An oil on canvass by John Currin
I’ve been having some discussions about sex with a close friend of mine. It’s ironic, because technically, there are other, more ‘liberated’ friends – and family – to talk to about my sex life with. And I do, but none-the-less, it is, technically, easier to talk to someone in the same boat.
While talking about this particular pursuit though, the exchange made me realise, as much as we might get on fantastically about work, fashion, etc., there is a clear divide on matters of the flesh. I am sure when people talk about black Caribbean upbringings, the stories resonate. Perhaps it is universal, but I say from a black Caribbean perspective, because I am a black Canadian of Caribbean descent.
My family, is big and beautiful. I felt a lot of love. But I did not grow up in a household where I felt comfortable talking about sex. And though you may think ‘who has?’ there is validity to this. I sought sex from a very young age, though I didn’t actually have it until in my early 20s. But I had this ideal in my head, because of what I saw within my family growing up. My father, being a gigolo, was bad. To be married and in a committed relationship was good. Sex was something between married people – or close enough. The idea of having a boyfriend in your teens wasn’t acceptable. Not that I could be stopped, but if it happened, I ran the risk of being an outcast. I had two very close cousins, one, closer to my age, who was considered bad, and one, three years older than me, who to this day, still sees me as a child, was considered good. I was close to both of them, but I wanted to be like the latter. Because you want that approval, so you try to live up to it. Which meant, that when I had my first boyfriend, I wanted him to be, the only one.
But it wasn’t going to happen. Barely being able to take care of myself, being with a rather experienced Italian man 12 years older, it wasn’t feasible, in my case. I was gutted by it then. The second boyfriend, five years older this time, black and a university graduate, had his own set of issues to deal with, and buckled after being put on a pedestal. The third guy, though somewhat of a drifter (my age, a semi-pro basketball player) was better. But I had to show some restraint because it was a prolonged affair. It wasn’t until the fourth guy, that things made sense.
I believe that it was with him, that I had a sexual awakening. There were hardly any boundaries. And by the end of this liaison, not only had I felt used, I felt lost, dirty and ashamed. Which lead to my celibacy.
I have met many men along the way. But even though there have been opportunities to break my celibacy, I wasn’t attracted to them enough, the feelings were not mutual, or there was a certain level of perfection (on their part) that was lacking.
I didn’t realise it until it dawned on me. I live in London. I am attractive and I am going to turn 30. There is no one to point the finger. And I can do whatever I want. Why be mentally enslaved to some morals that have not helped me in any way? In fact, these standards I believed I needed to live by may have actually hurt, rather than helped me.
I am not saying it doesn’t work. It is a reality for most. But, if it doesn’t work for me, maybe I need to try something else. Maybe you need to try something else. Maybe it is time, to break the chains and be you.
My friend, is older than me. And I know, when she talks about being instilled with morals, she is not meaning to be exclusive. But, the point is, it doesn’t make a difference. You can be instilled with all the morals and beliefs, that is not going to change your predicament. And this problem, as it is, is living with a sheet over your eyes. You control your destiny. When it came to the fourth guy, I spent many years being angry. Then, I found myself being him, five years later. Lusting over younger, superficial people. And why wouldn’t I take advantage. Why shouldn’t I? I realised, that while I spent a long time living by ‘morals’ instilled in me, those morals produced a generation of children – including me – that are socially inept. I respect the ones that didn’t go by these convoluted morals and just lived their lives. A good friend of mine (a guy, and I have also been talking about the idea of casual sex), confirmed my feelings by pointing out most people would love an arrangement where they didn’t have to feel tied down. I would love that, which is why I found myself attracted to male models. Carefree, is good when it is needed.
I used to get asked about marriage and children all the time. To be honest, I really don’t know. But I know that in order to even entertain that notion, I need to live first. Because marriage can be like death if you don’t know what the fuck you’re getting into it for. And my life has just begun.
I tried to be what I thought a black woman should be. Now, I just feel disconnected from that idea Instead, I should and should have been out having fun. Strip clubs, dollar bills and all. Luckily, I’m me now. It’s time to get busy.