Relationships | OkCupid, Exoticism & Creepy Italian Men

I am amazed.

Luckily the above screenshot isn’t from my inbox, but the messages aren’t that much off.  It’s been about a week since I decided to make myself visible to “straight people” on OkCupid.  Almost 300 profile  likes and even hundreds more messages later, I am beginning to wonder how “straight women” survive the barrage of messages I am sure they must get.

Now, let’s be real here for a moment; 300 profile likes in a week is not a significant amount.  However, according to OkCupid, as a 30-something queer Black woman, I probably shouldn’t even be getting any attention from anyone: Black, White, Asian, Indian, Native America, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and Human, whether gay, bi or straight.

So, getting that much traffic and positive responses to my profile left me…a bit baffled.

Why? Well, apparently, the general idea that some people have, whether it be OkCupid or Satoshi Kanazawa, is that Black women (and Asian men) are…wholly unattractive….to everybody.   Not only are we supposedly unattractive, or perhaps because of it, we are also unmarriageable.

Never mind the possible reasons why so many people have been dedicating their time and energy to putting us in our place…or reminding us of where they think we should be.

Never mind the fact that OkCupid overtly suggests to its Black users (particularly female) that they should add some “whiteness” to their profile to make it more appealing, because “[a]dding ‘whiteness’ always helps your rating! In fact it goes a long way towards undoing any bias against you.”

I imagine that OkCupid thinks this some sort of positive strategy. Let’s now all jump for joy! Woo hoo! It’s great faking to be White! Yay!…Not.

This brings me back to my OkCupid experience.

I make it pretty clear on my profile that I’m not really looking for a romantic relationship, just new friends and perhaps an online pen-pal or two from some culture in which I take interest (eg. Japanese and German).

I also make it pretty clear that I have zero interest in being exoticized and ask kindly to be bypassed if it is the case that the person is looking for their next “Black” conquest or “African” goddess or are obsessed by the “darkness” of my skin.

Of course, all of my warnings mean very little to the significant number of mostly Italian men who enjoy creeping on my profile, sending me messages in both Italian and broken English that add up to be the same thing:  how soon can they put their penis in my vagina.

The point is this: online dating, regardless of who (race/ethnicity/sexual orientation/etc.) you are as a woman, is no walk in the park.  

Of course, there are great people out there, who will contact you in a respectful manner.  However, there is a pretty hefty number out there who simply want to know just how good your “big lips” feel on their nether regions. 😉

Until Next Time,

D.

Remember to follow your path by trusting your instincts.

 

Relationships | Black, Female & Dating…Or Trying To? According to the Statistics, Why Bother?

Disclaimer:  All images used in this post are from the “Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism” by Rebelle Magazine. The images are a part of the “I Am, Too, Harvard” campaign, revealing the experiences faced by Black students at Harvard.

Please, visit both Rebelle Magazine and the campaign sites by clicking on the highlighted links! By the way, almost all of the pictures relate to my experience while at Stanford–I hope the students there will do something like this as well.

Also, I use the word “we” often, not to say all Black women are in agreement with me, but to express my solidarity with those who do have shared similar views.

 

 Now, on to the post!

Image from Rebelle Mag: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

 

Today, I came across the 2011 article “Why black women are justifiably bitter: The bleak relationship picture for African-American females” today.  While the article was far from shocking, it really laid out in a clear and undeniable manner the reality that many Black women face in trying to make gains in the dating market.  

Plus, the article was far more favourable than the now-withdrawn 2011 Psychology Today “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women” (links to a Psychology Today rebuttal of the argument).

The article follows on the 2009 blog post by OkCupid, “How Your Race Affects the Messages You Get,” that indicates that Black women were, for the most part, shut out of the online dating world, being the users who sent the most messages while receiving the least replies.  Black women were also the most likely to respond to messages.  Black men as well as other races, OkCupid’s statics showed, do not consider Black women as relationship material.

Feeling depressed yet?

Image from Rebelle Mag: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Well, it gets worse.  It follows that if Black women are not considered relationship material, then surely marriage is out of the question.  That is where the article comes in and eloquently explains why Black women have every right to be angry/bitter in general.  Because although we are not considered for marriage, we are surely considered for sex.  As the article points out that “7 in 10 black children are born to unmarried parents.”

Oh?  Really?

