The portrayal of Black men in the media has seldom been a positive one. Thus, it is not surprising the portrayal of Blavck Gay men would be just as negative or disturbing. Recently, popular culture has portrayed a slew of gay Black men on television, however, they are not quite what you would call masculine or normal. From shows like Bravo’s “Fashion Queens” and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” to E’s! “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” the portrayal of Black men is nothing short of flamboyant and almost drag queenish. One has to wonder where is the Black Gay spectrum? You can look on almost any network and find all types of white gay men from the drag queens and transexuals to closeted athletes. With the noteworthy exception of Michael Sam, this has not been the case. One New Yorker, who also happens to be Black and gay, finds himself disappointed that he cannot see himself on television. “…not all Black gay men wear heels or make up or interested in fashion…some of us just so happen to be gay and we still carry ourselves as men…” These are the words of Trent Britain Jeter, whose now infamous Facebook post sparked a war of words and opened dialogue about the portrayal of Black Gay men in media.
Trent’s post managed to find its way through the grapevine to celebrity stylist and fashion commentator, Derek J. Needless to say he was not happy and responded with the following statement via Instagram:
“Do this post was brought to my attention by@thefabdarylj and the points made in this post are valid and well understood, but it amazes me when people pick and choose what they want to support and stand for. You don’t want to support a feminine gay man in media because you feel that it’s not a good representation of the black gay community. But you will choose to support a woman that has raped the black gay culture of their lingo, fashion sense and beauty creativity. Let me even take it a step further you choose to support the rapper that doesn’t even see your lifestyle and a good representation of the black community as a whole. Before I was on tv I was and still a gay black business owner with a successful salon, that mentors black gay youth and gives back to the community. So with all that said I want to challenge the “masculine” black man that doesn’t like the way that gay black men are being represented in media to stand up and do something about it……. Ooooooo I forgot you didn’t want anyone to know you where gay.”
Derek’s supporters also rallied to his defense, finding it offensive he was compared to TS Madison, a transexual porn star also known as “The Big Dick Bitch,” and challenging masculine (or “straight-acting”) Black Gay Men to step into the limelight. In the time since his inital post, Trent too, has earned a great number of supporters, all of whom want to see more diversity in the Black gay men on television. However, Trent has nothing against Derek J and respects his stance. “…The problem is not with people like Derek J but the network executives…people like Andy Cohen need to make a conscious effort to show the entire spectrum of the community…they [the executives] are not going to do it though…people like seeing Blacks, straight or gay, as buffoons and until we start letting them know and voicing that this is not okay it is going to continue to happen…”
Trent and Derek J both argue valid points. If a community of people is to be portrayed in the media then it should be as inclusive and responsible as possible. “Gay don’t mean girl,” is a moniker many are adopting the face of this recent debate. Still, until Black Gay men actually step out of the dark into the light of visibility will we see more than one type of black gay guy. Sick of black men in gowns? do something about it by being yourself and finally standing OUT!
Special thanks to Trent Britain Jeter, you can follow him @iamtrentjeter on Twitter, and Derek on Instagram/Twitter @derekjhair