September 13, 2011

Thug Boy

"Tha #1 place fa thug lovin'."

That's what the tagline to an ad for a porn site by the same name of this blog post said. I came across this ad while reading a terrible article about a black man who was killed by some drunk white teenagers. Turns out the black man was gay and had a partner of 17 years and a daughter. A wrongful death lawsuit is being filed, however, the partner of the deceased man cannot join in it because of Mississippi laws. Gotta love the Deep South right?

The article alone was enough to set me ablaze with rage, sadness, and disdain. While fuming over this horrendous injustice, I noticed an ad to the right of the article. It pictured two naked black men in a sexual position with the word "ThugBoy" written across the bottom. It was an ad for black gay porn site.

Wait. What?! Is that...? Does that say...? Really?! An ad of that nature next to an article about the brutal murder of a gay black man? Is that just not the most vile, disgusting, revolting, insensitive, offensive thing in the world to do?! Now, I'm well aware that some of these ads are just randomly placed in locations based on the subject matter but still. Did none of the editors of the website catch that and try to replace it? Why would they even allow ads like that on a website that is not a porn site?

Of course, this sent me just flying over the edge on my unicorn, my rainbow flag cape blowing in the wind. I began to smolder with disgust. Was this the normal portrayal of black men in the porn industry? As a black gay man, am I automatically labeled as a thug? Am I unknowingly a player in some guy's sick fantasy of being roughed around by some big black guy that spews profanity and racial slurs with less than correct English grammar and dropping or not fully enunciating the ends of his words? I had to dig deeper. This can't be how it really is. Can it?

I began to do searches for black gay porn. I'm not going to lie and say that I haven't looked at porn before, but it's never been black porn in particular. The results of my searches found several websites playing into this whole "thug" role. Normal descriptions included "hung black thugs," "black thugs on twinks," "black thug boys," "gangsta gays," and so on. Each one perpetuating the stereotype of black men being hyper aggressive, hyper masculine, spouting more profanity than a sailor could ever think of, speaking in a language that I could barely decipher.

It was disgusting. I was appalled, shocked, and offended. As a black gay man, I am incredibly offended by the common portrayal of black gay men in porn. Granted, it is the porn industry so I'm not expecting much class or taste from it, but this was just too much. How can we ever do away with these stereotypes if this is what millions of people see and, even worse, want?

That was the next part that scared me. Do people expect and want this type of behavior from me when considering me sexually? Am I just a part of their exotic fantasy? Considering the way some men have responded to me at gay clubs and bars, it would make sense. I felt sexualized. I felt like my entire being was reduced to the representation that was playing on my computer screen. For the first time, the interactions I had with other gay guys made sense: "You wanna (something to explicit to ever be repeated) to me?" "You're so sexy. Why don't you (ditto) me?" "I like it rough. I'm sure you can give it to me like that." My responses to each were either "Ew!", "No!", walking away or a combo of all three.

This over-sexualized persona represents everything I try to fight against in my life. I'm more than your sexual fantasy about getting laid by some big black thug in baggy clothes with a grill in his mouth. I'm more than some deep voice yelling insults at you while we're hooking up. Yet, this is what the porn industry perpetuates.

At the end of it all, I can't really be upset for people wanting what they want. I mean, I'm gay, I'm in the same boat (hopefully, with lots of sailors :P ). I love who I love and want who I want. I would just be really appreciative if there were more depictions of black gay male sexuality than thug, even beyond the porn industry. And this is not to say that being someone who would fit the thug or gangster persona is an awful person. This is just me crying out against the projection of this persona on me. Try talking to me first before you let what you see on the internet dictate how to interact with me.


  1. AJ, I know we had a whole conversation about this in the Center today-but thanks for writing this!

  2. I never did know how to go about expressing my inability to conform to another stereotype of how black people are supposed to perform when they're queer. As a woman it's expected that I be "butch", but I'm far from it, and as a result am written off as straight until I say otherwise. Thanks for bringing this up! I really don't know how to touch these subjects without risking being too offensive to any community at this point.

  3. aj - i always love your posts. you are always open and true with emotion in them.

  4. Great post, AJ. Thanks for writing this. When it comes to expectations of personality and character, it's so easy for people to fall back on stereotypes. As a black woman, I know what others expect me to be, whether that is what's portrayed in the media, or just whatever is popular amongst a community. While I don't find those expectations as offensive as the black male expectations (I mean really, "thug lovin"?! Do better.) I'm far from it and it kind of puts me in an awkward corner.