While scrolling through Instagram the other day, a post appeared in the Search & Explore area that caught my attention. In the photo, a Black guy and a white guy are in a friendly embrace. Both are wearing t-shirts with the statement “All Colors Are Born Equal” printed on the front.

My next statement is absolutely redundant at this point but it still needs to be said: by society’s standards, because I am Black, I was not born equal.

All of my life, I have been served disservices. They’ve come from white people but they’ve also come from Black people. They’ve come from straight people and they’ve come from gay people. When I was a kid, I would stay silent. As a teenager, I morphed into a “mean girl” to shield my inner-self from harm. As an adult, I’m so far removed from the fuckery people casually vomit during conversations that I rarely find myself shocked at how out of touch we are. It’s almost like I’ve grown numb to ignorance and how people perceive me as a Black man.

But let me be very clear. I am not your stereotype.

Being Black is not a personality trait. You don’t slip in and out of it. It’s not something you can “learn.” It’s not a card you can take away or pick up at your local corner store. It is not a filter, an indicator on the extent of my cultural references, or a determinating factor in how I communicate with others. You’re not “more Black” than someone because you’re “hood.” I’m not less Black because I listen to TV On The Radio rather than the Top 40 rapper mumbling through his feelings. If I’m on Grindr, don’t call my penis a “Black cock.” I’m Black. It’s a given. Don’t fetishize me or my body parts and then think it’s meant to turn me on.

Also, Solange said it best but don’t touch my hair. There isn’t a ton of it on my head but it’s still my hair. Giving me a noogie like I’m a child fucks with my hairline. When you do that, it makes me want to find the nearest sharpest object and create “contemporary art” out of you.

Side note: I’m a proud gay man. That means I’ve heard the worst of the worst said about me. Even from the community I’m supposed to be so involved with but have trouble claiming. Let me be clear yet again. I am not your stereotype.

Just because I sleep with men, don’t call me ‘girl’ or ‘sis.’ Don’t ask me, white girl, how to be more fabulous. I am fabulous but I was born that way (and learned a lot along the way from my favorite movie villain, Kathryn Merteuil). Don’t snap your fingers at me in a Z-formation.

Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I have a laundry list of available female friends to pass off on you, straight guy. Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’ll automatically be attracted to you for the simple fact that you also have a penis. I don’t have decent style because I’m gay. I have decent style because I like clothing.

And don’t ever ask me “who’s the man and who’s the woman” in my relationship. Also, don’t ask me how I pay for dinner when out on a date. It’s called having a debit card. How do you pay, straight person?

With gold and mink furs?

Right now, I sit in my bedroom in an apartment nestled in a quiet yet lively Brooklyn neighborhood. Tomorrow, I’ll get dressed and head into Manhattan to spend my day in an office. After that, I’ll head home and probably have tacos for dinner. But will I get chips and guacamole? Maybe, but I’m trying to watch my calorie intake. Either way, I’ll definitely look at my iPhone notification telling me it’s time to get into bed so I get a full 7.5 hours of rest…and totally ignore it. I’ll eventually crawl into bed after doing a half-assed workout on my bedroom floor and fall asleep.

Guess what else? I’ll wake up the day after that and do it all over again…just like you.

If you claim to be a functioning adult but aren’t able to pause on making such quick judgments based solely on the color of my skin, you are a failure to society. I’m sure this piece reads like I’m angry but that’s only because I totally am. And sometimes being angry is okay.

Here’s how I look at life: I recognize there is an unlimited amount of potential within myself. Potential to grow, be better, do better and achieve greatness. There will never come a day when I think otherwise. I might have my doubts from time to time but there isn’t anything anyone can do or say to sway me.

Since I feel that way about myself, I try to feel that way about others. We all have the potential for greatness. It might be foolish to think in such a way. After all, it feels like the world I live in has more people in it who would rather see me fail. I don’t mind, though. I’m stronger than they think.

What I do mind is you stereotyping me. Keep that shit 100% to yourself. ✊🏾 Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna watch Yanis Marshall and Stevie Doré kill it on the dancefloor to RuPaul’s iconic track, “Cover Girl.”

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