I turned twenty-six last Tuesday. It was an uneventful birthday. In fact, I had forgotten that my birthday was this week until a friend reminded me a few hours before the clock hit midnight. Twenty-six just seems like an odd age to me. This year I’m much more compelled to measure my life based on the year – such as, doing a review of my life during 2014 – vs. measuring life based on my age. I look forward to doing that.
The day after I turned twenty-six I had a dream. I was looking at myself in my bedroom mirror and I could see the forty-year-old me forming. I assume forty because that’s what it felt like. My dimples were settled, my hairline receded, my face kissed with the same cocoa butter I always use, my hair was thinner, and my posture had shifted a bit. I woke up disappointed. I much rather have had a dream about who I was at forty versus what I looked like, something I hardly care about. Yet and still, there was nothing surreal about the forty-year-old man I saw in the mirror, because I think about him all the time. Mostly because I’m impatient about the man I’m becoming.
The majority of queer/gay/bi men I know are emphatic about not aging. My assumption is that this has a lot to do with the “symptoms” that most perceive comes with being an aging Black gay man – the loneliness, isolation, invisibility, and stigmatization, for example. They fear becoming irrelevant and forgotten. I get that. That’s an emotionally traumatizing thing to think about, especially when you critically examine how many of us age alone.
For me, getting older has always been a welcomed process – a pattern that allows me to gauge how I’m evolving, but at the same time it’s a process that allows me to maturate emotionally, psychologically, and professionally. It’s impossible for some people to acknowledge that they’re much wiser today than they were yesterday while they’re staring at the wrinkles on their face and examining the creases of their skin. I once had an older man (who looked to be in his sixties) tell me “a diva doesn’t tell her age.” Ok, girl, well I hope you’re not imparting this nugget of stupidity on any of our youth, because a fear of aging can be communally pathological.
My offering to Black queer/gay/bi men is to appreciate who you are becoming in juxtaposition to who you once were. And if you’re not satisfied with the sort of person you’re becoming, be honest with yourself about why, and then go on about the business of trying to become a better version of yourself. You don’t want to be seated at a bar, clearly unsatisfied with your age, telling a twenty-something year old man in need of guidance that “a diva doesn’t tell her age.”
As for me, when I think about my future, I get excited about the tremendous Black gay and bisexual men I’ll be aging alongside. I look forward to kicking back with them, some of us single, a few of us still THOTing, the rest of us married, maybe with a few kids on the side, drinking chardonnay on the stoop of my Brooklyn brownstone, recalling our youth and how fortunate we were to have gotten out of it alive.
The NYPD arrested a mother who was standing alone outside an NYC restaurant after she told them she was just waiting for her family to return from the restroom. Turns out, she’s also a human rights attorney.
Chaumtoli Huq was standing alone outside a Ruby Tuesday’s in Times Square in July when New York City police officers told her to move. She says she wasn’t in anyone’s way, she wasn’t blocking the sidewalk — she was just waiting for her husband and two young children, 6 and 10, to come outside after using the restroom.
That’s when the cops arrested her.
DNAinfo, which first reported on the arrest, says Huq “said the officers pinned her against the wall, prompting her to say, ‘I can’t move, I can’t move.’”
Huq told The New Civil Rights Movement in an email conversation that police pushed her “against the wall of Ruby Tuesday, and I screamed ‘Help,’” as this image, taken by a bystander, shows.
She says when the police arrested her they pulled her arm up, causing pain and scars. Another officer, Huq says, was squeezing her arm “so I had to walk bent over,” as this photo, taken by the same bystander, shows.
"My shoe was gone. All in public as folks watched." It was "humiliating," Huq adds.
As it turns out, Chaumtoli Huq is a human rights attorney. She says she is on leave from her position as general counsel for NYC Public Advocate Letitia James. And she says she’s suing.
"When I was arrested," Huq tells The New Civil Rights Movement, "I was with my family, and we had left a rally for children in Palestine who were being injured, killed because of the conflict, and [were] heading to a picnic in Brooklyn."
"At that moment, I was a mom, a loving partner to my husband of 12 years, but I became in a second the arresting officer’s ‘prisoner.’ He said to me when he was searching my purse and took my identification and when I objected, that I was his prisoner and he could do whatever he wanted."
The New York Daily Newsreports that when Huq “said she was in pain, one of the officers, Ryan Lathrop, allegedly told her, ‘Shut your mouth.’ When he found out she had a different last name than her hubby, he told her ‘In America, wives take the names of their husbands.’”
She was held for nine hours after the officers falsely claimed she had refused instructions to move and had “flailed her arms and twisted her body” to make it hard for them to handcuff her, the suit says.
Huq, who is 42, says she is currently “on a fellowship to investigate labor conditions in Bangladesh after the collapse of Rana Plaza.” She says, “I think that as a mom [that] I can be reduced and humiliated and separated from my family is what impacts me most to this day. My son asked me: ‘Why did the officer arrest you?’”
Raising a boy of color, and knowing how youth of color are vulnerable to over-policing, made me think, this is not about me but about my life’s work of protecting New Yorkers.
If at this moment, I didn’t step up and advocate for their rights, then, how can I authentically call myself an advocate for New Yorker.
As for the lawsuit, Huq says, “I am demanding in my suit and through community groups: (1) the officer to be removed; (2) training for NYPD on Muslim and South Asia community as well as gender: (3) change in city policy on over-policing in communities of color; (4) resources for youth of color who are most vulnerable to over-policing and whose life chances are most impacted by a criminal record.”