Category Archives: sex & relationships

Let Go

It’s after midnight. I’m watching walkingh2o post all these half naked pictures of himself. The peanut gallery is requesting dick pics. I’m good with the back shots. I think he’s drunk, maybe high. Perhaps both? A sizable chub is brewing.

Marcus is one of my favorites. I’ve been watching him for close to a decade at this point. He’s the perfect size, that sexy dancer body, handsome in the face…

But what I’ve always really appreciated about him was his ability to let go. When he “goes off the rails” like this I just want to be inside his mind with a tub of popcorn. It’s a stream of consciousness with all these gems regarding sex, masculinity, what it means to be a man, etc.

I don’t have that type of personality.

I think that’s why I loved his Real Life Vlog series (since removed) so much. It was a window into a world I don’t really have personal access to.

Most of the risks I’ve taken (in my adult life) have been very premeditated. I’m not complaining, I just love to experience people cut from a different cloth.

Semi-related, there’s this interesting debate going on with what’s wrong with contemporary gay porn. If there were a spectrum of sex imagery and I were using my favorite black/brown boys as data points, Marcus and his ability to give it all raw and unfiltered would be at one end of the spectrum.

Someone like ShawnQT (another favorite) would be on the other end; calculated and (dare I say) safe. By his own admission he’s been able to wield his masculinity in service of his expanding #sexygeek brand.

Brian Nieh would be smack in the middle; the perfect mix of predictable and “What will he do next?”

We could all use a healthy dose of “Let Go” in 2016.

There’s More Out There: The Rules of Engagement 2015

Looking HBO Gay tv

2014 will go down in history as a banner year.

I was reflecting on the year trying to figure out why things went so well and I had a realization; 2014 was all about focus. Towards the end of the year I was trying to figure out the next mountain to climb. Then the shit hit the fan (more on that later).

When HBO started the promo for Looking here in NYC, the tagline read, “there’s more out there.” I was initially confused.

The Patrick/Richie storyline was near and dear to my heart. Who would want more than Richie? But as the season went on, it started to make more sense.

You have to continue to challenge yourself; especially in relationships.

You have to make smarter decisions.

But you have to take chances.

You have to continue to fight for your dreams.

In 2015, I commit to not let my success make me complacent. I commit to live life to the fullest and to focus on the things I do have control over.

It’s a big world. And there’s more out there.

Revolution Deferred: On Loving Other Black Men

Tongues untied

“As long as we reject ourselves, as long as we continue to harm our own body and mind, there is no point in talking about loving and accepting others.”
Thich Nhat Hanh – Teachings on Love

I wasn’t expecting to see anyone who looked like me at the orientation of my master’s program. But there he was: another Black man around my age. During the mingling period, I tried to walk over to talk to him, but I could tell he was actively avoiding me. It would be months later before I confronted him.

“I didn’t want people to think that just because we were both Black men we would click.”

I was confused. Who cared what they thought? And if it worked out that we were close, would that be such a bad thing?

At the first adult video company I worked for, my boss gathered all the models and staff for a holiday dinner. Our flagship bottom was there and we never met. He wouldn’t say anything to me the entire night. It would be several more times at work before he even felt comfortable talking to me.

I was at a birthday party in September with about a dozen Black gay men. It started off rather cordial, but after everyone had a few drinks, the shade was flowing as well. Another guest and I discussed after the affair how uncomfortable we felt. How could you be so disrespectful to someone you just met?

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you know I have plenty more stories like these. It has taken me the last few years to accept most of the interactions I’ve had with other black gay men haven’t been positive. But this post really isn’t about me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my work in HIV. Thinking about what’s kept me negative, what I wish were different, what it would take to actually end the epidemic.

I was in one of my high level meetings; the power players that make decisions. One official from [that other city I love where my 2nd future husband currently lives, redacted] got up to present and was like:

“We have a problem with older Black men infecting young Black men.”

I sat with it for a minute. My first thought was, that makes sense: if I were 50 years old, beat down (literally and figuratively) by racism, poverty, etc. I could see myself splashing off in a nineteen year old every so often just to cope. Using condoms or getting an undetectable viral load would be the last thing on my mind.

My second thought was, that’s not really a problem public health can fix.

And it would help if the White people in charge cared, but they don’t. Most of them are very smart people, some are actually very lovely. But to most, this is just a job. They collect their paycheck and go home to their privilege where none of these problems exist.

