Recently, I undertook writing a book. Being the person that I am, I set out to do a little research on some characters. I got to sit down and do an exclusive interview with a friend of mine, Tuan N’Gai.
So I took a moment to sit down with Tuan and get his take on non-heterosexual relationships, religion/spirituality, and the black community.
ME: Namaste, my brother.
ME: So, I wanted to ask you about your relationships. I want to talk about being a non-heterosexual black male.
TUAN: Okay. Ask away.
ME: In the book that I am writing, one of the main characters is out and the other isn’t in regards to their sexuality. Have you ever dated someone like that, who wasn’t completely comfortable with his sexuality? If so what was the relationship like? What problems did you encounter?
TUAN: Yes. Most church boys are “in the life, but not out”. For me it was not really a bad experience sexually, but socially and spiritually, it was frustrating. I didn’t like being referred to as “friend” when we were definitely more. Going to the movies and sitting 2 or more seats apart, not being able to sit on the same side of the table when we were out to dinner, not that I’m all about PDA, but if we’re a couple I think we should be able to act like it. Each one ultimately ended because I wasn’t able or willing to continue being the dirty little secret.
ME: For lack of better phrasing do you identify as top/bottom/vers? I hope this is not too personal.
TUAN: Vers/bottom. Bottom that loves to eat among other things (laughs)
ME: I am so excited for this book. I feel that it can be really good. It touches on different themes like spirituality, sexuality, minority views on sex/relationships/spirituality and non traditional relationships. For example, I know what its like to come out and deal as a bisexual woman and as a homosexual woman, but what was it like for you coming out?
TUAN: For me coming out was scary. I did it on my 30th birthday when I released my first book. Then I said it during an interview on national television.
ME: What was the “aftermath”? How did your family take it?
TUAN: For me, I became a black Christian LGBT leader. My family had to deal with a lot of questions and social feedback. I think people always knew, but didn’t say anything because my family is very prominent in my hometown. Once I came out, it gave everyone license to ask questions like “what are you gonna do? How do you feel about…? I don’t know how you could deal with…” Me and my parents didn’t talk for almost 2 years after that.
ME: Do you have any siblings? Any brothers?
TUAN: I have one sister with whom I was raised, and my biological father who didn’t bother has 2 sons, one older and one younger than me
ME: So what was your relationship like with your father (who raised you)?
TUAN: My stepfather taught me everything I know about being a strong black man. I love him dearly. He was very distant though, spoiled us with things, not affection. Me and my baby sister were treated the same. He wasn’t emotionally available for either of us
ME: Do you feel you were overly socialized to be or criticized for not being “traditionally” masculine enough?
TUAN: My dad was the first one to call me a sissy. When other little boys ridiculed me for being a little fem, it really didn’t hurt. They knew not to f**k with me. I have a whole lot of cousins and most are crazy.
ME: (laughs) What was that situation like with your dad?
TUAN: Well, I remember sitting it front of the television watching “American Bandstand” while my other cousins were outside playing football. He said, “Why don’t you go outside and play instead of laying up in the house like a sissy?” I didn’t know at that time what “sissy” was, but I knew because of his tone it wasn’t a good thing in his opinion
ME: Interesting! What were you’re reactions, thoughts, or feelings when you did find out about what it meant to be a sissy?
TUAN: When I found out what it was, I thought “that’s me” but I didn’t feel like anything was wrong with it until they (my parents) started showing me the bible verses that supposedly prohibit being homosexual. I just knew I liked playing with girls, but I LIKED little boys
ME: So did you “try/force” yourself to be heterosexual? Or did you just accept that you were different?
TUAN: I tried, but I always knew it wouldn’t work. I’ve been engaged to be married, truly love her, but we both knew I wouldn’t be able to fight who I am.
ME: What was that like to be engaged but knowing fundamentally it wasn’t being true to yourself?
TUAN: I have even had sex with women, but it was like work. At that time I felt I was doing “the right thing,” but I knew it would end horribly. She loved me enough to force me to be honest
ME: So, what are things like with your partner/boyfriend/etc now?
TUAN: We’ve had talks about our feelings. We still love each other deeply. He said he feels I’m on an extended business trip, but we aren’t “broken up.” We are both in the same boat, not dating anyone, missing one another.
