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It's all an act. What do flannel shirts matter except for the people in them? If we could only all dip our patties in the water of acceptance. It felt not only like a betrayal of my race, but an indictment of my own blackness. I'm not going play the "I find every race attractive" card—even though I do—but if I'm being honest, I definitely have a weakness for white boys. It's not a preference because race is not a preference. There's just this insecurity within me about what it means if I like white guys more than black guys—does it mean I don't love myself, that I don't love being black, that I'm a hypocrite?

After a while, I have to ask myself: The sooner I get over whatever guilt I feel about my attraction, the sooner I can find something resembling an actual relationship. I was a chubby kid: I was pretty awesome. But I was chubby, and 'til this day, I still feel like that chubby, nerdy, effeminate, weird kid. Still pretty awesome, but plagued by body dysmorphia. When I started working out in earnest, the boys took notice, and as the boys took notice, my body dysmorphia worsened.

I was never big enough, never ripped enough, never achieving the body I had craved as a child still figuring out the basis of my desire, and constantly comparing myself to others who had, erupting into a cycle of shame and, ultimately, more working out. I identify as queer.

Gay defines my primary sexual attraction, whereas queer is my view of the world.

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When I was first coming to terms with being gay and what that meant, I immersed myself in gay history, gay film, gay literature. I saw myself as a gay man, first and foremost, until I realized that's not necessarily how the world saw me. That was something that existed before people were out and free to be who they were and when being gay or straight were the only choices.

I had to get over being gay in order to embrace the other facets of my identity and of my personality. I began to come to terms with my race the same way I came to terms with my sexuality: But in understanding that I began to understand my identity as an American, which I never truly identified with. I was born in Guyana and am still technically a citizen there, but most of my life has been spent as an American.

And all that entails. Meaning the deeply entrenched racism of this country affects me whether identify as American or not. I'm going to tell you a little story I plan on turning into a much longer story some day. I went on a date with a guy who was otherwise perfect on paper. He was gorgeous, Ivy League-educated and had an ass that must have been working overtime since it sure as hell wouldn't quit.

We met where dick pics go to die, Adam4Adam, so I should've known that was the first warning sign. Our date wasn't until 2 a. But he was nice enough, and having lowered the bar on kindness for attractive gay men in New York, I soldiered through. What followed was an evening-into-morning after hours party where I was lucky enough to witness my date surround himself with a group of black dudes who were all too eager to ignore my presence all together. We eventually got a chance to sit down and talk around noon, he bought me breakfast and we went our separate ways.

He went back to the orgy after-party, and I went home wondering what the hell had just happened.

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Still, I texted him after the fact, in hopes of, I dunno, a real date—a real date that never manifested. I was still desperate to have his validation. To prove that I was smart enough, or sexy enough, or that I could hang? I had proven that at various stages of my life, why did I have to prove it in one night to one person who clearly didn't care one way or the other?

Why did I want this guy who had treated me kinda nicely but mostly like a disposable, interchangeable piece of ass. He never accepted, and it's probably for the best. No matter how perfect on paper, because I deserve more. At the very least , someone who doesn't have sex with other people on our first date. One of my first memories of being gay in New York was going to the Stonewall for college night.

It might have been my 18th birthday and I didn't have a lot of friends yet, but I went out with about three other kids from my dorm floor. There was this cute boy there—tall, white, nondescript but pretty—I had my eyes on. After some gentle prodding from my new friends, I went over to talk to him. What was the worse that could happen? I tapped him on his shoulder, intending to ask him to dance.

He turned around, looked at me, then turned back around to his friends. I walked away dejected and with the unshakable feeling that this is what would happen to me every time that I tried talking to any guy. I've never really gotten over that defining moment and to this day I don't go up to guys that I'm interested in. Which is a shame. I much prefer to meet guys in a natural setting—as natural as a gay bar can be—but the fear and the insecurity grip me every time.

Or because I was too self-conscious to smile while passing on the street? Rejection happens to everyone, but it rarely has anything to do with the person being rejected. Rejection is the result of the cognitive dissonance between expectation and experience. I used to think it was due to some personal failure of mine, but then I got to see what it was like when the show was, reluctantly, on the other foot and I was the rejector.

I really didn't know a damn thing about the person on the other end.

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It wasn't personal at all. Rejection happens in a snap. Either something rises inside of you or it doesn't, which is personal for everyone. So to that nondescript but pretty white boy on the dancefloor at Stonewall a million years ago, it's cool. Though a smile wouldn't have killed other of us. No matter how hard or embarrassing or potentially incriminating in a court of law.

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I've also learned to reveal a lot without revealing anything at all. The idea of my life is an open book but the actual details are mine and mine alone. Privacy is now more privilege than right, but I've learned that doesn't mean I have to share everything that's happening. I quit all of my social media last year just to see what life would be like without it.

I didn't miss it. I missed the people for which social media is our only channel of communication, but I didn't miss updating my status or tweeting my myriad thoughts on the MTA. I'm back now but with the understanding that my privacy is a privilege and is something I should work towards maintaining. It calms me and does wonders for the creative process.

But that love, like all love, comes with a price. Over the summer, I got a ticket for smoking pot at Riis Beach, the gay-friendly but apparently weed-hostile beach in Queens. Now, I've been smoking in public in New York for about 10 years and considering that was the first time I got caught, I can't get too mad.

Even though there were literally a dozen people around me also smoking who were less black than I, but whatever. It could have been a lot worse. Like if the cops did anything about the tiny bag of coke left over from the night before that they surely saw while rifling through my stuff. Speaking of my run-ins with the law, I got arrested arrested last year. It was a rough year. In all seriousness, I should probably be dead or in jail by now.

He was also a teacher, which, for whatever reason, also turns me on. Fellas, amirite?!

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We eventually met up and had a really nice date—it was so easy. When was the last time you really got your life? You know, when everything in the world just lined up for you so that you could see the past, present and future as one glorious creation?

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For me, it was hanging out with the kids behind The Tenth Zine. After that had wrapped, Khary and Kyle had some of the Brooklyn-based contributors over to their studio for a kiki with BRIC , during which, and after, I got all of my life.