Some queer people who have spent time on Twitter have probably discovered the name "Angry Black Hoemo" on their timelines.
Angry Black Hoemo, also known as Marq, has been living in Chicago for five years. Originally from Louisiana, he moved here for his work as an IT developer. Marq described his job to Windy City Times as something he enjoys, that "pays the bills well enough." Marq is also a violinist, blogger, activist and member of the leather community. He also has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.
In February 2016, Marq started blogging for Medium before starting his own blog and personal website in August 2016 ( AngryBlackHoemo.com ). "I arrived to [ABH] over time, in pieces," said Marq. "My first ever blog post was titled 'Angry Black Man.'
"A lot of Black people have done this, where we've reclaimed this [stereotype] of angry. Anytime you're a Black person who's saying something that makes white people uncomfortable, you get labeled as angry." After he started to gain a following on Twitter, Marq wanted to find a way to brand himself. His first thought was to be @AngryBlackHomo, as he'd been on Medium, but had to get creative after finding that name in use already. @AngryBlackHoemo popped into his head and immediately felt right. "It felt like an exclamation point; this is a full [picture] of who I am racially [and] sexually, as far as identity as well as practice." ( Update: The first ABH account was suspended, so Marq uses @angryblkhoemo. )
Marq said his following happened organically, but that it became more consistent after he wrote a piece about allies coming into LGBTQ spaces. "I started seeing followers trickling in, and then it was just a steady increase," he said. A lot of Marq's writing and tweets are centered around race, sexuality and identity. For example, he coined the term WhiteGayze in a piece about how being a member of the LGBTQ+ community doesn't cure white people of their racism. "I don't use it as heavily these days because I don't immerse myself in white spaces as much," said Marq.
Something he does talk about nowadays is cancel culture—or the lack thereof. ( Cancel culture is a social media phenomenon that involves boycotting someoneusually a celebritywho sports an unpopular opinion. ) "It's not necessarily that [cancel culture] doesn't exist, [but] we really over-exaggerate what it means," he said. "I think we misapply the term. I think that it doesn't exist in the way that a lot of people claim it does and it's not nearly as pervasive as a lot of people think it is."
"We're socialized to find identity with people who have more power than we do, or people who have more proximity to power, or just people who we like, while we're simultaneously socialized to dislike and disrespect people who are more marginalized," he said. "Then we have this environment on social media where marginalized people now have more access to calling people out and saying, 'this is problematic,' or 'this person did this thing and this is why it offends me.'
"People see accountability, draggings, or public scrutiny as the end of somebody's world, when really it's just a mild inconvenience at worst. [People are] just uncomfortable with this person who has some proximity to power being inconvenienced in a way that they probably wouldn't have had to deal with before."
He added that cancel culture also doesn't really seem to work, as shown in the cases of Kevin Hart, among others. "[There are] people like Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein, but it took decades of work for that," he said. "That didn't happen overnight, and even [now], they still have plenty of supporters."
After years of blogging, posting and tweeting for free, Marq became a member of the paid platform Patreon last June. "I have over 50 published blog posts at this point," he said. "I feel like I've given a lot of free work, and I have threads and posts that can be widely referenced. My long term plan is to pivot more of my critical and deep diving work into Patreon, and then keep the threads on Twitter and the posts on Facebook kind of light. I still want some of my work to be accessible."
Marq's first post on Patreon is called "Why I don't subscribe to 'Race First' politics." He said, "When you have multiple identities or experiences that are marginalized, you're oftentimes put in a position where you are [asked], 'What do you identify as most,' or 'What's the most important issues to you.' The common answer is going to be, 'Well ... nothing, really ... all of it.'
Sex positivity is something Marq is vocal about online as well ( hence, the "hoe" in "hoemo" ). "Even in the gay community, we police each other's sexuality," he said. "We want to perform this non-sexual purity in order to make ourselves more palatable for cis-hetero folks. It's a big double standard because men who are heterosexual [and] cisgender [are] free to be as sexual as they want."