I am not surprised given the dating statistics. Of course, given the grim statistics on incarceration and African-American men, it makes sense that marriage would seem unlikely.  Nothing wrong with having had a bad moment in life and having had to go to jail/prison, but it does make getting married more problematic.

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

So, why I am writing about this?

Well, because I am frankly tired of reading the negative online commentary about Black women, whether it is about our hair, our skin colour, or weight, or our strength of character and fearlessness (a.k.a. our masculinity).

Men who have a problem with strong women, ought to avoid dating Black women, in my opinion.  Black women are not raised to be cowed by anyone.  We understand clearly where the dominant society has decided to relegate us and how some (apparently a majority) of our male counterparts view us.  (Let me not get into this statement: “black men who, according to social science data, are more likely than any other group of men to maintain relationships with multiple women.”)

 

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

We understand clearly that a good portion of our male counterparts are eager to mobilize themselves by marrying up and thus marrying light. We get it.  We get it that the kinkier and nappier our hair, the broader our thighs, the bigger our lips, bottoms and hips, the louder our voices, the more likely others will to try to shut us down or shut us up.  We get it.

The thing is…

We don’t give two cents about it.

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Unworthy men and women (for our LGBTQ population), please continue to ignore us.  Please, continue not to respond to messages. Trust me, it’s much better this way, because we won’t be wasting our time on you.  And who would want to?  I am beginning to feel really sorry for those who do.

You see, while some people may see Black women as available (sending so many messages) and desperate (responding to so many messages), the fact is some Black women simply won’t do two things:

  1. Wait for permission to say what we want, and
  2. Be impolite to someone just because we don’t like them.

Have you ever thought about that?  Have you thought about the fact that some Black women simply own our sexuality and are polite?

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Can people get beyond the need to assign to us the roles of either

  1. the gold-digging concubine or
  2. the food stamp baby-making mammy?

Can we get beyond this already?  

What? No, we can’t? It’s far too important for maintaining the status quo?

Oh, well, forgive me.  I thought it was okay to be seen as human.

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Of course, this is all just my personal opinion.

 

[Relationships] To Rebound or Not To Rebound? Um…I don’t think we actually have a choice…

For a few days now, I have been thinking about that space in between relationships, oftentimes called the “rebound” period.  Why?  Well, because I am in it, but not just in it…

I am actually recognising and admitting to myself that I am in it.

Now, for some people, this may seem quite a strange concept.  The inevitable question is: how could you not know that you were on the rebound?

Image Found: SomeEcards.com

Well, the answer is easy enough.  I just never thought about it.  I simply lived with a kind of go with the flow mentality that led me easily from one relationship to another from the age of fifteen.

I am sure I am not alone in this.  More than likely, there are many, who just never seem to be out of a relationship or out of the dating experience.

Of course, there are some people who might say, “Hold up, D! I know you were single from years XXXX to YYYY! I was there listening to you complain!”

And while that may be technically true, i.e. that I was not in an established relationship, I was most definitely casually or seriously dating on a regular basis in between and complaining about those dating experiences…and not my last relationship. 😉

The other day, I was talking with my friend, V. about being single.  V. is about eleven years younger than I am and told me that since he had started his dating life, he had spent more time being legitimately single than not.  His words gave me a serious pause for thought…especially as I was just about to head out the door to what could be seen as a–oh, I don’t know–date.

Image Found: Fremdeng.ning.com

His words acted like a very loud warning bell, stating oh so clearly, that I needed to back up and think about what I was about to get myself into! (Thanks, V.!)

Seriously, if I were to add up all the times when I was not in a relationship and not dating in any fashion between the ages of fifteen to thirty-five, I think I would come up with less than five years (and that figure is really generous on my part).

Five years of being single out of twenty years is really not a great deal of time.  Not only was I operating on a permanent rebound status, I was also not being fair to the people who dated me, either casually or seriously.

Even more importantly, I wasn’t being fair to myself.  I wasn’t allowing myself to heal and to learn lessons from my experiences, so that I could make better choices moving forward–not that I am not grateful for everyone and all the experiences I have had.

Image Found: Examiner.com

Still, it would have been far better for me and for those who had been involved with me had I waited and sorted through the feelings that can emerge when a relationship ends, such as sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, envy, guilt, shame, and that general sense of abbandonment (even if I had been the one to end the relationship).

