In The Value of Your Funk: Part One, I defined “funk” to mean one’s imperfections, disappointments, vexing past, professional and academic inadequacies, physical shortcomings, mental imbalances, low self-esteem, failures, utter unhappiness, and all of the other things unpleasing to him or her. For those who did not have a change to read Part One of this series, I encourage you to read it because we all are funky—always have been and always will be. If you’re in a serious relationship with someone, you should not withhold important information about your past and present from him or her. Your girlfriend or boyfriend deserves to know about things you have done in the past and things you’re doing now.
If in your past you have been considered “whorish” because you have had sex with numerous people, you should feel compelled to inform your partner about this. Your partner deserves to know that you’ve had such an active sexual intercourse history. He or she may not want to be with you after you disclose this information to him or her, but it’s only fair to let him or her know this. One thing about your vexing past is details about it that you don’t want to come out can emerge at the most inopportune times. It would, therefore, be useful for you to go ahead and engage in discourses with your girlfriend or boyfriend about things from your past that could negatively affect him or her or things you know he or she would not approve of if he or she knew about them. You will set yourself up for failure later on in your relationship if you elect not to deal with troubling things from your past and present up front.
Don’t run away from your past!
Your past is an essential part of who you are and what you have and will become. Details about your past help people to understand more about you, even if you’ve completely turned away from living a certain type of life. People will honor how you have changed your life, reject you because of your past, or they may be indifferent but don’t try to hide your past. Be yourself. Be honest with people. No matter what you attempt to do to cover up your funk, it’s inevitably going to rise to the surface.
In no way am I saying that you should share everything with your girlfriend or boyfriend. It probably is not appropriate to share everything with anyone. You should, however, share essential information with your girlfriend or boyfriend.
For those of you who have had sexual intercourse with members of the same sex, and you’re now in a solemn relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you have a responsibility to tell your girlfriend or boyfriend that you have had sex with members of the same sex. You know this is something that is going to worry you for the rest of your life if you don’t reveal it to your mate. You will always fear he or she is going to find out. Why not let him or her know up front? Go ahead and combat any consequences and/or challenges of exposing the truth from your past in the early stages of your relationship rather than later on in your relationship. If you wait until later on in your relationship, you mate is probably not going to be able to forgive you and may never be able to trust you again. You run the risk of making yourself even more miserable about your past.
Without question, Black men have the most difficult time divulging they are gay or bisexual. Many Black bisexual men who are involved in meaningful relationships with women are too afraid to unveil they are bisexual or once were bisexual. Your bisexual past and present is a critical dimension of your identity. Why are you attempting to bury it or camouflage it? You’re always going to be uncomfortable with yourself when you’re unwilling to deal critically with your funk. Hiding who you truly are from people only results in you denying yourself from living a liberated and happy life. Why withhold from yourself a chance at living a truly free and happy life? Is pleasing your family, friends, and society that vital to you that you’re willing to surrender who you really are for them?
Stop living a lie. Stop presenting yourself as heterosexual in public when you’re really gay in private. Your public and private self will always be in conflict when you’re not willing to be honest with yourself and those around you. Stop people pleasing and simply be yourself. What’s wrong with being yourself?
Now, there are people who will claim they are themselves but are unwilling to live a life reflective of truly being themselves. Being yourself takes more commitment than simply saying and writing it—it takes a willingness to face the backlash of those who overtly and subtly despise you because you’ve made the choice to be yourself. You’re not being yourself when you do and say things just to please people and to prevent them from calling you names that will offend you.
If you’re not truly committed to being yourself, stop saying and writing “be yourself.” You severely distort and damage the essential message of those of us who truly are ourselves.
An unwillingness to be yourself will inevitably not make you any good for yourself and your boyfriend or girlfriend. Be a real man and real woman and face your funk. Your funk is not going anywhere so don’t spend your entire life running from it.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison