IN DENIAL



I wasn’t going to say anything, but I feel my hand was forced. I keep hearing everyone say, “Who cares?” I care. Right now Jason Collins is one of the biggest stories in the United States. He is now one of the few openly gay NBA players and I doubt too many others will come forward.

Forget about the scriptures and what it says in the Bible. Forget about people’s hang-ups on homosexuality. Whatever your moral compass is or feeling that every person has a right to live their life; I take issue with exposing innocent people, or people unwittingly participating in a lie. That is what I have a problem with.

Periodically I use to do trade shows to supplement my income. Because I did a lot of work for a hat designer I in turn did quite a few hair shows. I was doing the Proud Lady Hair Show here in Chicago. The company I worked for was coming in from L.A. I had been friends with the owner a long time and we pretty much had this down to a routine. I knew my job. I always provided my own clothes for the shows. Always something classy and complimentary that could be worn with a variety of his hats. This particular show brought a lot of local and national celebrities. I must have been looking good 'cause I remember Oscar Brown, Jr. stopping to recite a poem about how fine I was. lol Yeah, I was feelin’ myself just a little. I had a fitted black silk suit with 6 inch heels and the hat made it outstanding!

This beautiful (yeah, I mean beautiful) man started following me around as I made my way through the crowd enticing them to see our wares at the booth. At first I pretended not to notice him, but his skin was rich like chocolate and being 6’4 he was hard to miss. He was impeccably dressed from head to toe. He had my attention.

We introduced ourselves with polite pleasantries. We were very cordial. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but we ended up at the booth I was working and I saw my friend getting jealous and completely ignored it. We might have even used his business cards to write and exchange our phone numbers. The one thing I do remember was him telling me I looked like Phyllis Hyman. And that definitely got my attention. I loved her and I admired her not only for her voice, but her stature. Somehow I felt cheated being 5’9 and not making it to 6 feet. We made plans to catch up with each other and meet after the trade show.

It might have been the following week or even the following weekend, we went on our first date. He made me laugh and he was just as good looking as I remembered. Things progressed rather quickly. I remember visiting him at his apartment and things were completely off kilter. So much so, that I was concerned that if he stayed there his life was at risk. I had a talk with my Mother and he moved in with us. My empathy gets me in trouble every time. I don’t think we made a conscious decision to be “boyfriend and girlfriend”. We just fell in to it. My instincts were right. His roommate was doing business with some seedy characters. Not long after he was found murdered in his apartment.

I had my doubts, I knew he cared about me, but it wasn’t right. Okay so it crossed my mind, but I never said it out loud. He had friends in the fashion industry that we interacted with. He exposed me to and introduced me to a circle of people that were so talented on every level. Most moved out of Chicago and went to L.A. They are the actors and models you see today. And even some of the most talented musicians. They were always parties, always an event, always someplace to be or to be seen. It was fun at first. Then I became concerned about what was really going on with “us”. Was there really an “us”? I loved this man and would do anything for him. He was part of my family living in the house where I was raising my child. Did I move too fast? Was I making a mistake? We would go out and all heads would turn, men and women. Men and women were checking him out. He was after all stunning.

The intimacy was there, but it was missing something. I got frustrated at the end. He was losing his patience. I asked him that question. The one you don’t want to ask, but need to know. He told me no. My heart said yes. It was true the whole time.

Years passed and we got back in touch. We updated each other about our kids. You see he was divorced like me and had one child. Just like me. We were sitting in church and he told me how Mom and I were his personal Angels. We had helped him when he needed it the most. I’m glad we did.

We were going to work on a project together so he came over to the house. We sat at my dining room table and talked a while. I asked about his friend and how he was. As he was talking he referred to his old friend as his boyfriend. I didn’t miss a beat. And pretended not to be stunned by what I always suspected.

I love him to this day. He has been there for me and done some wonderful things for my family because I know he loves us. But as a woman who was in a committed relationship I feel I’m still owed an apology. I wasn’t the only one in denial.

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