Instead, I found myself in many emotional tug of wars.  However, I was the one working both sides of the rope,  attempting to pull people closer to me when they seemed too far away from me at one moment, only to pull them far away from me when they seemed too close to me in the next moment.

After my conversation with V. and subsequently my therapist (yes, I have started therapy again ), I began asking myself why was it that I hadn’t chosen to remain single for long periods of time.

Certainly, some might imagine that it would be an issue of fearing being alone…but anyone who knows me would easily refute that.  I love being alone, even in a relationship. Furthermore, I rarely experience loneliness.

Seriously, I really enjoy solitude. 🙂

Julie Andrews, Sound of Music. Image Found: TheAge.com

Perhaps I thought that that was what ought to be doing, i.e. dating and “moving on with my life.”  You know, gallivanting in meadow with the magical spring weather that forces you to embrace the warmth of new love…or something like that.

I am of the mindset that it is more than likely this.

Perhaps it was an effort to “reset” my last experience, which oftentimes enough had provoked some kind of painful emotional response.  Thus, being with someone new was a lesson that intimacy wasn’t something to be feared–remember, I really like my own company and so it is easy for me to isolate.

Well, the point is that I am embarking on a journey to understand this experience of being on the rebound and also working through it.  Thus, when the time comes for me to actually have another relationship, I will be better able to understand what I want from it and what I can give it.

If you are like me or the contrary to me (actively staying away from dating and relationships), then taking a moment to pause for thought on this subject might not be such a terrible idea. 😉

Until Next Time,

D. 

He tells me to write Fibromyalgia…

Days of weakness.  Days of strength.

Tu sei debole,” my Italian professor says pointedly to me. “Io sono forte.  Quindi io vinco e tu perdi.” 

It is a discussion on verismo and positivismo–the idea that we are what we are until we die and that there is nothing we can do to change it.

Debole…

Fibromyalgia is the body that will not rise, even when the mind commands it; the mind that will not rest, even when the body requires it; the emotions that rage; the emotions that calm–the pendulum of the self that swings wildly with the change of the weather…the change of the seasons.

Forte…

Fibromyalgia is the body that overcomes pain, even when the  mind surrenders to it; the mind that overcomes suffering, even when the body submits to it; the thoughts that beseech; the thoughts that concede–the pendulum of the self that settles slowly with the transformation of self-perception…the formation of self-acceptance.   

Write

“I am a person who has a chronic illness,” I say to myself and others. “Fibromyalgia and I are not one and the same.”

My professor is staring at me.  He can see that my movements are slow.  I am in pain.  It takes me a long time to rise from my seat, to pick up my books, to pick up my coat, to put my bag on my shoulders.  It is not a good day.  There have not been many good days since late autumn.

“Is it always like this?”

Shamefacedly, I raise my eyes to meet his. “Often enough these days.”

I have no excuses.  I have learnt well enough by now that people will judge you as they will–but he isn’t judging me–and if the judgement is harsh, then you can only apologise for having disappointed–but he isn’t disappointed in me–and move on.

“Have you ever written about it?”

Rilke. Found via Google Images

Found via Google Images

“I have tried in the past.”  The question is not unfamiliar.  Indeed, it was only a little over a year ago that another professor from the Creative Writing Program made the same inquiry.  “I decided to take some space from it.”

It is momentary, the dance of excitement that control his features before coming to an abrupt halt.  Here is an opportunity.  I know it is an opportunity.

My mind already understands the words that have yet to be spoken to me.  My mind has already resolved itself to the task that is to be required of me.  My body feels heavier than before, the skin and flesh of my chest press too much against the bones that encase my lungs.  My body feels more alive than before, my shoulders and my head are relieved of some invisible burden.

“Whenever you cannot be here,” he says before continuing to gather his things. “I want you to write about it. Write about your fibromyalgia.”

In this moment, he is teaching me something I had once learnt, seemingly long ago.  He is teaching me that self-acceptance is a dynamic process that evolves from self-confrontation.

It is time once again to look in the mirror.

——

Thank you again to those of you who continued to visit my blog even though I have not posted in some time.  More recently, I have been struggling with my FMS symptoms and have had to prioritize the tasks I needed to accomplish during each day.  As such my writing fell temporarily to the wayside.  I have decided to dedicate my blog writing to dealing with topics related to FMS until the end of May (which is the FMS Awareness month), including reviewing books as well as activities/tools that have helped and are helping me in my process. 

