I just finished listening to the Mister Cee Hot 97 interview and here’s the thing that I think is getting lost in this conversation about this interview: there is genuine love and respect and compassion between two, and then three, black men who are discussing non-heterosexual sexuality.
If you really listen to this interview, what you hear is a genuine attempt by Breeze to be incredibly empathetic and careful and thoughtful in his language – he starts by calling Cee “brother” – and his tone when talking to Mister Cee about something that Cee is still clearly in the throes of addressing within himself.
So, for me, I think the story here is not really Cee “coming out.” He didn’t. Not in the way that we are taught to think of “coming out” in terms of claiming the “gay” construct. Because like Frank Ocean and Monifah and so many other black folks who have a hard time with that construct, Cee is struggling against a society that doesn’t have language to convey something more fluid and beautiful than “gay” allows for.
It’s worth reading what he actually says at the top of the interview:
“I am tired of trying to do something, or be something, that I’m not. I’m tired. I’m tired. You know…have I lied about getting sexual fellatio in a car with a transexual? Yes. I have lied about that. And I feel bad…I feel bad…for the listeners that it did take a video for me to say this because I have been in denial with this for a very, very long time. A very long time. Now, the funny part of it – and I know I’m gonna get hit with social media when I get ready to say this – but I’m gonna say it anyway: Do I consider myself gay? No, I don’t consider myself gay….I have never had actual sexual intercourse with another man and vice versa…that has never been done to me.”
That fatigue at the start, man. It’s powerful. And it’s cathartic. It is no surprise Cee more or less cries through the rest of the interview. And right in the middle of this gutwrenching admission, Breeze is all love, man, saying to Cee: “take your time.” Breeze later goes on to call him a “legend” and urges him to “let it out” and tries to empathize with why Cee has been less than truthful about his sexuality in the past (specifically in the last interview that he did). And then we get to hear Funkmaster Flex bumrush the interview and, in his own inimitably wonderful way, express yet more love.
I was really moved, man. That so many of us weren’t and were instead focused on the salaciousness, the “deception”, the “crime,” suggests that it will continue to be hard to address fluid sexuality among black folks if our community can’t be as compassionate and loving as Breeze and Flex are here. In particular, the black gay/SGL/queer community has to be ready to support, not judge. So many of us weren’t – aren’t – and it’s sad. Because Cee’s struggle is as much external as internal, as he indicates with the frequent references to the fear he has felt, and continues to feel, about how people will respond to his sexuality.
But I do think black folks (especially black homosexuals) do have to understand why it matters that Cee doesn’t consider himself “gay” even as he’s acknowledging finally that he’s expressed his sexuality in non-heterosexual ways. Here again, we have a black person – even in struggle – talking about sexuality in terms that suggest a fluidity that our current conversation around sexuality does not make room for, especially for black men and women. Cee has expressed interest in gender nonconforming individuals. “Gay” ain’t gon work for that. So you hear Cee and Breeze struggle with what the categories are. But the truth is: “gay” isn’t the only way to name one’s same-sex attractions. What Cee is saying in this interview is not a contradiction. We can’t be that dismissive because it’s not that simple.
We have to grow as a community just as much, if not more, than Cee has to grow into however he chooses to name his sexuality. And those things have to be mutually reinforcing and life-sustaining. And it’ll really happen for us when we get to a place as a community where we can recognize black men spending 30 minutes trying to show each other – and themselves – tremendous love, empathy and compassion for the radical, positive, life affirming act it is.