Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who's to Blame?

My college years were the best years of my life. I met people from all over the world, received one of the best educations available, and behind the gates of Hampton University I would leave the last relationship I would ever have with a female…

It was my junior year when we met, she was a sophomore. She was from New York. We met through a mutual friend on campus. She had a pretty difficult childhood. So much so that she was featured by Essence magazine as one that overcame the odds. She spent many years in foster care because her mom was an addict. Needless to say, she was at Hampton on a scholarship which impressed me. In fact, I was intrigued because in spite of her story she persevered.

She wasn’t like most HU women; stylish or glammed up on campus even in the rain. She had the “put it on & go” look that worked. In reality, she didn’t have the means to step it up. Looking back I see she was the first in a pattern I would later repeat in Atlanta with some of the guys I would date. In some ways I tried to “help” her. I had the resources. I was receiving enough child support that afforded me a car payment & enough money to secure the senior superlative award for “best dressed”. Secretly, she was my shield for some of the whispers that swirled around the campus that I may be gay.

She and I often talked about a life together after college; children, marriage. I could’ve chosen that path, but it wouldn’t have been fair to her or me because I wouldn’t have been living my truth. So many brothers marry hoping the feelings will vanish, when in fact the neglect intensifies the feelings that are brewing inside.

More times than not, (black) gay men are blamed by (black) women for the shortage of good men available to them. I knew (in college) black women would be facing this very dilemma after college because of the shortage of black men present on college campuses everywhere, and that speaks to a problem within the social structure, not with sexual orientation.

It’s always easy to spot the brothers living the lie; married, with children and "cruising" me while his wife or girlfriend’s head is turned away. They live straight identified lives by moving only in heterosexual environments. These men don't believe they're gay because they don't have gay friends, nor do they go to gay clubs or parties. In some instances they travel in packs. Typically, they run with other brothers with the same ideas or should I say secrets. I always wonder how difficult it would be to live that lie everyday of your life. Only the courageous can live freely. I'm glad I live life on my terms, and not those set by others.

“Why would I want to be someone else when I get to be me?”


  1. The message in "Who's to Blame" is a scarey one for us women! Is there a list or something that we can run through to make sure our boyfriends, lovers, husbands, are not on it? LOL. Seriously, why is that allowed to be kept a secret? If I knew that my friend, for example, was being cheated on or betrayed by someone, I would find a way to let her know. Why is it that these men can "lay low." Obviously someone knows, but no one warns the sister. The HIV rate amongst black women is ridiculously high...someone needs to look out for a sister!! I'm just sayin'...

  2. I think the down-low phenomenon will eventually die out or at least get tamed. I think "gay is okay" is relatively new and only recently (within the past 10 to 20 years) has it become mainstream. See: Will & Grace, Noah's Arc, various movies, etc.

    I feel that less and less (black) men will feel the need to hide their true self as time goes on.

    Also, as more artists and famous people come out, such as Rosie O'Donnell, Ricky Martin, etc., more younger people will begin to see homosexuality as something that is okay. I already see the younger generations being more "cool" with it and young teens coming out in elementary and high school. So, we're on the right track.

    Hell, I think that even Nicki Minaj is doing her part to help us out as she softens the rap game with her bisexuality. Every little bit of help counts. People will eventually warm up to it.

    However, I believe that a part of the stigma attached to homosexuality is part of our community's own doing. I, myself, catch myself sneering at the gay pride parades (AKA the "parades of freaks"). I always tell myself that I wish we could be portrayed as "normal" counterparts to the hetero world. Granted, some parts of our difference are interesting and colorful (RuPaul's Drag Race, anyone? LOL) but the fetishes and (what I consider) sexual deviance (such as various type of metal objects inserted into the body...) make me embarrassed. I always ask myself: "How would I present this to my mother!?". I'm okay with fetishes. To each his or her own. I just don't think they should be directly associated to the gay community on the whole since not all of us partake in those things... and that stuff should be kept in the bedroom or dungeon since it's personal- not displayed on the streets during the events which are supposed to bring us social acceptance.

    Anyway, to make a long story short: (black) women need to help us out too by opening their minds up to the gay community. I've seen small gangs of (black) woman having a laugh at the expense of the gay dude passing by... pointing fingers, uproars of laughter, immitation, etc.. By doing this, they scare the (black) men into the closet. Then the man goes down-low because he doesn't want to be laughed at or ridiculed. He then hooks up with one of those girls... and there starts a vicious circle.

  3. There is no way to outline all of the signs to determine if a man is “on the low” because it extends beyond idiosyncrasies & mannerisms i.e. femininity etc. In many cases it's a look from one man to another that can only be spotted in his eyes when he makes visual contact. This passage is in no way shifting total blame on undercover men as it relates to HIV & black women. While that is one factor as to why black women have an alarming HIV infection rate, there are other factors to include: sisters that overlook a cheating heterosexual man because they fear being single or making it alone financially; sisters that have multiple “babies' daddy's”. Point being, this is a people problem & until we (as a race of people) understand that we'll continue to suffer...TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS SISTER & YOU’LL BE FINE.

  4. Craig, if you knew that a girlfriend was involved with a man who was living between both worlds, would you tell her?

  5. I have alot of gay male friends and there is no clear way to tell. I have been to several parties where most of the guys appear so called "straight"-No indications. BUt like Craig said pay attention to body language, eye contact, etc...Also, if your guy is overly homophobic. Not saying these are all dead give aways but certainly something to pay attention to. We also as black women need to take responsibility for ourselves. The signs will be there just as they are if one thinks he is cheating with a woman. But we will never know the same as if we won't know if he is cheating nore will he tell if he is cheating with another woman. It is really real out here and HIV will come whether he is cheating with man or women. We must continue to keep our eyes open, follow our instincts, protect ourselves and get tested (as well encouraging our partners to get tested).