Until Next Time!

D.

TWFB: I am flattered…but, why must you take a picture of me?

Found: http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-361011/how-you-met-your-idol
(No, this has nothing to do with the AMBW post. I just liked the picture out of all the ones I found on Google Images) 😉

This story starts as far back as 1999 while I was studying in Berlin, where I was approached by an elderly couple, who 1) wanted to take my picture, and 2) wanted to ask me hair care advice for their recently adopted African grandchild.

Now, I am all for helping anyone out if it is within my power.  Thus, I acquiesced to their request.  Let’s fast-forward to my travels around Italy.  From the time I put my foot down on the sidewalk of an Italian city, I have been regularly asked to have my picture taken, sometimes by people who are visibly tourists and sometimes by Italians.  It doesn’t matter where:  walking around the Vatican (check), coming out of the Colosseo metro station (check), window shopping in Florence (check).

Of course, this kind of thing is flattering on one level–who doesn’t like to have someone ask to take their picture?  And I am human enough to say that I find it mildly entertaining, i.e. after the initial shock.   On the other hand, it is rather disturbing to me to come to the understanding that some people have such little exposure to others who are visibly different that they feel the need to record it–I am quite certain that there are random pictures out their in the world of me looking sightly (or very) awkward

In Campo dei Fiori studio (2011)

Anyway, what say you who are like me?  Has anyone else had these kinds of experiences, regardless of your race/ethnicity? If so, what do you make of it?

Vivian Nwakah, host of the blog Lonely Tripping, writes about her travels and her experiences. In one of her posts, she discussed the lack of positive portrayal of Black people in the media. More so, how the prevalence of this type of negative media has a potentially direct impact on the experiences of Black travellers.  In relating an experience with a young Turkish man, she stated,

Now in his defense he has never left his village in Turkey and he has probably never met a black person before. He only has the media and negative portrayals of black people to go on.

That being said, when you leave a big city and start to travel the world you should expect and be prepared to deal with misconceptions about your race, gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, and nationality. The most important thing to know is that if a person you meet is not open to learn about you and your culture; the only recourse you have is to continue to carry yourself with class and dignity.”

I agree with her sentiments whole-heartedly.

Until Next Time!

Best,

D.

Ugly D…

Unmasked, self-portrait by Diedré M. Blake (October, 2010)

I am not a beautiful woman.  At least, this has been the feedback in one form or another that I have received since the start of the year. You may wonder why I would choose to write about such a topic.  Well, the reason is simple.

I am amazed by 1) the audacity of people to believe that they have the right to give feedback, whether positively or negatively perceived, on other people’s physical appearance, and 2) the ability of men (specifically in this case, Italian men) to reduce a woman’s worth to the rating that they believe they have the right to give her physical appearance.

I have decided to present this image on the right of myself, without make-up and with my face fully exposed as well as others in the posting in order to explore the issue of my physical appearance.  After all, if the point of this blog is self-exploration.  So then let’s have at it.  Indeed I have, time and again, written about my feelings and thoughts, so why not my physical self.

Some say “Ugly…” 

Yes, my nose is wide, and my lips are full, and my forehead is indeed a Tyra Banks four-finger, possibly five, high.  My eyes are almond-shaped and my left is smaller than my right eye.  My right eyebrow is seemingly permanently arched, because I am always arching it in response to something or another.  Of course, my features may have something to do with my mix of African and Asian ancestry.

I have scars…

I have a visible scar on my forehead on the right side.  I have scar marks by my left ear from when I had the chicken pox at age sixteen (a horrifying and mortifying experience, I can tell you ;)).  I have scars under my chin from having fallen as a child and also as a teenager from once when rollerblading.  I even have a small scar on my nose from when I was 18 and felt a need to be rebellious and got a nose ring, which didn’t end up being such a great idea in the end.  I decided to stick with tattoos thereafter.

Imperfect teeth…. oohh and facial hair 

Waiting, photography by April Rivers (Fall, 2010)

If I were to smile, you would see that my top two front teeth have small chips on either sides from when I had fallen during a field trip to the pirate city of Port Royal.  I am predisposed to facial hair and like most women I tweeze my eyebrows–no, they don’t just grow like that!  Thankfully I do not have a moustache like some women do–that would be extra work that I would rather not deal with.