Marq added that he understands sex positivity means embracing and accepting all sexualities, including those of people who aren't sexually active. "It's important that you own whatever your sexuality is, whether you're highly sexual, or you're not all that sexual, asexual, it doesn't really matter," he said. "We need to have the space [for] everybody to be able to stand in their truth and not be ashamed. [Sexuality] is a part of who you are. If you're in any situation where you have to hide a part of yourself, then we're not building a world where we're really free."
Sex-shaming is inextricably linked to STI prevention, too, he stated. "The two primary causes of what blocks STI and HIV prevention efforts is capitalism first and stigma second," said Marq. "We have the structural barriers of capitalism and then we have the social barriers of stigma. Sex-shaming people is part of it; making [people] feel like their sexuality is something to be ashamed of. That puts people in a position where they might not want to go get tested, or they might feel like it's better to not know than to have this scarlet letter."
Marq's sex-affirming politics were shaped by years of being involved in the leather community. "That was the first community where I really felt like I could be unapologetic about my sexuality. That kind of shaped my ability to stand in my truth and not apologize in general," he said. "I found that I was applying that same mindset to race, to LGBTQ issues, and just politics in general. I didn't feel the need to hide myself or compartmentalize myself."
Marq said his refusal to separate his inseparable identities is part of what caused him to move from the North Side of Chicago to the South Side. "I lived in Edgewater for three years and I quickly saw how navigating [those] spaces as a Black person, you will be fetishized a lot," he said. "There's a duality when you're Black and queer in predominantly white LGBTQ spaces; you are simultaneously hypervisible and invisible at the same time. When you're not being fetishized, you're completely in the background; you're ignored. That was my experience living on the north side a lot of the time."
When the footage of the Laquan McDonald murder was released in November 2015, that's when things really changed for Marq. "That forced us to have a lot of conversations [that] I was avoiding previously. I started seeing a lot more vividly how a lot of white people have their tunnel vision, they don't see certain things." He added that one of the things that a lot of white people in Chicago don't see is the widespread racism he feels is prevalent in Boystown, including incidents such as the banning of rap music at Progress Bar, a racially charged encounter at the store Beatnix and issues with Walsh Security, the firm connected with Center on Halsted.
"When I first moved to Chicago I got the sense right away that Boystown was not going to be the most welcoming space," said Marq. "Something never really felt right about Boystown from day one. [Then] I would hear more and more stories about the history of Boystownhow it was originally gentrified by white people pushing out Black folks."
"I've talked to a lot of Black gay men who grew up [then] and they would talk about having to have two forms of ID to get into some of the bars here," he said. "I heard about [Progress Bar], that didn't really surprise me. The Beatnix thing didn't surprise me. We tend to look at the gayborhoods as a source of safety, but it's safe for who exactly? I don't necessarily feel safer walking through Boystown than I do walking through parts of the South Side." [Note: Windy City Times has reported this year on incidents involving Progress Bar and Walsh Security.]
"[Coming] from Texas, on the surface, it seemed better coming up here at first. Then situations like that happen," said Marq. "Then you kind of [realize], 'I'm having the same arguments now that I was having when I lived in Texas.'" Since moving to Chicago Marq has gotten involved in local activism, which also influenced his move south: "I've been with BYP100 since 2016. After a year of doing that and going back and forth from Edgewater to the South Side, I decided that I was going to move south in 2017."
Marq said his move has proven to be rewarding. Although he moved for his activism, he said that he's also found a small social scene. "There's not a huge gay mecca on the South Side, but I did find that for the spaces that we do make down there, it's a lot more comfortable as far as it being easier to not only find other Black LGBTQ people but Black LGBTQ people who want to be around Black people primarily," he said. "I think that makes a difference."
What's more, he added that queer activism on the South Side of the city has only just begun. "There are more intentional efforts happening on the South Side now that are specifically geared toward Black and Brown LGBTQ people, like Pride South Side, Fahrenheit Chicago, Black Pride[and] we have a couple of gay bars down there," said Marq. "[There are] efforts to circumvent [racial] issues and give ourselves spaces where we can. We're also seeing now how Boystown is being gentrified; even the white gays are being pushed out. So, it's like, 'There you go.'"