THE BLACK GAY SCANDAL: 25 Most Scandalous Events That Shocked The Black Gay Community
Over the past ten years, the Black LGBT community witnessed positive progression of its image within the community exponentially. Before 2003, the faces of the Black LGBT community consisted of mostly activists, drag divas, club promoters, ballroom notables and porn stars. Since 2003, the Black LGBT representation diversified and opened opportunities for our fellow gays, lesbians and transgenders to make names for themselves largely due to the popularity of the internet and pop culture. Today’s diverse representation include the growing number of reality TV stars, independent musicians, athletes, drama and comedy series, documentaries, travel excursions, media and online personalities. Thus, this community image growth allowed the Black LGBT community to be bolder and prouder as ever.
As the image of the Black LGBT community continues to grow and diversify, tragic events overshadowed the community’s successes and celebrations, many of which happened so long ago but has never been forgotten. Such events shaped the ongoing future of the Black LGBT community with lessons learned and/or struggles continued. Consequently, these affairs have shown their affect on the community as they continue to form conversations of complaint, pity and regret with almost no hopes of reconciliation, ownership and problem-solving.
From uncovered hypocrisy to internalized homophobia and celebrated careless behaviors to losing Black LGBT institutions, I uncover 25 of the most tragic events that affected the Black LGBT community over the past ten years. As you read this list, think of how we as the Black LGBT community, especially you as an individual, can make these events permanent history instead of being the hot topics of discussion forever and ever.
25. Kevin Clash instantly goes from American children’s hero to sexual predator of young Black gay men
Clash was once an American hero to children as being the man behind the “Sesame Street” character Elmo. For almost 30 years, Elmo served as an entertaining and educational fixture of children’s lives as they learned basic skills of development which earned Clash millions of dollars. The honorable legacy turned into an American tragedy as young gay men of color came out accusing Clash of improper sexual conduct with them whilethey were minors. The embarrassment caused Clash to step down from his “Sesame Street” duties in 2012, and the image of Elmo has never been the same.
24. Tyler Perry, Will Smith, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte refuse to directly address theirsame-sex-gender sexuality despite growing talk among public opinion
No one outside of the Black LGBT community will ever relate on the risks of Black gays and lesbians coming out of the closet – especially if their social circle and fan base are identified as mostly Black and religious Black. Look at three groups of celebrities where I prove my point.
The coming out events of Rosie O’Donnell, Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Lance Bass and Neil-Patrick Harris generated them success beyond measure that probably would not exist if they remained in-the-closet. What do they have in common? They are white celebrities, with predominately white audiences and large white gay and lesbian support.
Let’s look at a particular class of out Black celebrities including Don Lemon, Wade Davis, John Amaechi, Jason Collins and Wanda Sykes. After they came out of the closet, they celebrity rose out of obscurity and remained consistently high today. Though the athletes were unknowns before coming out, these celebrities’ social circles are mostly or entirely around white gays and lesbians. Thus, they became celebrity darlings among thewhite LGBT community, while identifying with the Black gays and lesbians is an after-thought or not in the works until the white gays and lesbians will remind them that they are Black one day.
However, there is a small list of Black celebrities who have come out of the closet who have met with public shut down from their fanbases of mostly Black and religous people – remember Tonex and Diana King? After coming out the closet, they virtually lost their fan base and become ostracized. Adding insult to injury, these extremely talented musicians do not get the support from their fellow gays and lesbians of color in record numbers like the white counterparts support their own.
With that said, it is very understandable why the likes of Queen Latifah, Freddie Jackson, Tyler Perry and other notable Black celebrities rumored to be same-gender-loving are not coming out of the closet. Sexual identity is a personal matter and it is not to public opinion or gays miserable in their sexuality to choose how people deal with their sexuality in a public forum.
23. Out and proud gay and lesbian rappers gain national online attention and fail to capitalize on the hoopla
How much longer can the topic of gays fitting into mainstream rap industry and culture can go on as a relevant topic? Years of discussion left the door wide open for a talented openly-gay rapper become that first legitimate gay hip-hop superstar. Unlikely allies in the hip-hop community welcomed worthy gay rappers into the game in numerous interviews over the years. Though I can name at least five out-and-proud gay independent rappers who deserve similar notoriety as Nas, TI, Common and others based on skills, none of these talented out rappers seem to have the ambition that will garner them widespread success as if they prefer to waste their talents with a community that barely recognizes them – the Black LGBT community – while an overly-sexual and campy music video goes viral periodically as a platform for mainstream media to poke fun at these gay rappers who rap for delusional fame and attention rather than sincere passion and pure talent.
