Gay Black Life: Yesterday and Today

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Gay Black Men Collage

I’m usually not one for reminiscing but recently I’ve found myself doing just that. I’ve been thinking back to 1992 when I officially came out as a gay black man and boy, have things changed.

As I have reminisced, I’ve thought about how back then:

  1. I didn’t have celebrities or public figures to show me or tell me how to act as a gay black man. I looked to my friends and other gay black men in the community.
  2. We looked forward to and cherished monogamous relationships with each other.
  3. We met other gay black professional men at bars, clubs and house gatherings where we had real conversations.
  4. We didn’t have Grindr, Jack’d or other social media sites to meet other gay men.
  5. We danced all night with friends at Tracks, Delta Elite, Bachelor’s Mills, and Paradox just to name a few.
  6. We gathered with friends from across the country on Memorial Day (gay black pride) to do a number of different things to uplift the community and each other.
  7. We could acknowledge or speak to each other without it meaning we wanted sex.
  8. It didn’t matter if you didn’t wear the latest designers.
  9. There were several different establishments in most cities that catered to the gay black clientele.
  10. Black on black love was not rare.

Today, I’m have faced with the fact that:

  1. Men want to spend countless hours on social media sites looking for sex and validation.
  2. Most of the gay black establishments no longer exist and there are few that welcome a gay black clientele.
  3. When you can walk down the street, other gay black men cannot even acknowledge or speak to each other.
  4. White celebrities and public figures coming out weekly and my gay black men still feel they must hide their sexuality.
  5. Open relationships have become a way to having a successful relationship (no judgement).
  6. The infection rate of HIV/STI’s in the black community is increasing by double digits while the infection rate in several other communities are having single digit increases or declining.
  7. We are way too concerned with the size of someone’s penis, whether they are “masculine” (I’m still not sure what that really means) and whether they are a “top” or “bottom.”
  8. We send nude pictures as a form of greeting on most social media sites.
  9. We act like we are too busy to build real, meaningful relationships or friendships with each other.
  10. Black gay men turn their noses up to being in a relationship with another black man.

The years have not been all bad. Today, gay black men are having and adopting kids and are getting married; there are more and more successful gay black men who are confidently out and living their truth, we are having open dialogue in government and churches about sexuality, and some young gay black men have the freedom and courage to express their sexuality. However, I feel that we are not progressing enough. We have many young, gay black men who need to be mentored; we need to be teaching more about safe sex, financial stability, mental health and self acceptance, and creating a stronger focus on the importance of developing real relationships and friendships.

I must admit I have not done enough to help my community and the younger generation but I also know that it’s not too late. I’m not trying to bring back yesterday but I want to see a thriving gay black community.