It’s the inaugural Sistahood Saturday on this blog, where we celebrate the sistas, sistahs, sisters, sistahood, sisterhood, and the feminine ties that bind us. (There are fewer ways to describe feminine ties than masculine ties– see Fraternity Friday.) What better way to kick it off than to celebrate my best friend, a “sista” and a “bro” at the same time.
When I met Alexander Wright fourteen years ago, he often described himself as a woman in a man’s body. (I’ve come to realize that this feeling is not uncommon amongst teenage gays with a feminine sensibility.) It’s been fascinating to see his masculine identity develop over more than a decade, and to see him grow into being very much a man, in lineage of Colette: “a genuine mental hermaphroditism that burdens certain highly complex human beings” (The Pure and the Impure).
Alex has taught me much, about sex, sexuality, sexual identity, sexual politics, and especially the difficult, sometimes even dangerous terrain of being a black gay man in modern Baltimore, and modern America. Alex has also taught me the meanings of many colorful terms including “hooker shoes,” “slippage,” “pusettas,” “kissin-kissin-that’s-what-I-been-missing,” “frotting,” “whip-it-like-a-white-girl,” and many many more.
Fast forward fourteen years. Alex is more circumspect and has more chiseled abs. We both have wonderful lives, but perhaps because we’re too quirky to fit the boxes that others, and ultimately ourselves, try to stuff us in to, we both feel marginalized. For me, I have these feelings most strongly with my career, the area of life in which I have the toughest expectations of myself. For Alex, these feelings surface in the area of romance and relationships, an incredibly difficult, even dysfunctional part of life for an entire demographic who is still criminalized for expressing love.
I’m hoping that Alex will be a most welcome guest on this blog, which after all is named “the exotic brother.” I should probably explain this title in another blog post. In the meantime Alex, I’m happy to ghostwrite for you as you explain your rotation and the insights it has brought to you, as well as the love, loss, and disappointment we have experienced together as BFFs.
One more thing on Alex. As we’ve aged and he has indeed become more circumspect and humble, I have noticed how people tend to underestimate or even ignore him. I think this is a grave mistake. I’ve seen how other men struggle to come out and stay out, and how they have to fracture themselves as a result. Alex doesn’t do this. Alex has been out since he was a teenager, and as a result is one of the most whole people I know, which is no mean feat considering all the identities and “isms” that could fracture him.
Check out another essay I wrote about Alex, way back in 2003.