Angry Gay Black and Latino Men by Kyle Phoenix

They are upset.  You know them.  I know them.  Working for years around them, I got to swim through them.  There's one so angry in NYC that a supervisor once pulled me aside and asked for my clinical opinion as to why that man was so angry.  He's literally seething---doesn't help that he's over 220lbs and 6 feet tall, so he's frightening as well---his criticisms have arrived at being legendary and infused with a rage that you can't fathom.  Sadly enough if you look closely at his tightly squinted eyes you'll see that speedy, erratic darting and flatness.  I call it the serial killer flatness.  Where there is no sparkle---it's most often in the eyes of sociopaths and narcissists.  There is no openness, there is simply snake brain looking back at you.  But I digress into how I identify the nutter butters.   This man is HIV+, living on HASA (Welfare in NY for those who are HIV+), very intelligent---therefore able to see how banal his life has become.  Regulated food from Food Stamps, a tiny apartment in a mediocre part of the city, less chance of attracting a mate because he's well over 40, has less resources to share, is infected and is frankly, so damn angry and off putting, contributes to his anger.

My answer to my supervisor's question was that a decade ago when he found out he was HIV+ this man unfortunately didn't get the community and therapeutic services he needed.  So like a broken arm never properly set, he's aged and callused into neurotic extremes.  Anger, unlike positive emotions can act as fuel and serve as a weapon against the world and one's self.  More positive states of mind deflect the world, even act as combative fuel, yes, but don't castigate or create recriminations to the person.  Anger has the added bitterness of  "I got myself into this with these other miserable, worthless sons of bitches...."

 Why though do so many Black and Latino men who are not heterosexual seem so imbalanced?  Is it inherent?  Is it a symptom?  Is it a phase that they all go through?  And do some get stuck?

I've been churning through psychological and sociological works and talking to smart folks trying to name the confluence of racial and sexuality inspired malady.  I think there is definitely a book in here somewhere.  But I know that having to deal with two such heavy impactors upon identity is too much for brown men.  Depression has come to the forefront in the past decade and of course HIV is hand in hand with looking at the emotional landscape of men of color but does anyone look at how depression, HIV stigmatization and loneliness manifest aside from depression and HIV?  Or is the stereotype of the angry brown man so prevalent that we don't even recognize it aside from the evening news or family fights?

I have another friend, who I'll say upfront, I had to put at arms length because frankly---he was chronically depressed and depressing.  He has found a dark melancholy as his natural state.  I recently called him up because I misunderstood that sometimes the distance Facebook creates is a good thing, and no lie, this is how the conversation started.
"Hey, it's Kyle."
"Hi, Kyle."
"How are you?"
"Well I'm still single and depressed about that.  Very lonely 'cause I can't find nobody.  I'm so lonely.  And you....?"
I was flummoxed---what can you say to such naked, icky black holed-ness?---and when I look back upon it clinically and critically I realize it was someone rushing to the Emotion Box and grabbing up all the feelings in the conversation before anyone (mine) else's feelings could happen.  Pretty selfish...and explanation as to why he's lonely and single, eh?  What man could tolerate or survive losing all the oxygen in conversations with this man?  You would be frustrated on one level because as a friend or potential lover you'd want to help.  But like me, you'd also be resentful because he's hijacked all of the emotional energy and taken it to a depressing place.  Therapy hasn't helped him, friends haven't, religion hasn't and the Universe sure as hell won't subject a lover to that miasma---so he's stuck.

I was actually calling to tell him a book of mine had been released and he was purposely, glowingly in the acknowledgements for his professional work.  It fell upon deaf ears I think and there's been no reply.  I've often found with men of color that unless it's sexually pulsating or cash money directly coming to them, there's very little reaction.  Which is sad--aren't we worth more?  Can't we hi-five others and ourselves?  Remember when the success of a friend was a good thing and not something to co-opt?  (Another article will deal with Black/Latino homosexual men and how they deal with successful Black and Latino men---that one's a doozy.)

But what struck me even more was that this was the same state he'd been in for the handful of years I'd known him and years before that I suppose.  There were further niceties in the conversation but by grabbing up everything in the Emotion Box---he sort of left me nowhere to go.  One can't help but feel guilty or self-conscious for sharing good and/or bad news because there's no oxygen left in the conversation.  Is it no coincidence that the two men I've mentioned so far not only know each other but are famous in the NYC Black gay world for their dispositions and quiet as it's not kept, behind their backs, discussed as what not to become?

A third friend examples his anger by lying.  Constantly.  About stuff he doesn't have to.  Little insignificant stuff.  But always in passive aggressive---I'm better than you---ways.  He has a minor disability, more to appearance than ability, but everything out of his mouth, is suspect.  He often jokingly rages---"Look at me!  You can see why I'm bitter!"  It never occurred to me to even see him that way until he pointed it out.  One would think with all the material flaunting he does; the flaunting of being in a long term marriage to a man, his education, his material success, even just having basic money---he'd be less insecure.  But he isn't.  He cheats so regularly that the hypocrisy of his "marriage" and the fact that everyone in a certain circle in NY has a Black homosexual friend who's been sexually with him (supposedly behind his husbands' back) makes it difficult to communicate with him.  His delusional state of being physically memorable and sexually promiscuous on one hand and "married blissfully" on the other always brings up the conversation, as soon as he's out of earshot.

