Tag Archives: queer

Race and Sexuality. Who Gets to Decide?

Frank Ocean Ezra_Miller

Ezra Miller is quite eloquent in an interview with AfterElton on why he self-identifies as “queer”:

AfterElton: You routinely refer to yourself as “queer,” which I love. It’s an old word, but it’s kind of a new form of self-identification.
EM: 
It’s true! And it’s a different form of LGBT culture for sure. It’s even almost defiant of each of those letters. It’s kind of wonderfully all-encompassing. I’m all about it. I’m all about that word. I think it’s incredibly useful just as we head into an era of a more indiscriminate and open spectrum of human gender and sexuality. I think it’s good for us to have a word that isn’t so ultimately definitive, that leaves room for people to always be discovering and exploring who they are as a loving being.

AE: It’s defiant of that expectation to narrowly self-assign, I think, but it still aligns you in camaraderie with everything “LGBT.”
EM: 
Well, right. It’s funny how quickly so many heteronormative standards have crept their way into conventional gay culture. I think already even though we’ve done an incredibly productive cycle of opening up gaps in human rights in this particular area, I think there’s a whole new recycle that has to take place.

I find it incredibly interesting how white LGBT activists and other gay-identified folks are thoroughly comfortable and deferential to Ezra Miller’s desire to claim “queer” rather than “gay” or “bisexual”, even as they seem intent (here, herehere, and here, just to name a few) on forcing Frank Ocean into the LGBT framework (is he bi or gay? did he “come out”, etc).

I mean, even the most cursory search of Ezra Miller on AfterElton or any other gay-identified website reveals a consistent use of the term “queer”, but do the same search on Frank Ocean and you find that the more standard LGBT identifiers (most notably that he “came out”) predominate. In fact, I find that there is often hostility to the fact that he refuses to claim any label at all, particularly after his GQ interview.

Apparently, black self-determination is always something to be questioned or, worse, ignored.

On Monifah and White Construction of Sexuality

This AfterEllen (the lesbian sister site to the gay AfterElton) interview of R&B singer Monifah is a perfect example of how the largely white constructs of “gay” and “lesbian” don’t really fit black homosexual people.

AE: I want to talk about the past and I want to talk about now. Did you ever fear being outed back when you were 23, recording your first album?
MC:
 Lindsey, hell no. No! Let me tell you this: I have always lived my life authentically and exactly how I wanted to. I was dating women. People in the industry were very aware of who I was and what I was into at that point. They knew. I never hid it. I didn’t hide it.

AE: Who hid it? I mean, you weren’t out publicly.
MC:
 No! I was out publicly. I would be at parties with my girlfriend. It was very clear. It may be unspoken, but I didn’t feel like I needed to make an announcement. I just lived! You know what I’m saying? I just lived! Like most people I know.

AE: Absolutely. Well have you ever dated anyone that was in the closet?
MC:
 Um — I don’t think — no. In the closet? No. I wouldn’t say in the closet.

AE: What would you call it?
MC:
 Not in the closet, but not necessarily making any public statements.

AE: I guess that’s my question then.
MC:
 [Laughs] What’s your question?

AE: If you are a celebrity and you are gay and you are asked “Are you gay?” by press and media and you choose not to discuss it, to me and to a lot of people, that is in the closet.
MC:
 OK, got it, got it!

AE: So I guess that’s the divide. Do you feel that living an openly gay life or being open and honest, that there is a line drawn at press and media?
MC:
 Well yes because that’s still a personal thing. Your personal life is your personal life. Heterosexual couples do it all the time. Men and women that are in the business or whatever — whatever they choose to do! I am gonna say with entertainers and people in the public eye, I think that it’s a personal choice. I don’t discredit — I don’t have a problem with anyone not discussing certain aspects of their personal lives at all. It doesn’t bother me. What I chose to do was what I chose to do was because I never had an issue anyway. The show was about my life, and my life emcompasses the person I love and who I’m sharing my life with, which means my mom, my daughter, my girlfriend now, and whatever else is going on! I’m in a place where I’m walking in transparency. I’ve been through some struggles and I have nothing — you’re as sick as your secrets. I mean that in the things that can harm us — not with my sexuality; I mean drug addiction, sex addiction, things like that. I have to walk the truth. And so I was fine with sharing my personal relationship, which has uplifted me and given me a great new perspective and has given me such great support. This woman has been such a blessing to me and so I would never even think twice about celebrating that openly.

