There is an orgasmic appeal for a black gay mecca. Black men around the world thirst and salivate over the chance to have access to eligible, educated, and smart men. Atlanta has become a thriving metropolis for the upwardly mobile, the wayward, and random queens who would take out a pay day loan to slay bum bitches in Lenox Mall. Whether you are relocating to the city or passing through on Pride Weekend to buss a few loads, ATL is a one stop shop to get yo’ whole life! But out of all the things you can find on any corner of the infamous Peachtree St., the one thing you cannot find is a high number of beautiful black gay couples in a committed relationship. Generally, Atlanta has an overflow of black love and relationships. You can see it everywhere. Unfortunately, the black gay community in Atlanta doesn’t feel it’s good enough to share in the same splendor and benefits monogamy and commitment provides.
It was December 30, 2001…I hopped on my first flight to Atlanta. I had never been before and a college buddy of mine had invited me to come out for the annual Peach Drop for New Year’s Eve. I was in my younger years so I couldn’t tell if I was more excited to see my best friend or the eligible number of black men he described as a “mecca of greatness”. But to my disappointment, it was more of the same. More of the men I was wanting to get a break from…more of the men who was the antithesis of even a quick hook up…more of “OH HELL NAW!”. I mean, I’m a quick study. I know not to paint broad strokes of a community based on a select few. But there is something about the metaphysical realm of Atlanta that provided the clarity I needed to feel—and that was to “KEEP MY PANTS UP…and TAKE EACH STRANGER AT THEIR WORD EVEN IN A STATE KNOWN FOR SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY.”
“A New Face” some referred to me as I slid through what seemed like a mixture of pudgy and firm bodies of men who projected both lust and disregard as I slid through the crowded Bulldogs. In an environment I assumed would be an escapism from a heteronormative world, I felt a sense of cattiness and competitiveness. In a room full of grown black men, I felt more alienated than I would have been sitting in a barbershop listening to the fellas talk player stats of the Dallas Cowboys (which I emphatically despise). But I like a challenge, so I pursued what had now become prey. Mario was a party planner. He was apparently well known on the ATL scene for throwing parties under the name of “WASSUP N ATL”. Hmmm…sounded as if it was another antitheses of things I needed to stay away from, but what the hell—I was young. He seemed to have his shit together for someone who looked as if he was pushing 50, but hey, who are ME..ME to judge? “Whats up cutie?…where you from?”, Mario inquired. “Why does it matter? I’m only here through right after New Year’s Day”, I wittingly replied. And we hit it off from that moment. After a few drinks and laughs, Mario picked me up and we settled for the Waffle House. “…so why is it you don’t wanna settle down?” I asked coyly. “Man…this is Atlanta…all this ass I can choose from?…why the fuck would I do that? This is a gold mine for black tops.”, Mario replied convincingly. After pondering that thought for a few moments, I asked myself, “but how much time does a man give himself to chase having multiple options over chasing the concept of stability with one partner?” After Mario arrived at my hotel to drop me off after a newly appreciated evening in Atlanta, “so…can I come up?”, he asked. I quickly replied, “we talked enough tonight, and if I invited you up, we would only talk about things we’ve talked about all night.” He didn’t understand, but it wasn’t in my interest to continue. I guess at that time I knew that if a man doesn’t live by example, he isn’t worth learning from.
It wasn’t until years later I visited Atlanta again. I wouldn’t go back unless Robert, my best friend of all time, would accompany me. Even being 12 years older and all the wiser, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a ratchet weekend. I was single at the time, so hey, why not see if my intuition had evolved since my last excursion. So…there was Brian. “BJ” as he initially called himself, was (allegedly) from Atlanta. He graduated from Morehouse in 2003 and had apparently just picked up his BMW from the car wash. Why he felt the need to tell me this as I was headed to the lobby was well, predictable? (You’ll see why later). “Where would you like to go to dinner?”, he asked. “Ahhh…I’m not sure; it’s my birthday weekend so where ever it is—I’d be ok with a nice ambience—even if the food isn’t all that.”, I replied. He apparently knew the perfect place for me. As we arrived and he gave the keys to the valet, “Don’t scratch my car now!”, as he started to give the most explicit details to a man who has obviously parked older 3 series BMWs before. I’m not sure why he assumed his car was any different, but I digress. He did alright with the pub. It was a great place for a first date—too bad he wasn’t on one…LMAO!
I love to sit at the bar. I’m a social guy so why not be social. Not even 10 minutes into our conversation interjects two queens he obviously knows. After a slight introduction and after one of them refers to “BJ” as Brian, it seemed like an episode of Noah’s Ark between them. THANK GOD for smartphones—otherwise, I would have to uncomfortably force myself to start talking to them. And now, he was ready to take me back to the hotel. As he went on an on about how he was so tired and not going to be available for the remainder of my stay, I could only think about how much time I had left to get it in at Bulldogs. My homie was still back at the hotel. We were texting each other about Swinging Richards as well. But OH!!..back to Brian. Ahh…he was a cool in a slightly annoying way. I think that if he didn’t focus so hard on his material possessions, he may actually start to discover who he is. I decided to make no conversation with him as well as the night ended. I figured, my silence spoke louder than words. Once he got over himself, he just may have gotten the point.
I’m not sure about what it is with examples that resonate so deeply within me. History is there for a reason. Our ancestors’ work lies available in tombs and pyramids today because of the importance to tell a story or narrative about how great they were. But what will Atlanta be remembered for? Gay prides and sex parties? A countless sea of available, eligible black gay men without the interest of commitment in sight? A city plagued with HIV higher than third world African countries? A city where opportunities are limitless but a strong neglect to pass wealth to the next generation because of the “I don’t wanna get married narrative”? But is it too late? In a time where the transfer of capital from mainstream banks to black owned banks have increased to 8,000 new applications in recent days one can only wonder…deep down, does this solidarity within our community translate to gay men as well? When will the brothers of Atlanta put aside the boyish choices and form solid, committed relationships? When will males take accountability for self and become the man needed to sustain solid relationships? Or…should we put to rest the city of Atlanta as the men who occupy a space where Martin Luther King once lived cannot fathom the responsibility of living up to his example? Only time will tell. Whether it is this generation or the next one, your community has a story to tell. So fellas of Atlanta, what will your story be? The world is watching.