Kinky, Nappy hair… Now short!

Until November 26, 2010, I had very long dred locs, which I had been growing since September 1999.  I cut my hair in mourning the loss of my dog, Petie, who died on Thanksgiving Day 2010.  Being without my hair has made me painfully aware of the existence of a “hair bias” in the world against women with short hair.  I do not believe I had ever really noticed it before.  My hair grew over the course of the past year, but I chose to cut it again on January 1, 2012 to the previous length in order to start the new year fresh.

Tattoos, cellulite, muscles, stretch marks, flat-chested, large thighs, and an ample derriere… I like saving the best for last! 

I am a person who believes in change and in letting go of the past and of that which not longer serves a purpose.  I am also a person who has undergone many changes, some self-imposed, some that have been imposed upon me.  Due to my genetics, age, health, my love for tattoos and changes in my lifestyle (see my c.v.), my body has changed and I have had to adjust  to these changes.  That’s life and I do not make excuses for the way that I have lived it.

The reality is that our bodies will all age.  What “beauty” others may perceive that we possess will change or be perceived as having “faded.”  It is no wonder that cosmetic companies, plastic surgeons, health clubs, diet programs make so much money.  They prey upon the insecurities that have been planted within the minds of women (and men) about their appearance and its relation to their worth as human beings…  Truly, given the onslaught of advertisements in a variety of forms of what one ought to look like, no one really needs to spend their time giving feedback to anyone else about their appearance (unless this person is actually an undercover agent for the ad company, or for the beauty industry, or any of the others already mentioned… then drumming up business by destroying self-esteem makes perfect sense).

D. for dichotomy

Self-portrait, August 2010, photography by Diedré M Blake

Thus, this body is the canvas upon which I paint everyday… because, in reality, I see dressing oneself as  a process of creating art.  After all, why bother going through the process of dressing if not to make it interesting for oneself?

I call myself “D.”  One of my professors says that I am a minimalist.  Perhaps, perhaps not.  “D, ” however, is a construction of myself.  It is an aspect of who I am and not my entirety, because it is only recently (in the last 8 years) I began calling myself “D.”  It has been an evolution (see pictures below).  One that has resulted on an image of myself that is to my liking and which I find most representative of who I am.  It is unfortunate that it is hard for some people to balance the seemingly dichotomous images of “D.” and “Diedré.”

Constructing D.

Self-portrait, Winter 2011, photography by Diedré M Blake

But who or what is “D?”  Simply “D” is my expression of happiness, whether felt or not.  I dress in bright colours to bring a smile to my face when I feel like doing anything but smiling.  I put on make-up to remind myself that even the bleakest of days can improve.  I wrap my hair in bold scarves, shape them in intricate fashions and wear them like a crown to remind myself to hold my head high with self-pride throughout the day.

Every article of clothing I choose, from my undergarments to my dress, or my skirt, my shirt, or my pants, is chosen with care and consideration for the body with which I have been blessed.  Some people have been endowed with an ample bosom, I was not.  This is why there are stores like Victoria’s Secret and things like the miracle bra and the wonder bra, etc.  Some people have been granted rock hard and narrow legs and can wear freely the short skirts and shorts that are craze of modern fashion, I was not.  This is why I wear vintage clothing from the 1930s to the 1980s.  Some people have small feet, I do not.  I wear an Italian 39, US 9.5.  Thus, it is typically harder to find shoes in my size and also in the styles of my liking (typically vintage-styled).  Constructing “D.” is an act of self-love and care, and an expression of joy as well as celebration of my body.

Learning to love and laugh at myself and life in general…

The journey of my life has been the process of learning to love myself through learning how to accept myself in all aspects, from physically to emotionally to psychologically.  I believe each day that I take a step closer to achieving this.  At the very least, at this point I am quite happy with who and how I am, imperfections and all.  So, for those people out there who find me either ugly or beautiful (some have even said “spooky”), truly there is no need to offer me feedback as I am quite aware of what I look like and of who and how I am.  If you do choose to give me feedback, please think about from where within you and your own “stuff” your feedback is coming, and consider well if your judgement is wise and your feedback constructive enough to share.

Images from starting from top left to bottom right, ages 16 to 33.

“My idea of the perfect woman is… A) she’s gotta be hot!…”

(from the documentary “America the Beautiful”)

— Please, visit the link.  Unfortunately, I could not embed the video…

and please notice the man making this comment!

