Black Masculinity

RG3 Sees a “Window” for Gay Athletes to Come Out

Robert Griffin III

(Photo Credit: Giant Life)

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) may have spent most of the summer rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee, but he grabbed headlines for comments off the field regarding gay athletes.  In an interview with GQ.com, Griffin III said he thought now was the time for gay football players to out.

RG3 stated, “If they’re looking for a window to just come out, I mean, now is the window.”

Some may be surprised to hear that from Griffin III, a devout Christian, who tight end Fred Davis dubbed “Black Jesus,” would come out in support of gay football players.  This isn’t the first piece of news regarding gay athletes in sports this year.  In April, Jason Collins became the first active male professional athlete to come out as gay.

As athletes continue to come out in support of their gay colleagues, RG3’s statement is the latest sign that the sports world could see more openly gay participants.

Gay Players in the NFL

RG3 isn’t the first player to come out in support of gay NFL players.  Veteran Brendon Ayanbadejo has been a highly visible defender of gay rights.  In April, he declared that a handful of NFL players were considering coming out as gay.  He stated, “There are up to four players being talked to right now, and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together.”

No NFL players have come out so far, but a unified announcement would be the biggest moment yet for gay athletes in sports.  After conducting a series of interviews with players, Outsports found that an overwhelming majority of players, including Griffin III, would support a gay teammate.

Kerry Rhodes Still Unemployed

After MediaTakeOut released photos of all-pro safety Kerry Rhodes displaying affection toward his assistant, rumors swirled that the former Arizona Cardinal would be one of the first gay NFL players to come out.  Rhodes quickly denied claims that he was gay, but the rumors remain.  The 31-year-old has yet to sign with an NFL team despite a stellar 2012 season in which he intercepted four passes and anchored a strong Cardinals’ secondary.  While it’s possible that Rhodes just isn’t in NFL shape, it stands to reason that NFL owners may be reluctant to bring a player who is associated with these rumors into their locker rooms.  If that’s the case, perhaps the NFL isn’t as forward-thinking a league as some believe.

RG3 in Hot Water?

This wasn’t the only off-the-field headline RG3 made over the summer.  Deadspin reported that the former Heisman winner may be embroiled in a sexting scandal.  Griffin III allegedly sent inappropriate pictures to a Virginia Commonwealth University student the day of his wedding. The story broke in June and nothing has come of it since, but further leaked texts could spell Favre-like doom for one of the most marketable players in the league.  RG3 has talent, charisma and a bright future.  Hopefully, Deadspin, which broke the Manti Te’o story and usually gets things right, got this one wrong.  Griffin III would rather be known for his stellar play and open-minded acceptance of people that aren’t like him.

These stories aren’t going away, but right now players are focused on the young season.  Fans are taking to opportunity to watch every game on multiple platforms, such as NFL cable packages, live webcasts and mobile streaming like the FiOS Verizon packages.  As NFL fans anticipate a great season from RG3 and the potential for gay players to come out, one thing is clear: it’s good to have football back.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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The Value of Your Funk: Part Two

Funky Smells

In The Value of Your Funk: Part One, I defined “funk” to mean one’s imperfections, disappointments, vexing past, professional and academic inadequacies, physical shortcomings, mental imbalances, low self-esteem, failures, utter unhappiness, and all of the other things unpleasing to him or her.  For those who did not have a change to read Part One of this series, I encourage you to read it because we all are funky—always have been and always will be.  If you’re in a serious relationship with someone, you should not withhold important information about your past and present from him or her.  Your girlfriend or boyfriend deserves to know about things you have done in the past and things you’re doing now.

If in your past you have been considered “whorish” because you have had sex with numerous people, you should feel compelled to inform your partner about this.  Your partner deserves to know that you’ve had such an active sexual intercourse history.  He or she may not want to be with you after you disclose this information to him or her, but it’s only fair to let him or her know this.  One thing about your vexing past is details about it that you don’t want to come out can emerge at the most inopportune times.  It would, therefore, be useful for you to go ahead and engage in discourses with your girlfriend or boyfriend about things from your past that could negatively affect him or her or things you know he or she would not approve of if he or she knew about them.  You will set yourself up for failure later on in your relationship if you elect not to deal with troubling things from your past and present up front.

