The Boy. The Black Man.

I can see a future where Boys like me won’t have to believe that their boyness will protect them from what their girlness is taught that she invites.

The Black Man I am is afraid to die.

Long before I thought to say out loud that my gender is fluid and mainly Femme, I decided to be The Boy for a while. I was young and a bit thin for me. I didn’t know about binders or packers, I cobbled The Boy together out of the few masculine leaning clothing I had. Two sports bras, two tight tank tops. It was summer, and I worked graveyard shift at a phone sex company, I could wear whatever I wanted to. I could be The Boy and be protected by my male self.

Red jams, black hoody, snapback. I carried a ratty back pack and walked like I had balls. The first few nights I walked out of my house as The Boy I felt amazing. Cute, young Black and Boy. I remember feeling like I could go on my late-night walks and be safe, a few weeks prior to me being The Boy, a man had tried to pull me into an alley as I walked to a bodega for a cup of coffee. I was walking around terrified.

I knew all too well that if one of the men who tried to pick me up at the bus stop wanted to, I’d be gone, and no one would know. I grew up living in the middle of the Green River Killer’s hunting grounds. I knew that my busty, chubby girl body was a dangerous body to be in. I believed that my apparently believable boy body would be safe.

The third night I went outside as The Boy, my bus driver called me son, another young Black man said, hey man and I knew it was going to work. I took a risk that night and headed into a bar, I sat alone with my Jack and Coke happy until an older white man settled down next to me. It was loud enough that my non-boy voice didn’t throw him. After a few niceties he started hitting on me.

When I turned him down, unlike interacting with strange men in my girl body he didn’t get violent or angry immediately. Instead, he talked at length about the wonderful healing properties of Big Black Cock. He gave me soft eyes and let me know how racist he wasn’t and how handsome he thought MLK was. He leaned close to compliment my smooth skin, he started to spin a story about me being underage and how I was cruising and he knew what I wanted. He said he could take care of me.

My horror was slow to boil. I was fascinated with the way he was both deferential and so disgusting in the same breath. When he put his hand on my knee I put as much bass in my voice as I could muster and said something, I don’t remember what. He apologized and offered me cash. He wanted to suck my dick, he wanted to worship my smooth Black body, he wanted to save me from the ghetto he imagined I was running away from.

I don’t remember how I got away or how I felt in the moment. What I do remember is the lingering knowledge and horror that my Boyness, my masculinity couldn’t protect me. This happened almost twenty years ago and the crawling despair still lives in my skin. I rarely dress masc anymore. My gender expression always comes back around to Femme. I mourn The Boy I was and wanted to be. The idea of putting the Black man I am in danger — I can’t.

I do remember the very clear knowledge that if this man had the opportunity he would assault me and I knew that my options for protecting myself were limited and any justice after would likely be nil. I knew what it was and what it could be. The fact that I have a vagina would have complicated matters and made it all worse.

Now that I’m older, I recognize that The Boy who would now be The Man, The Black Man could potentially be dangerous for me. That danger lives in my communities, that danger could mean execution. I have had to accept that I won’t feel safe being that Black Man. I accept it and sometimes I cry for him, for myself. I am out and proud and loud and Queer but, I’m afraid to be him.

I don’t want to die that way.

I may never express my masculinity in a visible way again. Part of me is ashamed because I am so out in the rest of my life. I hope in my lifetime I will be able to be The Black Man or feel safe enough to explore and live the full breadth of my fluid genders. I walk around in a body that is already the enemy. I am Black and woman appearing and breathing. I walk around fully aware that at any moment I might frighten some white person enough to have the police called and potentially be executed.

I walk around fully aware that this body is loathed and fetishized in the same breath. The man who drives by me and screams “show me your tits” is the same man who comes around again to call me a dirty Black bitch. The men who demand nudes, who slide into my dms with their cocks out, the men who threaten to rape me after I let them know I am not available, are the men I am surrounded by every day. These men aren’t monsters, they are regular nice guys and I am, my body is theirs because it is a Black body and that is the order of things.

My fears have been in me for so long I tend not to look at them. I understand that I must function. I must walk out of my house. I must be in the world. As I get older, my ideas about my gender expression mix with the fear and the knowledge of the world I live in and fight myself because I know what I want. I want freedom. I want to be as fabulously fluid as some of the people I follow on social media are.

The Black Man weeps to be seen. I daydream about Goth Prince finery and Evil Dowager King Realness served with the occasional big titty high femme boyhood. I don’t express it. I put those dreams away because the totality of living in America is too much. I must acknowledge that and be honest with myself about how much I can handle.

That knowledge and my own limitations leave me feeling ashamed and afraid. This is not the Queer elder I wanted to grow up to be and yet here I am. Despite living with this fear of my own masculinity versus the world, occasionally I find a comfortable space to just be. Sometimes, I am just a bro talking to other bros and that’s great. It keeps me going in that, I can see a future where Boys like me won’t have to believe that their boyness will protect them from what their girlness is taught that she invites.

I can see a future where Boys like me won’t have to believe that their boyness will protect them from what their girlness is taught that she invites.

This Vortex Leads to Magic

I imagine it’s what astronauts feel like in space, only we didn’t need oxygen tanks. We hovered before deep, black nothingness.


Honey, my earth is merciful. You understand? / I call you mine not as ownership but because / you are a part of me.

Getting Out Of "The Switch Up"

After they discovered Till’s unrecognizable body in the Tallahatchie River, Carolyn Bryant, the woman Till made a slight gesture toward, testified in court that Till grabbed and verbally harassed her in a grocery store, stating, “I was just scared to death.”