22. What happened to the two or more Black gay TV networks which were set to debut in 2010?
Throughout the spring and summer of 2010, the Black LGBT community rejoiced upon receiving two major announcements regarding representing in the media. GLO-TV and Embrace-TV were announced to be new full-fledged TV networks that were set to debut in the fall of that year. In fact, the two “networks” seems to battle each other to see who will be crowned as the first Black gay TV network ever. Other “networks” threw their bids to gain our TV watching too. Nonetheless, none of these “ventures” had the business plan and finances as well as attractive talents to see the light of day. None even bothered to carry on as an online TV network which would have been a realistic, cost-effective and profitable feat. Thousands of Black LGBT community hopefuls were left hanging with a pipe dream as those “networks” were here today and gone tomorrow.
21. “Ex-gay” gospel singer Donnie McClurkin calls gay “vampires”
McClurkin’s relationship with the gay community, especially gay and lesbians of color, has been strained the very minute he mentioned that he “used to be gay” and that gays and lesbians can be cured from their sexuality. Since his revelation, McClurkin used his public platform to shame homosexuality as immorality against religion. Thus, mostly white gay rights activists flexed their influences to shun McClurkin out of performances and engagements over the years. If you thought McClurkin would change his ways, check out his 2009 sermon that went viral where he calls gays and lesbian “vampires” in a ten-minute homophobic rant in front a large, supporting congregation. Since, McClurkin has lost more and more gigs due to pressures of gay activists as he vows to continue his homophobic crusade.
Side bar: Why do I know very gay Black men who follow McClurkin’s ministry religiously?
20. Clikque magazine bids farewell, but is making a comeback???
The scandal is not how/why/when Clikque magazine folded back in 2008. Yes, it was a sad day in Black gay America, but we rejoice that it was the print publication that gave the Black LGBT community voices that would have been missed everywhere else. It seemed like the modern-day Bible for the Black LGBT community.
In 2010, rumors surfaced that the magazine would come back in print. Later, it was confirmed in a press release that sent the joys of the Black LGBT community in overdrive. Yet, there was a caveat. The magazine fell under new leadership as former owner Dwight Powell moved on to continue focus on his highly-profitable Sizzle Miami party weekend. That piece of news drew curiosity of how the re-branding of Clikque would appear. Well, we are in year 2013 now, and there is no Clikque in sight…not even a new logo or another announcement. Have we been bamboozled like we did with the news of Black LGBT TV networks?
19. Homophobic church pastor Eddie Long gets outed by “spiritual sons”
During the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, gay marriage equality was one of the forefront topics of discussion that helped Republican George W. Bush win his reelection. Bush’s fight against gay marriage – due to religion – drew wide support from Republicans, religious groups, poor Blacks and southern-state Americans. It seemed that gay marriage rights took center stage in the election over more important social issues where Bush was widely criticized for including health care, employment and education. The most surprising support to Bush’s anti-gay campaign came from African-American pastors of mega-churches with predominately Black membership who often vote for Democrats because of Republicans’ apparent dismissal of concerns from Black America. Atlanta bishop Long was one of the loudest Bush supporters against gay marriage and corralled rallies to encourage his Black members and fellow religious Americans to vote for Bush to prevent same-sex marriages over challenging Bush on economic, employment and health care struggles. However in 2010, Long was outed by three young men of color, whom he allegedly mentored, for having sexual relationships with them for years and used spirituality and gifts to control them. Thus, Long’s church suffered a large decrease in membership, tarnished reputation and strains in relationships within the gospel community.
18. DC party promoter squares off with Sizzle Miami in press release wars over which Memorial Day destination attracts the most “real men”
The news of Black gay and lesbians club and party promoters shamelessly fighting each other over city dominance is nothing new to Black LGBT community. In fact, the messy tactics promoters engage in has seen the community becoming turned off and less supportive in patronizing their businesses. The messiest squabble between promoters did not pit two within the same city as usual. In 2012, McGregory Williams of Omega Entertainment in Washington DC and Dwight Powell of Sizzle Miami waged at one another at the expense of the Black gay population over whose Memorial Day destination drew the better crop of “real men.” Though Williams’ first mud slinging of a grammatically challenged press release offended effeminate Black gay men because, according to him, they take over Miami, while the “real men” invade DC, many Powell supporters cringed at his defending response as a grandiose marketing strategy to publish allegedly ballooned numbers of attendance and demographic details. Their continued press-release war drew criticisms from the Black gay community, including yours truly in that article you most likely read last summer, as we are happy to have options to celebrate our pride.
