Growing up I never identified with anyone or felt connected to anything as far as having a reference to what was possible for a gay, black male growing up in the south. Looking back, I can see how the lack of proper representation in media could stunt your growth in becoming the person you are destined to be. Though my parents were great examples, and granted, I am who I am partially because of their teachings, they didn’t break real barriers, which bothered me. When I looked in the mirror, I visualized myself as a bashful, carefree, empowered, creative, multifaceted and unapologetic entity. Intrinsically, I felt all of these things to be certain for myself, but it would take years for my inner truth to be exposed.
In my younger years, I was constantly in a state of confusion and apprehension and it manifested itself to the point where I compromised the authenticity of who I was. I used to be, and still am obsessed with everything that deals with fashion, media and fame. Ask me about a gown, I can tell you the designer, ask me about the latest break up rumors on the cover of People Magazine, and I could reference the time, date and place their love came to an end. When I was doing what I loved, I thrived. When I was faced with a task I found to be dutiful, rather than fulfilling, I felt the most out of place. Hobbies such as watching sports, playing basketball and football did not intrigue me. The more I forced myself to become entangled in these tedious escapades, the more my soul seemed to become disconnected within.
I was much older when I realized I was not the only one who felt “different”. By different I don’t mean because I was gay, that is not being different, that is in just being a human going through a more unique experience than most. I felt different in a way I did not know how to vocalize. It was not until high school I began to see I was not alone in my uncommonness, but distinct and prominent. The foundation of my pheromones, and the chemistry of the vessel that is me, is built on the concept of artistic liberation. The ultimate highlight in my journey of being a self-proclaimed, carefree individual is framed in attending the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The basis of what I know to be true for myself came from within, but was validated by the people around me. I wholeheartedly believe the people you surround yourself with have an impression on how far you will allow yourself to go, either negatively or positively. Going to school every day and knowing that I had a family of individuals who were all struggling to become closer to their authentic selves inspired me to grow and appreciate the divine eccentric energy I harvested within. I learned to love my current self and also fall in love with my potential aspirations.
On July 21, 2017, three minutes and 14 seconds into Tyler, The Creator’s “Flower Boy” album, I had another dose of self-realization. In the single, “Where This Flower Blooms,” a staple on the album, Tyler advocates for the self-exploration and deliverance of black kids. This struck a chord with the little boy that exists in the threads of my genetic makeup. It made my insides flutter and the lines,
“Tell these black kids they could be who they are
Dye your hair blue, shit, I’ll do it too
Look, I smell like Chanel
I never mall grip with my manicured nails
I coconut oil the skin
I keep the top low cause the follicles thinnin’
But other than that, man, it feels like I’m winning
Went from statistic to millionaire
CNN doubted cause my skin is dark
But they forget when I get in my car,”
filled me up with unmistakable ego and narcissism. It made me want to stir up a conversation with my younger being and let him know that the bondage he placed on his newer self would one day be broken. It keeps me hopeful and I find it necessary to have people like Tyler and other artists to remind youth, specifically black youth, to become the highest imaginative expressions of themselves.
People like Haley (the girl pictured above) are constant reminders to be you in a world where black children are taught to liberate themselves out of themselves and are scared of what rings true for their own freedom. For the simple-minded person that thinks dying your hair is just a cosmetic change to enhance or alter your look, I would like to challenge your views from an abstract perspective. Modifying your hair color is like giving birth to the newest form of yourself and breathes life into your greatest fantasy. Truthfully the lie of it all is more honest, because you invented it. When I see Haley’s hair, or anybody that confidently wears their truth, it forces me to think outside of myself and continue to uproot controversy when necessary in the confines of what I have the ability to do.