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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Black, Male, Gay...and American...

"It is a particular sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.

One feels his twoness- an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of his strife….this longing to attain self conscious manhood, to merge his double self  into a better and truer self"

W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls Of Black Folk




With  all due respect to Dubois, I will add nuance to this iconic quote from him to describe the plight of being black, male and gay in America in the 21st century. This is my adaptation to his words, one that speaks to my reality and the reality of hundreds of thousands like me who languish in open, loud silence, and  yet hide in plain sight, visible to all who wish to see, and yet invisible for all those who do not.

 "It is a particular sensation, this triple consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul through the tape of aworld that looks on in amused contempt and pity. To be feared for being black and male in a society that has demonized such; and reviled as an abomination by those who share your common struggle of blackness; measuring his soul both from the lens of those who view his blackness with  disdain, and view his homosexuality as the antithesis of  their manhood. One feels the tear of three identities;  an American, a black man, and a homosexual, caught in the crossfire of divided reality, three ideals all at odds with each other, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn completely asunder.

The history of the black gay male in America has been both invisible and scorned, a walking contradiction to bigoted black heterosexuals, and a complete mystery to a white gay collective that both despises and desires him. Conflicted as to whether to side with white gays for gay rights, or black heterosexuals for human rights, he is caught in the crossfire of both, and yet feels sometimes only partially connected to either. This journey to merge three identities into one, two of whom are filled with internalized self hatred, the other an internalized loathing for his other selves, into a coherent  mass of humanity, one that can fight to be visible, loved and regarded in the highest of esteem This is the journey to be black, gay and male in America.."

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