Don’t run away from your past!

Your past is an essential part of who you are and what you have and will become.  Details about your past help people to understand more about you, even if you’ve completely turned away from living a certain type of life.  People will honor how you have changed your life, reject you because of your past, or they may be indifferent but don’t try to hide your past.  Be yourself.  Be honest with people.  No matter what you attempt to do to cover up your funk, it’s inevitably going to rise to the surface.

In no way am I saying that you should share everything with your girlfriend or boyfriend.  It probably is not appropriate to share everything with anyone.  You should, however, share essential information with your girlfriend or boyfriend.

For those of you who have had sexual intercourse with members of the same sex, and you’re now in a solemn relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you have a responsibility to tell your girlfriend or boyfriend that you have had sex with members of the same sex.  You know this is something that is going to worry you for the rest of your life if you don’t reveal it to your mate.  You will always fear he or she is going to find out.  Why not let him or her know up front?  Go ahead and combat any consequences and/or challenges of exposing the truth from your past in the early stages of your relationship rather than later on in your relationship.  If you wait until later on in your relationship, you mate is probably not going to be able to forgive you and may never be able to trust you again.  You run the risk of making yourself even more miserable about your past.

Without question, Black men have the most difficult time divulging they are gay or bisexual.  Many Black bisexual men who are involved in meaningful relationships with women are too afraid to unveil they are bisexual or once were bisexual.  Your bisexual past and present is a critical dimension of your identity.  Why are you attempting to bury it or camouflage it?  You’re always going to be uncomfortable with yourself when you’re unwilling to deal critically with your funk.  Hiding who you truly are from people only results in you denying yourself from living a liberated and happy life.  Why withhold from yourself a chance at living a truly free and happy life?  Is pleasing your family, friends, and society that vital to you that you’re willing to surrender who you really are for them?

Stop living a lie.  Stop presenting yourself as heterosexual in public when you’re really gay in private.  Your public and private self will always be in conflict when you’re not willing to be honest with yourself and those around you.  Stop people pleasing and simply be yourself.  What’s wrong with being yourself?

Now, there are people who will claim they are themselves but are unwilling to live a life reflective of truly being themselves.  Being yourself takes more commitment than simply saying and writing it—it takes a willingness to face the backlash of those who overtly and subtly despise you because you’ve made the choice to be yourself.  You’re not being yourself when you do and say things just to please people and to prevent them from calling you names that will offend you.

If you’re not truly committed to being yourself, stop saying and writing “be yourself.”  You severely distort and damage the essential message of those of us who truly are ourselves.

An unwillingness to be yourself will inevitably not make you any good for yourself and your boyfriend or girlfriend.  Be a real man and real woman and face your funk.  Your funk is not going anywhere so don’t spend your entire life running from it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Why Are You Not More Transparent Like Don Lemon?

Too many gay Black men hide behind relationships with women—even have sex with them—to avoid shame. They don’t want their family, friends, co-workers, and associates to know that at their core they are gay. I’m not talking about men who are truly bisexual. Authentically bisexual men exist and they men should tell their partners they are bisexual. However, my problem lies with those Black men who know they are gay and would desire nothing more to just be gay, but don’t have the courage to simply be gay, so they just hide their homosexuality behind public facades and dishonest relationships with women. Okay, even if these men are truly bisexual, why won’t they tell these women they are bisexual? Many gay Black men will get married and/or have babies with women just to attempt to conceal their homosexuality.  Don’t the women who are they are having sex with have a right to know they are sleeping with men?

Don Lemon, an African-American male Emmy award-winning news anchor for CNN, recently disclosed on CNN and in his new book, Transparent, that he is gay. He also promulgated that he had been molested as a young child. Although there are many narratives available about men being molested as children and living a homosexual life as adults, what I appreciated most about Don Lemon publically divulging that he is gay is how casual he revealed it and how it’s not such a big deal to him. The comfortable way in which Lemon communicated that he is gay has the potential to unsettle some aspects of the ways in which homosexuality is discussed in the Black community. His verbal and non-verbal communication expressed a powerful message that what he was publically unveiling about his sexuality and sexual orientation is just as common as heterosexuality, and that homosexuality is not something novel, considering you know people who are family members and friends who are gay—if you are not gay yourself.

