Lately I’ve been pleased with the strides that black gay men have made in asserting themselves in arenas that typically leave them out. For this post, I’ll examine 3 gay black men who have been game changers, and highlight the courage and talent they exert to reach their goals.
My alma mater has made headlines more recently with the news that one of its most talented and star football players, Michael Sam, announced that he was gay. He has received an outpour of love and acceptance from people across the nation who admire his courage and embrace him for what he is…a great football player…that just happens to be black and gay. Sam had been inundated with questions about whether or not the NFL is ready for a “gay player” and he graciously reminds people that he is a talented football player with a goal of winning games. Sam’s sexual orientation reveal will not be upstaged by his talent in the hyper-machismo world of high profile college and professional football. As someone who graduated from MIZZOU, I can attest to the courage that Sam had to muster. I was NEVER public about my sexual orientation in college, and recognized that the unspoken don’t –ask-don’t tell/avoidance technique for blacks with a questionable sexual orientation was the most successful form of navigation. I had a pretty black experience at MIZZOU and I would never risk being shunned from that community by aligning myself with the LGBT organizations on campus. While Sam has hypermasculine qualities about him that perhaps help his acceptance…he still took a huge risk in sharing his gay identity with the world. Kudos Sam.
“Was I ragingly gay back then?” I asked a black Greek fraternity member that was around/was an insider for my pre-membership rituals and routines. “You weren’t. You were comfortable in your skin. You’re not particularly feminine. You belch for sport,” he replied. Though I often attribute my lack of black Greek fraternal membership to not aligning myself with men at a chapter who could not offer me the type of brotherhood I was looking for, I sometimes wondered if I weren’t gay would I have had a different experience. That anecdote leads me to Brian Stewart. Brian is a bright, talented and accomplished student leader at Morgan State who had aspirations to join Kappa Alpha Psi, and publicly spoke out against the fraternity with legal action when he got word that he was rejected because of his sexual orientation. That took a lot of courage! Though I know a PLETHORA…and let me repeat…PLETHORA (LMAO) of gay black male Greeks (even some from the chapter that I didn’t join), none of them have ever once spoken about the total acceptance of their sexual orientation by all of their line, chapter or at large fraternity brothers. Almost all of them silenced/closeted/denied their sexual orientation during their pledge processes, and in order to function in the organizations they have to selectively disclose their gay identities and readjust their behaviors. I’ve come across a large portion of black gay male Greeks who no longer have strong ties to their fraternities due to the lack of acceptance/support they receive as openly gay men, however that is not the case for all black gay male Greeks. Regardless, homophobia and its cousins “microagressions” and “degrading language” are prevalent notions of black male Greek culture. For Brian to fight back against the chapter that discriminated against him, shows that he knows his self worth and won’t settle for less. I imagine that the chapter that discriminated against him is kicking themselves while Brian enjoys his White House internship and overseas travel.
“Throw that boy pussy!” Wait…what, did he just say? Those are the chorus/refrain/title lyrics to a new rap song that is getting a lot of attention from an openly gay rapper named Fly Young Red. Now, before anyone goes clutching their pearls, you have to know that in this day in age, some rap music is raunchy, vulgar and explicit. It’s normally told from a heterosexual and hypermasculine perspective. In essence, no room for faggotry. Then enter Fly Young Red with a legitimate rap bassline track/beat (that could have been easily used for Soulja Boy) talking about his love for the male derrière in very precise, sometimes clever, and very vulgar language. I’m not here to take a stance or give an opinion about his lyrics, however I am commenting on the bravery and courage he shows in attempting to assert himself into rap music. Anti-gay language is almost a staple of rap music, but Red lifts up his mic and is pressing through the hate with an assured confidence, self-awareness and unapologetic stance for his talent. I’m not sure how substantial this is quite yet, but I have read on several news outlets that he has just been signed by Lil Wayne…we’ll see if that’s true.
Looks like the gays are doing it for themselves these days!