Then what is the solution? Take matters into our own hands of course!

But we can’t even be nice to one another.

To be clear, these problems I speak of are not exclusive to Black gay men. And I’m sure there’s a myriad of reasons why all of this is so, even legitimate ones like trauma. That came up in that GMAD meeting. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of my privilege growing up and how lack of trauma was just as important to access to resources.

The problem is we don’t have the numbers; the loss of one exponentially affects us in ways it doesn’t other demographics. Whether it’s one organization folding, one leader quitting or one more infected.

And I don’t want to be too jaded. There are many doing great work and fighting the good fight. If they even help one, I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

Speaking of, it didn’t occur to me leading community prevention work in the largest city in the country would be a big deal.

…until I realized there hasn’t been a Black gay man in this role in over a decade.

…until I realized I was the youngest Black man in the huge meeting in Atlanta at [that federal agency, redacted]. Which is a problem considering I’m going to be 33 very soon.

And every other time I’m in one of these spaces/situations. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, I just wish it were enough.

The draft of this piece has been written for years now. I keep saving it, revisiting it and hoping I have a better ending each time.

…but I’m still stuck on we can’t be nice to one another.

So if Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act, I won’t hold my breath. Cause the revolution won’t be televised. Not anytime soon anyway.

P.S. This isn’t the blame game. I had a role in all the above situations. I’ve hurt other black gay men too. I’m working on me every day.

Love in Black and White

Black black

The funniest part of that night: he brought me Hennessy.

Hennessy!

Everyone who knows me knows I don’t drink brown liquor. Besides, we had a conversation about my love for tequila days prior. I didn’t really understand.

But stereotypes are powerful like that.

An orchid kind of love this was not; but it’s the closest thing I’ve had to effort in a long time.

When was the last time someone sought me out?
When was the last time someone worshipped my body? (and not the other way around)
When was the last time someone made it a priority to please me?

Admittedly it was nice. There wasn’t really the spark I hoped for, but what we lacked in chemistry we made up with in kink.

“Ask me again if I’m an experienced top.”

I thrusted harder…deeper this time. A shiver ran through his obliques while a smirk emerged from his lips. He wanted to be disrespected and I was happy to oblige. Got to give the people what they want no?

One Mandingo fantasy coming right up!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want…specifically from men. And whom to get it from. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my place in the sexual marketplace and how that bodes for my personal goals.

If there’s anything the last situation taught me, it’s companionship ain’t shit if you don’t see the person on a regular basis. Especially the way we socialize men to enter a space, get their needs met and walk away. I’m actually really tired of my future husbands coming and going as they please but not taking my feelings into account.

“I got feelings too.”

By the end of the night I ran out of lube…and excuses. There was no reason to stay in this cycle of disappointment. If I wasn’t getting my needs met, it was my job to find what I was looking for elsewhere.

Hell, I didn’t have to look far. He was on his knees licking up the rest of the cum off the floorboards.

The joke’s on me.

Tammy Hennessy

The Dating Game

The dating game 520x259

He’s Just Not that Into You (Best Date I’ve Ever Been On)

We talked online on and off for months. It wasn’t until I randomly realized he lived near me that I asked him out on a date. We set a day, but two night earlier I got a random text asking if I wanted to hang out then. I was ill prepared, but decided to say yes anyway because I really wanted to meet him.

I drove to his place and picked him up. You could tell he was nervous. He kinda just stared at me in the passenger seat. You could tell he had never met someone so sure of himself. I laughed.

“So where do you want to go eat?”

We drive to one of his spots to get chicken, his favorite food. We go back to his place and talk for a little while eating. He was exactly as I had expected. I couldn’t stop staring at his bottom lip. I wanted to jump on him right there.

He turned on the TV, doesn’t say anything. He goes through the On Demand choices and decides on Love and Basketball without consulting me. Did he put it on because I was Black? I wondered.

Funny story: At the time I’d never seen the movie. In fact, as the Nia Long stan I am, I was boycotting all those Sanna Lathan romantic comedies from the early 2000s because I felt she was encroaching on Nia’s castings. I only saw Something New because Simon Baker half naked was too good to pass up.

Ironically if you’ve seen the movie, you know it’s basically about these friends who became lovers then didn’t speak for a long stretch of time. And that’s kind of what happened. After the movie, I wanted to fool around, but he wasn’t game. The day of our actual date, he cancelled last min. I would seem him around, but we never really debriefed after that. I don’t think I was up to his beauty standards (he has a particular look he likes in Black men and I didn’t fit into it.), but I still appreciate the time we spent that night. Despite being a non-starter, I loved the bitchy/affectionate banter we had. I’m a homebody; silly nights like that with a boyfriend are all I really want.