He considered all of the other aspects of his book to be far more important than the fact that he is gay. He even talked about the fact that he could have taken out revealing that he was gay at any point, but it was recent developments concerning young people and homosexuality that caused him to leave his story about his own sexual abuse and gay identity in the book. You will, therefore, have to give me some stronger arguments and rationales that he just penned this book to publicly disclose that he’s gay to get money.  Even though he didn’t just compose this book to express that he’s gay to get money and/or attention, do you have the courage to do the same?

Speaking of courage, it’s the lack of courage that prevents gay Black men from telling their family, friends, and others that they are gay. While I’m fully aware that there are consequences for promulgating that you are gay to your family, friends, and others, you must remove the veil that you put on about your sexuality if you truly want to be a transparent person at your core. The target audience for my previous two sentences is really those Black men who are involved in relationships with women just to cover up their homosexuality. If you are accomplished and/or successful like Don Lemon, what would keep you from living a life where you are free to enjoy the freedom to live out your sexuality as publically as you live out other aspects about who you are?

Many Black married men are having sex with gay men and are not telling their wives. This lack of transparency threatens the lives of these women. It’s unfair to hide your homosexual affairs from the woman you are married to because she didn’t marry you for you to be loving up on some other man.

I find it quite interesting that supposedly heterosexual men will have sex with gay men and do things after they have sex to try to prove to the gay men that they are not gay. What? Really? Were you not gay when you were having sex with the gay men? You’re gay—face it! If you have sexual intercourse where you penetrate a man in his anus and/or you let a man penetrate you in the anus, you are gay. If you gave and/or received oral sex from a man, you are gay. If you have had sexual intercourse of any kind with a man, you are gay. If you are thinking about doing these things, then you are gay too. Face it!

Stop using these women as trophies to attempt to hide your homosexuality. If you want to be a homosexual, just be a homosexual. No, you don’t have to reveal your sexuality to everyone, but you should disclose it to the women you are involved with, married to, or considering getting involved with or marrying. Do you have the courage to tell them?

If you are transparent with the right people in your life about your sexuality, then you might just find out life is more free and enjoyable. Before just recently, Don Lemon had not told the world that he is gay, but he had let his co-workers and the people close to him know that he is gay. While you may not be gay, are there other aspects about you that you don’t have the courage to unveil to the people close to you? What factors, if any, keep you from living a more transparent life?

To Don Lemon, I salute you for having the courage to “be yourself.” I have been championing the message of “be yourself” all of my life. Don, you have given America an opportunity to wrestle with the importance of being transparent and have given us an opportunity to explore what being transparent really means. Thank you, Don Lemon!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gucci Mane Gone Wild

What in the world is going on with Gucci Mane with this ice cream cone tattoo on his face? Lawd, Gucci has gone crazy! No, Lawd, not Gucci! Seriously, though, we need to surround this young man with love because he’s obviously experiencing some serious mental health problems. Although many rappers and other Hip-Hop artists cause themselves to face great troubles, this does not mean that they do not deserve to get our love, support, and best wishes. I hope that Gucci Mane will defeat the demons that he is fighting. What Black man do you know has a tattoo of an ice cream cone on his face? To me, the tattoo looks more like a penis. Now, of course, rappers and others (if they already have not) are going to start joking on Gucci Mane about this tattoo, especially making homosexual remarks about him. Honestly, though, what Black homosexual is going to get this type of tattoo on his face? Well, none that I know. I want to use the popular discourse about Gucci Mane’s tattoo on his face as a window of opportunity to talk about how we have to be more serious about mental health in the Black community.

America has not made serious investments in mental health. When Black people across the nation have experienced such horrific tragedies and impossible conditions, it’s crucial for our community to have access to the economic, psychological, and health resources needed to address critical mental health problems.

Instead of so many Black churches simply negatively criticizing and preaching about Hip-Hop music being the Devil’s music, they need to get out on the streets and welcome these Black rappers and Hip-Hop artists into their churches. These artists need to know that someone loves them and are willing to help them through whatever they are going through. Black churches can play such a greater role in aiding these Black Hip-Hop artists to overcome the psychic demons they battle. This, of course, will require many Black church leaders to lose their elitism and do the real mission of Christ: go out and save a people who are lost and/or simply need love and support.

