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A man walked out of my life. Not just one, but ten. These men were not romantic partners or friends. They were the men on whom my foundation of manhood was built on. My makeshift house is built on learned feelings of inadequacy, pain perpetuated from generation to generation, which left me without a self.

People labeled me as gay before I even knew what gay was. As a child, the ownership was on me to understand something that was never taught. Although I had the anatomical parts, I still had no clue about what being a man was, and to this day, I still don’t.

Often I contemplate what I was told as a child. “Be a man!” Words spoken by friends, family, and other onward-looking men. However, What does it mean to be a man? Does who I bed make me less than that word? Does my lack of assertiveness deduct from my man points?

Let’s be real… as a black male. I was beat down and disregarded long before the world got its hands on me. The lack of love from men is what led me to seek out attention from other men. It’s why I believe to date that a man loving me is him disregarding me. Maybe also one of the reasons I put myself in a position to be raped by a man.

We will never heal if we don’t have tough conversations. Avoidance is no longer an option. Shining a light in that dark corner is what will allow us all to heal. As a man, the hardest thing I ever had to do was forgive the men who came before. To be mature before it was my time and realize they only loved me the way they knew how to love. For that, I felt a deep sadness for them. They couldn’t give what they didn’t have… which was love.

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