43 - Derrick Davis
Works in banking. Loves fashion & going out with friends.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“I knew something was different within me when I was probably 13 or 14… after battling through the whole sexual orientation issue… where you know straight vs. gay with my family… I came from a very unique family… Both of my grandparents are pastors and my parents are now pastors. It was very much in our household - man versus man and woman. I even though I heard that for so long, I always knew something totally was different… I was about 13 when I was molested by a cousin... I never blamed him for it... It only made the feelings that I had, stronger for the same sex. People always say, ‘Well I was molested, so this is the way I am…’ but, for me, I had those feelings before all that happened. There was trauma, but the trauma was from it happening by a family member, and the situation also pushed me towards - not a weird connotation - I always think back if that didn't happen, what would be the outcome? …and, I think the outcome would still be the same. I had those feelings long before, because as a young boy growing up, and you always had that closeted feelings of… ‘What's it like to kiss a boy?’ I've never been with a woman in my entire life, and I've never had the physical attraction… but I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be with a guy 24/7, around me, touching me… ever since I can remember. It’s natural. Even when I’m around my female friends, and we’re all changing together… nothing happens… ‘I’ve seen those!’ But, if another guy is in the room, I’m like, ‘Hey…’”
On his coming out story...
“My coming out experience… It was in phases…. So, I lived with my grandmother, and, like I said, they were very religious… I was always told that there were certain ways that I was portraying myself, that came off as if I was gay. Throughout school or things like that, and back then, growing up in Mississippi, very close knit… I can remember my grandmother going to a parent-teacher conference, and she was told that I was being bullied because she believed I'm gay, and other kids think I'm gay. She was like, ‘He’s not gay…’ and she's like, ‘He is gay… trust me he's gay… the way he talks in class or his mannerisms…’ After that, I can remember my grandmother telling me, ‘Don’t break your wrist…’ or ‘Don't do this…’ She was just trying to break those things that made me feel so comfortable, just to try to make everybody else comfortable. I was uncomfortable living in my whole body… like literally I couldn't walk a certain way.
I had an instance to when I was coming out… I got in a little situation in school… me and a guy were exchanging messages back and forth and we got caught. I was asked if I was gay. And I denied it. I finally came forward, because it was already in the messages, of course. That was the first time that I ever said that I think I'm gay.
I have an aunt and I love her to death, to this day she's like my soul mate… I used to hang out with her all the time when she would come over. She lived in another part of the city and every time we would get together, I set out to go sit with her… we'd talk and chit chat… and she just now started telling me things that the family used to say to her to get her to tell them… Like, ‘What do you guys talk about when he's around you?’ or ‘What does he say? Is he opening up to you?’ She would always tell them, ‘I don't think that it's OK for me to talk to you about that…’ We've never talked about anything sexual, as far as like my preferences or anything like that, it is just normal talk… She always could tell that I felt so comfortable… that she's one of those aunts like… every gay guy loves a jazzy woman… we're talking about the early 90s /00s and she was like that girl… I loved to be around her… she used to wear catsuits and just that type of style…
She would always carry like Louis Vuitton and Gucci… So, I was like, ‘Oh, she's bad…’ but they were always like trying to figure out what we were talking about.
As far as like when I finally came out, it was in 2014. I finally live my life as a gay man around my family.”
Frustrations within our community…
“I worked for the Dallas resource center for a short period time, and I'll tell you the most frustrating thing to me is the discrimination within the community. I just found out a lot… I know for me, and a lot of other males, if you're not a certain status quo and there's so many different levels of… I call it levels of being a gay guy… like if you’re a white gay guy, you’re still a privileged white guy… or if you’re a black gay guy and if you’re not making a certain amount of money, you’re not with this clique… or even the stigma behind HIV positive guys or someone that's HIV positive but undetectable… and then you have those people that are struggling to get medication… I feel like no one's supporting no one… within anything… certain people only hang with certain people and it shouldn't be like that… because outside of being gay, we’re all still dealing with pressures… or things like being a black guy… but being gay on top of that… or an HIV positive person on top of that… there’s so much behind it.”
Favorite part about the community?
“My favorite thing about the community is when we do get together, it's almost like a party in the sky… like we're all hanging out… You meet different walks of life… especially at gay pride and everybody's cool, comfortable and even though we might be under the influence of alcohol… it's all a party.”
What is something you would tell a younger you? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“The advice I would give to my younger self is trust your inner feelings… always go with that first instinct with anything and within yourself… My first gut feeling is always the right answer regardless if it doesn’t turn out the way I want, I have to go with the first instinct…. because I'm gonna regret it anyway…
To others… do it because it makes you who you are. Everyone has to evolve and grow. See, I'm a risk taker now… so, regardless of if it's gonna hurt whoever it is it's your life, you need to just do it. If your mom says she's not going to help you take the risk… I mean literally she's going to come around… but take that chance because you’ll feel so at peace… you're killing yourself inside because you're hiding something that needs to come out. It's like a relationship with yourself and if you go 10 years without telling somebody about it… over time you start forgetting who you are… and when you finally do come out, you missed everything that you could have been.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I'm most proud of actually being gay. Honestly, I wouldn't change it for anything else in the world. I was so afraid of coming out, and in this day and age, I'm so thankful to people who have advocated for us to live freely being gay. It's the most beautiful thing…”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“The one thing I would change is the way people view our rights… that’s something that's not small. This is a major thing… treat it as if this was your husband or wife… like how you would feel? I remember when me and my ex bought a car together, and I was telling the salesman that my boyfriend was coming to buy a car with me, I heard the gentleman talking to his coworker telling him my ‘friend’ was coming to help me get the car.. and I was like, ‘No, I said my boyfriend is coming to help me get the car…’ Like why?! I don't want people to feel like they can’t be their true authentic self. I would change how the world views us as far as legal terms and pronouns… more acceptance!”