Praise and Worship Service (Best Non-Date I’ve Ever Been On)

Also met online after a “hey, you live close by” type of situation. He wanted to meet for coffee, but I think it was an ambush for dinner.

“I’m hungry.”

I took him to my favorite soul food spot in the hood. Honestly the best conversation I’ve had in years. Our work is similar, but we were also able to connect outside of career talk.

It was such a beautiful night, we decided to walk back home. I was sloshed at this point. We pass by a church and the singing draws him in. They have the door open and we watch for a while. His smile is brimming from ear to ear, transported to another world.

I, was beginning to sober up and got more and more upset as I reflected on how random the night was.

“If there were no social media, would we have met?”

He looked bewildered, not knowing where this was coming from.

“You don’t go to the clubs, I don’t go to church…would our paths have even crossed?”

He didn’t know what to say. And truth is it wasn’t so much about him as much as it was about how I meet men in general.

We arrived back at my block and I think he wanted to be invited in. I was over it.
A. I haven’t bottomed in nearly a decade
B. Even when I did, I don’t get fucked on the first date
C. He already had several situations going on, I wasn’t going to be another notch on his belt

He has this tall, dark and handsome look going on and he can form sentences so I’m thinking he has offers all the time and doesn’t know how to court someone at my level. We’ve touched base since then, but I think he wanted to be chased.

I don’t chase after men.

I was so invested in getting a boyfriend a few years back and honestly I’m not sure why. Looking at the gay men I know in relationships, many of them don’t seem happy fulfilled. I’ve realized many men want a daddy, to resolve daddy issues, a mentor, or just want someone to take care of them.

I’m looking for a partner.
An equal.
Someone who inspires me.

But that’s not the game most gay men are playing these days. These two examples of non-starter situations that had so much potential, it’s clear I need to rethink some things.

If you’ve ever watched The Dating Game, you know how this goes: I may not have all the information I want at my disposal, but decisions need to be made. There’s always winners and losers, but I take solace in knowing what works for me and what doesn’t. Lord knows that’s half the battle.

Inspired: The Rule of Engagement 2014

Inspire be inspired 1

When I think about the highlights of last year, they all involve connecting with people who inspire me. I’m really big on energy these days and decided to make it the centerpiece of my rules of engagement for 2014.

Each month I’m required to actively seek out a unique experience, preferably something new. I tend to focus heavily on live music, but there’s so much more to do, especially in New York City.

Professionally it’s time to shake things up a bit. I’m sunsetting in explicit HIV work (I don’t have it in me any more) and wish to return to broader sexuality work.

Personally, I want to focus on tangible assets. I have a lot of fun ideas in mind, including producing my own adult videos.

Travel wise, 2014 should include some international journeys. At a minimum, I want to hit cities in the US I’ve never been to.

To keep myself accountable, I will update this post every month with results.

I’m really looking forward to a great year!

Organized Chaos: The Rules of Engagement 2013

Order chaos

Around this time last year, I was in my apartment staring at my lease renewal. There were so many important decisions to make: should I apply to grad school? Do I get roommates to stabilize my finances? Do I keep pursuing a love that doesn’t want to be cuffed? I looked to the moon for answers.

Ultimately I realized something I never said out loud since I’ve been back in New York: I love my life at the current moment.

It had been so long since most of the major aspects of my life (work, friends, sex, finances, etc.) were on the up and up I forgot to stop and smell the roses.

The Rules of Engagement 2012 worked. By focusing on the good I was able to grow the joy in my life. I was a victim of my own success. What does one do now? Double down, that’s what.

Organized chaos became the mantra that made sense. I wanted to be daring and take risks, but not the kind I took in my teens and twenties. It was important to be very calculated and maintain my lifestyle while still having fun.

It was also important to play this hand close to the chest. As I started to work on elements of the brand that required other people (ie. the podcast), it became clear who had my back and who kept me around to keep tabs on me. Information is power after all.

After successfully laying the foundation for the next ten years, there’s only one thing left to do now: execute.

Am I The Kind of Man I Want?

“Are we the kind of boys we want? And if not, who will have we, if we won’t have us?” – Yolo Akili

The strangest thing happened.