17. Black gays and lesbians rather embrace homophobic TV personalities, rappers and reggae artists instead of protesting them like the white gay activists
I must say the very thing that bothers me most about my fellow people in the Black LGBT community is that we collectively support those who are apparently against homosexuals. Must I provide a few examples?.
Wendy Williams – The famous TV talk show’s claim-to-fame has been her penchant to out Black celebrities dirty laundry, especially same-sex affairs. Without her incessant need to expose the lives of men and women she assumed to live the “down low” life, Wendy would still be on radio and not as a stand-out figure in America. Her popular catch phrase “how you doin’” originated from her radio stint as her hint to listeners that she is calling out a Black celebrity as gay. Young Black gay men, even I hate to admit yours truly, sung Williams’ praises as her provocative angle of reporting rubbed the entertainment industry the wrong ways. Regardless of whether we like Wendy because we fantasized that we would one day become of the lovers of these alleged down-low rappers and athlete, Williams’ exposes were drivers of homophobic behavior by people whose sexuality has been wrongfully identified or forced out on her terms. Those Black gays used to see her as a friend of the community, Williams’ true feelings came out to us smarter gays as a Black woman who suggests that gay men are lessors of Black America, unless they are feeding her gossip or styling or idolizing her. In a recent interview with Vlad-TV, Williams gives women who sleep with women a pass for still being heterosexual or bisexual, but denounces bisexuality for men. That is one example of Wendy’s double-talking about her support of the gays, but she is still getting hired to host gigs at New York gay prides and parties.
Buju Banton, Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, T.O.K. – As much as I love reggae music, especially dancehall, my heart sunk when I learned, in 2002, that some of the music I danced to in the gay clubs promoted the killing and ostracizing of gay men and raping of lesbians. I felt dirty for dancing to “Chi Chi Man” in every Black gay party in DC, Chicago, New York and Atlanta and wondered why Black gay and lesbian promoters and DJs still played songs from those homophobic artists with the knowlege of their music becoming news for the next few years. My confrontations on that subject fell on deaf ears back then. At that point, I realized that dollars talk. If I am the only one openly complaining and withholding my patronage from these Black gay clubs supporting homophobic music, then promoters will never see it as an issue with an entire community.
50 Cent – The hip-hop it-boy of 2003 exploded onto the scene with his fresh sound of gangsta-rap in 2003. 50 also made headline for feuds with other rappers and randomly saying homophobic statements for publicity. Regardless, “In The Club” “21 Questions” and “PIMP” saturated the Black gay clubs in Chicago, DC, Atlanta and NYC with Black gay men of all ages suddenly dressed like the rapper wearing doo-rags, Timbaland boots and Starters jerseys pretending to be masculine in order to fit in with the Black gay social scene.
You get the picture???
16. Ballroom brawls gone viral
Unfortunately, there is a classist division among Black gay men where the ballroom scene seems to be forced into an underground subculture in the community due to the general population’s perceptively shamed behavior. I have met members in the ballroom circuit who seemed ashamed to let outsiders know that they belong to a family in that scene because of the community’s overall prejudices. Despite the culture of family and pride and the celebration of art, fashion and gender-identification, the ballroom scene’s reputation is marred by rumors of fights, promiscuity, bad public behavior and lack of ambition outside the scene. That said reputation grows when they are online videos from recent ballroom event brawls going viral and giving society the image that Black gay men and transwomen behave as such at social events for us. These behaviors feed into the racism and homophobia.
15. Noah’s Arc abruptly goes off the air
The best thing that happened to Black gays in the media occurred in 2005 when the TV comedy series “Noah’s Arc” premiered on LOGO TV. ”Arc” was the first TV show to feature an all-Black gay cast, especially in positive representation. The show encouraged a spike in premium cable membership and in the gay channel’s viewership for finally producing a show that LGBT people can identify and patronize. The show endured two good seasons with respectable ratings and dropped a bombshell to its audience weeks after the final episode of season two aired on October 2006. Fans’ jaws dropped when LOGO announced that the season two’s finale was actually the series’ finale. That news pissed off the Black LGBT community as speculations mounted on what caused the demise of the groundbreaking show. Though no answers eased the rumor mill of ”Noah’s Arc” TV, fans were pleased to see a film adaptation in 2008 that closed all the open-ended questions from the TV series finale. Regardless of the chapter closing film from five years ago, fans in the community are still hoping for a “Noah’s Arc” return of some sort.
