A Day In The Life: Jamez L. Smith

Photo by Hubert Bonnet
Photo by Hubert Bonnet


Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Name: Jamez L. Smith

Age: 54

Where did you grow up? San Francisco.

Where do you live? Minneapolis.

Who do you live with? Ted, Tim, and James.

What is your occupation? Administrative professional, DJ, host of “Same As It Ever Was” on KRSM 98.9 FM (www.krsmradio.org)

When did you come out? Why you making me do math? Which time? I recognized my attraction to boys when I was four years old. I was 20 before I told anyone else (my best friends, Inez and Jason). I came out to my mom when I was 28.

How’d that go? Well, Mom’s story: I hadn’t come out to my mom because I didn’t think she needed to know. But when I got signed to be published in a book entitled The Road Before Us: 100 Gay Black Poets, I decided to just tell her, rather than have her find out through other channels.

I was living in Seattle, so I telephoned her in San Francisco. I hemmed and hawed about having something I needed to tell her. Sensing my difficulty, she encouraged me to just spit it out, reminding me that whatever I had to say, nothing could stop her from loving me. So, with a deep breath I said, “I’m gay.”

After a moment of silence, she replied, “And why is that?”

I’m like, uh … I don’t know. Why are you straight? I then proceeded to tell her the story of my young gay life. How I’ve had feelings for boys since I was four. How I learned to hide it. How I tried to fight it. How at 18 I prayed over it, asking God to change me if he didn’t want me to be gay. And how I met my first boyfriend the night I prayed that prayer.

I spoke; she let me speak, uninterrupted, for over an hour until I’d said all I needed to say.

When I was done, after another dramatic pause she said, “Well… obviously, you’ve been dealing with this on your own, all of your life. And I haven’t. You’re still my child and I still love you. And God made you, and if He made you this way, then He must have done it for a reason, and who am I to argue with God?”

When do you wake up? Ugh. 6 a.m., if I must. Well after noon, otherwise.

Phone alarm or old school alarm? Phone, unless I know the following morning’s gonna be a real challenge, in which case, both.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Go back to sleep.

Breakfast? Sometimes.

Coffee? Eventually.

Cream or no? Enough to turn the hot cocoa mix into a pudding, then stir in the java.

How do you spend your commute: Listening to music.

If your job were like a yearbook, what would you be voted? The Music Man.

What inspires you? Good people doing good things.

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? Break, 95 percent of the time.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? It’s a cool mess.

What’s been your favorite job? Production assistant at a movie studio.

Who are your heroes? So many directions this could go. Keeping it simple: Aunt Dot, Sis. Ora Reese, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Prince, Boy George, Maya Angelou, Assoto Saint, Lena Horne, Marvin K. White, David & Margit Anderson, Inez Gordon, Michael Jason Cowie, Julian Hanby, Neil Gaiman, Charmaine Easton, Sis. Kitty Catalyst, OCP, Sis. Dana Van Iquity, Mother-Sis. Mary Timothy Simplicity, Phatima Rude, Richard Bach.

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? Cook in: Steamed chicken with ginger rice, and broccoli, collards, kale, or asparagus.

Most embarrassing moment: I once got so drunk, I had to be poured into a cab.

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what? Listening to records.

Bedtime: Ugh … 3 a.m. … maybe earlier? Sometimes I can get to sleep by midnight with a sleeping aid.

Favorite weekend activity: DJing.

What are you most proud of and why? I’m alive! I’m proud of the fact that I have endured, survived, and continue to thrive, despite a litany of obstacles and challenges to the contrary. I’ve been on the brink a number of times, had to quite literally crawl from the ashes, but through some crazy combination of divine grace and magic, the love of dear friends, and stubborn determination to actualize my dreams, I’m still going strong.

Words of wisdom to share: Relax. Breathe. Give attention to the good and the light. Waste no energy on darkness and negativity. Close your eyes. Smile. Breathe.

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