Janet Jackson has been playing on loop as I finish the draft of my manuscript (due in two days!). Her music was so influential to me as a teen (which Fish Food covers a lot of), especially with the 1997 release of The Velvet Rope.
I especially adore a Janet giggle and slowjam like “Twenty Foreplay”:
That’s when we get to it, close our eyes/Feel our way though it/I can’t wait to groove ya/ ‘Cause you sure know how to move it/You’ve made love to my mind/Now you gotta take me from behind
saraa-elizabethh asked: you are so inspiring! i am so happy that you've found someone as incredible as aaron. thank you for sharing your story. you are gorgeous inside and out :)
Thank you. Speaking of inspiration: I’m inspired everyday by the people whom I cross paths with (IRL and virtually) who courageously tell me their stories. I’m continually inspired by storytelling and love - and I’m blessed to be at a place where I can openly share my love with the world. Thank you again.
It don’t matter who you are
It’s so simple, a feeling
But it’s everything
No matter who you love
It is so simple, a feeling
But it’s everything
Beyoncé’s “I MIss You” written by Frank Ocean
The question I’m most often asked is actually not really about me. It’s about the man I love.
Is he gay now that he loves you?
Aaron’s identity comes into question at nearly every panel, every speech, every event we attend together. Our love is considered revolutionary - not because we love wholly, but because he loves me. Instead of being a man who chooses to love (which is revolutionary itself), he becomes the sexuality-questioning man who loves the trans woman.
The way he holds me, nurtures me, whispers in my ear to tell me, "You are the most relevant woman on my planet"… Those deep, inside-turning core beliefs of love and intimacy and true partnership are overlooked because I chose to be wholly me, discarding the sex assigned to me at birth.
This is what I thought of when reading Frank Ocean’s letter to the world. People reacted to the man he loved, rather than the fact that Ocean was brave enough to love and to act on that love - regardless of gender.
I understand deeply how powerful it is that this beautifully talented black man has stepped forward and shared his heart with all of us. But I’m also faced with contradictory beliefs: I want more to do so while toggling the irksome notion that more *have* to justify their hearts because of our judgments.
I feel love has no gender, no body, no boundaries. It is we who put such limits and restrictions and rules on something so intimate and pure. Yet I know definitions and words and labels help us shape our world, and I even reach to bell hooks for guidance, as she posits in All About Love, “Imagine how much easier it would be for us to learn how to love if we began with a shared definition.”
hooks goes on to quote psychiatrist M. Scott Peck: ”Love is as love does. Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love." (emphasis is mine)
And in Ocean acting to love this man by revealing his heart to him despite the boundaries we all put on him and the disappointing outcome of this unrequited love, he is revolutionary, and the bravest sort. But what is also implicit in his public letter to us is that he, in his act of choosing to love despite gender, Ocean also chooses to love himself without restrictions. And if more of our people chose to love themselves, they would protect their hearts and bodies in every act of love.
"I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore," Ocean writes, adding, "To my first love, I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough. It was."
Lastly: "I feel like a free man."
Stay free and keep loving, my beautiful brother.
Share my life, take me for what I am
'Cause I'll never change all my colors for you…
You see through, right to the heart of me
You break down my walls with the strength of your love
I never knew love like I’ve known it with you
-Whitney Houston, “I Have Nothing” Live in South Africa, 1994
The Missing Piece Podcast with Aaron Tredwell and Janet Mock is dedicated to authenticity and transparency when it comes to showing what relationships really look like.