Jan. 25, 2022

Taurean L Washington shares his experience about the intersection where gay meets racism

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Guest, Taurean L Washington and Maddox talk about the intersection where gay meets racism. Taurean shares some painful experiences and how he has learned to navigate racism in a healthy and respectful manner. Taurean’s warmth, friendliness, and playfulness shine throughout the episode. He examples beautiful authenticity.

Taurean is a sign language expert, an interpreter, and a dance instructor.

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Coach Maddox  0:03  
Taurean LaMarcus Washington is in the house. Welcome, Taurean, I am so excited to have you here today.

Taurean L Washington  0:11  
I'm excited to thank you for inviting me to Geek for asking me to join this your podcast, your dream or baby.

Coach Maddox  0:20  
And thank you for your for your willingness. So just to tell the audience a little bit about how we know each other, we've known each other for my little shy of a year, we met in a very large online gay community. And for me, there was just kind of I mean, we were in a group call, and I heard him speak. And I just immediately knew this was somebody that I wanted to know. So I don't remember which one of us reached out to which one initially, but one of us reached out and we at any rate, we connected on a zoom call, and we got acquainted, and since then, we've connected on many zoom calls. And it's, it's been, it's been really great. One of the things that I have noticed, as I reflect back on our conversations is that the conversation seemed to me to very quickly become an intimate conversation. I mean, we've talked about, you know, deep aspects of our life, you know, our internal world. And I'm wondering if you can share what what is it that you think, attributed to our connection, going deep and intimate the way that it did

Taurean L Washington  1:45  
talking to you before about how like, you have a very calming and soothing essence about she is like, like a moth to a flame. I think I said that last time I was called, it's like, it's just your voice is never overpowering. It's never, it's very clear diction, but it also has this very calming tone. And it's almost like you like he just kind of draw towards you. And it comes I think it comes from your many years of being a hairstylist where people come to kind of be your client, not just for hair but for you know totally but life stories going on with their lives and, and you listen, he any but she also have a very good inside of, of every every topic that we discuss, and you're always open to stuff that you don't know or you never, you're not afraid to say I don't know this or I don't know where this or like, or if you in iOS check yourself Xavi you say anything that you may or may not be like, I don't say appropriate but are you always quick to make sure that you're not offending anyone or that you're being very clear and respectful. So in our relationship, I can say it's been very just, it's been a very smooth relationship, it's been very open, very respectful, authentic, and it's been a very beautiful one as well. So very, very blessed to have met you in this program. So I'm very honored to be part of this. Like I said, your baby large enough, you know, hopefully more people will be more open to discuss their third and ourselves with the and this is a good growth growth thing for myself, because if I wouldn't have done this a couple years ago, so this is something I'm very proud to push myself to, you know, show my face and my my life story to people who may be in the same boat that that was years ago. So

Coach Maddox  3:37  
yes, I think you're right. I think it does take a lot of courage to do this. And I just want to acknowledge the courage that you're demonstrating and showing up today and allowing yourself to be seen and be heard and and in a vulnerable and authentic way. So my experience is very much the same. You know, when I when I first met you, you exude a warmth and a friendliness that is truly extraordinary. I mean, our world could use more people that show up with the gentleness and the kindness and the warmth. And the friendliness that you bring to the table I was drawn to you immediately you're very easy to talk to you two are very open. And you just have a lot of very fun energy about you. Sorry, my life. You have a lot of very fun energy about them. So tell me, Taryn. What does the authentic gay man mean to you?

Taurean L Washington  4:42  
As I said it once I say it again, it's to be unapologetically yourself and never and never be ashamed of who you are. You are born the way you are for a reason. And just own it. And in love it you are beautiful and intelligent and Brave gay men for even seeing the words I'm gay, out loud and not being ashamed of that. And every man has a journey airport, every person has to journey but for from, I don't want to I don't want to discriminate any one who made fitness different spectrum be lesbian be somewhere in between me but for gaming i I've noticed that it's it's it's not just saying the word is committing to it because it's it's honestly it's difficult but it's the world is not set up for gaming, we have to set up our own lives for ourselves and be confident in who we are. Because even nowadays, people even in 2021 People still ask me am I sure I'm gay? Am I sure I've not met the right woman yet I'm like, but that's not your business once and in two. I wouldn't say it if I didn't feel like I've made the I've I've really dug deep into myself to feel like to be proud and be happy and seeing the worst of who I am. And owning that. It's, it's, it feels so good. It's it's a beautiful thing to say I'm gay and and be proud of that. And be around like minded men like herself, who also had a journey to become who he is. And in, in gay man, we were fabulous. We were beautiful. We were pioneers in our not just our culture, but an entire world. When people I hear people say some kind of like a negative thing about gay people, I'm like, well, all those clothes humor, I'm more like urban design by gay men. A programming Watch has been created by gay men. And like, all the terminology that we use in our culture definitely has been used in popular society like shade. And, and, and, and flossin or worker or these all so that we have pretty much copyrighted copyright. And in our culture is now being popularized. Like, it's like, oh, it's cool to have, you know, the gay friend. But but then it was more like, oh, kind of like a cliche thing. I just find it so fascinating. And since we're, I don't want to go into a spoil, but you know, we're talking about cultural things. COVID cultural appropriation. So I just found it really fascinating.

