Dear Marcus Johnson,
It doesn’t matter about stereotypes in your life when it comes to love. I’m HIV positive and my husband of 8 years is HIV negative. He’s plus sized and wasn’t my type. I met him two weeks after I stopped looking for love. He wanted company for his birthday and I was a broken man that secretly gave up on writing with thoughts of suicide. Top after top broke my heart when I thought a man with abs was my “type.” But we became friends and I fell in love with him. I’m his first relationship, ever. We’re best friends and two bottoms that decided to live on OUR TERMS. He didn’t care that I was an award winning author and I didn’t care about his weight. We’re totally opposite of each other. We argue, fuss, disagree, love, grow, all that together. His heart and compassion hooked me. I told him of my affliction when we met. As a registered nurse for ten years he didn’t care. As a result this is what love looks like when you stop letting stereotypes run your decision process. A man that’s “Your type,” may NOT BE who you spend the rest of your life with. We last because, no matter what we do, we keep friends, family AND social media OUT of our personal business.
Sealing the letter in a pink envelope, I wrote “Marcus Johnson” in the middle of the envelope with calligraphy script and dropped it in a wicker basket over on a draped table by the exit door of the class I taught on Saturdays. Anger management. I didn’t know why I taught this damn class when I had anger issues myself, but I enjoyed helping others because it was therapeutic. Plus I owned my own practice. It was a great way to put my degree in psychology to great use, since I had trouble finding a career after graduating from Howard University ten years ago.
Today’s lesson to my class, a group of sixty individuals from diverse lifestyles and backgrounds (one hundred and twenty dollars a week), was to write a letter to someone in the class about an issue they rarely discuss with anyone, seal it in an envelope with their name on it and drop it in the wicker basket. Once you comply, you sign a clipboard with just the name of the person on the letter so that others took a look to see what names were available. The idea of the exercise was to anonymously respond to the letter with an answer to what you read. How you felt about what you read was your business. The idea was to express your feelings without anger. Great rhetoric was key in living a successful life free of bias. One should be able to express their differences in a productive manner that didn’t jeopardize the livelihood of others.
It was a fun exercise that would teach people how to be open and honest without being judgmental and condescending.
Writing about my relationship with my husband wasn’t something I’ve ever done, but I didn’t ask my students to do anything that I wasn’t willing to do myself.
I wrote Marcus because a) he was cute (yes, even my husband agreed that he was drop dead gorgeous), and b) he was a down low gay man with issues about coming out because he thought that all gay men were feminine, messy and filled with drama and my husband and I weren’t any of those stereotypes. I wanted to show him that being who you are wasn’t a curse or a demon of its own design. It was a beautiful, fulfilling thing that brought out the best in everything around you except the bigots.
I knew he was gay after a party I had at my home a few weeks ago. I invited the entire group over for drinks and some good old fashioned seafood (my treat our bonding time).
When Beyoncé’s Lemonade album came on, Marcus popped his ass to the floor like there was no tomorrow, getting everybody’s attention. Despite the cheers at his obvious dance skills, my husband looked at me like, “Chile, him fruiter than fruity pebbles.”
Once the song from the album went off, it was like Marcus was his thug self again, masculine mannerisms returned with a vengeance. I never quite looked at him the same ever again. I was a Janet “Unbreakable” type of gay man. I wasn’t into Bey and never would be. Watching her reminded me of old school Tina Turner and Tina did it better, in my opinion.
Marcus was as masculine as they came. Tall, fun and witty, but his severe anger issues wound him up in prison for six years after beating his father into a coma when he discovered that he was gay.
When his father confronted him about it, Marcus went into a blinding rage and beat him half to death with his bare fists.
His participation in my group was ordered by the court as part of his release and we actually became quite close. Jonathan absolutely adored him.
I never lived by labels and didn’t give a shit about society’s view on gay relationships. My husband and I defined our own, on our terms, no ifs, ands or buts.
Once all the letters were written and placed in the wicker basket, I passed them out, instructing everyone to keep them sealed. Open them at home. Write a response for homework and seal it in an envelope with the person’s name in the center. When we meet in a week, we’ll open the letters and read anonymous responses.
I had a lot of my mind today. Why, I didn’t know. I had a great day thus far, but for some reason something in my heart wouldn’t allow me to fully let go and enjoy today for what it was.
My husband brought me lunch and sat with me for a bit. We were great, but that still didn’t put me in great spirits. Maybe it was a phase I was going through. We all had our days, but once class ended around 5:30 pm I gathered my things and walked out to my car.
Looking over a letter with my name in the middle, I put it in my brief case and got in my car, leaning back in the seat. I was relaxed, despite the one hundred degree temperature. Looking over my watch, I text my husband and let him know I was on my way home. I told him don’t worry about dinner, I’d pick something up on the way to the apartment.
He text back and said that he was cutting the grass. He wanted me to pick up a twelve pack of Heineken and some chicken wings. I text back that I would, even though I had no desire to run into the supermarket. My feet were aching and I was starting to get a headache.
Closing the car door, I tossed the brief case on the back seat and opened the letter with my name on it.
Before I could pull the letter from the envelope, I noticed Marcus sitting in his car, looking me over without making it obvious.
Shaking my head, I turned the key in the ignition and drove off.
Once I exited the parking lot, Marcus turned on his car and left, heading in the opposite direction.
For some reason I smiled, putting him out of my mind.
My husband was all the man that I needed.