I’ve lived in Atlanta all my life and when I share that with other people, the response that follows almost always refers to the number of LGBT folk, especially black gay men, that live down here. And the remarks are almost always negative.
“There are too many gay niggas here!”
“That’s why there are so many single black women!”
“One of THEM hit on me!”
Just awful. To make matters worse, the people I’m converse with tend to single out a type of gay black male. The above remarks are usually followed by comments like:
“I see these niggas wearing make up and women’s clothes! It’s too much!”
“Why do they have to dress like that? Why can’t they keep their sexuality to themselves?!”
In the past, whenever those conversations came up I used to get really defensive and not in a good way. I used to downplay the number of gay men in Atlanta and emphasize the point that this stereotype of my city was exaggerated. I took special care to downplay the number of femme men. I figured those tactics would get people to stop disparaging Atlanta because of its gay population. I was too worried about Atlanta’s rep and it took me a while to realize that I wasn’t doing any good. It didn’t occur to me that what I was doing was homophobic. I can’t recall the exact moment when the light bulb switched but I handle those convos and other conversations about LGBTQ folks differently now. Perhaps it took me sorting out my own mess and hanging in queer spaces but I definitely changed. Instead of being ashamed of the stereotype, I embraced it.
As a matter of fact, I’m proud of the idea that my city is considered to be so queer-friendly. Safe spaces for LGBTQ people are crucial and while Atlanta isn’t perfect, I love that it can be a getaway for people. That said, this post isn’t about generating warm fuzzies for my hometown. This post is about another line of thinking that I had to wean myself from. Another reason why I’m able to address Atlanta’s stereotype in a more positive manner is because I stopped looking at femininity in a man as a negative.
A man walking around with a face full of make-up and leggings is just as much of a man as the dude walking around in a white tee, bagging pants and timbs. Both men are worthy of respect. If you think otherwise, that’s YOUR problem. Feminine men are not the downfall of society. They are not the reason black women supposedly can’t find husbands. And please, don’t feed me that “ITS THE EMASCULATION OF BLACK MENZ” shit either. Yes, this white supremacist society seeks to tear down black males but the dude with the sitting next to you on the train with glitter on his face isn’t the manifestation of that agenda. A feminine man is simply a feminine man. They’ve always existed and will continue to exist. If you have a problem with that, reexamine why you have that problem but no one should be shamed into fitting a norm because it makes other people uncomfortable.
As Edward Ndopu so eloquently put it:
My gender expression is femme, not effeminate. The latter is an adjective couched in a web of patriarchal, cis normative, trans misogynistic assumptions. The former is a self-identification grounded in the divine feminine. I very much claim my masculinity, it just happens to be a feminine manifestation of masculinity. Notwithstanding the sociopolitical imposition of an inaccessible world and cultural paradigm, disabled femmes of all genders teach able bodied ness new ways of being beautiful in the world. We firmly belief that there is no shame in seeking glamour, power and magnificence if you have been labeled undesirable, useless and inconsequential; there’s no shame because those things already abide within the spirit, they’re yours for the seeking.
What do you think? Discuss!