First published piece

Originally posted at Thought Catalog. It was originally titled “To The Men I’ve loved.” I could go on and on about how I despise the new title.

To all the white boys I’ve loved, I’ve loved you from afar staring at your luminescent faces on the big screen, imagining that it was me you ran to into the rain. Imagining  it was me you were picking up, kissing until your mouth hurt, hands on bodies so thin and nimble, doing just what they knew felt right. Believing it was me that you would kill for, me that you’d risk your life for because I was the “love of your life.”

I’ve loved you from the way you walked with confidence and the assurance that your personhood, your masculinity would never be questioned. I loved the way your hair always looked perfect and your clothes always fit and you never worried about where your next meal was coming from because you had a full time job with a pension and health insurance and you could afford weekend brunches and holidays to exotic places. I loved you despite the fact that I never knew you. I only knew an idea, one based on generalizations and not the harsh realities of  being human, but it was still what I strived for. I want to be like you, with your self assurance and privilege, but I am not you. And I don’t want to be.

To all the black men I’ve loved, I’ve loved you in the flesh because you were real. You were my father, who despite his physical distance, was emotionally close to me and showed me how I should be respected. You were my brother who irritated me like a rash, encouraging me to not have kids before I’m married. You were my grandfather who told silly jokes and laughed with my grandmother in the kitchen, with the love of 50+ years of marriage growing between them everyday. I love you because you are a flawed human being that the world has tried to crush and yet, you stand taller with dignity and history on your broad shoulders.

We are part of the same womb, but the world has made us different. I am you and yet, I am not you. Shared history can only go so far, until the realities of what being a woman and a man mean in a world where patriarchy rules and the trifecta of race, gender and sexual orientation pull humans apart rather than bringing them together.

To all the Asian guys I’ve loved. You were my oldest friend, standing next to each other in kindergarten, wide eyes and smiling faces, looking into the camera unaware that we’d still be in contact 18 years later. You were the laid back California break dancer, who dreamed of being a teacher, imparting his tolerance and willingness on young people that didn’t share his similar background. You were the future doctors of America, cramming for days, stressed over life and work and never really finding a balance. You were the hipster with the floppy hair who I shared music with and talked for hours over beers about life and what happened once we all left school. You were the boy with too much confidence that taught me how a women should not be treated and almost made me throw caution to the wind because it felt right.

To the Latino dudes I’ve loved. It is with humility and self-awareness that I say, I haven’t loved you…yet. I am open to the possibility. There is no reason for me not to be. You come in different colors and sizes and accents and origins. You have degrees and experiences and past lovers that have scarred you and made you, you. You are open minded and tolerant and conservatives and liberals. You agree with me and you don’t. We may differ, but I love you because you are a person and that is all that is needed to respect your life.

To the men in between these categories and those that fall outside of them  and the others that I seemingly forgot, I never forgot about you, I never could. For you are as real to me as the men in my family and the men I call friends and the men who I look at from afar. You all live your lives according to your own standards, being the person you want to be.

To all the men I’ve loved and those I have yet to love, you have taught me things about myself that I never appreciated until now. I’ve learned from your experiences and the words we shared. I learned from the news and the way people treat you. I’ve learned from the lives you have and the lives you shared. Love is a human phenomena, something that cannot be explained by evolution, but simply by the innateness of being human. So I love you. I love you each differently and with my entire being. I love you because I can. I love you because I love myself.

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