Kaleb Blake says the myth of all “good Black men” being gay is toxic and assumes masculinity can only be expressed via hetero-normative metrics.
*Guest Post* – by Kaleb Blake
Yesterday morning hip-hop rapper Khia, queen of the “My Neck, My Back” anthem, tweeted (and I will add punctuation for the sake of legibility): “Hats off to Frank Ocean. At least he finally told the truth. Now all the women he fooled can final know the truth!!”
Khia continued to tweet that “bitches will ignore all the signs to keep a man!!” and that “not one” but all “successful black men [are] gay.”
Granted Khia has been known for being outspoken—I mean, have you heard her lyrics?—which in and of itself can be appreciated. But albeit ignorant, there is something extremely valuable and telling regarding gender and sexuality in the Black community through these tweets.
First, through Frank Ocean’s letter explaining a same-sex love affair, America has seen an all-time high support for a hip-hop artist’s homosexuality. A glimpse at any hip-hop music blog will show countless comments supporting Frank Ocean’s bravery. I would like to quickly add that I am not labeling Frank Ocean as gay, he has only admitted to having a relationship with another man.
That being said, and this brings me to my second point, there are still people who vocally express their disdain for Frank Ocean’s bravery. A number of comments will show men expressing sentiments along the lines of “I respect Frank Ocean, but I can’t relate to his music knowing that he’s singing to men therefore I will not support his career.” Unfortunate, but candid.
Others, like Khia, feel as though they (Black women) are losing “successful black men” to homosexuality, in turn reprimanding black men like Frank Ocean for “fooling” women from knowing the truth.
Here’s the thing: I have extremely strong feelings from anyone placing blame for not coming out on those who refuse to come out. It’s hard being in the closet—especially when you’ve been in it for two decades (I would know). We live in a society that tells men that the only physical contact we can have with other men is on the playing field or on a wrestling mat. We live in a society where the we “prove” our masculinity through dominance, success, and often times misogyny.
Black men face an even starker masculinity. Media shows us that if we are lucky enough to not be in prison, than we can find success in either sports or rap. That’s it—sports or rap. We can capitalize our physical prowess in the NBA or NFL, or we can capitalize our street prowess in rap. Either way, each institution fails to leave us room to explore our sexuality.
I candidly ask myself what right do women have to blame us for “fooling” them while we are still in the closet (I also note my use of “us” and “them”—how helpful is that?). I ask myself as a member of an extremely marginalized racial community what good this pointing the finger at gay Black men is: really, are all the successful Black men reserving themselves for other successful Black men? I also wonder what makes people so sure that even if Black men aren’t gay, that they would be open to courting someone as blatantly ignorant as Khia.
What gay men need is for women to understand our pain and struggle, to relate to us, and to not make it about them. With the Black community tied heavily in hip-hop (at the very least, stereotypically), we should be proud of the outpour of support for Frank Ocean. Though I would hesitate to consider him an activist, he is most certainly paving the way for a new era of hip-hop. I would, however, keep a keen eye on sentiments such as Khia’s in this “We’re losing all our good men to men!” fallacy.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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