By Guest Contributor Sikivu Hutchinson; originally published at Feminist Wire
I can’t justify Ravi’s decision to invade his roommate’s privacy, especially not at a moment in which he would be extremely vulnerable. I also cannot justify Ravi’s decision to mess with evidence, even though I suspect he did so out of fear. But I also don’t think that either of these actions deserve 10 years of jail time or deportation (two of the options given to the judge). I don’t think that’s justice.
This case is being hailed for its symbolism, but what is the message that it conveys? It says that a brown kid who never intended to hurt anyone because of their sexuality will do jail time, while politicians and pundits who espouse hatred on TV and radio and in stump speeches continue to be celebrated. It says that a teen who invades the privacy of his peer will be condemned, even while companies and media moguls continue to profit off of more invasive invasions.
I’m also sick and tired of people saying that this will teach kids an important lesson. Simply put, it won’t. No teen that I know identifies their punking and pranking of their friends and classmates as bullying, let alone bias intimidation. Sending Ravi to jail will do nothing to end bullying. Yet, it lets people feel like it will and that makes me really sad. There’s a lot to be done in this realm and this does nothing to help those who are suffering every day.
— From “Reflecting on Dharun Ravi’s conviction” by danah boyd
(Image Credit: ABC News)
Once I was finished writing [Transparent, my new] book, my first thought was Are Black women going to support me? Will they stop watching me on TV? Will they call me a fag?
Truthfully, that would hurt me more than anything else. [...]
I’m not going to lie- sharing my story hasn’t been an easy decision. Americans in general have a very limited definition of masculinity, but there’s a definite stigma in the Black community that being gay is the worst thing possible. In telling you that I’m gay, I pray that you will not judge or condemn me. If you ever thought I was a role model before, I hope you will continue to believe that because I strive to be one. If you thought I was a great journalist before, I hope you will still think the same of me. And for the record, let me say that not all gay men are feminine. There’s nothing about me that wants to be a woman. It’s stereotypes, assumptions, and religious ostracism that keeps Black gay men like me from telling the truth about who we really are.
— Don Lemon, “To My Beautiful Black Sisters…” (link goes to video), Essence Magazine, July 2011
by Guest Contributor Nonso Christian Ugbode
A good rumor is like a wild forest fire. It comes and goes mostly on its own grand will and terrorizes most in its presence, firefighters and rumormongers alike. The frenzy of speculation around Tyler Perry’s stated or implied sexuality is such a rumor, a sea of loud crackles and hazardous smoke, so forgive me for keeping my distance. Fire burns. This statement is about something different, albeit adjacent. After a viewing of Perry’s “Why Did I get Married, Too?” one cannot help but be struck by its somewhat blatant and unchecked homophobic moments. From “boys-being-boys” to boys in drag jumping out of cakes for no apparent reason the film strikes a discordant chord in some instances of comedy that mostly comes across as coded homophobia.
A good critique should always come with a healthy dose of confession, so here are a few to color your reading. My perspective is one of a black man in search of true love. “That all-consuming, can’t-live-without you love,” (forgive the borrowed phrase dear Carrie Bradshaw.) The kind of marriage I seek is expressly banned in about forty-one states in this great union of ours, and New York just barely legalized it. So aside from being an idealist I am also a bit of a fantasist. Suffice it to say that when I look at depictions of love, Black love in particular, I seek mirrors of myself by habit. Tyler Perry is the main focus here only because he has the biggest mirror – one that if it is not going to pay me any compliments should at least not distort my reflection. That’s all I’m saying.