Coach Maddox  7:19  
Well, yes. And that was really well said, you know, I want the listener to hear that, even though this man right here shows up with you can already tell an amazing amount of wisdom, I just want to stress, you know, he is an everyday man, just like you and me. You know, one of the things I've said is this podcast is not necessarily about experts, and, and celebrities, it's about everyday people that you can relate to as the listener. And this man shows up with a lot of wisdom and worth listening to. So just to give you a little bit of overview, and I meant to do this, you know, when I first introduced you, but I want the the listeners to know that, you know, in your in your everyday life, you are an interpreter and a translator, you teach both. You teach dance on the side for fun, you have a very active life. And you're pursuing some pretty incredible passions and some dreams. And I love I love that about you. So let's kind of delve into a little bit more of what you kind of gave a little hint about that. And I want to ask you if the audience doesn't know because this is on audio. Torian is an African American man. And so I asked him to come on the podcast and talk about his experience, and his wisdom and his knowledge D all of the above on the the the intersection where gay and racism meet. And so that's that's the only thing none of this is pre rehearse. That's the only thing we talked about. I said, Would you be interested in talking about this? He said, Absolutely. And so here we are. And so I'm just gonna turn it over to you now. And and and then we'll it'll just, you know, it'll just unfold. But what would you like to say about that intersection?

Taurean L Washington  9:27  
It's gonna be interesting, because I identify as African American, I'm very proud of my African American roots come from a very proud African American family. But I also am both part of the African American community and the latin community. I was bicultural, the group grew up and I couldn't imagine my life without both cultures. So I definitely come from both perspectives of that in the gateworld. Because there's, it's a very interesting, it's a very distant dynamic. Because automatically, I mean, the fact that I'm black and I'm a dark skinned black man, there's our To just automatically a sexual innuendo that comes from me being a black man, and being gay, and, and either I'm clearly gay or I'm not gay enough, and it's never as perfected because there's a stereotype of how black man is was portrayed themselves that I have to be like a stereotypical urban character they see in a TV show or a movie, and or music and, and even though I still part of who I am and my culture and my family, I have always been more of a I've always been my own person. And for years, I definitely didn't understand why I was like that. I just I just I thought because I just didn't fit in. And no matter how much I tried and like begged and prayed and always the wide and people didn't see me for who I was because I didn't see me for who I was, I was too busy trying to conform to people's beliefs or what they thought I should be, but I never, it was like trying. I guess trying to walk backwards wouldn't know what is behind your head and just constantly bumping into something. And it's in coming from a very strong African American family. My brother definitely was like the spokesperson of how black man is supposed to pray and portray himself. And those times the word gay to me was like, men who kidnapped little boys and take him to this island and molest them. That's what I thought that was because that's what I heard as well we're here in the church I come from a very strong Christian Pentecostal family background and on top of being African American and in Latin community so all that digital religion cultural, and to and he's coasters have a very, very, I don't say negative, no, but I'll go ahead and say negative aspects of what it is to be a gay or homosexual. I heard that word burned into my ears as a child until my into my 30s I still like the word homosexual, it's like, it's it's in a setting such as a kind of a foul like, it's a like it's a disease like we because we choose to be this way to mandatory derogatory, like we choose to be this way to beat spiteful and to be to challenge people and go against the norm. When I'm like, This is me, Be myself on apologetically and I'm not going to say that I say there's more than one, I'm not going to be less because you bless to make you feel comfortable. I'm not going to make myself uncomfortable to make you uncomfortable. And some of you have to bite so I'm not to be happy, either. We sometimes we just had to compromise for people. This is just to avoid confrontation. I mean, I mean, I'm am I going to be like, you know, holding my partner or walking away, or making out my partner in public in certain, like a church or something like probably not, but is also is also not a shame that I used to carry around that. Oh, no, because I've definitely have made the steps that come out to my entire family, which is something I never imagined doing. Even five years ago, when I was still in the military, I can You can tell him I I've always told my mother and my older brother, but and that was hard enough as it is and they definitely didn't accept it. They they heard it, but they wouldn't accept it. They there's like one day I'm going to change and I let their negative mentality affect me in my personal life. But when I just literally just say you know what, fuck this I'm gonna live my life and be who I am and not apologize when I came up, take my power back and just said to my entire family, I can they can no longer hold that against me or hold that above me because it's not a secret anymore since everybody else knows

Coach Maddox  13:53  
now. I love what you just said about take your power back I love the way you language that take your power back because that is something that we all need to do on some level. Every last one of us it's so easy to not even realize that you're giving your power away and I love that you stated that the way you did. So tell me a little bit about your journey in the gay community as an African American man in the gay community have you experienced racism among among gays?

