Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    One of my friends recently said, “There ain't no love out there for anybody!” I thought of this post from nearly three years ago.

    ***
    The year is at the bitter end and many are reflecting on relationships. I have friends of all orientations who are going through awful times in relationships and some are at the height of happiness (you know those are the lesbians!). Recently, I've had conversations with men about what they perceive to be the current state of black/Latin male relationships.

    Many of the guys I spoke with said, "The reason why so many of our relationships don't last is because there’s nothing that binds us. We can't marry or have children—IT'S SO EASY TO WALK AWAY." I think I heard this "it's so easy to walk away" before I heard "top" or "bottom." Most of the gay men I know agree ... If only we could marry ... if only we could have kids ... if only we could live life like the straights.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for gay marriage, but I don't think that's the reason why we do not have long lasting relationships (honestly, I don’t even agree that we don’t have long lasting relationships, but for the sake of this post, let me act like I do). This belief is a pandemic in the lives of black/Latin gays thinking the straights have it all figured out. The straights divorce at a 50% rate, they have higher domestic violence rates—they get hurt, lied to, cheated on, stabbed, shot, murdered and in some cases cutting off the penis and throwing it in a field!

    Getting married does mean you'll a have marvelous life, as Pepa Labeija, said, "it might in fact be worse!" Usually, I am challengded with, "My parents have been married for 50 years!" Fifty years ago was 1955! Black folks were still trying to fight against segregation in 1955. That was a different time before the sexual revolution, before child abuse laws, before domestic violence laws, before birth control was accepted, before porn, before HIV/AIDS, before women joined the workforce, before women's liberation—why are we comparing ourselves to a time and people that are completely different?

    Granted, if you are married it may take longer to get a divorce. Nonethless, Most people walk away before the divorce. Marriage or children does not keep people together. Feminists have been trying to teach this to women for years and I'm shocked that some gay men have somehow embodied this lie.

    I’ve met many people who say marriage and children ruined their relationship. This is not to say that NO marriages last, my point is to black/Latin gay men that it's not Utopian and safe-guarded as we might think. I will never forget when Oprah said if she married Steadman she knows in her SOUL (you can't argue with Oprah's soul!) that they would be divorced by now.

    If you want a relationship with another man and you are a man, you cannot emulate straight people. Just like if black folks want success they cannot think success means having "everything the white man has." One person I know said, "I want a relationship like a straight relationship." My reply was, "Well, you couldn't maintain a straight relationship when you were with women so how do you think you’re going to have 'like a straight relationship' with a man? Why not just want a good relationship?"

    One of the great things I like about not being one of the straights is the little freedom I have from constructs and traditions (as Lauryn Hill said: "traditions killing freedom"). Often times if a woman is not married by thirty she is made to feel like a failure. If a straight man is not married by forty, people question if he is gay.

    Gay people are oppressed in horrible ways, but there’s a freedom that we have in our relationships that are unique, which is what we need to embrace. That could be a huge reason why lesbians are stereotypically known to be so successful in relationships. They say, "We are going to work this out regardless if we can marry! Now let's go watch Lifetime the whole weekend and not leave our house for three days!"

    Occasionally, I talk to some old friends from middle school and high school and they often express heavy regret, loneliness, and entrapment because they are married. One of my old friends cried to me, "I wish I was doing something with my life. I love my kids but I never went to college, got married in my early 20s and now I regret everything because I’m just stuck. You have so much freedom.” I tried to convince her being a mother is the greatest job in the world, which it is, but it was hard for to embrace that when her two kids were wildly screaming in the background. Not saying every straight person feels they are/were trapped, but I believe many (especially those who married and had kids at a young age) do feel this and gay men romanticize their life.

    Black/Latin men can be in long term relationships, but only without emulating relationships that are not us. When we can get married, no men should consider marrying each other if they really think that marriage will bind them and make it harder to "walk away." If you need to walk away—YOU SHOULD. There shouldn't be binds, or anything locking you emotionally, psychically, or spiritually.

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    Posted by Clay :: 10:40 AM :: 6 comments

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