Black Gay Men’s Blog looks at domestic violence and urges black gay men to speak up, get help and get out of the abusive relationship, whether you are the victim or the abuser. When we hear the word domestic violence, most of us automatically think about women being battered by their husbands or boyfriends. Domestic violence among black gay men might not be spoken about that much, but it is very real. According to the statistics, 1 in 4 gay men experience domestic violence. There is no reason to assume that the numbers are any lower in black gay relationships, even though many of us seem to have accepted certain levels of abusive and/or controlling behavior as the norm.
As far as healthy relationships go, many black gay men do not have good role models to draw from. A lot of us are from single-parent homes with absent fathers, some witnessed their mothers being abused and equated abuse with love at an early age and others, like many people in today’s society, don’t understand the difference between REAL healthy relationships and the dysfunction Hollywood spits out regularly. Many of us are conditioned to believe real love doesn’t exist without what we call drama, which is in reality dysfunction, obsessive behavior and/or abuse.
Domestic violence comes in all shapes and sizes and is never acceptable, whether you are heterosexual or gay, black or white, professional or hood. Black gay men need to speak out more about domestic violence and support one another. Jamario, a 28 year old black gay male and a survivor of domestic violence is speaking out and sharing his story with Black Gay Men’s Blog.
- Storm: Jamario Welcome to Black Gay Men’s Blog and thank you for deciding to speak out against domestic violence and for sharing your story with us. We have chatted on Skype a few times, so I know the relationship in question ended two years ago, but this is your first time speaking out about what happened. What makes this the right time to tell your story?
Jamario: Hey Mr Storm, thanks for having me! I think I mentioned to you before that I decided not to talk about the situation publicly(even with a fake name) until the court case was over. Now that’s all over with I feel my story needs to be heard because I know there are many more black gay men in similar situations. If you had told me 5 years ago I would end up a domestic violence victim, I woulda thought you were smoking. It happened to me it can happen to someone else.
- Storm: So take us back to the beginning, you met this guy 3 or 4 years ago, who I’m sure you thought was wonderful, you dated for a little while and he moved in after 2 months. Were there any warning signs then and how did the abuse start and progress?
Jamario: Yeah I was 24 (almost 25) at the time and I met Shadow(his nickname) at the grocery store – yeah I know like a scene from a damn movie. At first I was like nah homie ain’t checking me out – he was phine as hell with that thugged-out swagger and a basketball booty. Dark sexy built hershey muthafucka. Anyway, we did the waddup thing and when I got outside he was waiting for me. Cut a long story short, we went back to my crib, freaked and I was sprung and he was sprung. After that he would come through like 3, 4 times a week, he had a chick so he couldn’t always stay the night. 2 months later, she threw him out(long story basically she found out he was on the low), I took him in and you couldn’t tell me nothing! Looking back, that was a mistake, I didn’t know dude and there were signs of jealousy right from the start. He never wanted me to chill with my friends, was always questioning me – where you going, what time you gonna be back, who was you with, did you freak with anybody, how long have you known XYZ, why he always looking at you like that etc. He had a temper too, he would get really loud and shit, bang things around and always remind me that I “pulled” him into the gay lifestyle. So yeah, looking back there were warning signs, but I just told myself it was because he loved me and this was my first relationship with a dude, so I figured that’s just how it was with dudes, especially a masculine hood nigga like Shadow.
- Storm: It sounds like there was a part of you that was flattered by the attention and maybe he was your fantasy man come true. Didn’t your friends find his behavior strange with him not wanting you to see them, or did they all think that was cool too? When did it turn from jealousy and controlling behavior to physical abuse?
Jamario: To be honest, most of my friends just said stuff like “that nigga just can’t get enough of you”, or “he love you too damn much”. Only one older friend said anything, he told me to be careful, that he thought Shadow was controlling and that his behavior wasn’t normal but then all the others just said he was hating. I knew he wasn’t hating or lying when that asshole punched me in my face the first time. We had been living together about 4 months, so I had known him for 6. Because he never wanted me out of his sight, I started entertaining at home every now and then and at one of my functions one of my homies said I was sexy. He was all drunk and talking about how when we first met he wanted to get with me but he said he was glad we became friends coz that lasts. Shadow walked into the kitchen as he said it and walked right out so I knew he was tight. When they all left, he just went crazy accused me of sleeping with my friend and punched me in the face – sent me flying across the living room. I was so fucking dazed, I cussed him out and he started apologizing coming to hug me, I told him not to touch me and to sleep on the sofa. All I know is around 6am he was in the bed crying “baby baby I love u nigga that’s why, I’m sorry it will never happen again etc”. Like a fool, I fell for it and we had crazy sex. That was the second big mistake I made, the first was letting the asshole move in.
