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Bridging the Gap: The Dual Identity of Being a Black and Queer Man in Today's Society

Everything’s coming up rainbows. It’s the middle of June, the month when the world’s LGBTQ+ communities celebrate progress and the freedom to be ourselves. June is also when corporations superimpose tacky rainbows over everything to pander to those proud queer dollars. Consequently, if you’re a straight man, by now you may feel a bit inundated with messages about pride month. It may seem a little in your face.

And you’re not alone.

Pride month used to seem ‘a little in my face’ too. But it was my own feelings of shame that I was inundated with. I was still hiding a big part of myself from the people I was closest to – specifically my brothers and my father.

Our dad is a conservative Baptist preacher in Texas, and we were taught that being gay is wrong. Though I was born gay, I was born into an environment that was not gay-friendly. My rapport with the straight men in my life became about me code-switching and trying to ‘man up’ to keep everyone else happy, and to keep myself ‘out of Hell’ (I’m joking, a little). So, Pride month made me feel anything but proud.

As I matured, my constant code-switching became exhausting, but instead of having those tough but necessary conversations, I alienated my brothers and my father. I communicated with them less, censored which parts of my life I shared, and I let our relationships get more and more distant. I was convinced they would not accept the true me, though I had not given them the chance to prove me wrong. I became estranged from people I care about simply because they are straight and I am not.

The world is so polarized right now. We are often asked to pick sides: Black or white? Red or blue? Straight or gay? Us or them? What I have realized is that yes I am gay, yet, a tremendous part of who I am is situated at the intersection of Blackness and manhood. This intersectionality of identities creates a myriad of shared experiences and challenges with all my fellow Black brothers. Queer or straight, as Black men in America, we’ve all had to contend with the deep racism that exists in every social institution, and we’ve all been expected to sacrifice some part of our identity to advance our dreams. Even if you are not queer, and even if you are not a brother I am directly related to, you are part of an expanded brotherhood worthy of my familial support and solidarity.

Social reformation begins with the individual. When I had open and honest conversations with my straight brothers and Baptist, preacher father, I was able to eradicate the preconceived limits I had placed on how they viewed me in relation to my sexuality, manhood, and Brotherhood. These meaningful dialogues illuminated that yes, I’m queer but other than that, we have much more in common than not. I still need their advice with my finances and career development. I still want to bring the beer and come watch the playoffs on the big screen TV. I still need input on mental health, relationships and which whey protein is best for building lean muscle.

The lived experience of being both Black and male produces shared perspectives and a commonality that Black men can utilize to perceive each other with empathy and compassion, regardless of who we love romantically.

Straight men and gay men should be able to share spaces of empathy, empowerment, and compassion without it being questioned or labeled as “suspect.” As a Black man who also happens to be gay, my interest in your wellbeing should be seen as a natural resource and not misinterpreted as flirtation or having ulterior motives. It's about challenging homophobia and disrupting old paradigms of masculinity, gender identity, brotherhood, and allyship.

Now, more than ever, I recognize the need to be intentional in cultivating real connections with other Black men. Though we live separate lives, we are often treated similarly as we move throughout the world. For me, fostering and maintaining community with Black men regardless of sexuality is a means of understanding that in any given situation, there is another Black man that has had a similar experience and understands my perspective. It is confirmation that I am not alone. Other men have faced comparable challenges and they have triumphed. Sometimes all you need is a Brother to reassure you that no matter the circumstance, yes – I see you and I understand. You’ve got this. Every cloud has a silver lining or during the month of June, a rainbow.

Make sure to follow Teron Beal on Instagram.

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1 Yorum

Max R.
Max R.
30 Nis

"Straight men and gay men should be able to share spaces of empathy, empowerment, and compassion without it being questioned or labeled as “suspect.” You're right! Creating spaces where people understand and support each other is so important. Whether someone is gay, straight, or pretending to be straight, we should make them feel valued. It's great to see events where people of all types can join in and have a good time without anyone feeling left out. If we keep including others like this, soon everyone will feel like they belong. Then we'll all get along so much better.

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