A Gentleman's Guide

FEBRUARY | 2019

FEBRUARY | 2019 | ESSENTIALS

BLACKLIGHT

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Society would have us think that being a minority and a victim go hand in hand, but the same people who attempt to lead us down those roads of faulty belief are the same people who couldn’t properly season a piece of chicken if their life depended on it. It's far past time that we acknowledge and tap into the arcane sense of pride that comes with being both black and same gender loving. This pride can sometimes appear to be more elusive than it actually is, as it lies under the oppression, beneath the homophobia and racism and is safely tucked behind stigmatization and our own self- doubt. But beyond these dark places of uncertainty lies a light that shines through in our times of need, the problem is, is that many of us don’t know how to turn it on.

Both our blackness and our gayness have played interesting roles in the lives of those who exist outside of the SGL community of color. The heterosexual black male and his toxic (yet fragile) masculinity have deemed us persona non grata, while his female counterpart, the heterosexual black woman, picks us up and puts us down as if we were a bag whose season has ended. The white woman is slightly more deliberate in her discrimination and will see (and be more concerned with) our black before our gay, which makes us an automatic threat in her eyes. Meanwhile, the white man will fetishize us within an inch of his privileged little “do-you-know-who-my-father-is” life. It would be irresponsible for us to treat these groups as monoliths, but (and this is not an assumption) it would also be *somewhat impossible to find a same gender loving man of color who hasn’t experienced any of these things from members of all of these groups. These roles are exhausting and have, can and will, take their toll on us. If we’re not careful in protecting our lights while we endure these things, they will diminish and leave us alone with, and in, the dark.

Our light lies in our ability to exemplify class and dignity as we agree to disagree, our capacity to effortlessly deal with ignorance, and our ability to choose patience over giving these hands to our homophobic detractors. Our light lies in our aptitude to actively ignore the racist, because their minds are too closed to be changed and because we (on some level) realize that their cognitive dysfunctions and personality disorders require a time and attention that we could direct on things that really matter, like Blue Ivy’s next appearance on Beyonce’s Instagram, or on how to properly effect Nancy Pelosi’s ‘fuck you’ clap. Our light is our flair to overcome any form of adversity we encounter, as gentlemen.

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In case you can’t tell, the light we’ve been talking about has been purely theoretical but is, in real life, centered around an ongoing actualization of potential, capacity, and talent. It's the fulfillment of whatever mission we’ve set out to accomplish and an acceptance of our true black and gay selves. Ironically, we wouldn’t be able to measure the outcomes of any of these things without the homophobe, the racist and any other “phobe” and “ist”. In order for our lights to shine, we’ve got to go through some darkness, and they bring plenty of it. We don’t know our pressure points until they’re pressed, just like we don’t know the way that we’ll react in the event that they are pressed. Many of us are infamous for wishing a nigga would, but how can we truly know the ways in which we’d react if our wish actually came true? How would we respond to being called a nigger, sissy or faggot? Most importantly, what would we learn from the way we responded? This is why we rely on them because whether they know it or not, we use them to learn how brilliantly our lights can shine.

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Our lights accrue their shine during our continued work on becoming actualized, so it's important to remember to analyze whether or not we’re mad because he called us a faggot, or are we disillusioned with our sexual orientation? Does the fact that they called us a monkey bother us because we know that they know the comparison is used to offend black and brown people or are we bothered because we’re not really proud of our heritage? These considerations allow us the chance to hone our potential to retain our confidence when our existences are questioned, to increase our capacity to not only endure but to thrive in the face of adversity and to hone our talent in transforming negativity into opportunities for potential growth. This is how our lights grow. This is how we shine. It's only after we go through the things we go through that we learn to accept the things about ourselves that set their hate circuits ablaze.

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Our lights emanate from the sources of pride associated with who (and not what) we are. It radiates through the racism as confidence in our heritage, in knowing that we hail from the strongest stock of man, a stock that’s stood the test of time and, if nothing else, has demonstrated its ability to survive. Our light shines strongly through the racism we encounter as we consider the source, a source that has no earthly clue of what it's like to be of color, a source that could never imagine the durability and strength it takes for us to walk out of our homes each day and endure the things we endure. A source who couldn’t do those things if their lives depended on it.  

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Our light, when properly maintained, shines brighter than a trillion, billion million suns and is demonstrated in our ability to live and love in honesty and in our ability to keep calm in the presence of unadulterated ignorance. It beams as a result of us accepting that some people will never be anything than the trash they are, and in our understanding that freedom is not the ability to do as we please, but to allow others to do as they please while we remain unbothered. It is metabolizing their rejection as confidence and our capacity to stand firm in who we are by our standards. It's us living our best black ass, gay ass lives and not allowing our self worth to be determined by others.

Remember this, always.


Jeremy Carter