Taurean L Washington  14:38  
Definitely see, for me the word racism is a very specific particular word and I grew up like I grew up in a very multicultural community where me being a dark skinned black men in that area was bad in their eyes and I got called every word from the inward to there's a word that we use in Spanish and Mexican dialect. It's called my dad, my Maya my Yachi. And definitely heard that a lot or chango, which means monkey I definitely was called that a lot. as a, as an adult and kid. Yeah. Because it's something about this that really, really, um, makes some people uncomfortable at first. And the fact that I don't necessarily exude the stereotypical aspects of what I what people assume a black man is supposed to talk or act or walk. It's, it's like, kind of like, people don't know how to place that. But I think the first time I ever felt any kind of gay racism or I call it ignorance, it definitely on the dating sites, or oh, it first came out, it first came out like I'm supposed to dress a certain way because I'm gay, but I'm also in black. But I'm also you know, I'm still absolutely so one guy like I do I have to wear you know, stereotypical, like sequins or do I have to wear you know, super tight jeans. I don't I was born. I always said my mother always told me this way back when people were built differently. I wish I could wear skinny jeans, I could even pray to get into skinny jeans and I'm a runner. So like, like my legs literally bust out lightly. As a dancer. I am known for ripping the seams, the mid spring and my pants all the time. godson was still in the crotch of my jeans. And I wish I wish I were joking. But I am. I definitely inherited my mother's body type as like, you know, my mother is very voluptuous woman as she is juicy woman. Very moving, my family are very, very curvy. And I definitely heard that in my in my in my lower body. So, you know, go up also, you know, and not I did go through a whole like, you know, body image and weight gain. And my preteen age. So definitely is something that I had to struggle with. But back to back to racism in the gay community. Yes, I definitely see that. And I definitely have to say I see it. In other cultures, too, especially when it comes to I have a lot of Asian friends and one of my best friends growing up in my my gate, my gay years is Filipino and I swear it's just like, it's just a fetish for people for guys to see him at a club like oh, it's like, it's like their prize. And I wish I can deny this when I go to a club. I'm gonna since I am a dancer. I try to hold that back a little bit. Because there have been times many times where I have been groped, grabbed, grabbed by multiple person multiple times. Because he thinks just because I'm a dancer, he can just grab me whenever he wants to. And Tari now would have been like, No, sir. But me being a little more passive losers, my early my early years, I tolerate this treatment. And I think it was more of a price thing. Oh, I got this chocolate dancer here. And I mean, I mean, let me let me we'll come on to that. I'm like, No, you're not wooing me. But you definitely made me feel very uncomfortable and creepy. But it's, it is it is harder for someone of my culture, my skin tone my skin tone, to be proud because it's something that that in this night, just in the gay culture, but in society that darker you are the more it's like a stigma. Like, like, the people who seem just because I'm dark skinned that my family comes from Africa. And they do like my Masters would do. But my family's been in this country for two to 300 years. And I can trace back my ancestors to my my my great, great grandparents because we keep that very, I've definitely sit down with my grandmothers and great grandmother's in disgust our family history. And I wrote it down ask questions because I was fascinated and curious about where we come from. And so I know that part of me, but I also have a lot of other

heritage from Europe from my mother's family's Native American. My father family's French and German. But that doesn't that does. That's something I'd like to clarify. But just because what you see here is there's more to what you just see there just from African culture is so African American culture is so broad and so diverse and independent where you're from an accent tree can be completed. There's so many different aspects and just like heritage, it's just so beautiful. I am very proud of my upbringing and my culture. It's, I'm very blessed to be able to have that grown up to be part of a very proud African American family, my great My grandmother is my, my Road Dog, my, she is like, she is such a loser. Of proud blackness. And, and she and she people Her name is Marjorie, Washington, and people just people just flock to her. She's such a, she is the matriarch of our family, she is the backbone of our family. And I just I'm so proud of being related to someone who's just this little four foot 10 woman, that as a child, I was petrified of because she just, she just loses like, just like, confidence is like, just strong, and like she will break your neck. If you try her. Now you believe that I believe that. And but I need it, I'm glad I had that very, very solid image of what it is to be a proud, strong black woman. And I say that for both my grandmother and my aunt and my mother, definitely show me the survival aspects of what it is to be a proud black woman. Which helped me it's helped me and I'm so blessed to have had that upbringing. So when I came into my own as a gay black man that I have the strong not just.

Coach Maddox  22:31  
I'd like to hear a little bit more about your personal experience with racism, the times that you have been in some way, discriminated against or and how, how that was for you what that brought up for you what it felt like the long range effects of that. Yeah,

