Black Gay Men’s Blog explores denial and the effect it has on the psychological, spiritual and physical well-being of black gay men. When one thinks about denial, as it relates to black gay men, it is easy to focus on accepting one’s sexuality and coming out. However, it runs much deeper than that. The purpose of this blog post is not to suggest that we all fly rainbow flags. This article aims to explore how not accepting the totality of who you are (and your current situation) can negatively impact one’s life. In my opinion, denial is a silent killer. A pandemic, which is devastating our community at much higher rates than HIV, diabetes, cancer and addiction. In fact, denial might just be the cause of some of the illnesses and issues ravaging the black gay community and the black community at large. Of course, denial affects us all, regardless of race, gender or sexuality, but as I always say, this is Black Gay Men’s Blog, so I am addressing black gay men.
Recent developments, over the last few months (while the blog was on hiatus), prompted the need to take a closer look at black gay men, denial and what it is doing to us. Of course, I am including black MSM in this too. It doesn’t matter what label you choose to give yourself. What matters is the fact that denying any of the following can have a negative, chronic or fatal impact on one’s life:
· The totality of who you REALLY are.
· What kind of sex you enjoy and/or have recently had.
· Your relationship with alcohol and drugs.
· When last you got tested for HIV and other STDs.
· The fact that you look and feel ill or have lost a lot of weight unintentionally.
· The number of men you have had sex with in the last year and how that makes you feel about yourself.
· The fact that you feel like a failure, because you have wasted years being fabulous and “legendary” on the gay scene and haven’t realized any of your dreams.
· Your secret desire to be in a meaningful, loving relationship – even though you constantly say you are not looking for a relationship.
What happens to your psyche when you remain in a state of denial? If you don’t accept who you are and whatever circumstances are real in your life, then denial can become a silent, deadly, killer! It is impossible to talk about denial, without talking about shame and guilt, which are often the cause of said denial. This is especially true among many black gay men, who might not feel accepted by their communities and families. Only when we learn to truly accept who we are, warts and all, can we begin to heal, grow and become the strong, healthy men we were put on earth to be. This is not simply about coming out, it is about being really honest with yourself. Many of us claim to be out and proud black gay men, but we still harbor closets full of secrets, shame and denial.
When it comes to denial and black gay men, denial comes in a variety of shapes and forms. There’s the denial of sexuality(which happens to most of us at some stage), denial of sexual practices, denial of our true financial situation, denial of our HIV status…. and the list goes on. Not only do we deny these parts of ourselves to our friends, but we also deny them to ourselves, which is when it gets really dangerous. How many black gay and bisexual men do you know, who can’t last a week without getting high and/or drunk? Or those who always seem to be stuffing their faces with candy and junk food, even though diabetes runs in the family. Ever thought there might be a reason for this? I know I’ve had my moments too. It is important for us to recognize what the shame and denial is doing to our lives. Suppressing who you really are and the truth about your sexual, financial, emotional and physical health often gives birth to other problems. Depression and addiction spring to mind, both of which increase the risk of becoming HIV positive.
I am struck by the amount of black gay men still not getting tested regularly for HIV. Many only find out when their immune systems are severely compromised – with CD4 counts in the double and single digit range. They are called late presenters and often only find out they are HIV positive, when they also receive an AIDS diagnosis. I am saddened by the fact that in the last 6 months, I have known and heard of at least 2 black gay men, who have died alone in their apartments. I am disgusted by the fact that some of us see our (so-called friends) looking like death warmed up and say nothing. It is too close to home, we don’t want want to offend, our own denial kicks in. We don’t want to deal with our own mortality, so we become enablers in the big black gay dance of denial. A friend of mine was recently ill and diagnosed with HIV – actually, he has an AIDS diagnosis. When I saw him, it made me wonder how those friends, who had been seeing him regularly, had failed to say anything to him, in the months prior to his diagnosis. I would have hauled his ass to the clinic months ago. Sometimes, all a friend needs is a little push and lots of support.
After receiving an HIV or AIDS diagnosis, many of us remain in denial. Some don’t take their meds, many lie to friends, sexual partners and even lovers about their HIV status, because they haven’t accepted it themselves. It is really not surprising, because some black gay men can’t even admit to strangers, friends and lovers that they often enjoy bottoming. Now, if you can’t even admit that to your man, how the hell are you going to be able to deal with being HIV positive? Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting one needs to disclose one’s diagnosis to all so-called friends. However, you owe it to your lover or man to tell him. Sad thing is, taking the prescribed meds and being honest about one’s HIV status both decrease the risk of HIV transmission. Studies have also shown that HIV positive individuals, who have support from loved ones live longer. This is why I say denial is the black gay silent killer. If we are not poisoning our minds, bodies and souls with drugs and alcohol, we are silently colluding with the spread of HIV and AIDSin the black gay community.
A lot of us come out, burst onto the gay scene and get caught up with the clubs, caught up with the ball scene, caught up with the sex, caught up the drugs, caught up with keeping up appearances and we deny what’s really happening in our lives. We deny the fact that our souls are slowly dying, we deny the fact our dreams are dying, we deny the fact that our ambitions are dead and we pretend that it is all a fabulous gay ole time! Of course, it is never too late and it can be fabulous, but we need to wake up and deal with what’s really happening in our lives. Not what we would like others to think is happening, but what is really happening. Only then can we become stronger and achieve the inner peace so many black gay men crave. A lot of us get so immersed in being gay and the perceived lifestyle, that the true core of who we really are is slowly and silently being killed, each and every day. I think it is time for us to dig deep, take a good long hard look in the mirror and stop the denial, because it is killing our brothers, it is killing black gay men.
SOURCE: BLACK GAY MEN'S BLOG