Black men have historically had problems with using mental health services and getting mental health treatment. In the postmodern period, I think that the core reason why Black men are so reluctant to use mental health services has to do with maintaining the notion of being a “strong Black man.” Well, there’s nothing strong about staying crazy when you can overcome your poor mental health by reaching out for mental health support. There’s nothing masculine about denying the reality that you need help. You can still be masculine and receive mental health treatment. You need to know that it’s okay to go and get some counseling. We all need someone to talk to about our problems. We are all struggling with something, so it should not be a big deal for you to go and talk out your problems with someone. Even if you don’t go and get counseling from a licensed professional, make sure you muster enough courage to talk with someone who you know and trust to hammer out your problems with. This person just might give you the inspiration and advice you need to defeat your struggles.

So, yes, it’s funny at first to see this tattoo on Gucci Mane’s face but we’ve got to look beyond the surface and see that he and so many others are fighting great psychic demons, and we need to be there to help these people. Fortunately, Gucci Mane has the money to get the help he needs but so many others don’t. We need to pull together as a community and be willing to listen and talk to people. You will be amazed at what listening and talking to a person can do to change their lives. Be there for someone and someone will be there for you on the day you need him or her most!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Men Masquerading: Part 4

Black Gay Men

Before I begin with the true purpose of this piece, would any of you like to tell me why you have so much pride in saying, “I’m in deez streets”? This sounds quite ignorant to me. Well, let me get immediately to the focus of this piece: gay Black men who feel they have to be so extreme about how they express their sexuality. Many homosexuals feel like they have to tell the world they are gay. If you feel the need to do this, then I really don’t have a problem with you. I do, however, have problems with those of you who are just being so flamboyant to get attention. When you are being overly flamboyant intentionally, you are not being your true self—you are simply being vain and hiding who you truly are. Some of you gay Black men invest too much time in making sure that people know you are gay and making sure that you get attention. You are robbing yourself of the true fullness life has to offer you. Let me also tell you that just publicly promulgating that you are gay does not mean that you are “real,” that is, not masquerading. While you may be very open and honest about what you elect to do in your bedroom, this does not excuse you from the other areas in your life you are dishonest about.

I have heard too many gay Black men claim degrees they don’t have, claim men they don’t have, claim homes they don’t have, claim jobs they don’t have, claim cars they don’t have, and claim clothes they don’t have. Why do you all do this? It seems that you do this because you are compensating for something you are missing. What is it? What are you missing? Yeah, you are comfortable with your sexuality, but why are you not comfortable in other important areas?

Why do so many gay Black men participate in gay pride parades? I have no problem with you loving the fact that you are gay and that there are other gay folk around you to love. However, don’t gay pride parades amount to nothing more than vain cries for attention? If you are so sure about yourself, why do you have to go to such extremes for recognition and attention? It seems to me, therefore, that gay people in general are going to have to do more examining of their personal deceptions—just as much as they are asking heterosexual people to do. By the way, to those gay Black men who believe all men are gay, I want you to know that all men are not gay so stop saying this.

If gay Black men want to benefit from an America that is more honest, then they need to be more honest themselves. When you are intentionally being overly flamboyant, I want you to stop and think about how you are really being fake. Don’t be so overly flamboyant that you end up sleeping with all of the men it is possible to sleep with. Please have some standards for yourself. HIV/AIDS has no concern with your desire for attention.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Men Masquerading: Part 3

The focus of this article is on Black men using materialistic things to camouflage their deep unhappiness. While I think that hip-hop culture, specifically rap music, has had an influence on the materialistic values of many Black men, these Black men have to be held accountable for much of their unhappiness that stems from the emptiness of their strong materialistic values. Just because many Black men are acting like they are happy, they really are not happy. I would encourage you to examine how they define happiness more carefully.

If you find them on Facebook talking about how much weed they are selling, smoking, and possessing, they are not happy. There’s simply no way you are happy living in fear of getting caught by a police officer. If you say that you are not fond of prison, then why would you do the things that will send you there? If going to prison is your definition of happiness, then you have a pretty screwed up notion of happiness. What is it about prison that you like? Is it the sex? Now, let me say this, I know that there are many Black men who have been to prison and/or who are in prison who have no love for prison, and many have been victims of unfortunate conditions and circumstances. My comments are not directed at you. If you have gone to prison and learned your lesson, my comments are not directed at you. If you take pride in going to prison and engaging in illegal activities and conduct, you simply need to go to prison. By going to prison, many Black men think this makes them “hard”—“a tough man.”