Taurean L Washington  22:53  
I grew up in South Texas. I in my family, we moved in, we lived in the Latin area, and we're the only black family in the neighborhood more than likely so. And I remember this in detail was in the fourth grade. And, you know, I knew I was black and I was in there were, I was the only one of my people really in the school. I remember this, I was sitting at lunch. And it's when we all have to sit in the same classroom and the class like table section in lunch. And I was what my last name is Washington. So I'm always at the very end of the line. And I never forget this. I there was only one sheet left. And I went to go sit at a table and I never forget who it was. It was Jerry. He looked at me he's like, no black people sit at this table. And didn't know what shame was. But I felt so much shame that all I did was literally take my food set at the very end of the cafeteria by myself and just bald. And it's one of the thing is no, no adults came and asked why I was doing that. I was and I didn't feel like I had a voice. I can't even tell my parents for my family. Because I was shamed embarrassed of that. And I say black people but I'm pretty sure he said that. I'm pretty sure he did. And some of my classmates said something to him, but no one I want to say I think someone came and said with me. But other than that it was a continuation. Jerry Mothra God I will never I will never forget this guy because I practically grew up with him from elementary school to middle to middle school and for some reason he just never liked me. And and so you always say you know, medium black even and I just took it but he had a physical. He had a very close Is this not disability, but a deformity deformity, that he had like a cleft lip and cleft nose, and he is very, very clear. He kind of talks above his lyrics. So he had a very easily voice to if I would, if I knew at that age I ever I ever mentioned that to him that I will be in trouble and not him. So I felt, I felt alone and isolated. And I really feel like I could, because I feel like I've been weakened either to complain about it. So I just took it, but I also was a very sensitive kid. And that is that was the first memory I can think of when I literally felt like my skin color. And my race was a problem. Because I was no different from the people who grew up around this. Because fortunately, I did go to a very, I went to African American church and I have a very American American family. So I did have that. But majority of time I was at school, in a multi voltage bilingual Latino school. And I was my brother and I were the only black kids at the school. So it was definitely a lot of discrimination I felt from the cultural day folk I should have been more identified with but no, definitely ended. At that age. I definitely learned, you know, I'm part of this community, I'm still out of it. And I just not something I really learned how to balance until my literally in my late 20s, early 30s. Because

Coach Maddox  26:31  
that's shame that you mentioned when he told you you couldn't sit at the table. What? What effect? What long range effect did that have on you?

Taurean L Washington  26:44  
There was a fear of being ugly and discriminated and having to have someone who looked like me that there's something wrong with me. And, and the fact that I feel like I couldn't talk to anyone about it definitely started a whole, like, spill over, you know, for many years that definitely have taken many years to get over. And it's still it's still there, you know, the voices in that in that feeling is still there. But know how to take your power, like we said,

Coach Maddox  27:12  
you know, I think it's important to identify that, that experience when he told you what he told you, you apply the meaning to that. You know that you were were rad, you were ugly? What else did you say?

Taurean L Washington  27:31  
Worthless? Disgusting. Yeah, alone alone.

Coach Maddox  27:35  
And so it's important to call out here. And what the listeners to really get this is, when we have an experience like that any kind of experience that kind of trauma traumatize us a little bit we often will, in our head, make that mean something about us? Yeah. And then we carry that meaning throughout our lives, especially if it's something that happened to us as a child, we will carry that meaning with us throughout our lives unless we do the necessary work, to go back and realize we've applied to me, because when you can go back and do the work and realize that you have applied to meaning. I'll be it unconscious at the time. Now you're conscious of it. And now in that being conscious of it, if you applied of meaning, you can apply a meeting or reapply a new meaning. Make sense? Oh, yeah, I heard a very powerful part of our work comes in. And it's not so much about you know, therapy tends to focus on the experience. And and if it was truly traumatizing, then trauma, recovery is a necessary thing. But oftentimes, it's something where it's less about the experience itself. It's much more about the meaning that we applied to the experience. Does that make sense? So your your road moving forward would be to work with that meaning applied, that's where you're, you talked about taking your power back. That's one of the ways right there that you can further take back your power. And that is to look at that meaning that you applied all those years ago, see if that meaning is still in place, it's still being the driver in your life. It's the it's still got a hold of the steering wheel. In other words, and you are at a point where you can rewrite the script of the script, you can rewrite the script.

Taurean L Washington  29:42  
It'd be a fabulous script to Yes.

Coach Maddox  29:45  
And when you do that, when you rewrite if you were gonna view we're going to rewrite that script in a sentence or two right now that the script was I'm ugly, I'm meaningless. I'm worthless. I'm bad. If you were going to rewrite the script in a manner that would free you from that shame, and would empower you would help that would enable you to step back into your power. What would that be? What would that new scripts be in just a sentence or two?

Taurean L Washington  30:19  
Well, actually, there's a practice I do every night before I go to bed. And before I say my prayers, I always pray before I go to bed. I look in the mirror, and I can I give myself praise for it. If I want to say anything about myself, it'd be positive words. So I was myself married to myself. I'm a beautiful, amazing, strong man who will accomplish and do great things in this world who continues I am a great son, brother, uncle, teacher, educator. And I'm amazing. And don't ever forget that. And I always tell myself, I love myself. And I love myself more now and I ever had, because I did not I say those words, because for many years, I didn't believe that. That was even my deal that I was beautiful, smart, intelligent, amazing. And I definitely encourage myself, because if you can't love yourself, how to cope RuPaul to be really gay, like how you gonna love yourself or anyone else? You can't love yourself first. And definitely, that's something that I live by now. When people ask me how my day How am I doing today, I'm like, I'm doing excellent, I'm doing wonderful. Particular beautiful, is one thing that feel that really that happened myself to them. Because I always believe in paying it forward. If you want to, if you want to receive goodness, you get goodness out to people, because that will motivate other people to be better to others. In my opinion, in my in my in my

Coach Maddox  31:44  
those things that you say to yourself before you go to bed every night. That is certainly the way I experience you.

