Writer and blogger Robert Jones, Jr. (AKA Son of Baldwin) gets Facebook trolls freaking out about the perceived “gayness” of the above photo of Michael B. Jordan and his Creed director Ryan Coogler all the way together in a piece for The Grio.
The two men posed together for a recent Vanity Fair profile that lit social media afire when Jones, Jr. posted it on the Son of Baldwin Facebook page. In the words of Jones, the photo “portrays a kind of intimacy between the two men — the two black men — that seemingly betrays the rules of patriarchal masculinity.”
Apparently, the pic is “a lil gay.”
…and taking a photo like that is “selling your soul.”
Heterosexual black male masculinity remains such a fragile thing for very complex reasons, and this “controversy” certainly isn’t helping (note: hold off with the pitchforks, this writer is black).
We’re not huge fans of this new trend of creating stories based on what a few idiots think on social media, but this deserves to be checked, and boy does Jones, Jr. check it:
This is nonsense, of course; a careless, cherry-picked understanding of human existence designed to give certain segments of our communities an inflated sense of self-importance. Human sexuality is much more complex than they will ever admit, and the ranges of genders and sexualities expressed in humankind pre-date any attempt at supposed sociopolitical manipulation.
But I’ve been told that it’s natural for black men, in particular, to panic about their manhood and masculinity given America’s perennial violence against us. Perhaps there’s some truth to and justification for that. But I wonder if we’re allowed to interrogate that idea a little more. What I’m interested in knowing is whose notions of manhood and masculinity we’re trying to emulate.
He goes even deeper in the piece, which is really worth a read.
It will be nice when a photo of two black men can just be a photo or, better yet, when black men can playfully poke fun at gender norms and homoeroticism with the glee of Channing Tatum or Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Until then, black male sexuality will continue to be heavily policed, but at least voices like Son of Baldwin exist to start a much delayed conversation.