Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The GAME FACE is now officially ON!

I am a week away from embarking on the most mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging journey of my life...DOCTORAL STUDIES. All of the long nights of studying, times I've sacrificed party time for study time, GRE tests, scholarship applications, checks to my confidence, pep talks, blood sweat and tears have all culminated to this stage I'm approaching. I've made it.

I will be studying at the premier institution on the West Coast in my given discipline. My mentor and direct supervisor is one of the hardest working women in the default I'll be one of the hardest working students in the field. I am in a field dominated by women. In fact, I am the only male student in my cohort, Black or otherwise. I did not grow up (academically) in Public Health...I'm a exercise physiologist and fitness professional by training. The cards are stacking up.

The schedule that I will maintain starting Thursday, September 27th at 5:00's's's a little scary too. Every hour of the day is accounted for. 4 graduate level class plus 20+ hours of research project responsibilities. GULP.

Take a look and tell me what you think......


Wake up at 5 AM. Go to gym from 5:30-7:30 am where I will attempt to do physical therapy AND a complete workout. Go home, put ice on the knee, breakfast, shower, clothes, and be at the office (or out at a worksite) by 9. Work from 9-12. Class from 12-2 pm (what happened to lunch?). Another class from 2-4. Back to the office to work from 4-6pm. Go home, cook (I'm a broke ass student and a health nut to boot so cooking is not an's a rule), eat, and catch my breath. Have my ass in the study lounge by 8pm. Study, read, and prepare for next day's classes from 8-10:30pm. Walk up to my apt, brush my teeth, wash my face, say a quick prayer, and FALL OUT asleep by 11pm. Alarm is set at 5 AM....


Same as Monday thru Thursday, but after work my brain will be mush so studying is out of the question. Friday nights are dedicated to CHILLIN. Maybe grab a meal with friends. Make it a Blockbuster night and veg out in my apartment. A 'companion' would be ideal...but unlikely.


I actually get to wake up AFTER the sun rises :). Hit the gym first thing. Eat brunch. Run a few errands and/or clean up the shoebox (my apartment). Find a nice relaxed place to focus, head down to the study lounge, or post up in my apartment. Dedicate ALL of Saturday afternoon and early evening to getting caught up with readings, papers, and research stuff. Take a break around 6 and have dinner (with friends???). After dinner, make a decision....have I caught myself up? If so, put my freakum jeans on, sip on some of that special long island tea, and play hard with the boys out on the town. If not (which will most likely be the case), take my behind back to the lounge and work it out academically for the rest of the night. Either way, I'm leaving the club/bar/concert/houseparty/study lounge/starbucks by 2 am be under the covers by 3am.

Sunday is REGENERATION DAY. If there is no hangover and I fell asleep at a decent time (and if I don't have any company over...hee hee), pop in the Rodney Yee Yoga Series DVD and get my asanas on for an hour. Dress up a little for church. Pray for strength to get me through to the next week. Have lunch with my brother or whomever else is available to kick it. Go to the shop and get a cut (cuz you know damn well a black man can't get his hair anywhere near UCLA). Stroll by our abandoned property in Pasadena and check for transients...don't forget the baseball bat...Don't play, crackheads and meth monsters will try to regulate on a mofo if you don't have protection. After the inspection, head to the house to visit Dad. Absorb myself in the COON-ERY and dramatics of the Hopkins family for a few hours while I pay the bills, balance the financial accounts, and handle shit my dad didn't get around to. If I'm really feeling generous, I may even cook dinner...or not ;). Eat dinner, load up the ride, and push on back to my cozy shoebox of an apartment in Westwood. Once I get home, whip up a cocktail, finish up the rest of the errands and/or homework, write out my game plan for the next week, have a mini 'metro session' (facial scrub, do the nails, shave), and slide into the sheets by 11pm. Alarm is set at 5 AM....

Sounds like fun, don't it?

I'm certain of one thing...this journey will DEMAND the very best out of me. Am I confident that I can do this? Of course. I've been waiting for a challenge like this.

Am I nervous? HELL YEAH! I'm surrounded by so many ultra intelligent workaholics it's not even funny. It's like regular exercise, sleep, and any remnants of a robust social life is unheard of around here. Adjusting to that is gonna be a BITCH.

Will I have an active social life? Ummm...probably not. 10 weeks of hell at a time, and then I get a vacation. Whomever created the academic quarter system has a SICK sense of humor and needs a beatdown.

Will I have a romantic life (keep in mind I didn't say sex life, there's a difference)? Do I want that kind of complication in my life at this stage? The jury is still out on that one. On one hand, I've been yearning to meet a bomb ass dude to call my own..but on the other hand, I realize that I would make a neglectful, distracted, moody, distant that fair?

Will I be able to hang until December? Hmmm....well if I don't hang on till Dec I will be jobless, apartment-less, penniless, and back at home with my father....hmmmm...what do you think??!

Will this all be worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!

Ok, let it be of 3:37 pm PST on Wednesday, September 19th 2007, Jammie has OFFICIALLY put his GAME FACE ON!


To my friends...if I seem distant or non-responsive, I apologize in advance. I haven't forgotten about you. I'm just doing what I have to do to keep my head above water. Don't take it personally. I will do my best to find quality time to spend with you. Be patient.