"Does he know he's the carnival fuck of the community?"
"And that his husband knows?"
"His husband must be using him."

(Ironically now for years in order to teach a section on critical thinking I use the third friend and varying strategies of Byron Katie's The Work questioning system as to how I learned to deflect and eventually remove myself from him.)

I relate these three not to example the fact that I personally have learned better boundaries and perceptiveness about friendship and whom to avoid.  I obviously have.  But to look at how there's a seething anger, a willingness to criticize, strike at others emotionally and act passive aggressively.  I came to this examination more fully as I was talking to another angry friend (his stems from his parents dying recently, far more understandable) and my own relating of in my twenties having a churning rage at myself, my family and occasionally the rest of reality.  I was angry at the things I hadn't gotten or hadn't manifested yet.  Ironically I've manifested all of those things now---maybe that takes away some of the anger?  Back then I was just learning how to erect and maintain healthy boundaries with my family and dysfunctional friends.  I'm damn near a pro at that now.  Like an ersatz Captain Benjamin Sisko on the deck of Deep Space Nine, I can mentally bark "Shields up!" and stand behind a force field that allows me to deflect while clearly seeing the antagonist---whether that's parents, friend, lover, chicken or child.  I used to react, spittle frothing at the corners of my mouth, seething and wish calamity-----upon myself.

I could see, that seething inner anger, that raging of it's unfair!  Then point adamantly at others, other men, homosexual perhaps, who've let us down is really an attack upon self.  There was a time when I was so angry at myself for having only the above three as my primary friend set.  That I had the pitiful resources that these were the best I could do.  Then I accepted that they were a choice.  Choices I had made because they were also alternatively occasionally fun, funny, present---sometimes a present man has gotten years of friendship that he didn't deserve.  But when I really started being accountable and responsible for every aspect of my life---including whom I made friends with---I had to admit that I'd chosen them.  And that maybe even Black/Latino sexuality/race based anger is a normal stage.  It's normal to feel maligned for race/sexuality, to be lonely and act passive aggressively in trying to get our needs met because of our self-perceived disability---sometimes that disability being self-contradictory, as it's our own valued race and sexuality themselves.  How to cherish something that others dislike or that has brought you only fleeting happiness.  How to justify that it is inherently good to be Black or homosexual--when frankly---the world, and maybe even your family suggests they would love you better, more, deeper, if you were neither?

How did I get past my rage full twenties?  I'll bluntly tell you that on two separate occasions I got my angry ass into therapy for 1 year stretches and had a Life Coach for 6 months.  All three I count as cornerstones to teaching me how to change relationships, priorities, career/jobs and friendships.  I purposefully eschew religions where I have to hopscotch around concepts and representatives that are historically non-supportive of me, racially, sexually, culturally, because that's like trying to admire the sweetness as you drink the poisoned Kool Aid.  I also edited the company I keep.  There are some formerly close friends who I'm sure now wonder---gee, why haven't I seen him in awhile?  Why doesn't he call like he used to?  I've learned a psychic self defense emotional ninja technique of removing myself long before I slowly ebb out of someone's life.  Mainly because I realize the cure for their anger isn't something that anyone else can administer.  Behind my self-removal I'm often saddened by that, missing several of these friends for their positive aspects.

But self-preservation must prevail and in the 48 Laws of Power, Law 10 is:


• Transgression of the Law
In the 1840’s Marie Gilbert, better known as Lola Montez, came to Paris to become a
dancer and performer. She had many husbands, and caused the ruin of many a powerful
man. Because of her ambition to be a dancer she “accidentally” ran into Alexandre
Dujarier, then the owner of France’s most popular newspaper and a drama critic himself. Although still legally married to an Englishman with whom she eloped at 19, Lola kept her status secret from all her husbands. Dujarier was shot dead defending her honor at a duel against another drama critic. Lola went on to have several husbands, even causing King Ludwig of Bavaria to abdicate. She left another man who later fell into a deep depression, became a drunkard, and eventually died at a relatively young age. The man who published her autobiography went bankrupt.

Wisdom in a nutshell:
• In the game of power, the people you associate with are critical.
• An infector can be recognized by the misfortune they draw on themselves, their
turbulent past, a long line of broken relationships, unstable careers, the very
intensity of their emotions, and the force of their character.
• Gravitate towards prosperous, cheerful, and gregarious people.
• Never associate with those who share your defects.

And if this anger is a phase then I must be conscious of those in it, moving through it and stuck within it---if nothing more than as a litmus test for my own sanity and peace of spirit.

Tell me what you think!
Kyle Phoenix

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  1. Wow this article is so on point. I went through elimanating the angry down trouting people in my life and I can truly say I am a better person because of it.

  2. Thank you, this article was very helpful to me. It helped shed some light on why I feel the way I feel sometimes and what I can do to help myself.

  3. Wow! That article was talking to me. I don't want to be angry anymore. I'm trying to therapy and groups to heal myself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting this out there. I really needed to hear and read what I know is going on inside of me. Real Talk!