Does The Media Know Black Gay Men Exist?

When it comes to black gay men in the media, there is definitely a lack of representation. Outlets typically do not speak to the gay community and if so, they aren’t speaking to the black gay community. Somehow, society forgets to think black men can be gay, too. African American members of the LGBT community face the challenges of identifying with double strikes against their personal lifestyle. Even though I would not go as far to say that if you’re white and a part of this community, you have it easy; however, we all know the popular opinion of homosexuality in black America. Because of this, there is little room for the black gay man’s voice on the national stage. Acceptance of a lifestyle choice doesn’t warrant a high five or chest bump from the next, but it should encourage tolerance and a place to speak out.

In a recent post on CNN, writer, lecturer and openly gay U.S. Army and Iraq War veteran Rob Smith, talks about his experiences in The Bearable Whiteness Of Gay. Smith muses on his daily encounters with the gay culture, relationships and wanting to see more people who look like him on television.

Smith writes:

When I log onto my computer in the morning I check my favorite gay blogs. There, I will undoubtedly see images of people who don’t look like me attached to stories written by other people who don’t look like me. Above the page and to the right of the text are ads for various products being sold. They are modeled by people who don’t look like me.

When I’m on the train, I read my favorite gay magazine. I can’t remember having ever seen someone who looks like me on the cover.  When I read it I see more ads – for underwear, cologne, cruises, hotels, and clothes – with people who don’t look like me.  None of the writers look like me, nor are there any stories about anyone who looks like me.

I see a gay male couple walking hand in hand down the street.  They also do not look like me.  In fact, they look like they could be in one of the gay cruise ads I see in my favorite magazine.

After a bit more television watching, I fall asleep for another day knowing that our community has so many colors, and still wondering why I can only seem to find one.

Because of this, there is little room for the black gay man’s voice on the national stage unless he’s dressed in drag and giving a makeover. Nevertheless, as time passes and it becomes easier to break down barriers in the industry, the image of black gay men should definitely change for the better with everyone leading the charge.

Drew-Shane Daniels is the founder/editor-in-chief of MUSED Magazine Online and a practicing homosexual. As a freelance writer he has written for outlets like Huffington Post, VIBE, Global Grind, BET.com, Soul Train, The Good Men Project among others.

  • Ernest Hopkins

    This is a work in progress. We have Black gay men like Keith Boykin, and Robert Traynham operating as political pundits from opposite sides of the spectrum and important mainstream TV directors like Paris Barclay pumping out sensitive, affirming material bringing his perspective to award winning shows. In addition, there are editorial board writers like Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post writing from an openly gay point of view. The glass is definitely half full and we are moving in the right direction.

  • Bryan

    I am a 38 year old gay black man living in Chicago and this is most certainly the case. Gay black men are virtually invisible here. Moreover, I think in this environment many are really pressured to assimilate to what the norms are here in chicago, most of which are dictated by white gay men. I wont even begin to mention the horrors of dating someone in this environment where you are instantly objectified and treated like some exotic animal at the zoo.

  • MoTruth

    Oh so true. GBM don’t seem to exist in magazines of this sort, and the rare times we are depicted, you can bet we are seen fawning all over some White guy, or in a death grip arm lock with one. Its as if we can’t possibly be attracted to another Black man. Oh, there ARE the HIV and other STD ads…..you can surely see us Blacks shown in them. :-(