To my family...I've worked overtime to support and edify you endeavors, and now it's time to return the favor. There is no way I can do this without your blessings and support, so please come correct with it. If I come home on Sunday lookin like a crack head on meth...don't point and laugh :) Help me make a sandwich, tell me to sit my ass down, and crack a few jokes. This Ph.D. is not just about me, it's about YOU and our FAMILY as well. Please be a part of the process.

To the bloggies of the world...Dancehard is not going anywhere. I may be on hiatus from time to time, but rest assured that you all will get sips of my tea when the temperature is just right. UNTIL THEN keep on pushin', put on that GAME FACE and SERVE!

Monday, September 03, 2007

"Are you Masculine or Feminine?"...Why can't I just be ME?!

Prepare yourself...I had to GO OFF on this topic!

Very recently, I had the pleasure of meeting former Chicago public school teacher, disciplinarian, and now educational speaker and writer Benn Setfrey. His book "Don't Shoot, I'm Coming Out!" functions as a sharply written, achingly wity, manifesto to gay men who deal with the stupid stereotypes and misconceptions of the heterosexual world. This brother gave us real talk about living life "out loud" with integrity, coming into one's sexuality with grace and pride, religion and spirituality, and he KILLED IT when it came to discussing positive black gay relationships.

HOWEVER, a few chapters made me GAG. In both "Gays to Men" and "How to Man Up", Sefrey stresses the importance of suppressing the overwhelming presence of effeminate gay men in our community, and calls forth older masculine gay brothers to step up and show these young gay boys how to be "real men". After reading those chapters several times and having a conversation with the author himself, I'm still bothered by those words. It seemed as if the author was putting down the brothas who have a bit swing in their step, opting to idolize the "straight acting" homosexual. This got me to thinking...

Why is their so much emphasis placed on what is "masculine" and "feminine" in the Black Gay Community? How do you distinguish between what is "masculine" and what is "fem"? And why is it that the "fem" dudes so very often get the short end of the stick when it comes to respect?

Setfrey points to a lack of masculine socialization many young black gay men receive in their formative years as a reason for blatant displays of effeminate behavior later on in life. While he may be onto something, I personally believe he is missing the mark. This (again) got me to thinking of my own development as a black gay man...

Thinking back, I guess I did exhibit some "questionably feminine" behavior. I was fascinated by hair, and I loved to play with people's hair. If the girls were outside playing double dutch or hopscotch, I got my turn too. I knew all of the "hand clap" games by heart, and even made it to number 35 in the "Slide" game. I owned a Popple, and loved that little mofo. And the kicker...I was a HUUUUUGGGEEE fan of Muppet Babies, Lamb Chop, and Pee Wee Herman.

But at the same time you would never find me congregating near the girl's bathroom smacking gum and mooning over boys. I was WITH the boys. Playing football in Tim Spicer's backyard. Going down to the riverbed to catch frogs and raise hell. Jumping fences. Hell, even watching straight porn with my brothers and older neighborhood boys (although now I acknowledge I was focused more on the D&B than the T&A, LOL). Having four older brothers, a present and active father, and living in a neighborhood of mostly boys, I was socialized in a very masculine environment. In the end, that had nothing to do with displays of my burgeoning "feminine" was all intermixed.

Over time, I've grown to honor and respect the vast DIVERSITY of the Black Gay Community. We come in all shapes and sizes, and it's a BEAUTIFUL thing. We have homo-thugs, athletes, dancers, leather bears, twinks, prettyboys, butch queens, fem queens, drag queens, trannies, lipstick lesbians, butch lesbians, divas, and average joes. It's not our fault that society at large has chosen to typecast us as lispy, neck rolling, diva-worshiping male queens and butch, super aggressive lesbians. Why should we submit to that oppression by forcing our young men to "butch it up like real men" and demanding our young women to "walk, talk, and submit like real ladies?"

What aspects of our masculinity really contribute to our MANHOOD? Is it the way we speak? The clothes we wear? The sports we play (or don't play)? Our mannerisms? I'd like to think that MANHOOD is more closely linked to our PRINCIPLES and INTEGRITY as men. To be a MAN is to honor, respect, defend, and love your family. To be a MAN is to serve as an uplifiting, positive role model for other men. To be a MAN is to address women with the upmost respect and appreciation. To be a MAN is to know your role, and stand firm in it. Who gives a damn if you occasionally queen out to Beyonce or kee-kee with the kids if you are handling your MANLY business?

My question is...if we as gay men are doing everything that a REAL man of principle and integrity should do, isn't that enough to validate and legitimize our MANHOOD? Why the fuck is it so damn important that we always dress, act, speak, and associate a certain way to be certified as "masculine" or "a real man?".

Mr. Setfrey, I'm a huge fan of your book and will say great things on your behalf. However, your "Man-Up!" message is ass-backwards. The persona of the flamboyant gay man is not the issue....well at least not the entire issue. Members of our community should not only accept flamboyant "effeminate" men, but GIVE THEM PROPS. Without the flaming queens, drag queens, and trannies, there would not have been a Stonewall Riots in 1969. Without them, Gay Pride celebrations probably wouldn't exist. And without the host of gay men and women living their lives out loud (with or without 'feminine' tendencies) and fighting for our rights, many of the supposedly "straight-acting" gay men wouldn't have a social or political leg to stand on. RECOGNIZE GAME and SHOW RESPECT, even if that's not how you get down. If you feel that the mainstream protrayal of gays leans to far to the queens, instead of bad mouthing the fems, call out the alleged "straight-acting" brothas and encourage THEM to step up their game!