14. Black gay and lesbian bars/clubs and party nights evaporate in major U.S. markets
The ongoing staples of the Black LGBT social scene are the gay and lesbian bars. At a time when Black gays and lesbians felt ostracized socially by their white counterparts, establishments with a predominately Black gay and lesbian presence served as a safer space than any gay spot could provide. During the 1960′s thru 1990′s, there were stand alone Black gay bar/nightclub establishments owned, operated and patronized in abundance among larger U.S. cities. Today, almost all those Black LGBT landmarks are gone and an recurring safe social space for Black gays and lesbians are nearly extinct. I am not suggesting that they are not around. Our bar/club scene looks very much like this: a club promoter may have Club X every Saturday night until low attendance or missed bar sales quotes will force that promoter to move his/her party elsewhere five months later.
This may be a solution I can see solved if promoters had more than money and popularity on the brain and catered to the public demand of a social scene. In tandem, patrons must play the game in supporting the events by budgeting to buy the bar instead of getting drunk at your friend’s house before arrival to keep costs of the bar as low as possible in addition to keeping their club night alive.
13. Cocodorm investigated for health endangerment and shady business practices
Cocodorm’s controversy within the Black gay community reaches beyond the promotion of risky sexual behavior. I will not bore you with that.
The porn company claim to fame is the conditions American health and business organization found in the way, the white owners , which I will get to later, housed their young Black film stars. When they were headquartered in Chicago, I remember meeting some of the stars who escaped the slave-like conditions of that house. In case you did not know, Cocodorm video stars were required to live in the house and perform unprotected sex on command. Though the stars, all of over 18 years old, chose to be a Cocodorm star, the ones I spoke to felt it was their way of survival without a family member or friend to rely on for shelter.
If any Cocodorm star refused to engage in the on-demand bareback sex, he had to leave the premises immediately or take a house job until the owners were ready to put him out. At least that is what happened to one guy I mentored for a while. The young men who left the then-Chicago facilities sought medical treatment at clinics to discover they have become HIV-positive. The alarming number of HIV-positive individuals caused Chicago health organizations to run them out of town after many legal citations.
The company moved to Florida and faced similar problem on a business and criminal side. You might remember that house fight in 2007 when the porn stars threw kitchen items at each other over one star wanting a different top co-star in a scene. Weeks after the video went viral, Florida authorities raided the home once neighbors complained about suspicious behaviors on the premises and the porn company was cited with operating a large business inside a residence without proper licensing.
12. Blatino Reality TV star Zeric Armenteros (Toda) scathingly dissed Black and Latin gay men
This one is my personal favorite, but not really. A worse mentality in the Black gay community than the “crabs-in-the-barrel” behavior is a self-hating gay man of color who blatantly disses his own race to favor others socially and romantically. I am not suggesting that having friendships or lovers of another race is wrong. I do not respect people who put down their race to justify why they do things socially with other races as did aspiring model/former TV personality Zeric did in a YouTube interview in 2011. When asked about his dating preference, Zeric arrogantly avowed his love for Anglo European men because Black and Latin men are messy guys who are engulfed in the social scene. Though his dating and social life went against what he bragged about on camera, because pictures with a Black boyfriend and ties to a Black ballroom family surfaced, his fragile ego caught the best of him when his pseudo-arrogance was challenged by Black and Latin gay men everywhere for his “snow queen” mentality. Unfortunately, Zeric is not the only man of color who allegedly denies his Black and Latino men socially as there are many, but his online interview made him the poster child of keeping those kinds of preferences to oneself.
11. Bossip’s & MediaTakeOut’s Black gay male writers allegedly concocting the most homophobic stories against Black gay men
I must admit that Black gossip blogs, especially the king and queen of them all, MediaTakeOut and Bossip respectively, are equal opportunists at offending all aspects of the African American community with their penchant of seeking the most scandalous news no matter how off-the-mark they are. Much like the Zeric situation at #12, I have a problem when Black gay men use their platform to alienate the Black gay community as the problem-children of society because that is exactly what the aforementioned do very well. Allegedly, those sites have Black gay men writing news/stories ubiquitously to challenge a Black male celebrity’s sexual preference by his flair for fashion or the company he keeps, gay men particularly. They trash out and proud effeminate gays for dressing in their sexual and gender-bending identities (e.g. EJ Johnson and Derek J). Most importantly, they write messages to Black women in their news/stories consistently to find out how to catch their men creeping with other men sexually. It puzzles me why would Black gay men allegedly write articles suggesting that Black gay should be treated as social outcasts.
