For The Storyteller, a self-proclaimed mama’s boy, helping his extravagantly poised mother dress for the evening before she headed out with his father was one of his treasured moments. He felt needed, valued, and important, which made all the difference.
But next to that wonderful memory are others that threatened that very happiness we expect with innocence. And one left a mark so deep, it would affect the way he’d see himself for many years to come.
As a young boy, I knew when my parents were about to go out when I would smell the whisky my father would drink, and the loud music. My mother would ask me to help her pick her shoes, and I would sit down at the vanity and look at all of these shoes. The fact that she would even consider my opinion in helping dress her was so important and it excited me. When I look back on those memories, I realize that is why I do the same thing when I am getting ready, and I also recognize that how I look at women is based on the initial mold of my mother.
I was introduced to the arts very early because of my mother. She liked to keep me close to her, so I transferred schools, which meant I was always the new kid. I remember the schools my mom went to teach at were very different from where we lived—they were in the “hood.” But she would dress me in baseball caps and suspenders, which was painful in its own way. I was different. Now, I can attest that to my sexuality, but I was always different. I was an artist in my earlier years, too. And that’s when the bullying starting….
A boy turned me around and punched me in the face. He did that because he knew I would do nothing—and I didn’t. The entire class laughed and the teacher did nothing—not even hold me after class to see if I was okay.
One day in middle school, I was sharpening my pencil and I was taking too long. So, a boy turned me around and punched me in the face. He did that because he knew I would do nothing—and I didn’t. The entire class laughed and the teacher did nothing—not even hold me after class to see if I was okay. Later in life, I had a drinking problem and I tried to fight and hurt everybody because of that moment.
For a long time, I was like that can never happen again. It was this feeling that I had to show people that if they felt like they could do something like that to me, they needed to be ready for a fucking brawl. Initially, it was suppressed anger because of that moment.
Later, I learned from it. That was the foundation for me understanding that I no longer had to feel helpless and afraid of someone hurting me—and thinking they could get away with it. Instead, I needed to change the way I introduced myself in a particular way—with confidence. So I did.