Until next time!

Best,

D.

Apparently being ill has some benefit…

Suppleness Of The Moment, photography by Dolores Juhas (http://dolores-juhas.tk)

For years I searched to discover its name, this world that was now home.  As a result, I learned many things about myself and people.  I learned too that it is difficult to understand your reality if it is routinely questioned or denied by others… and even yourself.

Growing up, illness was an expense, financially, physically and emotionally.  Then the only option was to “always” be healthy, to deny your discomfort, to deny your fear.  Now acceptance has become a way of life.  Acceptance of a body that becomes ill, becomes fragile, becomes older.

When I finally knew the name of my world, I gained a new perspective of myself and also the world in which I did not know I had been living.  Fibromyalgia was its name and I was one of its many inhabitants.  Some of us were better off than others.  That, however, is the nature of any world.

Under Pressure, photography by Dolores Juhas (http://www.dolores-juhas.tk)

You fear the unknown.  You fear yourself.  You fear the isolation that seems inevitable.  Even though you share with others a common experience, yours is still unique.  It becomes an isolating world.  But solitude has its benefits.  It can force an unrealized willpower to emerge and build a future.

One that is not free of its reality, but that uses it to help you to begin experiencing happiness, experiencing love, experiencing togetherness, experiencing life. This world of illness is mine, but it does not define me.  I exist in it.  I strive to make a difference in it.  I reap the benefits of it–living.

—–

Two  things:  life is a profound and brief miracle, live it as well as you can.

My thoughts are with my friends and acquaintances, who within the last week have lost loved ones or feared such loss.

Until next time…

Best,

D.

self-portrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr

Coming out… Repeat that?

Image of famous LGB Poster found on http://www.missivemaven.com/

Image of famous "....Too Straight" LGB Poster found on http://www.missivemaven.com/

I remember the first time I saw this poster at the Fire Station House (I believe it is now called the “Pride House”) on Stanford campus.  It is quite difficult still to capture in words the precise feeling of joy that the sight gave me.  The idea of these famous people of different races and talents were identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual was beyond belief and tremendously comforting, especially for my then 17 year old self.
I spent my undergraduate years working actively as a member of the lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer/questioning community (LGBQQT… Yes, we tried to cover everyone).  In some ways, I hoped that my work on campus was meaningful and helpful.  For myself it was as it meant doing something for my community and also belonging to a community.
The reality was that back then I did not feel accepted as a part of the Black student community either while in a southern public high school or at Stanford due to my sexuality.  Being Black, lesbian, and highly partial to heavy metal and dressing goth didn’t seem to fit in with what I understood those community expectations to be, which were to be… straight and into hip-hop/rap and R&B (okay, I did some stereotyping of my own ;))  Also,  I never seemed to fit in with the profile of people’s notion of a “Jamaican.”
Apparently, I didn’t sound Jamaican (and still don’t I’ve been told).  I didn’t act Jamaican (this is due the aforementioned heavy metal/goth thing).  I was also a good student and made friends within the non-Black community (this was an issue in high school not college).  All of these factors afforded me the label of “oreo” in high school, i.e. “Black on the outside, White on the inside.”  Teenagers can be so very cruel… and tedious.  Regardless of the critique, I still continued to be my quite strange Jamaican self to this day and am the happier for it.
Coming out

"True Mirror Image," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve never really had to “come out” in any really major ways.  I told my mother I was a lesbian when I was 18, but then proceeded to confuse her by dating men for a year after that.  I also took my first girlfriend to prom in 1995, but that failed to make the headlines in central Florida even though the issue continues to cause scandal in the south.  I guess Poinciana High was ahead of its time, but didn’t know it.

My sisters eventually asked me some years after my coming out to my mother if I were indeed a lesbian, and I believe I answered them.  We are a private family for the most part, and can be evasive in disclosing our personal lives.
From the time I arrived at Stanford in 1995 until… well… last year, I have managed to live a life completely and utterly surrounded by the gay community.  I actually didn’t have any straight friends that I could readily identify.  I could take it a step further actually.  I actually didn’t really have any gay male friends I could readily identify.  That’s right, I have spent a good portion of my adult life surrounded solely by women, primarily lesbians until recently.
Being known as a lesbian has been a crucial part of my identity.  It is something that most people would have known about me within… oh, five minutes of a conversation.  My self-identity was a kind of list that I could state like this, “Hi, I am D. I am Jamaican.  I am lesbian.  I am a confirmed Catholic.  I am Buddhist.  I am a therapist….”  and so on.
I suppose one could say that every conversation was a process of coming out.  In a way that is the lot in life for those of us who are perceived as “different” in some way from the majority of society.
Repeat that???

