From MUSED Magazine Online -
BY DREW-SHANE DANIELS
TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2013
From “scientists” still researching if there is a such thing as a gay gene to the myriad statistics about HIV/AIDS being our only public enemy No. 1, analyzing the lives of black gay men seem to be en vogue these days. Even with stereotypes slowly creeping their way back into the minds of hetero counterparts, there are some things we must do to close out 2013.
Since we’re six months into the “new” year, we need to have a checkpoint to ensure we finish the year out strong. Before all of our New Year’s resolutions are broken – if they haven’t been already – it’s time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make, and resolve to follow through on those challenges. Most of us start off the year highly motivated and ready to make change as we’ve done years prior. Ask me if I am still going to the gym three times a week…I’ll wait. However, it is important that we continue to use the middle of the year to refocus. As black gay men, here are five charges we must heed for the rest of 2013:
AVOID STEREOTYPES IN THE MEDIA.
We all aren’t finger-popping, neck-rolling, down-low, Beyoncé-worshipping, Jack’d-whoring, self-proclaimed socialites/clubheads kinda people. Reject those ideas.
For many black gays, the overall experience is not a walk in the park. There is always the feeling of feeling like the proverbial step-child that can actually do more than read and write. These ideas help perpetuate an understanding that to be a black gay man is to be less. These ideas manifest themselves into assumptions and ways of mistreating us – we are not all the same. If we look for the media to project positive examples of what it means to be a black gay man, we should just subscribe to rotating walk-on roles on “Real Housewives of Atlanta” or “Fashion Queens.”
NO MORE EXCUSES, HOLD YOUR BROTHER ACCOUNTABLE.
Accountability is a term that can set off immediate hostility. We’ve turned it into a way to scold or punish others; however, accountability can also be very empowering. There is nothing wrong with having candid conversations among those in your social circles. Giving constructive criticism can lend much-needed assistance by providing feedback on things that can be improved and issues that can be avoided. Some issues plaguing our community need to be addressed. We aren’t all wired the same, so we must challenge each other to think differently. In our culture, we hate to look at ourselves through a lens. If anything is self-reflecting or causes us to think that there is something different being seen, we get turned off and never want to discuss the issue. This year, we must continue to ask each other the real tough questions that count and matter. Let’s not let excuses create more obstacles in our lives.
LIVE A SPIRITUAL LIFE.
Maneuvering through a world full of “busy” people living just enough for the city, the challenge is how can you nurture, heal, restore and feed your soul. With our day-to-day tasks, it’s always a good idea to find some tranquility. No matter what spectrum you’re on when it comes to religion, find a way to create a stronger spiritual life. Iyanla Vanzant isn’t the only one who can help fix your life. Force yourself to think light and positive. Of course, this is easy when you are doing something light and positive; however, identify those things that are going well in your life and reflect. Turn on some music, journal and interact more with your mental and emotional side. Count your blessings and be a blessing to others. Remind yourself that you hold and add value to the universe despite what society tries to impose.
LOVE, LOVE YOURSELF.
With Jason Collins being the recent poster child of homosexuals
playing sports being human, the stigmas of what it means to be gay are finally changing. Be comfortable in your skin and the lifestyle that you choose. Although I can respect entertainers and people in the limelight opening up about their sexuality, we know everyone isn’t afforded the same opportunity to receive praise for whom they decide to sleep with in bed. There is no need to throw a parade announcing your sexuality to everyone; however, the true celebration comes from when you truly learn to love yourself.
Learning to love yourself starts with making the conscious decision to do so. Know your gifts and trust your talents. It’s impossible to reach your full potential when you suffer from internalized self-hate. Our community would be so much better if we looked inside ourselves for love versus searching in unfamiliar and dangerous places like Jack’d, materialism and one-night stands. Validate yourself first. Never let someone else’s thoughts make you who you aren’t.
The political and social landscape in America today, for many, can constantly be a turn-off. Most of the time, headlines can cause one to be depressed or question the society we live in. It is important to learn more about issues that affect black gay men. We need to stay informed to know what issues our community – and the place we call home – faces. The less we know about important complex concerns such as economics, politics and environmental causes, the more we want to avoid becoming well-informed.
There are more issues that we confront on a daily basis besides HIV/AIDS and same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage alone is a very intricate subject that goes beyond walking down the aisle. There is the adage that states, “’If you want to hide something from an African-American, then put it in a book.” Let’s not fall victim to ignorance. Let’s embrace the concept that education does not end in the classroom. Attacking these issues with knowledge and tenacity is our biggest tool for empowerment that will allow us to raise up the black gay community.