Reclaiming Blackness: (Counter) Narratives of Racial Kinship in Black Gay Men‘s Sexual Stories
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Black gay male identities and their place within the social hierarchy are organized by interlocking systems of race, sexuality, gender and class. This produces the social marginality of black gay men in seemingly neutral ways. Prominent features of this systemic oppression are stock stories of black gay life that construct black gay men as pathological, dangerous, conflicted, inauthentically black, emasculated, and heretical within public and academic discourses. In order to better understand these dynamics and add to the empirical literature on race/sexuality intersections, fifty-two men identifying themselves as black/African American and as having relationships with other men, participated in semi-structured one-on-one interviews which explored their accounts of the structural arrangements, social interactions, and cultural meaning systems that defined the experience of being both black and gay in America. These interviews revealed that black gay men construct rich and complex counter narratives which not only expose the complex structural arrangements, cultural practices and racial ideologies that produce their marginality, but also remediate black gay manhood as part of the black diaspora. These narrative challenges illuminated discursive, performative and cultural practices, as well as social interactions occurring in three areas of the men‘s lives. First, were strategic uses of a hegemonic masculine form I call the "Super Black Man" (SBM) by which the men counteract the heteronormative, and hypermasculine prerequisites of respectable black masculinity, and represent themselves as racially-conscious and respectable black men. Participants also constructed narrative challenges to those cultural repertoires produced by the black church which organize the dominant scripts of black, Christian identity. These accounts were distinguished by the academic resources they utilized to re-theorize the relationship between Christian faith and the black body, confront the white racial framing and heteronormative assumptions embedded in church doctrine, and transform their outsider status within these communities. Finally participants‘ narratives also illustrate multiple dimensions by which a black racial framing organizes their experiences as black gay men, and their connection to black communities. These negotiations suggest the need to theorize race/sexuality intersections as having both structural and interpretative dimensions and to see the intersection of race and culture as complicating the manifestation of racial inequality.
Chambers, Christopher Scott (2011). Reclaiming Blackness: (Counter) Narratives of Racial Kinship in Black Gay Men‘s Sexual Stories. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from