"Not the self-destruct button" found at http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/4100. I had to include this image... It was just too funny not to do so.

I believe it was my senior year at Stanford when a lesbian friend of mine asked to speak with me about something personal-I should have recognized my calling then.  Of course, I thought that this was going to be news of the start or end of a relationship.  I was right.  It was news of the start of a new relationship.  The relationship, however, was not what I expected.

She sat me down and told me that she had met someone very very special in the past weeks.  I said things like “Uh huh” (being a young adult and all).  She then told me that this very very special person was a man.  I said things like “Uh huh.”  (being a young adult and all).
And then it hit me.  She said the word “man,” but she is a lesbian like me.
It was jarring.  However, I have a tendency to be open to change.  This was simply a change and one that I could easily accept.  She was my friend that was all.
What was shocking was to hear that when she had told other lesbian friends about her new love, they had abandoned her and had felt betrayed by her…  (It made me think of the 90s lesbian film Go Fish.)  Wow, I thought… I am so glad not to be in that position…
Repeat that????

"If you had 5 minutes...," collage with magazine and cardstock by Diedré M. Blake, (2010)

Fast forward some decade plus to my current life.  My ex stated to me, in no uncertain terms, approximately two years ago that she thought that I was straight or interested in dating men.

Now, given the fact that I’ve self-identified as lesbian since the age of 11, the idea seemed quite preposterous.  Even my dating of men at the age of 18 was a complete experiment on my part… and it was an utter disaster-even my mother told me to quit while I was ahead!
More recently as my world has expanded to include more diverse groups of people, I recognize that I am open to dating whomever I please.  Does it mean that I have de-label myself “lesbian”?  Should I now proclaim bisexuality?  Eh, I don’t think so.
I am simply myself.  And to be quite frank, I am quite sick labels in general… and if I must have one, then I will go back to the good ole tried and true “Queer” that was (and possibly is) so popular in California.
Until next time!
Best,
D. 

Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr

So… Into What? Pretending…

"Arms Full of Words," photography by Dolores Juhas (2011). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Truly, no one owes anyone else an explanation for his or her relationship preferences.  When it comes to breaking the news to someone else that you cannot return romantic interest, then it becomes important to consider what you say as well as when and where you say it.

Think back to the first time or last time (or any time) that you have told someone that you “liked” or “loved” or were “interested” in him or her.  How much courage did it take?  Did you deliberate over it for some time alone?  With friends?  With family?  Did you feel vulnerable telling this person how you felt?  Were you worried about being rejected?  Were you concerned that he or she would never speak to you again?

Use your memories of emotional vulnerability to guide your words when speaking to someone about your feelings (or lack thereof) for him or her.

So, what might be good to say, if not “I am not that into you” or “I am not into you” or something similar?  Well, I am no dictator.  I believe each person can find his or her own words through the experience of empathy.

I am so into…

I might, however, suggest some guidelines (truly, this is in no particular order):

  • Focus on the positive of the person. Compliment who he or she is.  What you like about him or her.
  • Be honest about your incompatibilities.  You know… things like, interests, values, religion, culture, height, age, sexual preferences, psychological baggage, relationship status… Whatever “schtuff” (as a former colleague of mine would say) it is that you get hung-up on when you are considering someone for a relationship. Really… be honest with yourself too!
  • Be truthful.  That is, do not lie… I promise, it will come back to haunt you.
  • Be honest about what type of relationship you think can work between the two of you.
  • Be open to dialogue and encourage the other person to speak about his or her feelings, i.e. if he or she wish to do so.  Either way, allow the person to know that you are available in the ways that you can be in that moment (everything has a time limit… and the duration of that time limit should be relative to the nature of the already established relationship)
  • Be clear.  Do not leave hope.  That is, do not say things like, “Perhaps in the future…”  or “Maybe one day…”  This only causes confusion and leads the person to hang on/remain hopeful.
  • Compliment the person on his or her ability to speak with you about his or her feelings.
  • Move on… from the subject.  Normalize as quickly as possible.  This will help to alleviate the feelings of awkwardness between the two of you.  There is no need to have a long and drawn-out conversation about the issue, especially if you are clear.  If the person needs space, then allow him or her to take it… and then move on from the situation yourself.

