Monday, July 27, 2009
WEPA! VIVA LA BOOGIE DOWN!
Hi peeps. This past week has been a little crazy and I have a lot of things going on this coming week but as always a vow to deliver an entry every Sunday/Monday to you guys in order to maintain the momentum. All I have to start working on some other writing assignments that I need to get done, like my college application essay (which some how I need to keep less then 250 words YEAH RIGHT) and a short story draft so I can have time to edit it for entry into a competition.
Ok so I recently attended a round table discussion at the local Pride Center here in the Bronx and I am really happy about the new acquaintances I’ve made. For starters the group was much larger then I expected and it was facilitated very well. As most of you know I’m no stranger to group therapy and am also very very critical of facilitators. I think that it’s a personal experience for each individual but I also think I have a sense for those that are able to use their personal style and the ability to adapt it the needs of the room. As my old councilor at rehab says “It’s about bringing as many people to the table as possible.”
For starters the group was 2 fucking hours long but it went by rather fast and we let the topics organically grow from each comment made. There was no set agenda or curriculum and plenty of cross talk but all healthy positive feedback. Now here’s the kicker it was a “Latino” group! For most of you that know me I’m very open about the fact that I’m half Italian and half Puerto Rican but lets be honest even my mother calls me a “gringo” cause I have acclimated and immersed myself in what would be considered “Caucasian Gay Society” well call it “CGS” from here on. Let me be honest here I’m afraid of my own gene pool well not afraid but they make me uncomfortable whether they be stereotypical Italian Guidos’ or Puerto Rican Boricuas’. I don’t know why I’m like this but I am. My mother is always telling me I need to be more in touch with my roots but I have a culture I lean towards the CGS and I know plenty of Italians and Puerto Ricans that are part of it but I also realize there is a large population of gays in both of these cultures that don’t feel apart of the CGS culture. At first I felt bad for them like they were depriving themselves of being part of their rightful culture and place but after this group I realize there is a place for a Latino Gay Society. I still don’t know if I’m a part of it but one thing that I’ve learned in recovery is that my disease always tries to convince me that I’m not a part of and that it’s up to me to engage the things I want to be included in, and this group was no different they welcomed me in and treated me as a part of. So one more point for recovery and another foul on the ‘ism’.
I admit I consider myself a white boy that can just tan well, however this has not spared me from the viscous tongue of racism. When I lived in Florida I had a very dark cinnamon bronze tan I’ve been called a spic asked if I was a member of a gang back home in the Bronx. I’ve received pity from my ex’s father who assumed that I was raised in a poverty level income due to my place of origin and I’ve been called a greasy dago from NY and I’ve been snapped at by people that assumed I was a bus boy in restaurant. All of these events took place in the south and south west. I’ve also had conversations started in Spanish and even been sexually harassed due to my Latin look when I was in my early 20’s. After that I stopped getting to dark of a tan but when I lived in Arizona I couldn’t help but get a dark tan and with my dark hair I’ve had Mexican people assume I was Mexican as well. Now I know my aunt right now is saying “NO WAY!” but even she thought I was an Asian man once from afar on the street. I have always been a chameleon of sorts and had the ability to blend in with my surroundings.
To native NYers’ we put a lot of value in our heritage. “What’s your background or where is your family from?” is a common question. Not to segregate each other but as a way of finding a commonality. We may be from different backgrounds or ethnicities or cultures or even subcultures but we seek out a common thread, religions, neighborhoods, sexualities, recovery fellowships, high schools & colleges. No matter how you slice it any wall can be a bridge. So who and or what am I? I’ll tell you who I am. I’m a recovering crystal meth addict named Tommy from Bronx that is half Italian and half Puerto Rican and I choose to surround myself with positive people that give me love and respect and I am learning that that doesn’t come from a specific culture but by the people I seek out in these groups, so if any one asks you where Tommy’s kin is from you can tell them his background is Kindness!