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Giving You Permission to Be...

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The following blog post is adapted from the epilogue of my memoir, Words Never Spoken.

This book is for any person who struggled to come to grips with his or her sexuality, and for anyone who's ever apologized for simply being. It's for young gay people with few or no examples of progressive gay people in their lives to show them means of entry into the life other than Internet sex sites or gay clubs. I gift these words to the many parents who are conflicted over whether to continue loving the child they brought into the world after discovering that he or she is gay. Lastly, this book is for those who find it difficult to understand how a person could be born gay.

However many people we may come out to, there's still a journey of self-affirmation that has to take place; otherwise we remain in constant search of self-acceptance. It took years before I reached a comfort level in my skin. After many wasted years living in a shell, hoping, wishing, and praying to be something other than what God made me, I was finally able to breathe when I concluded that God made some of us gay, others straight, still others bisexual, black, Asian, white or Latino. The more I knew, the taller I stood.

Coming to terms with one's sexuality is a lifelong journey. The journey doesn't end the moment we come out or act on the feelings we suppressed. Conversely, the point at which we come out marks the beginning of the journey toward freedom. I was 22 years old when I tested the waters, so I imagine it will take another 22 years or more to undo the untruths that I learned about my sexuality.

We've been conditioned to believe that being gay is wrong because it's what we've always been told, but repetition doesn't equate to truth. Many gay relationships end before they begin because one or both people involved battle with themselves at one point or another. Being gay isn't a sin. Improper use of sex is the sin, and that's true for gays and heterosexuals.

The battle with HIV is prolonged because we spend more time placing blame and less time having honest conversations about sex and sexuality in our community. Many in the black church blame gay men for AIDS, and many black women hold bisexual men responsible. In reality, we exist in a community where young girls and women may have children with many different men, at times with no knowledge of who the father is. The same holds true for our young boys and men, who may have multiple "baby mamas" living in the same city or neighborhood. We all have culpability. This disease will continue to devastate our community until we stop resisting truth and end the finger pointing. The church avoids dialogue about HIV because the conversation would lend itself to talks about premarital sex, even we know it happens anyway.

It wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles and began the process of writing this book that, with the help of a friend, I realized that I hadn't forgiven my father. I was still the hurt little boy whom my father reprioritized during his marriage. Consequently, I cut him out of the significant details of my life. I never invited my father to any of the productions of the play or any of the greeting card launch parties, and most importantly, I didn't tell him that I'm gay until I was nearly finished with this book. Though we'd never lost touch, my father hadn't been to Atlanta since I'd moved there after college. I had to forgive my dad for the same reasons that I'd had to forgive Tyler: to move past it.

I pray that this book gives voice to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) people who have been muzzled and ignored. The LGBTQ community comprises many of God's most gifted and talented people. Give yourself permission to be who you are and live confidently. This book is for you.

For more on Words Never Spoken, click the book cover below.