So, what might a conversation be like?

"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Well, let’s pretend ;) 

———

Person A: I really like you… and I was wondering if you would like to go out some time.

Person B: Wow, that was an unexpected compliment.  Thank you so much.  I like you too.  Going out for coffee would sound interesting, but I could only do so as friends.

Person A: Oh… I… I thought you liked me…

Person B:  I do like you, but only as a friend.

Person A:  But why only as a friend?

Person B:  Well, because typically I tend to date people who share the same interests as myself, and I know that we don’t share many common interests.  It would make things difficult.  Also, although you are a physically attractive person, I am not sexually attracted to you.  I know that that is probably hard to hear and I hope it doesn’t hurt our friendship.

——— This would be the move on point———

Okay, so… Some people might say that this statement is harsh and hurtful.  Well, it may be hurtful in the moment and for a moment.  It is, however, clear and caring.  That is, Person B is direct that there is no hope for a romantic relationship now or in the future, but she or he really wants to maintain the friendship/relationship that is already established.  Above all, it is respectful. 😉

After that interaction, I would suggest that if Person A felt wronged…. then grab a friend and a copy of the film “He’s Just Not That Into You“… watch, commiserate, laugh and learn… then come back and read my blog. 😉

Until next time!

Best,

D.

 

Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr

Just not that into… What?

"This is Rome..." photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

I am the least romantic person I know.

I write this with a slight smile on my face, because I know that there will be friends, former partners, and family members who will be vigorously nodding their heads in agreement.

To say that I am practical about relationship matters is an understatement… I am downright analytical.  I weigh the pros and cons of all situations.  I attempt to look at all sides objectively, and am usually successful.
Why am I writing about this today?  Well, after writing the last three posts, you know, about relationships… I began thinking about my take on different aspects of what it takes to build relationships…;)

I mentioned in the first post on men that I truly disliked the expression of being or not being “into” someone.  I am taking a look at this today and tomorrow…

I will admit two things: 1) I am writing my way into this piece… 2) I am listening to the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” in the background.

———-

Just not that into…


As much as I love the film “He’s Just Not That Into You,” I dislike the expression as I have mentioned repeatedly.  Yes, I am all for being straight-forward.  This expression, however, seems to take away from rather than give to the person who is on the receiving end.  In fact it is truly vague.

I could say I am into yoga. What does that really mean? It could mean that I like the meditation aspect of yoga.  It could mean that I am into hatha and not ashtanga yoga.  It could mean that I like to watch people do yoga, but am not inclined to do it myself.  It could mean that I am interested in learning yoga. It could mean that I once studied yoga.  It could mean I am Buddhist.  It could mean that I am attempting to live  a yogic lifestyle.

I could say I am not into clubbing. Again what does that really mean?  It could mean that I dislike going out late at night.  It could mean that I dislike loud music.  I could mean that I like to dance, but I dislike dancing in a room full of people.  It could mean I don’t know how to dance.  It could mean that I think going to places where there are clubs is dangerous.  It could mean that I feel I am too mature or too immature or too intellectual or too artistic to be associated with clubbing…

Get my point? Saying someone is or isn’t into something doesn’t actually say a whole lot.  Perhaps that’s the point–I don’t know.  Imagine, however, if someone said to you, “I’m sorry, but I’m just not that into you…”

Well, how would you feel?  What would you understand from this statement? Are you left with questions or answers?

Sure, there is one thing that is clear:  this person is not wanting a romantic involvement with you… Maybe

I wrote “maybe,” because of the use of the word “that,” which seems to hint at some already established interest.

More importantly, there is also an undercurrent to this statement, that is that… there is something missing or lacking in your qualities (physical or otherwise) that makes this person not into you…

But what if you could change? (I can see the wheels beginning to turn in some minds already…)

Okay, granted if someone said to you, “I’m sorry, but I’m not into you,” then this is more definitive.  Still, it leads to possible the questions:

“Well, what are you into?” or “Why?”

Until next time!

Best,

D.