ME: I understand. I kind of want to ask do you find your relationships to be different from heterosexual relationships (aside from the fact that its two guys and not a man and a woman). I mean on a fundamental level; I know it’s not different. But are there things that you find different in homosexual relationships?
TUAN: I think the men understand each other better, so the whole war about communication isn’t much of an issue.
ME: Have you noticed the same in female-female relationships? In terms of energy, does one person tend to dominate and the other less so? Is one person more masculine energy and the other more feminine energy?
TUAN: That all depends on the men. In my relationship, we were both all man as it were. We had to learn how to balance the power, how to be strong when the other was feeling weak, how to trust your partner not to take advantage when you are vulnerable.
ME: Do you feel that non-heterosexual men have more hesitation about being vulnerable than heterosexual men in relationships for fear of being taken advantage of?
TUAN: The ones who have suffered emotional and spiritually damaging relationships, yes. Most of the time, I think non-hetero men are more willing to be vulnerable than hetero because we tend to feel deeper.
ME: So being a spiritual leader, how do you combat people who say that it’s against Christian values to be non-heterosexual?
TUAN: I tell them that the term “Christian” means “follower of The Christ” and The Christ never said anything judgmental or other wise about homosexuals. They should follow suit. In fact, if Jesus were here today, he’d probably surround himself with marginalized people, including The “Geighs.”
ME: (Laughs) So, what about the references to the Old Testament scriptures in Leviticus and the New testament Scriptures in Timothy?
TUAN: Those scriptures are often prohibitions of temple prostitution and sexual religious rituals that were deemed idolatrous. Neither the Hebrew nor Greek had a term for “homosexual” at the time those books were written.
ME: So they are possible interjections of those translating the scriptures? Leviticus (if I am not mistaken) says that man shall not lie with a man that is an abomination.
TUAN: Yes, the transliteration of that scripture in Leviticus reads “man should not lie with a man in the bed of a woman, it’s an abomination.” In the Hebrew custom, women had separate beds. When it was their time of month, they were put outside the camp until they were considered clean again. Their clothes, bodies, even their beds were considered unclean, and men were not to touch them. Furthermore, in the New Testament, it says we are no longer under the law because Christ fulfilled it. If the law was “fulfilled: meaning completed” why are we still holding on to that one law?
ME: Touché, good friend, touché. In Timothy people say that a marriage “is defined as being between one man and one woman.”
TUAN: True, in biblical times, women were property not partners. Marriage was something totally different from what it is today. That rule doesn’t apply.
ME: How do you feel about marriage vs. civil unions?
TUAN: To me, it doesn’t matter, as long as I have equal rights, privileges and protections under the law, I’m cool.
ME: There are those who feel that marriage is a religious institution, and we should do away with the legalization of marriage and institute domestic partnerships/civil unions that aren’t based on sex. How would you respond to that?
TUAN: I’d be all for it, as long as every domestic partnership was seen as equal.
ME: If there was something that you could impart upon people about the reality of non-heterosexual relationships that dispels myths what would it be?
TUAN: I’d ask, “what do you think homos do that heteros don’t?” that usually gets them to thinking. The only difference in the two types of relationships is homos can’t physically procreate. Other than that, we are the same.
ME: (Laughs) If only humans were hermaphrodites….
TUAN: THANK YOU!!! (Laughs)
ME: How can people reach you or buy your books?
ME: Well thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with me. I appreciate the opportunity
TUAN: It was my pleasure.
Tuan N’Gai is a native of Wichita Falls, Texas. He was groomed from an early age to pursue excellence in ministry and community service. Tuan is the Founder of Tuan N’Gai Enterprises, and Co-Founder the Operation: REBIRTH movement and the author/publisher of the internationally acclaimed books, “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma” and “Little Brown Boy’s Blues.” He is also a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” As an author and publisher, Tuan has traveled extensively spreading the message of God’s all-inclusive love, and the need for equality and social justice. He has been a featured guest on television and radio talk shows across the country, and his writings have been featured in nationally known publications.
Among his many business ventures, he is regarded a leader in the fight for social justice and equality for all marginalized people. Tuan is noted for being a driving force in ending spiritual violence and homophobia perpetrated by mainstream religious organizations. He has organized successful demonstrations to bring an end to bullying, domestic violence and domestic abuse. He has also been instrumental in planning large conferences and festivals.
You can find his books at “Little Brown Boy’s Blues” and “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma” for Kindle © or see his website for hard copies.