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In LEVEL. More on Medium.

‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ is the perfect reintroduction

Lil Nas X at the MTV Video Music Video Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on August 26, 2019. Photo: Efren Landaos/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

I watched the “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” video no less than five consecutive times when it dropped at midnight last Friday, March 26.

When I randomly couldn’t sleep at 6 a.m. later that morning (symptoms of surviving a pandemic), I rolled over and watched it some more. I won’t go over all of the dope little nuances and easter eggs Lil Nas X packed into three minutes and 10 seconds; Mikelle Street did, and you should go read about them. …


What you see in the artist’s latest is a function of what you bring to it

Still: Lil Nas X

The video for Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” may not shock everyone who encounters it, but I think it’s safe to say that it is shocking to most people who encounter it. I find this shock largely amusing, but then I’m a Prince fan who played Dungeons & Dragons in the ’80s. I’ve seen this kind of pearl-clutching before.

Everything about Lil Nas X is hilarious and his resting smirk face suggests even he thinks so. He knows what he’s doing with his music, and his videos, and his presence, and he doesn’t care that you…


It’s not harmless banter — it’s immature and offensive

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

In high school, the talk around the lunchroom table was peppered with some now-questionable phrases.

It was almost impossible to get through a conversation without a chorus of interruptions — “Ayo!” and “Whoa” the usual two — indicating that you’d fucked up. And when that happened, the only appropriate response back then was to “pause” yourself:

“I could never be vegetarian; I like meat too much. Pause.”

“Yo, can I get another sausage? Pause.”

Any unintentional double entendre, any sentence that could be viewed as vaguely homoerotic, required us to pause the conversation and reclaim our manhood that was now…


How toxic masculinity ruined summer camp and my friendship

Photo: martinedoucet/Getty Images

When I was 10 years old, my parents decided they wanted the summer for themselves. So they did what any self-respecting NYC family with little money would do — they signed me up for day camp. That’s where I met Jose, my first best friend.

Jose was a light-skinned Dominican kid with straight black hair and big eyes; his fingernails were painted black. We met during lunch when he jumped into a heated debate between me and our lead camp counselor, Jayshawn, about who was the strongest Power Ranger. Jayshawn and his crew insisted it was the Green Ranger (Tommy)…


In Cape Town, gay men gave me a crash course in racism

The historical district of Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 25, 2018. Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images

As I sat across from my new American acquaintance in a Cape Town bar, I felt uneasy. I had nothing significant to contribute to our conversation about sex and the city.

Like me, Elliot was a Black expat living in South Africa. He had asked about my impression of dating in the country’s number-one party town — and for the first time in our conversation, I was silent.

I’d lived in Cape Town for several weeks at the time, and I still hadn’t ventured out much on the social scene. I’d gone on exactly one Grindr date, with a guy…


I’m a shy exhibitionist. Is that really so strange?

Photos courtesy of the author

A former boss once made an unexpected observation about me during a daily morning conference meeting. It had absolutely nothing to do with my job performance.

“You know, Jeremy, you’re an interesting set of contradictions,” he announced in front of our colleagues. “You’re kind of shy, but at the same time, you’re an exhibitionist. There are all of these hidden sides.”

This exhibitionist? Whoa. Was he serious?

After further consideration, I realized he was kind of right. …


It’s time to toss that broken record into the trash. It’s played out. It’s fake news.

George Burroughs (c.1652 –1690) reciting the Lord’s Prayer before his execution at Witches Hill, Salem, Massachusetts, on 19
George Burroughs (c.1652 –1690) reciting the Lord’s Prayer before his execution at Witches Hill, Salem, Massachusetts, on 19
George Burroughs (1652 –1690) reciting the Lord’s Prayer before his execution at Witches Hill, Salem, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1690, after being accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials. Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

At the Republican National Convention in August, President Donald Trump and his cast of sycophants returned to a familiar refrain: “Cancel culture” is the devil, possibly the single greatest hurdle to making America great again. It must be stopped.

For those unfamiliar with The Great American Threat, “cancel culture” is a phenomenon of the “Karen” era, likely to be cited by the type of person who’d be called a “Karen.” …


Rainbow-Washing’s True Colors
Rainbow-Washing’s True Colors

Abolition for the People

LGBTQ activists have a long history of protesting against the violence of police and prisons

This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.

In recent years, more and more police departments have rolled out rainbow-painted cop cars for Pride…


I said no. My rapist didn’t hear me.

Photo: kali9/Getty Images

I said no when we met at the wine bar in downtown Palo Alto.

I said no when we talked about his book collection in his two-bedroom apartment.

He even acknowledged that he wouldn’t touch me, and I actually believed him. Yet, he must have misplaced his memory because I had to repeat the word “no” when he looked into my eyes — and he still did exactly what he said he wouldn’t do.

My chest tightened. Like a threatened opossum, I just laid there with disassociation. …

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