Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Far too many of us don’t see how encouraging gay boys to ignore their vulnerability undergirds the most negative aspects of toxic hyper-masculinity. An unacceptable number of us don’t realize how this behavior will affect their future relationships, and the ill-fated men they come across.

But there’s another side of the coin that we often don’t look at. When a gay boy who is screamed at to “man up” by his mother or father, that boy is socialized to view being vulnerable as abomination to strong Black manhood to everyone, boys and girls included. Everyone is raised to believe that as well. While young women may adopt a more evolved position on masculinity as they mature, those scars never leave that gay boy, no matter how old he gets.

How a gay boy is taught to handle his masculinity during his formative years will have a lasting effect on how he envisions and defines manhood as an adult. Those boys —like many before them—will define it as being guarded, impervious and nonreactive. Now, imagine taking that mindset into a relationship with a man eager to engage in a truly open and emotionally earnest manner. Hell, imagine applying that mindset after an emotionally overwrought breakup, and trying to move on to date again.

As black gay men who subscribes to hyper-masculine ideologies with every fiber of their being, who has been through many traumatic relationship events and a couple of exhausting breakups, I realized there was nothing less sympathetic in our society than a heartbroken black gay man. It’s an incredibly isolating experience, but what makes it so scary is that we feel our intrinsic manhood is being irreparably denigrated every second we allow ourselves to feel. If you want to understand why many gay men deny their sensitivity, it’s because it rests in the “no fly” zone of human emotions.

Until we show young black gay men that their manhood can and should include organically navigating the range of human emotions, we’re going to continue to cultivate black gay men who don’t know the first thing about coping, managing, or even accepting their natural feelings.

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