After watching a Thug Notes review and analysis of Ender’s Game,my son leaned into my friend Ryan’s ear and whispered furtively, “you know what my favorite part was? It was when the boys were fighting in the shower naked.” Which of course, I thought was hilarious.
Not long after the event I made a slight joke about Jojo’s interests with his mother when she posted something on social media. The result was disastrous. Black people came out in troves to assault the idea that I suggested even the slightest possibility of non-heteronormative sexuality in my black child. There was a lot of “He ain’t gay, YOU gay,” hurled around and I wasn’t sure whether I was back in high school nor was I sure if people thought I was implying something negative about my kid, which I clearly wasn’t. It was armageddon. The sky had literally fallen and O.J. was still innocent.
One of the angrier denizens was someone who was gay herself–a point which I tried and failed to make eloquently in a fit of righteous anger. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I think when Yana text messaged me saying to keep my opinions to myself is when I really fumed up. Her phone was apparently blowing up with calls about the issue. Yes, apparently it became a matter of national security. I tried and failed to appeal to Yana’s rational side, questioning why she’d allow such bigotry within her circle. One of whom was a close homosexual friend. Perhaps more importantly, one of the people who called Yana was her father. When she told me that, a few obvious things became clear, but much more complicated.
- I had clearly forgotten how much black people hate homosexuality. Especially old black folks. That shit is just super out of the question, no matter how liberal they might seem about other things–homosexuality, especially in a male family member, is not an option. One would think I’d have this in the front of my brain. The years of being tortured through childhood when everyone assumed I was gay and Josephine may as well have been my real name were never forgotten. Even back then, one of the biggest haters towards my supposed homosexuality was my aunt who, by anyone’s account was clearly gay and finally got around to saying so over 20 years later like it was news… After being such a slutty teenager, moving out of what we traditionally call the hood, and having two kids I hadn’t been gay bashed in quite some time and the only constant reminder has been every black dude I know on the DL. And to those I’ve encouraged to come out and have said “naw son,” I see your point. The presumed gay part of me kind of faded away when circumstances of school and work shifted towards my associating primarily with white people and suffering from John Henryism instead. But I remember now.
- Some old black people who hate away the gay or those i’d barter to call bigots in Yana’s circle care about my son like he was their own. His grandfather has taken him on fishing trips, those people have bought him plenty of things, babysat him and everything–especially when I couldn’t. Plenty of times when I’ve had no money or was in Iraq or weekends now when I have to work and can’t get the kids, those same people are there to support Jojo and his mom. So in one sense I feel like complete shit for even broaching the argument, but in another sense I’m supposed to have all these principles and shit that I don’t always live up to. Since in comparison to me, Yana does everything for our kid–because let’s not pretend that weekend dads have comparable child workloads–do I even have the right to launch a righteous protest for freedom of hypothetical future sexuality around Jojo? Even though clearly, supporting whatever he eventually chooses will be important.
- It’s likely that Jojo will be traumatized by something I either do or don’t do. Say or don’t say. But will he need counseling sessions because he got screwed by having me as a dad, or because he turned out to be gay and everyone who loved him decided to hate him?
- Does anyone talk about how much the hatred towards male homosexuality in the black community is inked to being anti-woman? The fact that all of the negative attributes associated with gay black men are simply the stereotypical traits associated with women, mostly synonyms of the word “soft?” I’m reminded of this every time I step near a basketball court today, when I’m transported back to the basketball courts of my youth, sitting and waiting for next game–everything was soft and gay. Everything.
While I do not immediately have the means to rectify all of these things, I can make the joke to friends that if Jojo turned out to be a gay teenager, he might actually like me more since I’d be one of the few people not bothered by it.