Monday, June 11, 2007

'No Homo'

"So for the past few years nearly every time I hear Black men nearing a point of emotional intimacy two words quickly have haunted the moment, "no homo." Picture this Sicily... err, I mean, so picture this, you've mentored a brother for the past 5 years, talked him through some major life issues: college, divorce, depression, women, etc. and he's about to take off for a far off land. He takes a moment to express his thanks for the love that you've showed him over the years and how you've improved his life and he punctuates his statement with "no homo." Not only has it happened once, but it's happened multiple times with the brothas that I've worked with. But the reason it urks me so much, is that so many of these brothas are the "good brothas", the brothas who have attempted to push on issues of gender, inequality at large and sexuality... well maybe not so much the latter.

The "no homo" movement seems to have grown directly out of Hip-Hop's obsession with hyper-masculinity. ( more...) "

I have definitely noticed this trend among Black men to use the words ‘no homo’ to downplay their display of emotions or affections. It bothers me. Namely because it gives the message that the showing of emotion or being kind to another man is a symbol of being homosexual, or that the outward display of emotion is clearly exclusive to homosexuals. Does anyone else find that to be ridiculous?

What is it about the Black man…yea, even the Black woman to an extent, that makes them SO damn homophobic? I surmise that perhaps it is because Black men tend to equate their masculinity to their penis – how big it is, how much sex they can get, and what kind of bodily orifices they are able to stick it in and how often. This juvenile mentality of “I am my penis” has hindered the Black male to really be able to come to grips with his own sexuality, and in turn has lead to womanizing, over compensating for a less than desirable penis size, and yes even homophobia.

Any real man will tell you that manhood is not the measure of your member’s size, nor is it tied to your sexual orientation. One of the best quotes I’ve hard about manhood reads as follows (emphasis added by me):

"A man, if he’s a mature adult, nurtures life. He does rituals that will help things grow, he helps raise the kids, and he protects the people. His entire life is toward balance and cooperativeness. The ideal of manhood is the same as the ideal of womanhood. You are autonomous, self-directing, and responsible for the spiritual, social, and material life of all those with whom you live." -Paula Gunn

Now where exactly does sexuality come into play with determining a man’s worth? I don’t think it does. Truly I think we have taken things too far when this ‘no homo’ catch-all phrase is being used to serves as some kind of disclaimer for Black men who feel like showing love, gratitude, or even appreciation of another male is somehow ‘unmanly.’ Furthermore, I believe that the use of said phrase automatically alerts me that the user of the phrase isn’t in touch with his manhood, and doesn’t have a firm grasp on his masculinity and what it means to be a man.

We get entirely too hung up on fitting into these neat little gender roles, and fail to realize that we are all made of the other. Every woman is feminine and masculine, and every man is masculine and feminine. We come to be as a combination of man and woman, and while a sexual gender is assigned to us and we are groomed to be one gender or the other, there are still those internal traits that society would consider as being of the ‘other.’ What I mean to say is that a woman who is ‘woman enough’ to show her strength and resolve in the face of adversity is no less of a woman than a man who is ‘man enough’ to show his fear or genuine sorrow in times of hardship.

Why are we raising our boys with this messed up mentality that encourages them to hold all feelings inside, and shuns true expression of emotions? Can’t we see by now that these boys grow up to become men who possess an inability to allow themselves to feel? Who are conflicted by their ineptness to display the very emotions that make one human? What is the deal my beautiful brothas? When will you learn that it’s ok to feel? To love? To hurt? It’s all a part of being human and has NOTHING to do with being ‘homo,’ so please let’s grow up and look inwards to address the real issues at hand instead of looking outward and allowing the general populace to determine the status quo.

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