Southern Trees (Excerpt)

By Marxavian Deville

" The worst part about living in a small town is that fact that everybody knows everybody. No matter where you go, you are going to cross paths with someone you know. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, I knew Oh’ too well the distress of unwanted attention and super small circles. Living the life I lived, I found myself in a suffocating box, battling the struggles of identifying with society, but more so battling the struggle of identifying with myself.  I knew very early in life that I was unique, special even! Little did I know that my greatest test would be disguised within my infatuation with the same sex.

I grew up in a house with four sisters. I am the only boy, which seemed to be very common ratio in my family; and yep, you guessed it! I had to be gay. Of course, right? Well I tell you this; my father did not seem to think so. The moment he had an inkling of an idea that I “was possessed by a homosexual demon”, he immediately began to lay hands and pour oil. It started when I was nine. One day he walked in and found me playing with my older sister, Amiyah’s doll. I was sitting in the middle of the floor, with some Elmer’s glue, scissors, a brush, and some oil sheen preparing Ms. Ebony a Toni B. haircut! My father walked over to me and snatched Ms. Ebony right out of my sticky and greasy hands. Upset that I was unable to complete my masterpiece, I began to cry my heart out. My dad popped me a few times and ensured that I knew that boys do not play with dolls and crying makes you a sissy. He made the message bright and clear then he exited leaving me hurt and confused. I just cried because I did not understand why I was being penalized for doing what kids do, play.

I tried to suppress those feelings the best way I knew how. Needless to say, I put down the dolls and picked up the Good Book.  My dad made sure that I spent most of my nights at revivals, bible studies, youth choir rehearsals, sanctuary choir rehearsals, men’s choir rehearsals, mass choir rehearsals, youth leadership meetings, and young deacon’s committee meetings. He wanted to be certain that I spent a fair amount of time in the house of the Lord.

The music ministry was where I found my most joy. I started directing the youth choir right after my mom left. From what I hear, she used to be in the choir, but for some reason she left the choir and the church. The women of the church took me under their wings because they knew that I was the “little boy whose mom was strung out on drugs. My favorite thing to do was to direct the choir and sing in our church quartet group. When I was seventeen, we had a major performance in Georgia. We booked two suites at one of the hotels downtown. There was one room for my father, Tyson, and myself and the other room was for Lydell, Colby, and our booking/finance manager Samuel. My father left out to visit one of his lady friends and informed us that he would be back in the morning. As soon as he left, Tyson reached into his bag and pulled out a plastic bag with some weed in it.

He looked at me and asked, “Why do you have a look of judgement on your face lil’ bro? It’s just a little weed man, nothing serious.”

Tyson was twenty-seven, and the oldest guy in the group. I always looked up to him. I assured him that I wouldn’t be a snitch and tell my father anything, but I didn’t think he should smoke it inside the room. He agreed and asked me to come out with him as he hit it a few times.

. We found a secluded area and he lit his blunt. Even though I didn’t smoke, I found it intriguing to watch him as he inhaled the smoke, blowing it from his mouth and nostrils. I giggled every time he coughed.

I said, “If you are a real smoker you should be able to handle it.”

He snapped back, and said, “Oh shut up, Mr. Holier than Thou.”

We both laughed.

Tyson asked, “Aye, slim, you ever feel like your father is a bit hard on you?”

I pondered his question for a while, and then I simply replied, “No.”

He poked me in the side and jokingly told me that I need to loosen up more. He handed me the blunt. I was hesitant at first, but I decided to give it a pull, and boy did I pull it. The next thing I knew I was coughing up my life and wiping tears from my eyes.

Tyson laughed, and then said, “Ha! You always laughing at me now look at you, choking already!”

I reminded him of the fact that I don’t smoke, and I told him to get his blunt and get out of my face.

He playfully remarked, “Me getting out of your face isn’t what you want.”

I asked him what he meant by that.

He motioned towards me, and replied, “I know you want me closer like this right?”

I chuckled nervously as his face was right in front of mine. As his lips came closer, I pulled away in fear. He asked me what was wrong, and I didn’t have an answer. It just felt so wrong and I knew that we should not be making out in the alley. He leaned in for a kiss and this time I didn’t turn away. Our lips embraced, and I felt a spark shoot through me as our tongues began to touch."

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Marxavian Deville

Marxavian Deville,  31 was born February 14 in Jackson, MS. He grew up in a small town called Yazoo City, MS, aka “the gateway to the Mississippi Delta.” He completed studies at Yazoo City High School, graduating valedictorian of his high school class. From there, he pursued studies at Jackson State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Finance degree in 2009.

Growing up in MS presented a clear illustration of the impact of an array of social determinants of health. He was convinced that his community was being negatively impacted by health disparities and inequalities. As a response, he has been an advocate for social justice and the end of discrimination against marginalized populations, such as people of color and the LGBT community, for numerous years.

He discovered that he possessed a keen interest in the public sector and healthcare/public administration, which inspired him to obtain a Master’s of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Healthcare Administration from Auburn University. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA.

He aspires to continuously share his light with his community and assist in the fight against stigma, epidemics, internalized negative perceptions of self, poverty, raise awareness around the importance of addressing trauma and attending to mental health. He will continue to spread messaging of acceptance of all people, improve capacity building and literacy among marginalized populations, and continue building young black leaders across the globe.


For more information about Marxavian Deville or to purchase Southern Trees, check us out at  www.marxavian.com . Also, follow our social media! (Instagram: Kairos14, Facebook: Marxavian, and Twitter: @1xaeaday)