I spent the last two years trying to make this South East Asian man love me back (at the level I was at) to no avail. Then suddenly I got what I wanted…in another person.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I was searching for an assistant in early 2012. It was my first hire at work and (if possible) I really wanted to use the opportunity to award a young man of color an entry level non-profit position and the mentorship I sorely lacked the last few years. (There’s another post dealing with that whole process, but I’m unsure if I’ll ever publish it).

I ended up with a nice young man; he wasn’t that young, but I read him as such. He has a research background like myself, but lacked real world experience. It was a perfect opportunity and he was eager to learn.

At some point getting to know one another it became clear he was primarily attracted to Black men and wanted to get it in. I have this policy; no sex with people I work with/will see on a regular basis for business purposes. It’s just better for my sanity and I’ve seldom broken the rule.

But the timing was interesting. Considering on paper he was everything I was fighting for at the time, I couldn’t understand why I was so blah about him. Upon further reflection, I realized why I wasn’t attracted to him. The epiphany shook me to the core.

OMG. He’s me! The Filipino version of me. That’s why I’m not attracted to him!!

I immediately thought of the docu-poem by Yolo Akili. The first time I watched I was amazed most of the guys explicitly mentioned gender presentation. Ten years doing this work and I’m still amazed at the varying definitions of “masculine” and “feminine.”

Back to me, there was nothing “wrong” with my assistant. I wouldn’t stop if I saw him on the street, but he was definitely attractive in his own right. His mannerism and such swayed towards “feminine” but he has a strong personality and his interested varied like mine. Overall I would consider him androgynous. Of course race factored into all these assessments.

But it was his personality that had me intrigued:

He was funny, but in a goofy/quirky way (like me…although I’m more dry/sarcastic/bitchy).

He was very smart and driven (also like me, though I tend to wear it in a more elitist way).

And he was definitely a caretaker (like myself). For such a young person, he read more “old soul” than I do (and that’s saying a lot). Loyal and humble, he would make a great husband. But there was something missing: excitement.

And as much as I call myself boring in a self-deprecating way, to see it…to experience it personified in another person was an out of body experience to say the least.

When you have a long term romantic relationship with someone, but you never get a label, part of what they rob you of is feedback. No label means no accountability. The two “relationships” I’ve had since returning to New York, both intimate but unstructured, didn’t allow a space for the two men to critique me in a healthy way. I know how I felt about them, but no concrete language about how they felt about me. I can analyze their actions (and reactions), but they were both non-communicative, so not in their own words.

And it makes sense. The Bay Area was a hostile environment for me. It was unsafe, unsupportive…dare I say unloving. A specific version of Tony had to show up to survive that experience.

Which is a complete mindfuck because that’s not the version of Tony my undergrad friends know. That Tony was much more happy go lucky. It wasn’t until I was back in NY and the two groups started interacting more frequently that I even suspected something was wrong. Only then did unpacking the trauma that was my Masters program begin.

So am I the kind of man I want? Definitely. I love me, I get me. But not the version I thrusted upon this man for the last two years. That Tony was operating from a deficit. He was so starved for a genuine connection, when he found it that fateful night in Orlando, he became fixated on keeping it by any means necessary.

In Yolo’s poem the participant at 3:15 says he would date “a more masculine version of me.” I get that on a certain level. On one hand, I want someone with the same values, but to honor my Learner, I also want someone with a different background/interests. Dating interracially is the easiest way to find that (though clearly not the only way).

It’s easier to appreciate the time I had with Boston boy with this new lens. I can’t speak for him, but the situation makes a lot more sense now.

Dating From a Deficit

Nomoregames

When I wrote Operating From A Deficit, I honestly wasn’t even talking about romantic relationships. My how things change in three years.

At least I wasn’t coming from a place of explicit experience. I was reflecting on my interactions with other gay men of color as I quickly advanced in my career and how that influenced power, perception, networking and general interpersonal interactions. But we know sex changes everything.

I wanted to take a moment to dig a little deeper (no pun intended).

When you’re dating from a deficit he can’t know anything about your exes, because he may see his fate before you’re ready to let him go. And that’s assuming none of them are still in the picture (and they very well may be, right?).

When you’re dating from a deficit necessary important conversations usually only happen under the influence of lots of drugs/alcohol.

When you’re dating from a deficit you become very territorial and selfish. If I can’t have him, no one can.

