My confidence had grown, and I started messaging a few different men.
Before long these messages became phone calls, and several of those phone calls got pretty explicit. My sister has a couple of gay friends, so I thought she would be understanding - and I was right.
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But then came mum overhearing the phone calls. By the time this happened I was well on my way to saving enough money to move out. Her response devastated me. Though my mum and I were never that close, part of me hoped my coming out might bring down some of the walls between us.
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But the opposite happened - there were more barriers between us than ever before. We continued to live in the same house for several uncomfortable months. Mum acted like I had never told her I was gay.
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We barely spoke, except to make polite chit-chat. I knew I had to leave. He mentioned there was a spare room in the student house he was about to move into - and I jumped at the chance to take it. I ended up living with four students, three of whom were also gay.
For the first time, I felt like people really understood me. But feeling accepted as a black man in the wider gay community was a different matter for me. Black, gay men are underrepresented in the mainstream, and the impact of that is huge. It makes me feel really objectified.
'Growing up, it felt like I was too gay to be black and too black to be gay'
Not only is it racist, but it makes me feel like a piece of meat. Today, the friends I met online have become like a family to me. For the campaign, I made posters of me and another black man - a model - posing as a couple in love, urging men like us to get tested and treated.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. Even now, I still get messages on social media from young, black men telling me it helped persuade them go and get tested for STIs. When I ask them, they rarely have an answer for me - but I know what they mean. She accepts that she called me disgusting, and that she was shocked when I told her - but apparently she says that, with time, she's become OK with my sexuality. Listen live on Tuesday 20 November.
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Jamel on his experience as a gay, black man
It was a sad Mary J. Henson and Terrence Howard are. Those stories matter, too, but I want to see two same-gender-loving Black men have their own romantic comedy. I get that Hollywood is slow to recognize that white, straight men can enjoy movies that don't feature them and change can be hard, but the fact remains that, even in our collective struggles as LGBT people, some of us have it far better than others. By and large, Black queer men are portrayed in pop culture in terms of their pathologies, not their normalcies.
And yet we too fall in love, we have sex, we have courtships, and we pursue relationships. Opinion, Analysis, Essays Sponsored By.
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