I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD…wait no…I’M GAY AND I’M PROUD…wait no that’s not right either… is it possible to be both? HELL YEA IT IS and it’s an extremely beautiful thing!
I couldn’t let the month of June pass by without discussing Pride Month. Though COVID-19 has prevented me from celebrating with my fellow queers due to the cancellation of all Pride events and parades, we still have to remember that one month doesn’t define our worth to this world. Just like the month of February (Black History Month) doesn’t define the black community’s worth to this world. As a black gay male, I can attest to the struggles that both communities face. Not only do I have to deal with racism and discrimination for being Black, I also face discrimination for being queer.
First and foremost, before anything else, I am a black man. When I walk out into these mean streets, I am first defined by the color of my skin. Growing up, being a black boy meant so much more than how the world saw you, it was about how you saw yourself. In my previous post “Black Lives Matter Is Not Just A Hashtag,” I explained how the American education system teaches black history to students by starting with slavery. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find out the truth until I started college and had my first Black and Latino Studies class. We are brainwashed to think that black people are “come up” stories, from rags to riches. But in reality, we come from royalty which is why I refer to myself as a King.
Though I was taught the whitewashed history version about my ancestors, I was always proud to be black. Never once did I want to change my blackness. I love the color of my skin, I love black men and women, I love our music, our food, our traditions…I want nothing more than to be a proud black boy. However, there are aspects that I feel need to be changed. Religion and toxic masculinity are highly ingrained in the black community. As a kid, my mother took me to church every Sunday, granted her then husband was a “pastor” but that’s another story for another day. My grandmother religiously spewed the Bible at me and even once proclaimed “if you were to ever tell me you were gay, you no longer have a grandmother.” Harsh, yea I know. Did I ever tell her? Keep reading cause I’ll get to that in a minute, now where were we? That’s right, religion and toxic masculinity.
When it comes to toxic masculinity in the black community, there is an expectation of what a “man” is supposed to be. Men shouldn’t show emotion, men can’t be vulnerable, men shouldn’t play with “girl” toys, men must like the color blue and nothing else. If someone hurts your feelings, you have to suck it up and keep it to yourself. You have to be a man’s man. You have to be into sports, you have to talk about girls, you have to go to the gym, you have to have sex and lots of it. Men are strong and no woman wants a man who’s in touch with their emotions. But yet, as we get older, all you hear from women is that they wish they met a man who wasn’t afraid to cry. Ironic right, but in reality, toxic masculinity is so ingrained in the black community that when a man is in touch with his feelings, 50 percent of the time, women say “man up.” So just being a black man is strenuous due to racism and toxic masculinity, now add in being gay to the mix, WHEW!
Many uneducated human beings chime the statement, “being gay is a choice.” If being gay is a choice, why would someone choose to be ridiculed, why would someone choose to be bullied, or even choose to have an even harder life when in reality all they want is love? That’s right, because they don’t choose it. YOU ARE BORN THAT WAY! And please save the BS that gay parents raise their kids to be gay because if that’s the case, how did I end up gay with two straight parents….ANYWHO this isn’t a post about bashing the uneducated but uplifting my fellow black gay brothers and sisters.
Coming out and accepting who you are is no easy feat. Trust me, I didn’t come out until I was 19 to my friends and 21 to my mom. I knew from a young age that I was different. I liked both masculine and feminine things. Growing up, because you’re taught that boys like one thing and girls like another, when you find yourself liking some girl things, you become confused and assume that you must be a girl in order to make sense of what you’re feeling. When you daydream about your future, you see yourself as a girl because it’s impossible to be a boy and fantasize about a future with another boy. For me, I threw the thought of myself being gay so far out the window because I was taught that being gay is wrong. I dated multiple females from the time I was 8 up until 18. The thought of being gay didn’t come up again until one of my close friends in high school came out as a proud, gay man and it sparked something in me…but I still kept that part hidden.
At 19, I came out to each of my closest friends separately because I wanted to have a one on one conversation with them. And I think it also helped me come to terms with myself because the more I kept saying out loud “I’m gay,” the more I was able to accept and love who I really am. Coming out to my mom wasn’t ideal. I told her in a fit of rage, which I regret. Being a religious woman, every chance she got she recited the Bible to me but would end with “but I still love you.” How can you say you love me when you condemn me in the same breath. But, 4 years later, I believe she has come to terms with who I am. We laugh, we talk almost every day, and things are better between us now than ever before. Has she met any of the guys I’ve dated, hell no, but I know the day I bring a guy home to meet her, is the one I’m going to marry. Remember how I mentioned earlier about my grandma, still today at 24, almost 25 on July 3rd, I have not uttered the words “I’m gay” to her. Though I am a proud, black gay man, she’s the only one who I actually care about who judges me because she’s the only grandparent I have left. Who knows, this year might be the year I say f””” it and see what happens.
For those of you coming out to your family, do it when you feel like you’re ready. However, if they don’t accept you right away, don’t put too much fault on them because they have to go through the process of accepting you for who you are the same way that you had to go through the process of accepting yourself. Ideally, our family is supposed to be our support system and love us no matter what, but sometimes that’s not the case. If you need to create your own support system, then do that. And I stand behind this next statement wholeheartedly, if you ever need a friend, brother, confidant, or just somebody to listen and be there for you, don’t hesitate to call on me or to private message me. I will be there for you! Happy Pride Month my fellow queers. Remember, be PROUD, be LOUD, and be YOU UNAPOLOGETICALLY!