I was watching an interview by Wilson Cruz ( My So-Called Life, Noah’s Arc ) of the wonder LaVerne Cox ( Orange is the New Black ). The topic came up of transgender women that are passable as born female to the public ( I find it mostly with transgender men ). LaVerne Cox, who I feel speaks so well and elegant all the time, criticized just the idea of passing because it is damaging not just to the trans community but decisive as a whole to society ( click here for the interview ). I completely understand her perspective and agree; however it brought up questions and some resentment towards my more masculine gay brothers who look, act, sound and pretty much do not give any hint they are gay unless asked or freely shared. Are they just being themselves? Or playing their role conveniently avoiding the struggle of more effeminate men?
I freely confess to being “clockable” as a gay man. I have a soft baby face that has some feminine features. I also love to walk around everywhere as though I am on the catwalk, serving a big scoop of Naomi Campbell. When I speak it is with confidence, elegance and less bass than even I would prefer but that’s me and I love me all day everyday. This was a growing process as I knew very young I was gay and that everyone else knew it as well. I would dress in classic hip hop or sporty attire when I wanted to be in some Italian cut boots, fitted jeans and basic V-Neck shirt I was seeing in the men’s magazines ( I do now ).
But I knew at a young age nails get hammered and I didn’t want the hassle that being me would bring. As I got older I enjoyed being a rebel, then as I got wiser I just enjoyed being me, not caring if it caused others to cringe and maintain my rebel status. I am a person that has gone out of his way not to cause controversy, then went out of his way to raise eyebrows, and now just being me to enjoy life hoping I can make a difference and show loving kindness.
In the gay community I soon found out how much different wasn’t really appreciated. There was so much I was excited about: getting to be myself, be around others that I thought didn’t care about demeanor and public opinion, and just feeling accepted. Those things didn’t happen as the idea of what a man signified was amplified so much. The role of man even entered the bedroom, as if you were a bottom, some saw that as being the woman in the relationship and less of a man. I noticed while in the beginning of gay civil rights, being different and loud was preferred but as acceptance across the nation and world has become attainable, the more “normal” man has been the new face; also seeing the swift with the words “str8 acting”, “masculine”, and “no fem” being a must have in online profiles and gay vernacular in general. This has troubled me and in myself there is a slight resentment towards those butch men who maintain an air of sexual ambiguity either unknowingly or purposefully.
Another area of passability comes with notion that gay civil rights and the black civil rights movements are not the same. The argument African-Americans make to separate the two comes down to the optics. We as black people can’t pretend to be white, Asian or any other race; however if one is masculine in demeanor and appearance, they can hide being homosexual. I feel that civil rights is civil rights and don’t fully agree with the sentiment; but there is another example of this passing situation that makes me not a fan. I’m in this world black and more noticeably gay so I walk around with two proverbial strikes and it can be exhausting ( click here for an older post on race in the gay community ).
Now I can already see the comments pouring in defending the more masculine gay men. I’m not saying all masculine men are hiding their sexuality, nor am I saying more effeminate men are broadcasting theirs just to broadcast. I am saying the more effeminate men are on the front lines taking all of the negative assaults on sexuality. I am saying I see more effeminate men fighting for our rights to be ourselves and mostly being hurt by those hammers of intolerance. I am saying I don’t like it and this is just my personal opinion. I am fortunate to be comfortable everywhere and I have been around the more masculine gay men and listened to them speak about their effeminate gay brothers and it bothers me. I often times feel the gay community is the worst clickish community out there, akin to those clicks in the movie ” Mean Girls “; but we are fighting for rights, civil rights that can’t be put on just one or two groups backs.
I want to be clear, this is not about blasting DL men or men who just aren’t comfortable being out for whatever reason. I am however bring to light those in the community that have more opportunity for a less contentious life because their beards and voice are a little deeper and thicker. I am bring to light my displeasure how some can discount the work that the visible gay men and women are doing for them to no longer have to pass and be in the closet. Who has time to really be acting and passing as someone they are not? I understand it’s not necessary to put one’s sexuality in their greetings as they shake hands, but there is a conscious effort on some to separate themselves from the community and that must be discussed.
I’m black, I’m gay and I’m proud all day long. The only thing I’m trying to pass at is being happy and I’m doing pretty well these days.