With two movies in this vein under his belt, a look inside the contemporary Black marriage one might say, Perry has succeeded in saying absolutely nothing about Black gay marriage. Much has been explored when it comes to the committed heterosexual Black relationship; the physical cheating, the emotional cheating, the wanting the baby, the not wanting the baby, the death of the baby, the emotional and physical abuse, etc. And beyond the pathology one manages to glimpse quite a few moments of bliss; which is what keeps me coming back to the franchise maybe. The love portrayed for example between Louis Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson in the sequel is moving. And in all that exploration there is not a mention of girls who marry each other, or boys who are committed to one other, and how wonderful that might be. Not a sentence. Now this is of course expected, as it is status quo. If the president is allowed to have a constantly “evolving” perspective on the “issue.” Well, we can all also pretend it’s nothing to speak up about, I guess.
So beyond being a martyr for the cause the least one could expect from Perry would be not to put down being gay, right? Well, here come the spoilers. Continue reading
By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid
On March 30 hip-hop producer Calvin “Mr.Cee” Lebrun—he of Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die fame–was busted by New York City police allegedly receiving oral sex from a sex worker. Reports said Lebrun supposedly received the sexual favors from “a man” . This got some people feeling some kind of homophobic way, complete with saying that “we all should have seen this coming” because of his alleged “golden showers” kink. As Sister Toldja wrote earlier this week :
To be totally fair, this isn’t the average gay rumor; not only was the other person in the case allegedly paid for the act, the writer who dropped this gossip also claimed that Mister Cee has a thing for urinating on female strippers. So while much of the chatter is about Mister Cee being (allegedly) infected with The Gay, folks are aghast by this pee thing, too. Considering our attitudes about sexuality, that’s no surprise.
With homophobia and anti-kink sentiments roiling—and Lebrun and his supporters doing the NYPD Hip-Hop Conspiracy Step —hip-hop artist and critic dream hampton provided some level-headed analysis about the situation:
While highly regarded in the hip hop industry and in New York, Mister Cee is not necessarily famous. Still, his arrest gave opportunity to talk about the persistent poking around hip hop’s “closet,” where speculation about sexual orientation is practically a sport. Charlamagne actually elevated the conversation by asking why a married 44-year-old man was seeking sexual favors from a 20-year-old, professional or otherwise, and if that, then why in a parked car? I argue that none of this would be a discussion, viral or anywhere else, had Cee been arrested with a 20-year-old woman, be she prostitute or not. I also don’t believe, 2011 or not, that hip hop is a safe space for anything other than aggressively heterosexual public behavior or affirmation. While obviously lesbian women MCs and personalities remain silent if not closeted about their sexuality, there is even less space for men to appear bisexual or homosexual.
I believe that Mister Cee’s sexuality is a personal matter, one he must reckon with himself and his wife. But Charlamagne’s co-host Angela Yee took the position widely held by heterosexual women—that closeted bisexual men are a health hazard, exposing trusting women to AIDS and more. While I’m not dismissive of those concerns, particularly in a marriage, where condom use is expected to be abandoned, I do know that we heterosexual Black women don’t exactly offer safe spaces for bisexual men to express their desires.
I’m also far more concerned that the transgendered 20-year-old who allegedly serviced him be safe, particularly if he is a sex worker. I wished aloud on my own Twitter feed that the discussion about Mister Cee would be one about decriminalizing sex work and focusing on harm reduction rather than speculating if Mister Cee is closeted.
Hampton is right in this respect.
by Carmen Van Kerckhove
I missed this when it was on PBS, so it’s great to catch at least a bit of it on YouTube. Here’s the description:
“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes” provides a riveting examination of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Director Byron Hurt, former star college quarterback, longtime hip-hop fan, and gender violence prevention educator, conceived the documentary as a “loving critique” of a number of disturbing trends in the world of rap music. He pays tribute to hip-hop while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for glamorizing destructive, deeply conservative stereotypes of manhood. The documentary features revealing interviews about masculinity and sexism with rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, and Busta Rhymes, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, and cultural commentators such as Michael Eric Dyson and Beverly Guy-Shetfall. Critically acclaimed for its fearless engagement with issues of race, gender violence, and the corporate exploitation of youth culture.
[If you’re reading this in an RSS reader or Feedblitz email and can’t view the video, please click on the post title.]