By Marcus Davis
My first real exposure to the gay lifestyle was when I went to college in Washington, D.C., at the age of 17. Up until then, the most I knew about being gay came from an issue of Advocate Men I was able to buy at Printer's Row and my The Joy of Gay Sex book, with its vivid illustrations of frottage and bondage. Coming out in a place like D.C. was birth by fire, and the perpetual amount of gayness I witnessed was both surreal and empowering. For much of my life, I had deluded myself into believing I could covertly engage the desire I had towards men until I had risen to a position of power so substantial, my sexual inclination would be a tacit inconvenience. But being faced with the urgency of my desires and persistence of my demeanor was unavoidable in Chocolate City, and I quickly shed that illusion. I became a regular at the clubs, knew all the sissies on campus and could tell you the first name of most of the local strippers. I was gay as one possibly could be at such an age, and it was certainly a colorful time in my life.
However, the novelty of this decadence quickly wore off, and I lost interest in attending most gay establishments. One can only immerse himself in the orgy of the gay club scene for so long before the faces start to blend, the taut pectorals become mundane valleys and the shadows become hollow outlines of longing. I'm far from being a playboy, so some may argue I simply became embittered by my inability to navigate the terrain. Perhaps, but it seems inescapable to observe there is an undercurrent of irrelevance embedded in much of popular Black gay culture. So when I pose the question, 'What is the virtue of Black Pride?' I'm always torn. I vacillate between feeling it is a worthless spectacle of a shallow gay psychology and conceding the necessity of such cultural assertions.
Being Black and gay is a very esoteric experience. Our Caucasian counterparts face many of the same discriminatory circumstances but they benefit from the inherent normalcy being white in America implies. Our color characterizes our lives, even within the sphere of LGBT culture, and it is important to remember the struggles and triumphs the Black gay lifestyle represents. Yet even that statement is an equivocation because it is virtually impossible to define what that lifestyle is. Much of the Black gay community exist in the shadows, and the reconciliation of the 'DL' ( down low ) culture with the need for increased visibility is a difficult task that remains escaping. But here is where the Black Pride begins to establish its significance.
It is past time for the Black gay community to begin to define clear and tangible economic and political agendas. Events such as Black Pride represent the massive power potentially welded in both arenas, but it is important that the opportunity is not squandered in the wake of frivolity.
Sure, much of Pride is about the never-ending eye-candy and the prospects this saturation presents. But it also galvanizes a group existing in the vestiges of unity and forces them to confront their common ambitions. We all want the caress of another in those moments of weakness. We all want to be respected and appreciated in our totality. We all want our communities, both Black and gay, to grow and flourish. We all deserve to feel proud. But being proud isn't about just celebrating; it's also about accepting those things that compose the imperfection that is you and moving forward.
Actors Call for Mobilization to
Actors Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, speaking during the 2006 BET ( Black Entertainment Television ) Awards Ceremony, called for Blacks—specifically celebrities—to join the national Black mobilization effort to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America.
Glover, a longtime AIDS activist and humanitarian, made his comments while helping to present Belafonte with the BET Humanitarian Award during the show, which was held June 27 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, according to an item on the Black AIDS Institute Web site.
In his acceptance speech, Belafonte said, 'The struggle is long. It hasn't ended. ... HIV/AIDS isn't fixed yet. Two million men in prison isn't fixed yet. Justice isn't fixed yet. And the only ones who can fix it are those of us who are victims of it...'
Glover's comments follow his participation in a national call to action on June 5 at a news conference hosted by the New York-based Open Society Institute, in which everyone from politicians to media personalities called for a declaration of commitment to end the AIDS epidemic.