- Storm: So you had your crazy, dysfunctional make up sex, as many in abusive relationships do, then what? Did his behavior change after that, was he less controlling or did it get worse and did you tell anyone what happened?
Jamario: His behavior was cool for about a week then he went right back to being controlling. I only told my older friend coz somehow I knew he wouldn’t judge me. I dunno, I guess I felt ashamed or something. I mean I ain’t no punk and as far as most of my friends were concerned I was the top in the relationship, which was the case most of time. That kinda really messed my mid up coz I was already dealing with my own issues around masculinity then here comes this bottom muthafucka whooping my ass. I told myself I could handle it as long as he never hit me again, you know. Of course, now I know better – they hit you once and you stay, they will probably hit you again. Fast forward 2 months from the first punch, I hadn’t been giving him as much sex as he wanted and he convinced himself I was cheating with a co-worker, who I actually went to school with, have known all my life and is straight. So I get home late from work one night, which he knew was gonna be the case and as soon as I opened the door I saw the devil in his eyes and I just knew it wasn’t gonna be pretty. He just went into a rage, started shouting real loud that the whole block could hear, kicked me in my stomach and hit me upside my head with a fucking iron. This time I went crazy too, we fought and tore up the living room. I had a black eye and bruised ribs. Back to the crying and the make up sex. I think at that point we were both addicted to each other and to the crazy.
- Storm: Can you say black gay soap opera? I don’t know if I should ask what happened next, but I know there more, because that was 8 months in, so that wasn’t the incident which led to the cops being called. So what the hell were you thinking at this time, didn’t you think you needed help? I mean after tearing up the living room, you had to have known that wasn’t normal love, sounds insane. Anyway, go on, takes us to the final fight, filling in any blanks along the way, what happened next?
Jamario: Deep down at that point I knew it was crazy, but as I said I was addicted to the drama, plus he had beaten my self-esteem down so much. I started believing that I would never find a man like him, which was my ultimate fantasy – a masculine “real hood nigga” who loved getting piped down and could turn me out too every now and then. I was addicted to the sex and to him, he used to date chicks and now all he wanted was me, I was in homothug heaven (laughs). Thank God I can laugh about it now, but that shit wasn’t funny. The abusive controlling behavior got worse, pretty much all my friends stopped coming round because he always had a bad attitude. I got a few more black eyes and busted lips, the sex was always great after. I was like a damn junkie being controlled by drugs and a pimp, I knew I had crossed the line, but I felt so worthless. The verbal abuse was at a high, I got called every kinda name you can imagine and by the time we go to 13 months, which was the last episode, there was some kinda abuse on a daily basis – verbal or physical.
- Storm: So now we are at 13 months, after months of abuse and your self-esteem eroded, yet still addicted to the crazy sex. Tell us about the last vicious attack, which led to your neighbor calling the cops and him being arrested for domestic violence. What the hell happened?
Jamario: (Exhales) The last month was pretty rough just constant fighting, constant name calling “bitch, ho, punk, fag, gay-azz muthafucka etc” and he was always drinking, knocking back Hennessy like it was Kool Aid. I was getting more and more depressed, so one night I just reached out to one of my homies, I told him I needed to talk, we went out had a few drinks and I told him everything. We decide to go to the club, so i could dance off some of the stress, just have a good time you know. Cut a long story short, asshole had put one of those tracking devices on my cell phone, so when I got home he knew exactly where I had been. After you’ve been punched and kicked and hit upside the head so often, you become a bit numb. The fact that it didn’t appear to be hurting me drove him crazy. He had been punching me and whacking me in the head in the living room, but he was making most of the noise just going crazy, the liquor had me even more numb. He rushed into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, slashed my face, while calling me a “bitch-ass nigga and a fucking punk-azz ho”, then he stabbed me in the back. If I close my eyes I can still feel the pain. I screamed so loud, I guess my neighbor called the cops. Next thing I know, he was being arrested and I was being taken in an ambulance to hospital. As traumatic as it was, I think it needed to happen to wake me up. As soon as I got out of hospital I started therapy, it was almost like the minute I felt that knife it my back I knew, if I survived, I had to change or I would wind up dead anyway. If he didn’t kill me, someone else probably would have.
- Storm: WOW! I am not often speechless, but this is intense. So you come out of hospital, he is locked up I assume, or at least out of your home. You start therapy and the process of rebuilding your life. What have the last two years been like and what has that experience taught you about yourself?