Taurean L Washington  31:54  
Live by your own truth, and I actually I am not perfect, I am not perfect. But I'm anybody who anybody who knows me, like really, really, really well and knows that I am far from perfect, but I really as an as an adult male, I have. I definitely put the work in when it comes to bettering yourself. Personally, not so much to others, but for me, because you have to, and really dig deep down. Oh, what makes Tyrion Tyrion, in the whole 36 years of me and my existence was gotten me to here. I'm very thankful for my upbringing. And, and, and but also, you know, the children I've been in therapy for almost eight years, I have a fabulous therapist. And, and I've been we have cried and laughed and joked and, and I'm so blessed to have that I was just gonna put this woman in my life. Because she has definitely been just a pure blessing of me. Loving myself, love myself for my authentic authenticity, Sega look at the word and behind you authentic, being authentic.

Coach Maddox  33:06  
So let's fast forward a little bit to present time now. Because we're talking about some experiences that you had as a child when you experienced racism. Now, as a gay man, an adult? What's it like now or what happens now when you come in contact with somebody that is being less than accepting or less than respectful? I'm sure now it comes in a lot more subtle, more subtle forms than it did from the lunchroom table when you were in elementary school. But talk about that a little bit. What's it like now and how do you navigate it now differently than you navigated it then?

Taurean L Washington  33:51  
I'm just very clear I appreciated the pain now especially now than ever that the word racism does get thrown out more than it used to. Oh no no usually used to but it has a different meaning as a very different meaning. I hear okay, my battery My battery is so good. I don't want my battery to go up while we're talking. Racism is is still exists in this country. It still is still very prevalent, but when I hear people say it, it's kind of like, I'm not racist, but or I have pain bla bla bla bla, but I'm not trying to be racist. I'm like no one. No one's saying you are but you're clarifying that you're not for some reason. I'm very quick to call someone out for a very off colored and someone like me who's part of many cultures from from African American culture to Latin culture to the deaf community. I definitely am very quick to call people out on their BS about it. It's and people don't like to be singled out. People don't like to be outside of the loop or or be the the person on the other person that people look sideways like, Oh, you think that way? Oh, okay. And in this very sensitive time that we live in NotCot people are very sensitive about being called out on certain things. I'm not I am I rather you take me as being honest and truthful when being fake and phony? And if you make it all colored comment about oh, yeah, especially, especially especially, okay, I think I call someone out couple weeks ago, because of my day job. I work at a paint store. And I definitely deal with a lot of painters who have a lot of Latin workers that work with them. And they have they say, a lot of very racist or very ignorant comments about them when they're not around. And I'll be the first one to say, say, so you're talking to a black man, but I'm not I'm not part of the black community and the Mexican community. So when you say them and things like that is disrespectful, and it's ugly. So don't say that. Oh, no, I didn't mean that. But it's like, no, no, no, no, you don't eat respect the people who work for you. But they don't have to. They see what you what you pay them. So. And not everybody is Mexican. They all come from different countries. And it's not just one. So please be aware of what you're saying who you're talking about and learn and maybe learn their language. Before you say something about this, it's ignorant is bliss. But you know what? People are so, so comfortable in their own, like, mess that they don't want to clean it up. So so. But I always try to put it out there in front. When somebody says something off colored racist, I will call him out right off the bat. And it's something that definitely had to grow into. With my experience, if I had my experience, I wouldn't know how to use my words to effectively it used to be to say know me about gay and house racism to

Coach Maddox  36:59  
do you feel like most of the time that's well received.

Taurean L Washington  37:04  
When I go off there, I don't I Okay. Okay, I made sure I freed myself correctly to my I

Coach Maddox  37:12  
guess I'm saying Do they get it when you call them out? Do they? Do they get it? Or are they just rude or blow you off? Or look, their eyes?

Taurean L Washington  37:19  
Hope maybe they are in a cookie bouquet show one thing is still be one way inside? Yes, people are very, very much a dimension on that aspect. They may have this facade. But then next week, they say something like that, again, to repeat your habits and I know

Coach Maddox  37:36  
habits do die car. They do.

Taurean L Washington  37:39  
Yeah, I'm gonna try my laps and check my laptop. I feel like it's gonna shut off. And I don't want that. In case I hate for flute power again. Okay.

Coach Maddox  37:56  
So I have been in a couple of different organizations, men's organizations, one of them, mostly straight men, but some mix. And then another one, the one that you and I met, that was all gaming. And I've noticed that it's quite common in these groups for men to call each other brother. And I have I haven't been I haven't seen this, as I recall, like in real life, but I've seen it depicted in movies, films, where, you know, a white man will refer to a black man, his brother, and the, the black man will react to that, like, you're not my brother. And so I want to hear your experience with that when when you're in these groups, where men in general are referring to each other as Brother, how does that land for you when someone else calls you brother.

Taurean L Washington  38:57  
I love that. I do love and for me, I you're talking to the perfect person to say that to you because I am someone who grew up very multicultural. So so so I when I see people, I just me as the equal but that's a term that's lineage. This is like, we're the same we're brothers, you may not be blood brothers, but brothers in spirit. And that means a beautiful thing. Because like I say, when it comes to certain terms that use now they loosely I rather someone call me that brother than something else. Exactly. And it's just, it's, it is it is it's it's two minds or two beings coming together in unity. And that's actually in Spanish as something that we use a lot that Amman not at Amano, which means brother, and, and it's it's like it's something that's a term that we generally say to each other to like, Hey, we're two beings coming together. And we're creating it's showing the love between two men.

