friends are wasted


My phone vibrates and I wonder who it will be, there's always someone wanting something asking for more than, they ever give. A Boy looking for a human dildo, an associate asking for a favour, a party friend hollering when the weekend calls – empty hollow interactions. Hellos, hi's and many fake goodbyes that suck me dry and make me think is this life, full of half arsed people who can't be bothered to be 100%. People who know of me but don’t really know me or care to understand my interior, my full complexities and flaws.



 As I move from my mid to late twenties I learn more about not only myself but those who surround me. I now have friendships that span 12 years, history that can't be erased easily. Yet it's now more than ever that I see the lottery of life, a gamble where some of my friends have won or are already winning. Without knowingly doing so we're all in active competition. Who can travel the furthest, get the coolest best paid job, the hottest and most interesting partner. A game we all play yet never really opted in to, most friends want to see you thrive but no one wants to see you soar past them, onto higher plains and a better life. 


Holidays are always an example of how different our situations are, when one friend can throw down £300 on a hotel/ air bnb but the other world rather spend £60 on a hostel or eat quick and fast food whilst the other would rather fine dine. Frictions, divides and differences are always more evident when people go abroad, especially when the small bad habits and traits are magnified, annoyances you can ignore in small doses are all of a sudden looming and large. I've had my fair share of fallouts and long breaks from friends because of this. 


 The fact is for me, my friends are the loves of my life, for when I breakup it's their arms that hold and their voice that soothes. I've learned to accept their flaws as I'm sure they have mine and no matter how far I travel, my home it seems is always laughing, living and loving around them! I seek fearless friendships that burn bright and stand the test of time, where even when I’m distant, the distance doesn't create a gap. They're the kind of relationships that empower me, rare, odd and unique you can't seek them out, they just fit and flourish as something about each's energy is harmonious. We have looks that are a language, we see things that no one else can understand but us!



  The past informs the present but we’re too busy actively creating new memories that we don't need to polish old ones constantly. With anything all isn't rosy all the time but we’ve learnt to accept flaws or stick around to help change them, we contribute to each other's growth And that is why I say that my friends are the love of my life for with them I am a version of myself that feels most true, for with them I feel at home!





Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Taste the rainbow?

 

Ok so it's pride month, which means one thing right? It's party time! But for me pride is more than getting wasted and waking up in someone else's bed or with a blurred memory and pounding head. Partying of course is a key ingredient as is music and dancing bringing us all together, but it's also about reminding ourselves that the first pride was a riot! Due to the accumulation of simmering anger because of the injustice and suffering felt and lived on a daily basis. With that in mind Pride should be about being proud of your differences and celebrating the freedoms we've inherited due to those who fought vigorously for their/our rights. 


In 2017 we've come far but we still have a long way to go! I pray for the day that coming out is no longer a thing it's just a way of being, I long for a day that no one has to hide being queer from parents, colleagues, teachers etc and wherever/ whenever you can be open about who you are without feeling a burden or carrying shame. I pray for the day that being gay is no longer frowned upon and is legal in all countries of the world. I pray for the day that marriage is allowed and to put it simply all rights that are cisgender, heterosexual brothers and sisters have we also do to. 


One thing I can say is that this year I've seen the rainbow flag across various products from chocolates, sweets to clothing store windows. This seems to be an awakening of sorts as I haven't ever seen the rainbow this visible ever! Of course this is a good thing as visibility leads to education and acknowledgment. 


My main issue is that many of these brands refuse or simply don't want to give back to the community in which they wish to take the 'pink pound' from they see it simply as a marketing ploy to be seen as hip, cool and accepting. But if they refuse to put money back into the community that they seek 'the pink pound' from then I can't help feel that they're in someway exploiting us. There's many charities and organisations that are in desperate need of help/ funding. It's also about asking simple questions, Are these brands proud for the moment or proud for the month/ day? Do they cast gay models? Do they have gay members on their board of directors? 


For me its about aligning/ spending my money with compassionate and caring companies, who respect all their customers and want to highlight the importance of pride and in turn raise funds for projects, charities and organisations that make a genuine difference to the LGBTQ community and individuals lives. 



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

How British are you?



 
Growing up race/nationality was never much of a big deal. I lived in blissful ignorance, I was young my school friends were young and we liked Dragon Ball z, Pokemon, Digimon and Rugrats - if only things remained that simple. 
This whole idea of being and feeling British, seem to arrive with Brexit. What exactly was Britain and why did it mean so much? When people used to rant and rage about the white van man from the middle of the country displaying the St.George flag being racist and offensive, it always baffled me. Now I understand... nationalism at its finest... 

I've always seen England and Scotland as countries attached, united yet equally different, yet I've never understood why Northern Ireland was ruled by Britain and why Westminster had so much power in the matters of other countries, let's not forget Wales, who for some reason decided to turn their backs on Europe. To me the United Kingdom is the last of the empire which it seems the sun is finally setting. 

Over evaluated self importance is what led us here to the point where no one knows where to turn, Scotland and Northern Ireland want to remain in Europe, whilst Wales and England want to leave, what does that exactly mean when 48 to 52 prefer to remain a part of a wider union yet they're in a smaller Union that's forcing them to leave! Brexit is basically seppuku. We're leaving something that offers so much opportunity especially to the young, a specific group which this country/ government insists on punishing. 

What does it mean to be British/ European in sensibilities and African in heritage, when all you hear is immigrant, alien, asylum seeker, refugee. What does it mean if those seeking asylum look like you? Who are they telling to go back home? When and if they go back home when will the hate turn on me? 

What if you're like me, a second generation immigrant who's mother scrubbed hotels in the morning, cooked for lawyers in the afternoon and studied in the evening all while single handily raising four kids? Someone who's ambition burned bright and lived on a dream, seeing visions of a futile future one with a better life and more opportunities for herself and her children. Doing jobs that many see as beneath them. What happens then, when those who want to be serviced have no one to service them?