Bossip and MediaTakeOut may trash Black celebrities in general, but do the laws of morality differ when these alleged gay Black spew the same venomous gossip on other Black gay men?
10. Inferno DR Men Darvin “Will” Williams ran off with hundreds of travelers’ money
This story may be very fresh, but the Black LGBT community has not dealt with a blow this largely in years. For those unfamiliar with this month-old story, hundreds of traveling hopefuls, mostly Black gay men from all parts of America, looked forward to ending their summer season with a breathtakingly fun-filled trip in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with fellow revelers in an annual event called Inferno DR. This past Labor Day would have seen its fifth and most successful year in attendance. However, travelers ended up being stranded in the island because they learned upon arrival that Inferno DR’s head honcho and company ran off with the travelers money because he did pay the hosting resort the money for the traveler’s stay in addition to the balance he owed from 2012′s fantastic affair. Though the scandalous stunt affected hundreds of people’s pockets, news traveled rapidly among the community with feelings of disgust and confusion and the worrying of how this will affect the behavior of Black gays supporting Black gays in business transactions going forward.
9. Fame-starving Black transwomen and Black gay men out popular celebrities over alleged affairs
In the LGBT community, I find that the majority of us sees homophobia as a one-sided issue where we can only be the victim and never become the root of the problem. I will say until the end of time that people in the LGBT community can cause homophobic by irresponsibly heinous acts, with erroneously outing someone’s sexuality as same-gender-loving or outing a person who is in the closet for personal gain or revenge at the top of the list. A few years ago, St. Louis hip-hop hit maker Chingy rode high in success with monster singles “Right Thurr” and “One Call Away.” His catchy tunes earned him millions of dollars and a legion of fans across the world. Once his career hit a rough patch commercially in 2009, a couple of aspiring trans-female rappers Foxxjazell and Sidney Starr shared their separate sexual affairs with Black gossip media because the rapper allegedly dissed them after a few trysts.
Years later, Starr confessed on her YouTube channel that she lied about her encounters with Chingy because she felt that lie was her only platform to gain national notoriety she desperately longed for. Foxx, on the other hand, swept her confession under the rug and focused on her newfound success as a trans-female emcee. Regardless, these outings of Chingy were unwarranted since he never denied his sexuality since he was never asked about being sexually active with men or transgender people or never publicly displayed homophobic behavior as a popular emcee. Their behavior begets homophobia for fear of a person being outed when not yet comfortable in one’s skin or the hatred of being associated with people identifying in the LGBT community.
8. “In The Life: ATL” panned immediately in record numbers by Black gay men
The behavior I keep preaching about that has overtaken the Black gay community is the “crabs in the barrel” mentality. I define it as a social mechanism of hatred that Black gays spew on each other based on jealousy and double-standards. My personal experiences with party promoters, organization leaders and video bloggers allowed me to see that first hand, but I have never seen the amount of jealousy and double-standards when legions of Black gay men crusaded to denounce the arrival of the reality TV pilot for “In The Life: ATL.” “The Life” followed six Black gay social status climbers in the Atlanta area who wanted to tell their stories of how they have become social power players in Atlanta’s Black gay community and what they aspire to do after telling their stories. What was so bad about that concept?
According to overwhelming consensus, Black gays trashed “In The Life” on arrival because they felt the show depicted the negative stereotypes among Black gay men, dwelled in extravagance, promoted the “no fats/no fems” stigma and packed too much drama and confrontations that would put a negative light on our community as well as being overlooked to be cast in the pilot, being sought out for approval and not being the first to come up with the idea. Yet, when the stars of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Love & Hip-Hop ATL” are on TV, the Black gays flock en mass to ensure they got to see their favorite drama queens in action. In other words, it is okay for Black gays to see Black women live ostentatiously and engage in scripted drama in reality TV, but when we cry for our own versions of these shows and LOGO’s “The A-List,” we are ready to destroy it immediately when a show like “The Life” becomes very popular even when all the other Black video bloggers and online TV series engage in similar braggadocios and ostentatious behavior.
