Fighting for Survival: Three Ways Feminine Black Gay Men Are Forced To Navigate Life

War. War was the first word that came to mind when I thought about how it feels for someone like me to live in this society. It’s stressful to not only be fighting for basic respect, but also having to fight to simply exist. I was previously untrained for this type of combat but it was absolutely mandatory for me to learn as quickly as I could. There are three main ways in which this war unfolds:

Battle with the In-Group

In this case, the in-groups consist of two main identity groups—black and gay. Many people do not want to acknowledge that these identities can and often do intersect.  I’ve heard many black people say that: “race comes before sexual orientation.” Their argument is that when someone sees me, that my gayness won’t immediately be obvious but my blackness will. However, as a feminine gay man, I beg to differ.

It is my femininity and gayness that make me a target in heterosexual black spaces. Many straight black people want to present a false sense of camaraderie when speaking about these issues—but I know how it feels first hand to get the cold shoulder from the very same niggas that were screaming “Black Lives Matter!” Do they? Do all black lives really matter? You took one look at my femininity and were convinced that I’m “destroying the black community.” Many black people will detect feminine gayness in black men and blame it on white people “who are trying to ruin the black family.”  These people would be shocked to learn that white people’s colonization didn’t bring homosexuality—it brought homophobia.

I hate having to fight some of my own people so that I can preserve my humanity. But I will do it if it means survival.

The other in-group I’m a part of is the gay category. Some people who are gay and non-black allow racism to take hold in their minds. And so again, I find myself fighting in spaces where I should be automatically accepted. For example: there have been stories about gay bars (even in Atlanta where I live) that discriminate against black clientele whether covertly or overtly. To go even further, the gay community has huge problems when it comes to sacrificing their souls for the masculine and taking a huge shit on those who are feminine. The fight continues.

When the two identities intersect, they create the black gay group. Even in this group I am constantly fighting against colourism, internalised misogyny, and femmephobia. People in this group either decide to live their lives as the unique individuals they were created to be…or they decide to pick up where white supremacy left off. They try to duplicate society’s standards and unwritten rules that are used to dictate who has dominance.  Because they feel powerless and abandoned by the general population, they try to recreate power dynamics by mirroring the same society that cast them out in the first place. This will only lead to self-destruction. I will fight toward a revolution of thought.

Battle with the Out-Group

People who are in the out-group are neither black nor gay. For the purpose of this piece I will focus on the majority. These are the people who I’d logically expect to be fighting against. These people have never had to dissect the unwritten rules of society because those rules cater to them in the first place. Why would they willingly wrestle with something that gives them standing and validation? These people have established their whole existence and self-esteem on some of the most destructive (and/or meaningless) societal traditions.

If you’re a male who’s been told all of your life that you can only pick the fabrics that you want to wear from one section of the store, then of course you’ll have a breakdown when you see a cross-dresser like me happily living my life. I realised that a lot of individuals aren’t angry at a fem gay like me simply just for being fem. They are disgusted with the happiness that I have regardless of what the world is telling me to do. They wish they could be like us fem gays. They wish that they could live outside of the box so comfortably without caring what others think. They are jealous of the courage that we must have. They aren’t jealous of what it took for us to get it, though. We fight on.

Battle with Self

This is the most important battle. It may take practice and years of self-talk to undo all of the horrible ways we have been trained and socialized to hate ourselves. People will look at a feminine gay man and try to tell them that they’re “doing this for attention.” From the moment we start breathing differently on this planet, we’re often told that our personalities are “too extra” or “too much.” It can be a hard mental fight to avoid internalizing this idiocy. Some gay men already have, though—they’re the ones proudly proclaiming that they’re “not like other gays.” They don’t do “stereotypically gay” things & flaunt that fact—as if that would have stopped bullets at Pulse.

You never hear straight people speaking in such a manner. They’re never afraid to be identified as straight—because straightness is where their power lies. It’s ironic that they talk about the things that gay men do for “attention” or “validation,” yet these same straight people sometimes adopt fake personalities, fake marriages, and even betray their own desires so they can fit a role society told them to fit. As feminine gay men, we must constantly fight with ourselves to dispel the self-hatred that the world so desperately wants us to feel.

War is based on power and who has it. I’m determined to create my own power and it won’t be rooted in the homophobia, femmephobia, & anti-blackness that is currently suffocating us all.

 

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