Right before I say something scathing, I usually preface with one of two phrases: “No shade, but…” or “I don’t judge, but…” These are clever attempts to be polite because, usually, what I’m about to say is probably shady or judgmental. And usually and unfortunately so, the victims of my clever quips are my own people. Black people. Or gays. Or worse, black gay people I see out in the street looking or acting ridiculously and giving us all a bad name. Am I just a judgmental snob? Or am I justified in sometimes being ashamed of or embarrassed by my own people? And what’s so wrong with being better than something?
I love where I’m from, but my city itself has a less than pristine reputation lately. I watch the news or clips uploaded online and see my people – black people or people in my own city – committing crimes or acting like they just have no shame and no damn home training and that shit is embarrassing. Even worse is when I see gays acting a fool and or looking and behaving ridiculously out in public – and even worse when they’re young black gay guys. I’m all for personal expression, but sometimes I just look at gay kids and literally think they’re dressed like clowns. I listen to them talking loudly in public and am mortified by their conversations and their grammar! I’m all for being out and open and young but there’s a point where people try too hard to be too much. It’s usually because they’re just acting out what they think it is to be gay or merely imitating their hoodrat sisters, but I just want to give them a “Shut up and sit down, girl!” I don’t know them to be ashamed of them, but I can’t say that I want them out there representing what is black and gay.
I hate World Star Hip Hop because I know that some people, as ignorant as their thoughts may be, view all black people like the ones you see fighting over extra value meals in McDonald’s. I enjoy the ballroom scene, but hate that videos of drag queens throwing tables and realness with a twist boys brawling in wigs and tutus can be viewed by anyone with a Wi-Fi connection. Regardless, I don’t want to see people who look like me at their worst and have it on public display without shame…it doesn’t exactly paint us in the best light. My biggest pet peeve is black people calling one another “nigga” in front of white people, yet every rapper says it 200 times per song – and so does the average black teenager in a food court. What does your behavior say to the world about not just you, but other people you unintentionally represent? It’s not about where one is from or the education or how much money one has to have some sense of decorum or consciousness about how you behave and present in public. Surely, some people are ashamed of their hometown or people for their same race, age, or sexuality – and that’s just reality. And, yes, sometimes it is warranted. The fault with many black gay men specifically is that their shame makes them hate the thought of feminine openly gay men representing being gay but in their efforts to be masculine or “discreet,” they stay hidden and complain and don’t give themselves a voice. Therein lies a different kind of shame.
These aren’t just the ramblings of some judgmental snob. I’m not. The truth is that we as African Americans, as gay men and even as black gay men, are minorities. As such, unfortunately we are often judged by the worst of us. And too many of us are comfortable being and showing the world the worst sides of ourselves. We are lumped together, and there are people who fit my mold who I do not want to be lumped with. I know I’m not the only person to hear about a crime on the news and say to ourselves “please don’t let him be black,” or to read about another queen who’s trying to out some celebrity or extort money from them, or to be faced with ignorant questions or assumptions from people who only know that one guy who fucked it up for all of us, and bow our own black and/or gay heads in shame. We are all responsible for ourselves at the end of the day, but the truth is that when you step out, sometimes you represent someone bigger than just you. You can’t control what anyone else does but yourself. You can’t save everyone and you can’t always support them either. Just try to avoid being that black gay dude on World Star. Make us proud!