“The Virtues of Communication” 

Guest Writer:  Ja’Won T. Blackmon 

     After pondering my experiences as part of the LGBTQ community, I’ve learned so many things about myself, and the friends and acquaintances whom I have crossed paths with along the way. The variety and multitude of issues, facts and opinions are always interesting to listen–and respond to, as well.

    Whether it be relationships, acceptance, families and friends, money, professionalism–or just our culture in general–it’s never a dull moment!  And, it  allows me to see things for what they truly are—albeit contradictory or brutally honest. Therefore, after introducing myself, I figured I’d explore a continuing hot-button issue in our community:  how we as LGBTQ individuals communicate with one another. 

    But first:  just who is Ja’Won T. Blackmon?  Born in Belle Glade, Florida, I’m a Polymath Renaissance Man.  You may ask, “Exactly what is that?”  It means that while I have a pretty substantial base of knowledge, I’m continuing to learn, and acquire other talents.  I’m also part of the Big Boi Community (bears/big boys of color–and those who have an affinity for them).

    I’ve had a number of careers, including IT.  Currently, I’m social media specialist and peer counselor for STAND (Standing To Achieve New Directions), Inc., a non-profit organization.  STAND provides comprehensive solutions and evidence-based interventions to underserved individuals dealing with HIV, mental health issues, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence and re-entry.   

     My passion is strongly rooted in helping people, particularly in the arenas of technology, teaching and mediating.  Twice, I discovered my talent for helping others. When I was a teacher’s aide in the eighth grade, I was given the opportunity to teach a sixth grade class for an entire year. The second time was when I saved a high school freshman from bullying, domestic violence and suicide.

     These experiences have given my life more meaning and purpose.  As a result, I felt that I wasn’t alone in this world with the conflicts that plagued it.  I realized that I, too, could make a difference.

     Now, let’s delve into how we communicate with one another–particularly in  dating and sex situations.  Do we consistently portray who we actually are?  Do we always openly and honestly convey what we’re really looking for and what we really want?     

     One’s true intention is a crucial component of open, honest and effective communication.  For example, have you ever had an exchange on a social media platform, and the individual says, “Hey,” “‘Sup,” or “Hi”; he follows up with vague and predictable questions regarding physical stats, along with arbitrary phrases (“Cool.” “Okay.”  “That’s what’s up!”)

     Then, he’s sometimes bold enough to take the “conversation” to the sexual realm with no type of substance or direction towards the actual motive.  Next, the conversation seems to “hit the corner of two main roads,” meaning that the conversation reaches a destination or point by avoiding the proper path of execution.  Picture it like this:  a driver can mess up the flow of traffic by purposely driving on the curve, causing bumps and damage to the vehicle, himself,  passenger(s), other drivers and pedestrians.

     Here’s another:  how about when someone tries to hide his true intentions, only to reveal those very intentions at the most annoying times?  What about the unwanted and unwarranted picture or video link that person sent that makes you question their existence?   What about those nude photos people post and send practically everywhere?  (Now, that can be quite risky:  do you know how folks will use them?)  And, what about the inexplicable dead air on a phone or video call?

     It’s my opinion that more than a few men need to seriously consider changing their behaviors. First and foremost, we need to be honest with ourselves before approaching and/or engaging with someone. Then, it’s imperative to be forthcoming and transparent.  There’s no need for hidden motives! (That’s for super villains.)  Besides, that’s such a waste of valuable time.

     In my humble opinion, the direct approach is always best. Say what you mean and mean what you say.  

     I find it quite interesting that one can work hard at communicating effectively on the job, but then struggle (or not) to put in the required effort when getting to know someone in social—and particularly intimate—situations.  Successful communication is absolutely crucial: be it in the work place, in familial and friendship relationships, in the process of getting to know one another romantically—or just for that booty call

     Here’s the bottom line:  we need to make our intentions crystal clear–and consistently.  If you’re hitting me up on a “dating” app, be clear whether you’re looking for a real date—or just sex. Remember the old adage, “Honesty is the best policy?”  Well, it actually is!  It cuts out confusion, and safeguards against hurt feelings.

     Open, honest and effective communication are sorely needed in our community. And, let’s not forget to include integrity and respect.  In other words, let’s get it right!

     And “back on point.”

     Until next time ….

Ja’Won T. Blackmon is arguably the quintessential “Polymath Renaissance Man.”  He’s had a number of diverse careers, including internet technology (IT).  Currently, Ja’Won is Social Media Specialist and Peer Counselor for STAND (Standing To Achieve New Directions), Inc., a non-profit organization.  STAND provides comprehensive solutions and evidence-based interventions to underserved individuals dealing with HIV, mental health issues, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence and re-entry.  Ja’Won is in the process of writing his first novel.  You may follow Ja’Won at his on line home, Jtbchronicles.wordpress.com, and on Facebook.