Coach Maddox  39:58  
I feel the same way. do you do about it? I think it's a beautiful equalizing way of expressing. But after I saw those depictions in the movies, I've been a little bit reluctant to say that to an African American man, because I don't, I don't want that to feel offensive or, and I was unclear. So thank you for clarifying course, I know that's going to be different for every single person, that's the way you see it. But I do think that that is something that we need to be mindful of, we need to be liable. For some, for some men that might not work, you know, called brother, because I know that it's, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, in the African American culture, brother is, is a term that's used among black men. It's in so that's why I think it could be offensive sometimes when when a white man says it, it's like, no, you're you're not my, my brother. So I have been thoughtful and, and, and conscious about that. In fact, I think before I would call a black man, my brother, I would ask permission,

Taurean L Washington  41:08  
and I think is unnecessary offensive, but people will get offended. People will get and you can control peoples of how they take how they take you. You can get people flowers and and give them love, make them a big dinner, but they may still see you as somebody who's beneath them and somebody did that did not have time for and like I said my upbringing grown up very multicultural, I definitely see things a little bit differently from that. So I'm more I'm less likely to get offended by that. My thing is I don't want my laptop. Okay, good. Now, sorry, I didn't buy my laptop keeps saying that. So we're getting out. Sorry about that. But yes, as someone who is very, very multicultural, and a part of so many communities. It's just something that's it's a beautiful thing, when especially when men are not afraid to show love for each other, you noticed. So it's like respect a no, because we're not taught as men to be vulnerable and to be affectionate and emotional. And, and when I see a man not afraid to do that, I find that just beautiful. So

Coach Maddox  42:19  
I agree greatly. So tarean If you were going to share words of wisdom something that you think maybe I'm talking about, you know, because this is all about gay men. So if you could share with with gay men, particularly gay men that are not of color, how they might raise their awareness a little bit about this issue, the intersection of of gay and racism, what words of wisdom would you share that might help them understand how they can show up a little more authentically and a little more openly? And a little more respectfully.

Taurean L Washington  43:13  
I would just say those who are not part of the race or their culture is just to listen and humbled open mind and upper understanding because

Coach Maddox  43:22  

Taurean L Washington  43:24  
just funny really funny. Just like in the game how our like, our culture is like broadcast to be like this like this like ideal, bro like, way of living life, you know, with shows like RuPaul drag race in the black community was never rap videos and, and music, culture and movies. They show us as being this one dimension in our culture is so beautiful and so vast, this to listen to someone's authentic truth of where they come from. And don't expect someone to act that way. Just because as as when I grew up as a kid, I was like, You don't talk like a black dude. I'm like, What am I supposed to talk? Like? Appreciate it. I'll get that is not as much now. But let's say when I was in the military, I was gonna tell you don't sound black. I'm like, then what am I supposed to sound like then? I'm Americans. That's actually

Coach Maddox  44:13  
a very racist comment. Yes. You know, you know, being fully transparent. I was. This has been 20 years ago. But I was on my first date with an African American man. And he was college educated, very articulate. And on our first date, I thought I was passing a compliment. I'm, I look back now and I'm horrified at the thought of this. But I said, you know, you're, you're the whitest black man I've ever met. And he didn't say anything. You know, and we went out on a second date and on the second day, I said, I think maybe I said something racist last on our first date. He said you did it And I said, Why didn't you say something? And he said, well, because I could already tell your heart. And I knew that you didn't mean it the way it came out. And I said, No, I didn't. But I said, please. I mean, don't don't let that go. Don't I mean, I know it's not your responsibility. But don't don't let me. I mean, because if you don't say something, I'm just gonna do it again. You know, I mean, there's a certain level of ignorance going on here. And, you know, I've been I've been thinking about this. This particular topic in the week now leading up to us recording this today. And in thinking about my part, and racism, and how I've experienced in what came to me, I get all these intuitive type messages and what came to me on one of my morning walks, and I would love to know, your thoughts on this is there is for many, many of us, I mean, there are people out there that are racist, and they're intentionally racist. Their hearts are filled with hate, and fear, and they're intentionally racist. But then there's those of us and I have certainly fallen into this category. At times, my heart would never intend to be racist, racist, but I have a lifetime of programming. I grew up here in the south, in a rural community in Central Texas. I grew up working in a family business, and there was a man in my father's employment to that to date. I have never ever met anyone as racist as he was. And I was exposed to him for a number of years. During my formative years, my dad bought this business when I was 11 years old, and this guy worked for us until I was 20 I was exposed to, and he spewed it all the time. He spewed it all the time. And so it's not my heart that's racist. It's this habitual programming that I received. And I didn't get any say in that. You know, and so I have, there was a time when I would have said, Well, I'm not a racist. I know better than that. Now. Bullshit. Anybody that says I'm not a racist, they just are ignorant. You know, if you have ever heard of or seen the it was a Broadway than it did off Broadway was a musical called Avenue Q. Oh, yeah. But phenomenal. You know, it's it's a mixture of human actors and puppets. But one of the songs in that musical is, every one is a little racist. And the first time I heard that song, tears streamed out my face. Because in that moment, I realized I had been saying, I'm not a racist, but the truth was, was, that's, that's not true. I've been programmed with all kinds of shitty stuff that I don't like, and I'll do all I can to purge that and release it, let go of it. But it's a process when you how do you let go of something you don't even know that you have? So sometimes it rears its ugly head and I have to go, oh, oh, oh, Lord, there's some of that childhood programming. And I have to step back and, and have a little conversation with myself and say, there it is. Now you see it, can you let it go? But I think that we have to start off with you know, it's like, Alcoholics Anonymous. Hello, my name is Maddox. And I'm an alcoholic. Now, I'm not that I'm using that as an example.

