28 Days of Black Joy: Chosen Family

Joe Morris, left, Courtney Coles, Corey Townsend, Will Champion, and Keith Osborne
Joe Morris, left, Courtney Coles, Corey Townsend, Will Champion, and Keith Osborne
Photo: Corey Townsend

Friends, how many of us have them? I do, and it’s been life-saving during this global ponderosa.

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Having women as friends has always been my default. As a child I was surrounded by amazing women, so I naturally gravitated to that as I got older. Genuine male friendships were not nonexistent, but those connections were few and far between. I remember a part of me always yearned for that camaraderie that came with having a circle of male friends.

As life has taken me through its twists and turns over these last 33 years of existence, I can say that I finally have that coveted camaraderie, and that bond is something that has gotten me through this global perpendicular that we have raging outside our windows.

Ever since I started forging these bonds, my life has been elevated for the better. I am a better person and friend because of these men. They hold me accountable, love me unconditionally, and make sure I always have a smile on my face at any given moment.

It is all of these things and more that has taken me out of many dark spaces. I deal with depression and I’ve been battling with this ailment since I was 12-years-old. It has not been an easy process. I have been through moments where I’ve contemplated suicide, and a wise person once told me to find something that anchors me to this life to keep on living. That anchor, until recently, has only been my sister, and as I’ve built these friendships, my friends have also become my anchor to this world.

It’s the love I’ve been shown, the moments of happiness I’ve experienced, and those laughs that give me that extra little push to keep on keeping on. It is these circumstances that affirm me during my darkest moments. These affirmations remind me that I am loved and that I am worthy.

Depression lies to you and creates narratives in your head that do not exist, and I have fallen victim to them. Past traumas make me feel unworthy of love and genuine connections, and the instances I’ve shared with my friends have always brought me back to reality.

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A person never knows just how much the little things can matter until they happen and make a monumental impact in your life. Whether it’s those random FaceTime calls, in-person couch conversations that last for hours, receiving gym selfies that keep me motivated, closet refreshers, or checking on me to see how I’m navigating my lupus and curse me out when I’m not; all these moments have contributed to my desire to keep living. These men have breathed new life into me and as unexpected as it all has been, I couldn’t be more grateful for them all. And even though our individual connections may be different, I know that the love is real and just that mere thought brings a smile to my face.

Friends, how many of us have them? I do and they’ve saved my life.

Chief Beyoncé Content Officer @ TheRoot. I aspire to be as steadfast & unmovable as Solange's wig. Former President of Hogwart's Black Student Union.

DISCUSSION

True story. The men I know who cultivate strong, healthy, supportive and clearly loving connections with other men are fuller human beings. Through playful teasing as well as serious questions about perspectives, they are better at making space for vulnerability and growth within themselves and others.

As a person with depression: shout-out to kindred souls who help silence the loud lies our brains want us to believe.