7. At-risk Black gay and lesbian youth used by Black gay/lesbian activists and overlooked by older and well-established Black gays and lesbians
One of the most obvious divisions in the Black LGBT community is the separation of the haves and the have-nots. I look at cities like Chicago, New York and Atlanta where the Black gay youth from the rough parts of the inner-city are damn near begging for the attention of our more mature demographic, yet they find themselves ignored and ridiculed over and over because of their appearances and mannerisms. Some of the activities and elders make embrace these disadvantaged youth the way that Eddie Long embraced his “spiritual sons” only to toss them back into the wilds of a homophobic, classist and racist society after being emotionally and physically used by the people they trusted. Though their criminal-like actions including prostitution, fighting and disorderly conduct give them a free pass to misbehave, these impressionable troubled youth seek passionately to find people who care enough to encourage them when the very people they want to relate mostly (e.g. family, Black people and the LGBT community) turned their backs on them in prejudice.
6. Images of effeminate and non-Black-loving Black gay men in media cause dissension among Black gay men
The lack of protagonistic Black gay male images in media is a bitter pill to swallow in the Black gay community so much so we were temporarily relieved when TV shows “Noah’s Arc” and “Shirts & Skins” and films “Rag Tag” and “Dirty Laundry” came out years ago. Of course, these shows have become distant memory today with no similar shows featuring an all Black gay male cast or a strong Black gay lead character to carry on the diversity within TV and film. Instead, Black gay men seem to be hired in mainstream media with one of two qualities: the flamboyantly effeminate/gender-bender who makes a great sidekick to male-bashing Black women (e.g. RuPaul, Jay Alexander, Miss Lawrence & Derek J) or the Black gay exclusionary socially and romantically snow queen guy with a middle-of-the-road look and personality (e.g.,Don Lemon). Representation of Black gay men is noted within the Black gay community. However, we see the mixed signals sent to society as Black gay men are only interesting characters if we are colorfully effeminate or looking outside of our race for validation. Fortunately, instead of voicing anger towards that underlying racism many Black gay men have created opportunities in online media and filmography to show the diversity our beautiful community has.
5. Young Black gay men are dying of AIDS as the HIV rate stays high for Black gay men
I’m not going to go into large details about this point because if you are not hiding out of the Black gay social scene, the amount of HIV-positive identified people in our circles seem to outnumber those who identify as HIV-negative. (Notice I use the word “identify” versus “are.”)
I am mostly alarmed at the growing number of young Black gay men who are dying of AIDS-related causes, and I am going to set that age range at under 35. Before scientific research discovered ways HIV-positive people can live a long time through medical treatment and healthy, I met HIV-positive people who lived with HIV for more than 10 and 20 years. At that time, I was amazed because I remember the lives of rapper Eazy-E and TV personality Pedro Zamora who died very shortly after learning of their status before the access to long-term HIV survival existed the way it does today. With that said, I cram to understand why I am noticing new AIDS-related deaths of young men in the 20′s and early 30′s. Drug use and depression tend to be common factors toward that epidemic. Regardless, it is a concern that our community should discover and address…and when I mean address, I mean take action and responsibility.
4. “No fats/no fems” phrase divided the Black gay male population socially
The reason that this is ranked so high on my list is because I think this debate and lifestyle is overdone. Its continuance annoys me, especially as I am typing this. By the time online dating/hook-up website Adam4Adam and Men4Now took over the online usage among many gay men of color, our articulation of describing our ideal lover or fvck buddy was forced to be creatively succinct to reel in the potential suitors. Thus, the popularized “no fats/no fems” phrase directly mentioned in four words that a guy was looking for a slim or in-shape dude with a predominately masculine demeanor. That sounds innocent, right? He is not toying with the emotions or attractions of an ineligible suitor who may continue to find someone who is a match. Well, some insecure queen big or fem guy felt ostracized by a type of men he idolized decided to make his insecurity into a spreading disease that became the “no fats/no fems” phenomenon. Instead of moving onto men who might be attracted to one’s femininity or shapely figure, the offended rather waste their happiness and energy on people with whom they cannot stand a chance.
3. Black pride organizations fall apart though few are making comebacks
More than ten years ago, Black pride celebrations in major cities seemed to be the staple that kept Black LGBT Americans more connected than ever. Today, Black pride weekends, largely due to failed organizations leaders year after year, appear to be after-thoughts or things of the past.
