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email messageDear Neo,

My partner woke me up 4 o’clock this morning and told me I needed to look at your website. She is a nurse on the night shift in a pediatric unit and one of our friends sent her a link to something you wrote. I  spent the last 5 hours reading because I just had to know for sure if what my partner thought was true.  Neo, I have not seen you in over 12 years but I am soooo happy I have found you

I don’t know where to begin or even if this is too personal for you to put on your site. But I also know you are going to do what you want with this anyway so I am not worried.  There is so much I want to say to you. I have been wondering where you were or how you are doing. Right now I am shaking and even crying because I can’t believe I found you.

The most important thing I want to say to you is thank you. My partner and I are celebrating 10 years together and we recently had our friends over for a party and none of our gatherings have ever ended without someone asking if anybody has heard from you. Neo, you just don’t know all the people you have touched. And because I also know how much you have given up on your way to become Mr. Neo Blaqness I been feeling this need to reach out to you for a very long time so I hope this is really you.

We didn’t know each other well growing up but I knew about you. Everybody talked about this smart kid down the way who spoke like he didn’t belong in the neighborhood but you always seemed to have the answers when anybody needed you. I watched you in high school give your teachers fits. You had your own way of thinking.  I had my click that I hung out with and even though most of us thought you were odd, you had no problem sitting down with anybody. Black, white, rednecks, punk rockers and a lot of people we used to make fun of.  We used to call you the black Alex P. Keaton  behind your back because you were  about your business. I know some of the other names we called you probably hurt but you never showed it.  You were the most confident brotha I ever knew.

I was lucky my father left me some money when he passed away and I was able you go to college after we graduated.  That next fall everybody on campus was talking about this new freshman in a tie everyday carrying a briefcase who was giving the professors and the president hell about the way things were being run.  Boy you rained on everybody’s parade and got things so tightened up in the dorms that all the students hated you even though I’m sure all the parents loved you for it.  All I know is I stayed away from you because I didn’t want to be near the most hated man on campus.

But then you did something I will never forget.  I still laugh about that night with my friends. Your stupid butt challenged your room mate that if he could get enough people to sign a petition that you would let them change your image for a week and he got the whole campus to sign it including your professors and the administration.

I couldn’t believe that night when you got back on campus when you let them grab you and tie you to that chair and give you that MC Hammer haircut and glasses. They took all your clothes and ties and had you wearing sweats and pimping around campus and speaking  ebonics in all your classes AND YOU DID IT. Neo you did it and I didn’t understand why because to me you were too strong to ever let anybody change you. Over the years I came to understand that you did it for them. It wasn’t about you.

Because you showed that you were willing to walk in their shoes they were willing to walk in yours. After that week everything changed. They all came to you.  Your voice meant something. I remember when you won as a write in candidate for student body elections and you didn’t even know about it untill you got back to campus after work. And even after classes and work I would see you in the library or in a dorm helping somebody with their homework. That is the Neo I remember.

But the Neo that I love and will never ever forget is the Neo who came running to my dorm after I tried to kill myself.  Being gay back then was not as easy as it is today especially on a black campus.  My roommate walked in on me and another girl and put me on blast all over campus.  The only thing people knew about being gay back then was everybody being afraid of AIDS.

I remember when I got out of the hospital and came back to campus I was going to clean out my dorm and quit school. You were waiting for me at my door. I still can feel the hug you gave me and you cried with me and told me you wasn’t going to let me quit and you wouldn’t leave my room even after curfew until I promised you I would give school  a chance.

You came to my dorm every morning and you held my hand and you walked me to my classes. You dared anybody to laugh at me. I remember thinking to myself how skinny you were compared to some of the people you stared down and even I was taller and bigger than you but nobody, I mean, nobody, messed with me because they knew you were my protector. Even now I am wiping away tears because I never felt safer in my life, even to this day.

I didn’t know what it meant to be a lesbian.  I was still finding myself and I had lots of questions. And it wasn’t like you could just go and ask anybody back then and there wasn’t an internet either.  But I had you. Anything I wanted to know you went and got the answers. You asked the questions for me in our health sciences class that I didn’t have the courage to ask but nobody laughed when you asked.  You even drove me to my girlfriend’s house on weekends and answered their questions too and we made you an honorary lesbian. I still smile about the looks you got coming out of a house with six girls after an overnight party or the shirt we gave you for your birthday that said “Honorary Lesbian” on the front and “But I’m Straight” on the back that we had you wear for your protection when we dragged you out to the gay club.

Just like the haircut Neo, I didn’t understand why you let us do that to you. Because I knew from our conversations you had moral issues against gay people. You grew up religious and you told me you didn’t agree with me being gay.  But you never said a mean word to me or any of my friends.  I think we were all learning something along the way.

When I lost track of you after college and found out that you were a minister, I thought our friendship was over and that you had really given in to all that.  But then you turned the church upside down from the pulpit in the same way you did in college and they kicked you out. I came looking for you and nobody knew where you were.  A couple years later you came back strong as a writer in the community and it was funny to see how many churches wanted you to come speak. You were controversial then, but not even close to what you do now.

Neo, people might want to say you crazy but you been this deep the whole part of life I have known you. You always were the one to go head first into learning and then the first one to notice when something not quite right when everybody else wanted you to shut up. I’m glad you never shut up. I’m alive today because you never shut up.

But I know as well that the things you talk about go against everything we grew up being taught. There are people in my family still praying for me saying I’m going to hell for living in a lesbian partnership. When my partner and I adopted a baby a few years ago, I was hurt so bad by some of the things my own mother said about me. But then I thought about you.  The things said about you and the people in your life that I know meant a lot to you and how you had to choose between being who you are or living the way they wanted you to believe. Forgive me if I am getting a little too personal Neo but I had never seen a man more dedicated to teaching his children and even though the women who were in your life really was not ready to handle what they saw you becoming, your children will find the truth for themselves through the inheritance that all your writing really is. They just don’t know how lucky they are yet but they will. When they old enough to get away from their mammas and check you out for themselves they will understand more about life than any parent has ever showed their child because you don’t hold back and you don’t apologize. You show the raw and the real and they will never have to ask where they came from.

My main reason for writing you other than to say thank you is to let you know that when my partner and I adopted our baby, he was abandoned at the hospital she where she works by a mother who was on drugs.  Neo, we decided to give him your given name because everything you have meant to both of us.  We didn’t do it expecting you to be his father but (my partner) also knows you from our time in college and even though you did not really know her as well as you knew me, she knows what you always meant to me and when she saw that article and went to your website she truly believes you are the same person.

If it is you Neo and you decide to put this on your site, you know my favorite artist and you know the song I always say is our song. I love you more than words can say. I know how strong a man you are. But I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to be strong alone.

Signed

I hOPe Its U

 

RESPONSE

Speechless…

Here is your song…