Friday, May 14, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Gay men continually traverse through society as the triple other. Being labeled sterile, androgynous and quite often ambiguous the status of “eunuch” is quite comforting. This is because of the fear of fragmentation. Minority men, especially Black men, live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. This is because society, ethnicity, family, disease, ideal masculinity regulate their identity. For those who dare to accept their sexuality whether gay or straight live with these social tropes. For those who are gay on the other hand, remain as chards of glass. The social perception of masculinity automatically fragments the black men, whether he is gay or straight. The fear of ethnic, social, and family obligation naturally places stigmatization on anyone or thing that jeopardizes his masculinity and stability. Therefore, this inflated perception of masculinity causes ill results for the gay black male.
The lives of gay black men are ambiguous their perception of masculine and feminine is what creates this ambiguity. For black men heterosexuality is the only acceptable position. Therefore, the ideal male is based on social perception, instead of collective reality. The duality of masculinity and femininity is only one part of the difficulty for gay black men. The other and more torrential is the division of homosexuality from heterosexuality. Personally, this issue has caused a lot of sleepless nights. Since heterosexuality in the Black community is the ideal focus, anything that challenges, and or taints it must be ostracized.
This banishment of the gay black male is done either consciously or subconsciously in the black community. These seeds are sown as the black male grows up within the black household. For example, scenarios, or statements are vocalized, which translates that the idea of homosexuality is not accepted in the family. Or the family may be perceived as tolerant of homosexuality but it is a different scenario when it is in the actual home. This is because African Americans as a whole are marginalized by mainstream society i.e. Eurocentric Patriarchal America. Therefore, the continuum of marginalization trickles down to those who are gay and or other within the black community. So, those who are LGBTQ in the black community must live lives of subservience within the black community. Meaning, they can not live fully but only reveal fragmentations of who they are. Those who choose to unmask themselves are often ridiculed, marginalized or ostracized by the black community. This is only partially what the gay black male experiences. He is further ridiculed by his own subgroup (the black gay community). Whether someone is willing to acknowledge his or her own sexuality, they are members of this community. This is where the ambiguity and fragmentation is truly paramount.
Ambiguity within the gay black community is mainly due to the lack of acceptance from the heterosexual black community. This ultimately sets up the framework and or antithesis within the gay black community. Many black men do not want to publicly or privately announce their non-heterosexual sexuality. Again, this challenges social perception of masculinity. Therefore, this creates unnecessary turmoil for the non-heterosexual black man. I use the term non heterosexual because those who participate in homosexual activity or desire to in my opinion are not 100% heterosexual. With that said these individuals would never label themselves as gay, bisexual or even bi-curious, because in doing so it challenges their masculine disposition. This perception, of masculinity is why cultures like men on the down low exist. Consequently, this subculture is why African American women are the largest population of those infected with HIV/AIDS. With that said, this creates even more strain for the gay black male. They are faced with social perceptions of masculinity, the ambiguity of gay-straight or bi, and the unintentional competition between themselves and heterosexual black women.
This unintentional competition between gay black men and straight black women creates an even bigger problem. This competition equates gay black men as being stereotypical representations of feminized men. This is why we cannot blame a man for not wanting to acknowledge his sexuality because if he did, he would commit social suicide. This is even worse for straight black women. Black women are already socially inferior because they must compete in a world that worships Eurocentricism and Patriarchal hegemony. Therefore, instead of uniting with her sistahs she is forced to compete against them. Then society turns around and tells her: “guess what, you have to compete with another man too.” So, the gay black man is both the friend and the enemy just like his female counterpart.
I still have to address the perception of the gay black male to other black males. The dichotomy between gay black male and the closeted black male is an oxymoron. This oxymoron is gay heterosexuality. Meaning, a gay black male wants a straight male who likes men. Therefore, the perception of masculinity and femininity is again a jaded one. The common statement that is made is: “I want a man not a woman, if I wanted a woman I would date them.” However, for the gay black male what is masculine and feminine is a mere social perception. If a man acts feminine does it jeopardizes maleness or femaleness, since it is a social trope in the first place? If we buy into what is masculine and feminine aren’t we just merely buying into some heterosexual construct in the first place? And if so, then the idea of creating our own rules is nothing more than hypocrisy. Since, these same men who want “a straight acting” man just wants their cake and the permission to eat it too, which, creates another dilemma in the voyage of the gay black man.
With all of the intricate rules that are either consciously said or subconsciously said the gay black male has a rough journey ahead. The idea of acceptance of either one’s self or socially is not clear. Many gay black men go outside of their own subgroup in order to find acceptance elsewhere. It is not uncommon for a gay black man to have an interracial relationship. Primarily because the intra-racism, marginalization, fragmentation is often times too much to deal with. However, this introduces a new set of issues for the gay black male. We must revisit the social perception of the black male. He is often depicted as a hyper masculine figure with an exaggerated phallus to match. For a gay black man this is no different if anything, it’s worse.
Ironically, gay men still have biases and prejudices. I say ironically because you don’t think of a group of people that face such scrutiny would be just as bias and or prejudice as their heterosexual counterparts. Think again, we are all human and suffer from the same disease: pre-judgment and its best friend: assumption. Therefore, the act of exclusion is easier than anyone wants to admit. If a gay black male is included they often assume that it has strings attached. For the gay black man, they not only have to know the rules of Eurocentric America, Black America, Gay America, but also Gay black America. So, of course, they would automatically be shall we say: paranoid. This is because of the fear of objectification. African American men gay or straight, face the prospect of becoming socially schizophrenic. This is because they have to appear to be everything to everyone, but in reality they are nothing more than a mere shell. This is not to say those dating outside of the African American sphere don’t find happiness. Yet, they must endure the immense amount of ridicule from other African Americans as well as what their partner’s ethnic group dishes out. But all I want to do is find happiness, my pie in the sky, and dare I say: “wholeness and meaning?” Unfortunately, these are the hang-ups of a gay black male eunuch. For the gay black male especially, they must kiss a few frogs in order to find the prince. While praying they don’t get warts.
This is only a mere fraction of what gay men especially black men face from society as a whole or their own ethnic social group. The gay minority male must represent social prescriptions of masculinity, intelligence, stoic attributes, and resilience within their community. While representing, success and upward mobility to mainstream society. That is why objectivity manifests misrepresentation.