AE: You talked earlier about how everyone deserves the same rights. And I think that is something we all have to stand up for and I can tell by the way that you’re talking you believe that. So how do you feel about role models. You say it’s a personal choice but if we are fighting for equal rights —
MC:
 Right, I agree. Let me back up on this Lindsey, I got you. I do wish that it wasn’t such a big deal but I think that’s still, again, a private and personal thing. Because I think people are conflicted within themselves. It’s not even about what other people think; I think that’s the second door you have to open. The first door, is the acceptance of self. So if you’re still conflicted with acceptance of self, how do we expect for you to be honest and feel comfortable? I wish people really — it’s a scary thing. I get it, I’ve done it. I’m doing it. It’s an everyday process. It’s not some “Oh now it’s over.” I wish that people would take those steps and move out of the self-loathing pocket and more into the self-acceptance pocket. Once you’re not conflicted within yourself, speak out because this needs to be normalized. It has to stop. We do need to see these images of self. These children do need to see that there’s nothing wrong with them. They do need to see that so-and-so is amazing, talented and is taking over the world, handling his business and so can I. And they’re just like me! We need to see these images. Our children need to see them.

AE: Absolutely. Did anyone ever tell you, even though you were living an open life, did they say you might not want to speak publicly about your sexuality?
MC:
 Oh yeah, all the homophobes in the business. Yeah, oh my God, yes! Mostly everybody who was in control, who runs the industry. It’s a male-run industry, basically. And in my opinion, a gay-male run industry. That’s crazy to me. Overall! It’s Jewish gay males, right? I mean, am I crazy? [Laughs]

AE: No, I think what you’ve seen what you’ve seen, for sure! [Laughs] I think it’s really important to understand the reasons why that someone as famous as you, nobody knew until now!
MC:
 Yeah. I do think that Middle America, across the board, may not have known, but the people that are kind of privy and in the circle you run in – I’ve hung out at Girl Bar parties. I’ve lived my life! And I didn’t really — People would say “Oh she likes girls” especially now with blogs and stuff. It’s way more prevalent with social media and technology is more prevalent; way more in your face. In the entertainment industry, it’s become such a tool. It was definitely out there. People can believe what they like to believe and that’s depends on what they need to believe.

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Pretty Ricky’s Retreat

What the….?

The sad thing is that H-Town, K-Ci and Lingerie all sound really good. It’s just that they are singing a really really really bad song that isn’t the least bit sexy or sensual – and yet they really seem to think it is.

Tragic.

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some thoughts on black sexuality



Pretty Ricky, Knockin' Boots '08

Putting aside the abomination of covering such a classic, this video calls to mind something Frank Leon Roberts wrote regarding the Omarion/BowWow "relationship":

I think the nonchalance of their union speaks to a larger—and truly unprecedented—-moment in post-1960s black popular culture where black men are being given a space to perform versions of masculinity and kinship that do not have to adhere with the violent, hypermasculinist models popularized by mid-nineties hip hop culture.

…because, this is the "gayest" video I've seen in a long time. 

And I mean that respectfully.

There's something liberating about how increasingly comfortable black men are with disrupting our notions of what black masculinity is. In this video, we see an unapologetic display of "black gayness" on a level to which we just haven't seen before.  The video's images are revelatory in their unvarnished celebration of young men showing off their bodies. This is not the floss of straight black men who preen for women. 

This is self-affirmation that reminds me of the swag of a young ball kid.

There is no irony, no catching someone doing a 'gay-like' dance "on accident," no pretense whatsoever.  The close-ups of one of the guys poppin and grindin his hips is something you'd see in any black gay club, but rarely see in such a prominent way in corporate black pop. 

And there are practically no women.  Pretty Ricky themselves are the object of the video.  As objects, they are comfortably "queering" the male gaze.  And it's noticeable (check the comments on the video, over 500 in just 6 days). 

In this respect, I think this video marks significant progress in problematizing dominant narratives of black masculinity. 

For that, Pretty Ricky are to be congratulated. 

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Will Smith apparently told the media that he and Jada have talked about having an open relationship.

I'm deeply fascinated.

Again, we have the most prominent black married couple talking about a radical shift in their relationship. A radical break from conventional norms.

Our perspective is, you don't avoid what's natural and you're going to be attracted to people.

I think this is important because Will is pretty clear that he and Jada make a distinction between a marriage and a sexual relationship.  In their minds, those are two different things.

Been saying that for a minute.

Even got into a lil blog-ument about it (click the link and do a find with my name "Tyler" if you are curious) with some folks over at VerySmartBrothas.com where I said:

I think its amusing that we talk about how humans are one of the few animals on the planet that have sex for pleasure and then in the same breath say that monogamy is natural. For me, those two statements are contradictory because we understand fidelity to be about sex (or rather, an equation of sex with love, which to me is specious).

…and other stuff. 

Ultimately, I think this is an affirmation of the love they share.  I like that they talk about these things.  I like how they seem to acknowledge the sexuality they share and also acknowledge that there is sexuality that is separate, that lies outside convention. 

And I don't think these conversations are anywhere near as harmonious as the news article suggests.  I bet they've argued.  I bet Jada's Baltimore came out and I bet Will took it back to Philly a bit. 

I bet it took time to get to a place where they both agree on this (whether they act on this agreement or not is not all that important to me).

I am enjoying this glimpse into how grown ass loving black folks cope with their complicated sexualities.

*Shout out to my boy D for inspiring this post.*