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.
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.