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The Pandemic: A Love Story

– A manifesto of love.

Falling in love is joy.

My earlier definition of love centered sacrifice and compromise. Enveloped by the future it promised, I had to be a husband! Ideals realized, but all the while losing a sense of self. I wanted more. I needed more. Engaging in new forms of intimacy, I found my core and realized that I was worthy of a different type of love.

In the midst of a global pandemic, a recession, a presidential election, a climate crisis, and a neo civil rights movement, God provided a setting for my healing in my Bushwick apartment. In this space, I had ample time and room to wrestle with my past, take control of my present, and manifest a future that makes my heart smile.

Of all the love experienced during this time—loving my parents for who they are as adults, strengthening and forming lifelong relationships, and experiencing romantic love without condition—falling in love with myself again felt like the best version. Before COVID, I was blind to the endless love and grace I needed.

My worth often became indistinguishable from the opinions and work I did for others; I longed for emotional stability and balance. The more I loved me, the more confident I became. Soon, I learned how to nurture and celebrate all parts of myself, both the masculine and feminine. Free from my own insecurities and peer pressure, I became reconnected to my dreams and creative voice. I grew comfortable deep diving into my broken parts. I found safety in my mind and body. I touched myself in ways anew. No longer afraid of stillness, I often asked, “Who am I uninterrupted?”

A complex creation of God’s divine mercy, I believe that I am worthy of the infinite possibilities my ancestors worked hard for me to have. I feel elated having guidance on how to live out my purpose as a filmmaker, which combines my values of connecting and creating space for others with my passion for entrepreneurship and community building. Their culmination grants me the opportunity to develop work that highlights the intersectionality of our lived experiences, explores intimacy, and challenges how individuals come to actualize their best selves.

And just when I thought God was done filling my cup, more came—a deeper connection with the divine, spiritual leadership, greater appreciation for my body, and the confidence to fully express my sensual self.

My breakthrough revealed itself during this reckoning. New breath now fills my lungs. I prayed for this arrival.

I am joy.

Film photography by Jai Pugh

Comments 7

  1. Terence

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! During the pandemic I started a path of loving and taking care of my self more. I spent many years making everyone else dreams and desires come true while putting mine on the back burner. Loving me has made me such a better person in my opinion. I’m finally living for me !

  2. Jonathan Cooper

    This is so beautifully crafted I love how your story of self discovery, sexual exploration, and genuine growth. both mentally, emotionally, and spiritually you where able to craft it not only into words but also visible learning aids you truly inspired me with this one Jonathan I can’t wait to see your next masterpiece you envision.

  3. D.S. Holmes

    Wow! What a powerful piece! This is truly groundbreaking and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your exquisiteness and I cannot wait to see more of your growth! ❤️

  4. Chera

    Absolutely loved your story. So rich. So vulnerable and transparent. Definitely made my heart smile. Live on my friend, freely.

  5. Jordan Broiles

    Wow! I love you so much! Such a beautiful piece. You definitely did what needed to be done. Such a beautiful thought-provoking piece. The images definitely complimented the words you wrote. As always, I’m excited for you to tell your story. You’re an inspiration!

  6. Ni’co

    JT this piece was everything. I absolutely loved reading this beautiful story! It touched so many areas of life. I’m excited about your journey! Keep going my friend!!

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