Jamario: the last 2 years have had ups and downs. I decided to do some very intense work getting to know my true self and what I really wanted and deserved out of life. The downs were mainly due to the court case dragging on. He eventually got bail, but was finally locked up 2 months ago. I’m glad the case is over, but I can’t say I got any joy from him being locked up. I know it sounds crazy, but I had 2 years to deal with it. I was more interested in finding out what made me get into that situation than in him being locked up. I’m glad justice was served, but my victory came when I truly accepted that I was worthy of sane love, that I didn’t need to be with some beyond masculine downlow hood asshole to prove my manhood. I am a man just the way I am, I don’t need no one to validate me or make me feel more masculine. I have learned that I had a messed up idea of what love was, I saw my moms get abused by 3 different men. I never saw it as abuse then but obviously it stayed with me as what was normal.
- Storm: Do you think there was also some internalized homophobia which contributed to your feelings of worthlessness? You sort out certain types of men – overly masculine, hood, gangsta, downlow types. Did you wish you were like them and did being with them somehow make it easier for you to deal with your own sexuality and feelings of being less than? I am not suggesting that masculine downlow types are the only abusive black gay men, but that maybe your internalized homophobia played a significant role in your low self-esteem issues, which made it easier for you to get caught up in this mess and stay as long as you did. Anyone can be an abusive jerk, but you were drawn to him solely because of what you saw on the outside. You never cared about what he was like on the inside, because you were messed up inside. So, your outside had to be physically and violently attacked, in order for you to heal the inner you. Make sense?
Jamario: You deep man – Hell yeah! I could also hide my sexuality with those types it made me feel like one of the boys, I could pretend I wasn’t like the other gays, I only dealt with masculine, downlow, “real men”, who banged chicks. Then if I could get them to throw their legs in the air, that was the ultimate prize you know. It’s also this messed up idea that some of us have about turning out straight boys, you know. Now we are somehow better than all the others, coz we only deal with straight and downlow dudes. Newsflash – if his legs are up in the air and you are blowing his back out, or he is piping you down, chances are he ain’t straight! Some of us black gay men got so many issues around sexuality and masculinity, it’s crazy. Funny thing, if I hadn’t gone through this domestic violence shit, I probably would still be all messed up, so in a twisted way, it kinda helped me.
- Storm: Knowing everything you know today, what advice would you give other black gay men, whether they are in a domestic violence situation or not.
Jamario: For those in relationships, listen to that inner voice, if you think something ain’t right, BAIL! What is it Oprah says? “First you get a whisper, then you get a knock, then it hits you upside your head, then throws you against the brick wall, then the brick wall comes crashing down.” Something like that she says, so listen to that voice. Don’t let NOBODY put their hands on you, if you see signs that they are controlling and verbally abusive, it can easily turn physical. Spend more time on yourself and getting to know who you really are and what you are and what scares you about your sexuality and confront those fears. Take the time to get to know a dude before declaring real love and find out what real love is, coz it ain’t that crazy mess a lot of us think it is. You can never know true and real love until you love and accept who you are, warts and all. Surround yourself with positive, mature people – they are the ones who will tell you the truth, even when you don’t wanna hear it. At the end of the day, we are attracted by what’s on the outside, but like the song says “no matter what he looks like baby, it’s the inside that counts”. Get to know potential lovers, partners, husbands on the INSIDE first!
- Storm: I couldn’t have said it better myself! Jamario, thank you so much for sharing your story with Black Gay Men’s Blog, I’m sure it will help some of our readers. By sharing our experiences we can learn from one another and hopefully avoid some costly or maybe even fatal mistakes. It really has been great talking to you. Your last words are?
Jamario: Thank you for what you do Mr Storm! My last words? Black gay men we need to learn to love ourselves and domestic violence is never ok! Learn from my mistakes, I’ve done a lot of work on the inside, but I still have a couple more scar revision surgical procedures to go through on my face. There ain’t no man or swagger in the world worth all that. I’m out!
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project – 24hr Hotline: 1.800.832.1901
If you are in an abusive relationship and need help or support, please call the number above, or visit Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project for more information and resources. Thanks to Jamario for sharing his story with the blog, I’m sure a few of you will have something to say, so let’s get a dialog going, which is what we like to do here. Domestic violence is very real for many black gay men, we need to start speaking up and discussing it, so we can start healing. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, chances are you know someone who has. Black Gay Men’s Blog would like to encourage you to share your stories and get help, if needed. If you know about any useful resources, feel free to add them to the Black Gay Men’s Forum, under the LGBT resources section.