Recently a few blogs have been discussing the video/poem posted by Yolo Akili entitled Are we the kind of boys we want? In between spoken word rhymes black gay men talk about what they look for in a man and answer whether or not they would date themselves.
So would I date me if I saw me walking down the street? And started to cry each time we meet (oops that's Dionne Warrick). Anyway, I'm not sure if I would. On the one hand, I'm 5'10 with a medium build (damn am I on Adam for Adam?) and a handsome guy if I do say so myself, so I'd definitely catch my eye on a physical level. I'm creative, smart, very giving, easy going and have a wicked sense of humor. But on the other hand, I can be moody at times and very reserved emotionally. Plus my intellectual curiosity can sometimes get the best of me, and I can be over analytical about things and get lost in my own head. I think I would need someone who is earthy, more outwardly emotional and straight forward to balance me out. So...I'd love to be close friends with me, but I'd don't think I'd date me.
With that said, this emphasis (or let's be real) obsession with masculinity in the black gay community is problematic. So many guys are in search of the straight-acting gay holy grail, that they're willing to dismiss anyone who doesn't fit that criteria, no matter how good they may be. And what the hell does straight-acting even mean really? My dad is one of the most masculine men I know, but he watches soap operas (The Bold And The Beautiful to be exact). One of my roommates in college was straight but was a theater and dance major. Another straight guy I know hardly ever drinks hard liquor but loves daiquiris instead, while another guy loves Patti Labelle, but he is straight (hard to believe but it's true:). My point being, straight men don't always "act straight" so why should we as gay men expect that of each other?
While I personally feel I sway between the masculine and feminine, my overall aura/energy is more masculine, so I do feel qualified to speak more from that perspective. I can say from personal experience that masculine guys do feel pressure from fem guys to be the "man" in the relationship. I've had men expect me to always pay their way when going out(and their bills-so didn't happen!) and go to work everyday while they play the woman's role. I don't get why we would want to imitate straight couples, when clearly isn't working for them! Even in my current relationship, there was pressure at beginning for me to be more aggressive, to take charge and play more of the alpha male role. But I made it clear that that's never been who I am. I can be aggressive when it comes to pursuing things I want, but being some controlling, wannabe homothug is so not the business.
I like to lift weights. But I also love to read books. I like Ice Cube, Naughty By Nature, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Slipknot and loads of other hip hop and hard rock. But I also love Madonna, Janet, Mary, Beyonce, Diana, Whitney and the rest of the diva brigade. I like Entourage, Menace To Society, Goodfellas, Diehard, American Pie, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Friday, Family Guy and any other assortment of gangster, gross out and/or action flicks. But I can laugh my ass off at and appreciate films like Paris Is Burning, Changeling, Mean Girls, Bring It On, The Notebook, Waiting To Exhale and Clueless.
I'm not some rough piece of trade that doesn't know that two plus two equals four. And I'm not a super femme queen who's sole purpose is to get their life in the club every weekend. I'm a whole human being, and so are other black gay men, be they more naturally masculine or feminine in nature. True, in any relationship each person is inevitably going to fall into some traditional roles. You may have an eye for interior design that your man doesn't. Or you may be more mechanical than he is, so you fix things around the house. But to resign ourselves to these cartoonish hypermasculine and hyperfeminine roles will only lead to disaster.
What's important in any relationship, be it gay or straight, is that the individuals in it are not trying to fulfill some fantasy for the other person, but are being loved and appreciated for who they are. On a side note, it would be interesting to find out if this same thing goes on in the lesbian community (i.e. an obsession with femininity). It probably doesn't, since women are allowed to cross gender norms in their appearance and personal interests in a way men aren't, regardless of their orientation.
Anyway, watch the video below, and tell me what you think.