DFADYolo

When you’re dating from a deficit there’s no understanding of which version of you showed up in which relationship (and why) because you didn’t do the work.

When you’re dating from a deficit your ideal scenario is great sex and a relatively decent emotional connection. Intimacy is not an option you desire.

When you’re dating from a deficit you let your “friends” cockblock and insert their own bias/projections onto your relationship. All men are dogs, it wouldn’t have worked out anyway, right?

When you’re dating from a deficit you avoid the monogamy conversation because you know it’s gonna fuck everything up (even if you’re only delaying the inevitable).

When you’re dating from a deficit every conversation becomes an interrogation. “Where were you?” “Who was that on the phone?” Trust no one is your dating mantra.

When you’re dating from a deficit you’re reluctant to define the relationship/give a label because that would probably mean more communication, responsibility and compromise. Labels are evil.

DFADPapi

When you’re dating from a deficit sex becomes less about pleasure and connecting and more about control and exerting power.

When you’re dating from a deficit you say things like, “I want (and should) be alone for the rest of my life” then get into a relationship (with someone else) three months later.

DFADJonesy

When you’re dating from a deficit “I love you” is cause for panic, not cause for celebration.

When you’re dating from a deficit you’re not healed, so you continue to do (physical and emotional) violence to yourself and others.

Love on Top

Buttpirate

It’s embarrassing to admit, but the first time I anally penetrated another man, I did it for housing.

It was NYC Pride and we had been running around in the Village all day. I really didn’t want to truck all the way back to Long Island at 2am, so when a friend of a friend invited me back to his place I accepted his offer.

He was awkward, but a cutie nonetheless. Columbian, pelon…the perfect size. We arrived at his Jackson Heights apartment and he walked me over to a mattress on the living room floor. I suppose if I wasn’t so naive I would’ve realized he was in an open relationship and this was the trick bed. Not that I cared, I just wanted a warm place to sleep. I was hoping we would just fool around and I could pass out, but he had other plans.

I think I never topped before then, not because of lack of interest, but for two very different reasons:

A.) Having most of my experience at the time with straight identified men, bottoming fit the script. I loved them; offering my body was my way of showing my affection. I wasn’t really enjoying it physically.

B.) I had yet to come across someone who met my standard of personal hygiene, especially in the bum. But this guy was different, and I was fascinated by how clean his rectum was. It’s funny, DJ used to joke on his show about Latinos having “sticky holes.” I believe that on a certain level. I think it’s a diet thing.

Needless to say I fucked him on the mattress
The dining room table
That beautiful granite countertop

Because I was so tired and drunk and it took forever to cum, which in hindsight wasn’t a bad thing at all. We both got what we wanted and fell asleep right before the sun rose.

Thus began my journey into fucking. Subsequent personal experiences and my time in the gay adult video industry gave me a good sense of the prevailing desires of bottoms. I present to you, The Black Sex Master’s guide to giving good dick:

It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission
Arguably the most important shift: I’m sorry, my mother raised me with manners. I would always ask questions during sex and learned over time it killed the fantasy for many. Most guys didn’t want to debrief during, so I had to hone my nonverbal communication skills. It’s a fine line (no one likes a date rapist), but I think there’s a way to exercise aggression/domination and still be respectful.

(Don’t) say my name
Destiny’s Child had it all wrong. If you’re fucking someone and they’re screaming your name, the stroke’s not up to par. No sir. If you’re fucking them right they should be cussing like a sailor or screaming hallelujah like they caught the Holy Ghost during prayer service. Examine Exhibit A:

Notice around the one minute mark when I got the first “Oh God,” I knew I was headed in the right direction. I prefer deep strokes over that jackrabbit mess they do in porn nowadays, but you want to be sensitive to the size of his hole(s) and straddle the line of pleasure and pain as closely as possible.

If there’s not enough milk, they won’t buy the cow
Virility is an interesting thing. You would think my time in porn I would’ve understood the importance of the money shot. I had no idea it was that serious, yet it is.

(No) Clothes that make the man
Men are visual creatures, so things like grooming pubic hair (or letting your chest hair grown in) is not only good for hygiene, but it also makes your body more appealing. The devil is in the details (ie. no one likes to get finger banged with a dirty crack nail).

There’s a time and place for everything
I think Sex and the Brick City said it best: adapting to your partner’s personal preferences regarding aggression, positions, speed, etc. is the greatest asset to satisfying penetration. One trick pony’s don’t get rode (as it were).

Did I miss anything?