I remember when I came out into the Black LGBT social scene during the late 1990′s, Black gay pride weekends in major cities including Chicago, New York City--(the collapse of GMAD under trifling leadership), Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington DC were well-organized, exciting and action-packed celebrations with activities for revelers to engage in from breakfast hours to the clubs’ late night hours. Black Pride attendees participated in workshops and cultural activities as much as they danced in the night clubs and house parties. The diverse scenes gathered at the grand events found body boys, lipstick lesbians, drag queens, intellectuals, big boys, stud lesbians, mature people and ballroom personalities mingling together. I was mostly impressed by the planning of these organization leaders drew corporate and local sponsorship from companies I would least expect shelling their marketing dollars to this very specific group of people.
Today, I see the Black gay pride’s landscape much differently. Instead of Black prides of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Washington DC being the most-anticipated events for Black gays and lesbians to flock, people pay more attention to the second-tier cities including Orlando, Detroit and Dallas. Organizational leadership, or lack thereof, is the primary for the Black Pride downfall. Over the last decade, Black pride organizations seen leadership single-handedly destroying legacies over greed of money and desperation for social status with planning a memorable and successful pride event being largely ignored. Many of these prides face the same dilemma of organizational leadership – waiting until weeks before the event to begin planning only to blame every element possible outside of the failed organization and leadership that they could not conjure the resources needed to pull off Black pride weekends successfully.
On the bright side, a few of these failed Black prides are allegedly plotting comebacks after an alleged comeback after an another alleged comeback.
2. J.L. King’s toxic reputation with Black gay men in America
American author J.L. King’s relationship with Black gay men strained immediately upon his national recognition for a book most of us would like to forget about titled On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep With Men. The 2004 self-help/memoir was supposed to uncover the underground sexual activities that seemingly heterosexual men are engaging with other men behind the backs of their female lovers. The book’s intention sent mixed signals throughout the African-American community and pitted a characterizing war between out proud Black gay men and Black heterosexual women once TV queen Oprah Winfrey promoted the book on her show to millions of viewers. Black gays felt demonized by King and Winfrey in character accusations that suggested Black gay men are sexual predators at the expense of Black women. The emotional wounds in the Black gay community deepened when King refused to identify as a gay man and apologize for throwing the community under the bus, until 2010, despite his rumored affairs and relationships with gay men exclusively before and since the release of his book.
Black gay men found little relief when political analyst Keith Boykin released his highly-welcomed book Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America, a counterattack on King’s controversial Down Low. The community’s hope of Boykin’s setting-the-record-straight was disappointed when media, especially Oprah and Black media, ignored Boykin’s well-researched writings in favor of King’s perceived sensationalism of the down low phenomenon.
Unfortunately, King’s relationship with the Black gay community at-large has never healed noticeably since 2004. The author’s alleged shady business dealings with fellow Black gay authors, actors, event producers and personalities have become hot gossip over the years. That gossip dug up dirt on King’s alleged misuse of others to fund his Down Low book before it became a year-long best-seller. Even new interviews with King by Black gay media are met with public disgust on-site regardless of how old the controversy of the Down Low and his alleged shady business dealings are.
1. The popularity of bareback sex in Black gay porn, sex parties and dating/hookup sites
Despite the ever increasing statistics of HIV/AIDS cases among gay Black men in America, the celebration of sex acts that are the large contributors to new HIV infections, particularly bareback sex, seemingly rise alongside the HIV rate in our demographic. Hook up and dating sites allow gay men to seek people who are interested in bareback sex. A growing amount sex parties and Facebook groups openly advertise membership must have interest in bareback sex. All the while, the gay porn industry, that once made a point to advertise the use of condoms in every video produced since AIDS became an epidemic during the 1980′s, relaxed on the use of condoms and market bareback sex as an entity.
I remember a fierce online debate a blog title Sex And The Second City ignited back in 2005 when the site’s blogger called out the few Black gay porn stars and companies for openly marketing their video in the newly popular bareback sex genre. It caused an online war where porn stars and supporters defended an adult’s right to choose sexual behaviors while their opponents blamed them for promoting risky sexual behaviors that lead to new HIV/AIDS infections. Almost ten years later, the amount of porn companies specializing in bareback sex activities and the popularity of bareback porn stars grew exponentially to feed into the billion-dollar adult entertainment industry despite the number of retiring for pointless publicitystars who come out as HIV-positive.