If you want to know how to fix a certain cuisine, go to YouTube. If you need help with a resume, go to LinkedIn. Not sure what something means, hit up Google. Out of all these resources, where would you go to find out why black gay relationships don’t work? If it were up to me, I’d tell you to go home.
Even though we live in a space where “traditional” relationships are evolving, our foundation didn’t prepare us for our black gay relationship. Instead, we are attached to hetero-normative beliefs. And to make matters worse, this system doesn’t work for the people it was designed for. So, I ask… if it doesn’t work for straight people, how do we expect our black gay relationships to last?
Think of one black gay relationship that worked. What do you think made it work? Was there infidelity? Was there financial strain? Or, did they just seemingly live blissfully? Black homes celebrate privacy. We don’t tell our business. And that type of privacy, especially for our community, set us up to fail. Sure, there are heterosexual success stories, but where are our black gay relationship success stories?
In short, heteronormativity is a belief that assigns roles based on gender. It also says that relationships are between two heterosexual people. So together, let’s figure it out. How can we make our black gay relationships successful, on our own terms?
frankly, behaviours predicated on gender isn’t the norm anymore. The bottom can be the breadwinner, and the top can get his eyebrows threaded.
Top vs. Bottom
You know blows my mind the most? When a guy asks: “Hey are you a top or a bottom?” I instantly think, you know it’s 2019, isn’t everyone verse? But, as black queer men, we have an advantage here. Black men know how to navigate society in a way that brings comfort to the majority, and a closeness to our minority. Those everyday survival tricks can work in our black gay relationships too. We must abandon the thought that a man’s masculinity is linked to his sexual preference. Gender roles in black gay relationships are a thing of the past.
Black gay men who identify as tops and bottoms know that one label does not minimize your masculinity, commitment to your partner, or the role you play in their life. And frankly, behaviours predicated on gender isn’t the norm anymore. The bottom can be the breadwinner, and the top can get his eyebrows threaded. So, before you decide that a relationship isn’t working, ask yourself… is this a requirement based on hetero-normative ideology or me applying what I’ve learned as I date? What can I do to make my black gay relationship withstand hardship?
There’s a way we do things around here. You find a girl you like. You don’t bring her home unless she’s the one. You ask for permission to marry her. You get married, have sex and have kids. You work, retire, and enjoy the peace and quiet. We’re taught as black men to hunt, gather, and marry… women! But I don’t want to do that, and you don’t either.
I never sat in my room and thought of an extravagant wedding. Hell, who asks who between two men anyway? Isn’t that the beauty of dating another man? We get to break all the rules and find love in a hopeless place. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s a constant push for me to search for monogamy. And it sucks because monogamy feels elusive. I’ve not seen a happily ever after in a gay black relationship. Not in a book. Not on a TV. Not in real life. So how am I supposed to do the thing that seems to have never been done before?
There aren’t many known literary pieces or conversations aimed at us. Because of this, I suggest utilising a multi-prong approach as you navigate your black gay relationship. Psychology Today is a good tool when searching for a licensed professional. Build your pool of real-life resources. You can filter through professionals who specialise in LGBT issues and Black Men. Together, you and a therapist can unpack what you were taught versus what makes sense, now.
There are privileges we simply don’t get to enjoy in society. If you’re out, then you know what the looks feel like. If you’re not out, then you know the privilege in passing. In many black gay relationships, we don’t get the benefits of insurance, social acceptance, or some abilities afforded by our straight counterparts. Because of this, we don’t always get the comfort of showing up in society like we were taught we could.
There are people who hate our existence. At any given moment, black men must be aware of the consistent threat we pose. Put us in a black gay relationship, their fear rises. And that can be a challenge for us. While we actively identify spaces that are safe for us to exist in, we’re trying to figure out how to succeed in our black gay relationship. But, with intention, we can live full lives.
Esther Perel, an international couples’ therapist, shares some great thoughts on relationships. While she is no expert on black gay relationships, she’s a good place to start when identifying how we show up for ourselves and relationships. Also, a subscription to Journal of GLBT Family Studies is a good tool. Authors like Robert Allan and Willie J. Edwards provide great insight into black men in relationships and attachment theory. For our black gay relationships to have a chance, we must understand how we experience security and freedom on our quest for love.
There isn’t one way to capture homosexuality because there is no one way to get it right. Our relationships fail because we often battle an internal voice that limits us. Living arrangements, employment, and the journey to success have been taught to us, with the idea of us being straight black men. Black gay relationships fail because we expect the path straight people take to work for us. But, once we accept who we are, we get to take over the journey and reclaim our time. We get to teach ourselves how to show up in a way that leads us to healthy black gay relationships.
I say all of this to say, as we highlight the norm, we are forced to challenge it. We don’t have many black gay relationships to use as our standard. And as of today, that’s a good thing. We are able to abandon all ideas embedded in us. We get to take what we like, dismiss what we don’t, and develop a recipe for black gay love. I say, when something scares you, ask questions. Figure out what frightens you and who taught you that. And if for nothing more than the next generation of black gay kids, fight for your black gay relationship and show them it can be done!
Agree or disagree? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.
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