In August 2015, we will celebrate our 24th year as a family. We are college sweethearts who met at Howard University in the early 1990s. Howard’s campus was in the midst of a period when students wrestled with how to define blackness as we approached the dawn of a new century, setting up a confrontation between “Cosby Kids” with advantages they took for granted and urban youth who had greater access to higher education. No matter how we defined blackness, all sides agreed that there were certain norms of gender and sexuality that were inviolate.
As soon as we found each other and fell in love, we were on the wrong side of what was expected of us. While we thought our relationship flew under the radar, the sexuality police around campus thought differently. We could not hide so powerful a connection and commitment and were soon ostracized for being more than just friends. Kareem was even attacked, his assailant yelling, “faggot” as he lunged at Kareem’s neck. These were hard lessons for 20-year-old students to learn, especially when all you wanted were good grades and a great boyfriend. It was harder, given how broadly defined and highly valued “family” was on a black college campus. It hurts when one side of a family turns its back on another, betraying professed core values.
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