But we all need to be able to start off sitting in a circle where we say, you know, my name is Maddox, and I'm a racist. Because we can't heal something that we don't know is winded. Exactly. We can't I hope I'm making sense and

Taurean L Washington  49:30  
you're making total sense he can from his perspective, too.

Coach Maddox  49:33  
And please add to this in any way you can because you know, you're you're seeing it from a different vantage point than I am and I so much want to see it from your vantage point. I try my best to put myself in the shoes of the people that I come in contact with and certainly the people that I care about, and you are one of those people

Taurean L Washington  49:59  
I We I mean, my whole life I have lived I say this all the time I my life journey is understand different cultures and different communities and respect that. But I always like to say that I have never said, a racist or an ignorant or discriminative comment towards either any race religion, I went to a Jewish synagogue for the first time in my life last night. And I was very much like, I want to make sure I don't say something that's disrespectful to this community, this beautiful community with so much history and so much. But it was such a welcoming situation for me. But still, I also am very aware that I am not perfect. And growing up in an African community, there are a lot of off colored and racist things are said about other cultures outside of the African American there is and I remember

Coach Maddox  50:54  
racism is a two way street. It is and we don't often really acknowledge that just hurt people hurt people. Yes, hurt people hurt people. You know, I've got a great story, I want to share a very funny story, actually, because it wasn't a it wasn't an ugly or hurtful thing. But when I was probably maybe 20 Oh, let's see 22 or three years old. My parents had a Jewish woman working in their employment. She was an office worker worked alongside my mom. And she was right about my age, and we became friends. And one year at Thanksgiving, she invited me to go and spend Thanksgiving with her family and I accepted the offer the opportunity. And when we had this lovely Thanksgiving meal, and after the meal, we were all going to play games, they had pulled out all these board games and and we were just going to spend the afternoon laughing and playing games. And we were playing this game called boggle. I think Baba was the name of it, it was a word game. And there would be all these letters down in the on the table and you had to string letters together, you had to find words, you couldn't touch the letters, but you had to find letters that were touching each other and form words and the person that each round formed, like the most words, they won that round. And so it's my turn, you know, when you were identifying the words that you had seen on the table. And I said to JW Well, I know I'm sitting in a whole, you know, family full of Jewish people, I say Jew JW and they go, oh, you can't use proper nouns. And I said, Oh, I'm not using it as a noun. I'm using it as a verb. You know, like when you do somebody down on their price? Oh, yeah. Okay. Okay. You have never seen an entire family converge on one person, the way they converge on me. Now, I was like, no, no, wait, wait, hold on, wait a minute. I mean, they were not ugly, but they were on me. You know, they were on me. And for the first time, I realized that that word is I was using it was, was connected to the Jewish culture. I had grown up hearing that term. There's a lot of words in the English language that mean multiple things. You know, a nun wears a habit. But we also make habits. You you read the newspaper, but you weave in the past tense, it's red, which is a color spelled differently. There's a lot of stuff in the English language. So in my innocence, and I had no idea that the word as it was used during somebody down in their price was a derogatory thing about you people had no Jewish people, I had no idea. And of course, as soon as they pointed that out to me, I was absolutely mortified. I begged for forgiveness. And course we all had an insanely funny laugh about it. As soon as it was cleared up. We all laughed raucously and we, we moved on. But this is a perfect example of how racism is inside of us in ways that we don't even know. You know, when I was growing up, we were all taught a little rhyme called any meenie miney moe. And I don't need to tell you how that second sentence. Oh, yeah. And this was just something that as a child, you didn't know there was anything wrong or derogatory about that? Because, you know, I was, you know, it was later in life. I mean, in the south, there was another name for Brazil nuts. It was a very derogatory term. But as a child, I didn't know that. It was later in life when somebody pointed out to me that that was a derogatory term because I had no way of knowing that. And so it's just programmed into us the way toxic Max masculinity is programmed into men. It's programmed into us the way so many stereotypical expectations are programmed into us as gay people. In an every community, it doesn't matter which community we have things we have to overcome, don't we.

Taurean L Washington  55:41  
And it's a process. It's a journey. And it's a process. It's a marathon, it's not a race.

