So I’m just going to come right out and say it: Sometimes, straight black men — “macho pops” — can get on my LAST nerves.
I’m at the Saint Louis Galleria because it’s the holidays, and because I’m visiting my grandmother who lives in Saint Louis (SL). I learn that people who live in the fly-over states go to the mall for fun, so I, too, participate. As I walk around I’m accompanied by my diva-cousin, and I’m wearing indigo skinny jeans by Cheap Monday. I walk around in a pair of flat, square-toed leather ankle boots, a black v-neck and a tiny black blazer. All of this is topped off with my 1950s-style black glasses and a shiny black bag I got at American Apparel — but not the one that’s coming to New Haven, because it isn’t open yet.
The diva takes forever trying on a dress at Express, but since I hate Express Men, I decide not to poison my body with their clothes. Instead, I opt to wait for her outside. That’s when this group of macho pops walks past, and even though I try hard to ignore them, this is what they shout:
“Wooo, shit!!! Ohhhh noooooo!!!!! What the fuck is THAT (read: moi) supposed to be?!?!”
“THAT,” I repeat to myself but do not actually say, “is a prime, toned, piece of Brazilio-Jamaican fnizass!”
Not too much later, another team of macho pops zooms in on my looks, and as they approach I clinch for yet a second round of insults. Innovatively, one of the guys squeals a Michael Jackson-style “Heee heee!!!” as he passes. Another likens me to Andre 3000 of Outkast, and still another calls me Prince.
If you want to pack a punch, you’ve got to do better than call me Prince. Comparing me to rich, international, WOMANIZING superstars isn’t … effective.
As I sit there waiting on my cousin, wondering why I ever traveled west of the West Side Highway, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why won’t straight black guys leave me the fuck alone?
Every time I walk past a group of macho pops — every time, always, without fail — someone in the group hisses or says something anti-gay/anti-my style. I think fierce black gay guys (FBGGs) experience this everywhere. My best friend Aymar, an FBGG who goes to Penn, deliberately watered down his dress so he wouldn’t get his ass kicked by the macho pops in West Philadelphia. If we’re together and a group of them encroaches upon our freedom, “Here we go … ” we say practically in unison.
When you grow up gay, I think you get used to homophobia and to being prodded for gayformation. Your straight friends: “Does it hurt? Are you the man or the woman? Do you eat it?” But what really pisses me off is that a bosomy 90 percent of the homophobic comments directed towards me come almost exclusively from black men — I can count on one hand the number of times a white, Latino or Asian person has said something homophobic to me.
How is it that the only people who harass me are straight black men?
Admittedly, this is a totally complicated thing that involves race, class, masculinities, black solidarity and, I’m just gonna say it, an oft-repressed desire for steamy hot gay sex. It seems easy to say that black people are often more vocal than everybody else — as any holiday with my family attests. I think the more important issue is that I’m black, they’re black, we’re all black together and I don’t look like what the macho pops believe I should look like as a black male.
They’re kind of like the Black Masculinity Police, and their job is to arrest the degenerates. The macho pops want to save me from “The Gay,” or maybe they really just want to protect the image of super-sexualized “black maleness” from “The Gay.”
Hahaha, omg! “The Gay” fucks “black maleness” in the ass!!!
The macho pops think their eight-level video game mission is to reel me back into what the media tells us “black maleness” is. The media tells us that all black men are just like 50 Cent. But why aren’t there more black men like Kanye West, or even Carleton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the mainstream?
The effect of 15 years of being teased by my own color pantone is that I’ve become really tired of the macho pops. I know people say it’s exhausting being fabulous, but DAAMN. It’s like, “You want to make fun of me? Well fuck you, too!” No surprise, then, that I had no interest in going to Black Graduation at the University of Michigan, or that I’m still nervous to go to “black” things. It’s probably a flawed logic, but I don’t know what else to do.
I know that somebody out there is pulling out the race card, thinking that I’m ashamed to be black, or worse still, that I wish I were white. But let me pour you a cup of my tea: I’m not ashamed to be black. My soul was lit when I worshipped at the temple of the artist Kara Walker last November. I’m pissed off at straight black men for making me feel uncomfortable in my own ethnic group.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe Madison Moore is just the fuckin’ Queen of the Fags, and uses fashion to bring unnecessary attention to himself. Once, as an undergrad, I did this wicked experiment/performance piece where for a week I dressed down in really baggy, ugly clothes from stores I hate. People noticed right away, and my concerned friends thought I was becoming a terrorist or something.
Getting picked on is the consequence for veering from the norm. Not to go all Oprah, but figuring out who you are and how to be that is really difficult.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Or as RuPaul once sang, “(Wooork!) Turn to the left. (Wooork!!) Now turn to the right. (Wooork!!!) Sashay, Shante!”
Madison Moore is willing to forgive Dov Charney for neglecting New Haven so long.