I still remember that evening in Oakland, California, when I said to Paul, a black man of Jamaican heritage:
What I love about you, Paul, is that you’re not a man.
He replied: ‘Thanks, I guess.’
What I was saying was, I love that he doesn’t introduce himself with, hi, I’m a man. The fact that he is who is, is more important than what gender he is. He doesn’t hide behind his masculinity. A single father who works full-time and raised his son all by himself, feeding him, bathing him, taking him to school, doing his laundry, helping him with homework, he does it all.
Paul has six-packs so pronounced that you can hang clothes off them. The ridges in his back are so powerful a ant would get giddy sliding on them. His baritone voice belies his lithe frame that he has no right to.
Ruggedly beautiful, dark as the night, this man could belong to any ancient tribe across the world. And yet, this man doesn’t hide behind his masculinity.
The first time I met him was on the street, I was walking my great dane, Noor, and he was coming back from play school with his son. In characteristic Paul fashion, he shook my hand as I have seen Ethiopians do – one hand extended, while the other hand lightly touches the elbow of the extended hand. He bent slightly in greeting. “Hi, I’m Paul”.
The second time he met me, he asked to spend the night with me. I said yes with absolutely no hesitation. And got a yelling from Gary after.
‘WHAT!! DID YOU READ HIM HIS RIGHTS? DID YOU TELL HIM HE CAN’T TOUCH YOU???’
Gary, this is Paul.
Paul held me through the night, and in the morning, moved away from me. “I still wanted to hold you, but I didn’t wish to impose.”
The most precious thing a man can get from a woman is her trust, her heart. It saddens me when men hide behind desire, lust, and all the ‘I have no control over myself’ card men freely give themselves.
Paul, I Love That You’re Not a Man