Coach Maddox  55:47  
It's a it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. And we have to be willing to put our sneakers on and get into the marathon, we have to be willing to face that stuff and make the necessary changes. You know, there isn't anything inherently wrong with saying a racist comment when you didn't know any better. It's in it's inherently wrong if you continue saying it. Cuz you're rabbits. Yes. You know, we were put down here with freewill. Yes, it's up to us. You know, and I am on I'm in the side of the camp, that I no longer believe that racism is like, and I'll speak about racism against African American people, I will, will, I no longer believe that that's African American people's problem. Racism is is all of our problem. And

Taurean L Washington  56:53  
it's, I mean,

Coach Maddox  56:56  
God knows black people are doing everything they can. Change is going to be because we as white people step up. And we do our part to end racism, it is our problem, too. We are all human beings, we are all human beings. When you when we are happy, we laugh. When we are sad, we cry. When you cut us we bleed. And that Blood is red, it doesn't matter what color your skin is, or what language you're speaking or what country you're from, or what religion you, you practice or believe in, we are all human beings. And, and I'm wondering when we're going to actually start acting like that.

Taurean L Washington  57:44  
We have announced a couple of years, people have definitely been more willing to change or enter and talk about these topics, you know, openly and freely. There'll be a lot of people who may not agree that it's not a black topic in there, and still, no my people. And we're not done talking. And it there's, it's engraved in us from our chat from our childhood and our culture. This also we've gone through, even though even kids who'd never seen racism in their lives don't really have never seen it. They they're taught and what happened to their family or their their ancestry. So it's it's innate in our and it's kind of in our blood, but not necessarily in our blood was kind of in there. So

Coach Maddox  58:29  
I gave it. It is. You know, I think this is a conversation that doesn't happen in our gay community very often. I'm very rarely in a gay social setting where race and racism gets brought up. And it's a conversation we need to be having. I'm not saying every conversation needs to be this. But it's a conversation that we need to be having. So I feel so blessed that you were willing to come on the podcast today. And bring this conversation to light for all of our listeners no matter what background they come from. Because this is a this is a human topic. This This isn't. This This topic is is not specific to any race, it's a human topic, and we need to have it

Taurean L Washington  59:16  
the most part thing to say, it's more important to say that it's human thing. We're all in.

Coach Maddox  59:21  
We're all humans, and it is a human thing. Anything that you'd like to to add?

Taurean L Washington  59:32  
I think I've said I mean we I think we both had a lot to say all thing about this age. It's like this reboot, to just be open and understanding who you are, and to understand someone else to it. We all have our own perspectives and take people for pay table for what they give you, you know, this, it's we're all beautiful and we're all flawed, but you know, to understand and to accept our each other is It is probably one of the easiest things to do, but we as humans make it hard. Yes,

Coach Maddox  1:00:06  
we do. We do. So I've got a couple of couple of three maybe rapid fire questions for you for rapid fire answers. So what is the one thing that you know that you can can do to live more fully into being an authentic gay man love myself. Beautiful. When was the last time you cried? Like out loud cried tears stream down your face.

Taurean L Washington  1:00:40  
I would have had a hard time asking answering that a couple years ago, but let me see. See? I think I think I really think it was I was reminiscing, they sent in my grandfather told me years ago, and I think it was about two or three weeks ago, just thinking about something that he said to me. Oh, yeah, I was thinking about the last time I spoke to him. And yeah, that definitely hit a trigger for me. Yeah. So that was that moment. And you have to like Father, Son, grandfather, my father was basically my my grandfather, basically my parental male figure. You know, I do have my father he's still part of my life. But my grandfather was definitely the male figure for the majority of my, to my teenage years.

Coach Maddox  1:01:23  
So when was the last time you cried in front of another gay man?

Taurean L Washington  1:01:30  
Oh. I don't know if I can answer that. I'm not sure. Maybe with you. I mean, I've definitely I don't know I've cried but definitely got emotional talking with you. So I when I do cry, I don't cry for lunkers time I recalculate. 20 seconds and I stop. I don't know. I don't know what so That's literally how it is like a coupe tears call now and then. That's it. And me being an actor. I always wanted to share a cry from my room. Can I can make myself cry. So I'm gonna share my mom crying is coming from a good place I wrote true, honest place.

Coach Maddox  1:02:06  
I think that 22nd thing you're describing is a great topic for another conversation that you and I'll have at some point in time. This has been awesome. Torian thank you so much beautifying on and sharing so openly and honestly and being so real with me and with our listeners. It's nothing short of amazing. And I just want you to know that you are an authentic gay man.

Taurean L Washington  1:02:36  
You were a beautiful, an exceptional, phenomenal, fabulous, authentic gay man. Ya know, as I know, none of boundary. And this something, audience, something that Maddox taught me. When someone gives you a compliment like that, don't say thank you say I receive it.

Coach Maddox  1:02:56  
As that did teach you that didn't I put my hands on my heart? And I say thank you I am receiving. And I've been training some of the people in my life to do that. It's amazing what happens. It's amazing the way people respond when they hear you and see you do that hands on heart. Thank you. I am receiving that

Taurean L Washington  1:03:17  
and that's fine. You're low CO

Coach Maddox  1:03:26  
Thank you

Taurean L. WashingtonProfile Photo

Taurean L. Washington

Hello, I'm Taurean Washington, singer, dancer, educator, and all-around fun loving Texas boy who loves life and learning new things.