A love of prison simply makes you a fool. Please don’t let these rappers romanticize prison for you—there’s nothing desirable about prison. Many of these rappers who glorify prison have never been to prison. They stay out of prison and make money selling you records that you are dumb enough to believe their every word.

Don’t let how much money you are making selling drugs define your happiness. Don’t let how much alcohol you drink define your happiness. Don’t let how much jewelry and how many cars you have define your happiness. Don’t let how many women you have define your happiness. Define your happiness within yourself and ground that notion of happiness in truth.

For those of you who do it, stop getting on Facebook trying to fool people like you are happy by telling us how happy you are to be living a life as a “thug,” “gangsta,” “hard,” “pimp,” and etc. Try to fool no one and, most importantly, never try to fool yourself. Don’t be a waste of your father’s sperm and your mother’s egg. Do something that is going to benefit someone else other than you. Do something to uplift your community.

If you get these platinum teeth (“grillz”) in your mouth, don’t do it for others—do it for yourself. If you get all of these tattoos on your body, don’t get them for others—get them to make yourself happy.

I have a strong commitment to the improvement of the Black male in the postmodern epoch. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I am tirelessly devoting myself to a research agenda aimed at ameliorating the quality of life for Black men. If you are reading this piece and want to join in my effort to improve the progression of Black men, I encourage you to leave a comment or email me at antoniomdaniels@gmail.com. If you have suggestions for the improvement of Black men, I would love to hear from you. Finally, if I have offended you in this article or others, good—that was my intention!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Men Masquerading: Part 2

Have a baby and prove your masculinity, right? Mention that you are screwing this woman and this woman and prove your masculinity, right? Use inarticulate language and prove your masculinity, right? Get on Facebook and use hood vernacular and prove you’re a thug, right? Indicate that you’re “in a relationship or in a relationship with” and prove your masculinity, right? Lol! I’m not going there right now. In this piece, I will address Black men who cheat on their girlfriends and wives. It really does not make sense for anyone to cheat on the person who he or she is involved with. If you no longer want to be with the person, then be man or woman enough to let the person know. Don’t be a coward and not tell the person who you are involved with that you are being faithful to him or her and you know you’re not. Although I am well aware that women cheat on men, the focus of this piece is on Black men who cheat.

Black men have a little more respect for women than to use them as toys. Have more value for our Black women than to use them to boost your social status. Many Black men who cheat try to pretend like they are such loyal men in front of their women, but just as soon as they get a chance they are trying to pull off other women’s panties. If you want to be a “player (playa),” then just let your woman know this and move on to someone else. You want to be called a player not to satisfy your physical body, but to gain approval in the eyes of other men and some dumb women who think that this is “hot.” Have more respect for your mother than to want to be called a player. I am sure that your mother did not want to give birth to a whore. When you strive to be a player, you are not even giving yourself the opportunity to really enjoy the fullness of the company of a woman and the full enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Why? Because you’re more concerned with reifying women than experiencing what a real relationship with one woman can offer you.

When you go around and sleep with every woman that you can, this does not do anything to improve your resume or credentials—it simply moves you a step closer to dying from HIV/AIDS. Be more responsible sexually. You should at least think about the potential harm  you could be causing the women you are having sex with. When you ruin their lives with diseases that threaten their lives, you are not only victimizing those women, you are victimizing their families and friends. All of this can be avoided if you would get over your fear of simply being yourself. Stop living for society’s expectations for you and live for your own meaningful expectations. Be yourself!

I know some bisexual men who think that it is cute to sleep with as many men and women as possible. I have to let some of you bisexual men know that your whorish ways is what exacerbates the HIV/AIDS crisis we have here in America. The problem I have with many of you bisexual men who cheat on your girlfriends or wives is your secretiveness is what exposes these men and women to such great dangers. Black women need to recognize that they are going to have to demand more quality things from their Black men before they can truly be the men they need to be.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison