Redefining What It Means to Be a Gay Black Man

What's sad to me is that we have bought into the propaganda that black masculinity and gayness are mutually exclusive. For this very reason, there is a host of gay black men who are comfortable being silent.
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Muscular man photographed from behind.
Muscular man photographed from behind.

I have had enough. Simply speaking from the heart, I desire more for our community. It feels like we are stuck in a rut. We've built a jail for ourselves, first engineered by the lies of false prophets, reinforced by the hate we were taught to inflict on our own selves, and guarded by pain that is only satisfied with unresolved hurt. We have to rewrite the narrative.

There lies an untapped potential within the black gay community that I believe needs to be unveiled and activated. Every time I come across a think piece or Facebook post from some douchebag who writes about the agenda to turn black men gay, it reminds me that there are people that desire to erase us. What's even more disturbing is the innate need many of us have to oblige them.

This theory that black men are being persuaded to "turn gay" or the notion that there is a conspiracy to feminize black men are lies. What they are as I see it, are the cries of some black folk that want to stay in the box that was engineered for us. We know the descriptions -- militant, aggressive, thug, hyper-masculine, Mandingo, unemotional, n-word. We know them well, don't we? While we hate stereotypes, I have to acknowledge that many of us have subscribed to them.

Most recently, the outing campaigns that have been rolled out for Odell Beckham Jr., have been led by urban publications and promoted by many in the black community. Why? He likes to dance with his friends. He doesn't spend enough time beating his chest and sporting around non-black women; obviously, he's gay. While many of us recognize this as complete bullshit, I was shocked to see the amount of chocolate gay trolls poking fun at him as well, urging him to "come out". What's sad about this to me is that we have bought into the propaganda that black masculinity and gayness are mutually exclusive.

For this very reason, there is a host of gay black men who are comfortable being silent. I tell people all the time, I know many more masculine gay men than feminine gay men. The difference is that feminine gay men, whether by choice or not, live their lives out loud. They are seen because they have not subscribed to the traditional definition of black masculinity. I believe that many gay men who hold up the tradition, understand the privilege that it carries both within and outside the gay community. Let's face it, his peers probably don't suspect a thing and he gets more messages with a booty attached on Jack'd than he can handle, even if he would prefer a dick pic. Once he acknowledges his gayness publicly, he breaks out of his box. As liberating as that may sound, that declaration has been his most notable antagonist for his entire life. It's not easy believing that you can be more than the big dick, deep-voiced, intimidating black man that you were always told you should be.

We need to break down some walls that have been built in the names of masculinity and femininity in our community. There's so much more for us to explore internally and externally. Can you imagine all of the connections you would have made along the way had you not judged some of these guys based on the stereotypes you had in your mind? Can you imagine how many more times you would have decided to shake your ass in the club if you weren't worried about how you would be perceived? Tell the truth...

We have to start believing that we are more than the characters in a Dawgpound USA video. We are multidimensional human beings and our masculinity and gayness are not incongruous. Rather, we must celebrate the men in our community that chose to express themselves in their authentic ways and acknowledge that masculinity can never be compromised by a stereotype. We have to allow ourselves the freedom to be exactly who we are even if that will take some unlearning on our part. Healing from the inside out is the only way we can rewrite this story. Cheers to the manly men and the not so manly men that love them; we're all men after all. We'd do well to remember that, because despite what we've been told, we really are in this together.

Black males who refuse categorization are rare, for the price of visibility in the contemporary world of white supremacy is that black identity be defined in relation to the stereotype whether by embodying it or seeking to be other than it...Negative stereotypes about the nature of black masculinity continue to overdetermine the identities black males are allowed to fashion for themselves. -- bell hooks

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