Growing up as a black gay boy in Youngstown, Ohio, my mother always said “Son, you must operate in this world intentionally, you must treat others with respect, and you must keep your hands to yourself.”
My fellow gay men, I want the best for all of us. We are not automatically granted access to a woman’s body. This letter is even for me as a reminder of my male privilege regardless of my sexual orientation. This is why I humbly ask for you to examine how we operate in this world and how we utilize the space of others.
We cannot touch a woman without her permission. We are not the exception and her permission to us is not implied. We, too, can promote rape culture. We do not get a “pass” to touch her hair or her body or her clothes. We do not have an automatic right to critique her weight or texture of hair. We are still men, and women will always deserve our respect. Despite the cultural context, women still speak for themselves. We must learn this, and we must understand this. Women have autonomy over their own body. For those of us who consider ourselves feminists, we cannot constantly promote feminism and women’s ownership, then be bent out of shape when she decides that she does not want to be subjected to touching, feeling, or unwanted contact.
Fellow gay men, we cannot invade a woman’s personal space because there isn’t any sexual attraction. Regardless of us not wanting to be sexually intimate with women, we, too, must seek permission and be given explicit consent to anything on their body. We must realize that no still means no. It always will.
With Father’s Day this Sunday, I’ve been thinking about how fathers have been portrayed on television over the years.
As a child growing up in the Bronx in the 1970s, the TV fathers who I best remember were Jim Anderson, Robert Young’s character on “Father Knows Best,” and Mike Brady, portrayed by Robert Reed in “The Brady Bunch.” Both men were typical of the kinds of men that many expected to be the “head of the family” in 20th-century American society.
Mr. Anderson and Mr. Brady were also in stark contrast to my father and many of the working-class black men I knew in my neighborhood or saw on TV, characters like Redd Foxx’s Fred Sanford and John Amos’s James Evans, Sr., who was much closer in spirit to my own dad.
That all changed in the fall of 1984, when America was introduced to Bill Cosby’s Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, who quickly took on the unprecedented role for a black man as America’s “favorite dad.”
There was a need to celebrate a character who challenged historic stereotypes of black men as fathers — often portrayed as absent, shiftless, unemployed and overly chauvinistic. But was an upper middle-class professional not dramatically different than his white male peers really what black audiences were looking for? Where were the black male characters who represented the complexities of what it means to be a black in contemporary America? Would we even know them if we saw them?
In my recent work researching the intersection of African-American and pop cultures, I have been examining the ways that black men are legible to us in the popular imagination. In the ways that seeing a black man on television with a basketball or on a newscast about crime is terribly familiar to us, more complex images of black men as fathers seem few and far between. Indeed, the recent Samsung Galaxy II commercial–featuring basketball star LeBron James engaging with his sons over breakfast–seems almost revolutionary.
Charlie (Kim Ho) tries to find the words in “The Language of Love.”
If you’ve got a little less than 10 minutes to spare, the short film The Language of Love is worth your time, as 17-year-old writer and performer Kim Ho navigates young Charlie’s coming to terms with his own sexuality when asked to write an essay describing his best friend.
“What the f-ck is happening to me?” he gasps after confessing to the viewer how he really feels. “Like, my heart beats faster when he’s around. And I can’t think of anybody else. I don’t need that. Especially not in a French exam. But, I can’t help it. I can’t control it.”
The film was produced as part of The Voices Project, part of the Fresh Ink development initiative organized by Australian Theatre for Young People. Now in its’ third year, Voices began as a way with a stage show involving various monologues dealing with the subject of young love. Ho’s piece follows in that tradition; it began as a monologue and was adapted into film format after winning a competition.
The language in the film gets a little NSFW, but overall do give this a shot. The film, and a look at the making of it, are both under the cut.
Teyonah Parris walks in beauty like the night…which is probably why she wasn’t on Mad Men this week.
Since Tami, Womanist Musings’ and Fangs for the Fantasy’s Renee Martin, and I noticed the dearth of Black folks and other people of color in the episode, we had to compensate with the above photo of actor Teyonah Parris, who plays Dawn on Mad Men. In the meantime, we chat about Don’s continued dick-swinging and its bad aim. So y’all know how this goes: Spoilers and thangs.
Those who follow this weekly post know that we just don’t crush out about people here; we’ve been known to show massive love to things like photographs around here. This week’s Crush is along that line.
Well, Mad Men fans and critics wondered how the show would handle the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hosts Tami Winfrey Harris, along with Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs for the Fantasy and Racialicious staffer Joe Lamour, chat about how Weiner and Co. does, as well as how plaids mark a character and why white hipsters wouldn’t live in Brooklyn yet–”yet” being the operative word.
You know the drill: spoilers. And here we go…
Tami: Before we get into this Mad Men episode that deals with MLK, Jr.’s assassination and the racial unrest of the late 1960s, I have to ask: Where does the group stand on Matt Weiner’s treatment of race in Mad Men up until now?
NBA center Jason Collins in an April 29 interview with ABC News.
The statement from ESPN on Tuesday was predictably, almost disappointingly dry, given what prompted it. After willingly being the media equivalent of the person at somebody else’s celebration who tries to upstage the host’s announcement, this is what the network had to say for itself:
We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.
If you missed it, here’s what that “respectful discussion” about Collins public declaration of his sexuality, making him the first active gay player in one of the country’s more lucrative/”major” sports leagues turned into:
Don Draper has a sad about being an “Organization Man.”
Mad Men‘s season premieregot Tami and me–and guest ‘tabler Renee Martin–thinking about how much Mad Men is about aging: yes, about how we physically and emotionally age–and how different decades of life meant different things in, well, different decades–but also how institutions, like Sterling Cooper Draper Price, get on as the founders get on in age, and US society itself gets on with mediating changes, like the counterculture of hippies and wars with people of color. Conversation and spoilers after the jump.