Jeremiah Thompson, left, and his father, Joseph Thompson Sr., 2016
Jeremiah Thompson, left, and his father, Joseph Thompson Sr., 2016

I have been afraid to express my true identity in the past because as a gay black man I could potentially be threatened, beat up, or killed. I’ve had friends who've been jumped and harassed because of their identity. Not to say I’m ashamed of who I am but I have to protect myself. Being black is on thing, but being black & queer poses a different topic of discussion. This has shaped me into not hiding who I am, & understanding that representation is important because you never know who you are helping by being you. No one should live timid and afraid because of things they have no control over, such as skin color and sexual orientation. It’s also shaped me to be fearless & fight for true unity amongst the black community. Not talking about something doesn't erase its existence. 

Johnathan Marshall, left, and his father, John Marshall, 2016
Johnathan Marshall, left, and his father, John Marshall, 2016

Human. Plain and simple. We cry, laugh, fight, create, love, sympathize, dream, just live like the rest of the human race. 

My granddad is that figure of masculinity for me. I watched him work day today, provide for our household and coach my uncles and cousins into adulthood. He was reserved, funny and confident in his masculinity. 

Positive self-talk, as well as setting goals, have always helped me ignore the bullshit America has to offer black men. Finding my place outside of having to rely on the dominant culture and relying on myself cements my positive identity. 

Brian Lawrey left, and his father, James Lawrey, 2016
Brian Lawrey left, and his father, James Lawrey, 2016

Masculinity as a black man is remaining genuine. Believing in your movements by moving with a strong moral purity. Having an innocence at the core of wisdom leading the male along his path and resonating his joy through action. A black male in America is tougher. I personally do not like America due to it sticking a target on my back. “America” is an adjunct of where I reside currently. I have learned the “idea” of freedom in its constitution, yet I rely on my own strength and history to create my freedom. America is a house to me as a black male, not my home.

Christian Cody left, and his father, Ywahnos Cody, 2015
Christian Cody left, and his father, Ywahnos Cody, 2015

Andre 3000 came to mind first, so I’ll use him as an example. I admire how he exists within the Hip-hop world without selling himself to be the stereotypical rap icon. He has a strong sense of self expression undiluted by his surroundings. I like when men aren't afraid to show themselves. To me black masculinity is a liquid; loose and easily manipulated. It can take many forms. I’d say that my own identity as a black male would be characterized by intelligent, hardworking, and loving. That is who I am and what I have experienced. 

Jeremiah Thompson, left, and his father, Joseph Thompson Sr., 2016
Johnathan Marshall, left, and his father, John Marshall, 2016
Brian Lawrey left, and his father, James Lawrey, 2016
Christian Cody left, and his father, Ywahnos Cody, 2015
Jeremiah Thompson, left, and his father, Joseph Thompson Sr., 2016

I have been afraid to express my true identity in the past because as a gay black man I could potentially be threatened, beat up, or killed. I’ve had friends who've been jumped and harassed because of their identity. Not to say I’m ashamed of who I am but I have to protect myself. Being black is on thing, but being black & queer poses a different topic of discussion. This has shaped me into not hiding who I am, & understanding that representation is important because you never know who you are helping by being you. No one should live timid and afraid because of things they have no control over, such as skin color and sexual orientation. It’s also shaped me to be fearless & fight for true unity amongst the black community. Not talking about something doesn't erase its existence. 

Johnathan Marshall, left, and his father, John Marshall, 2016

Human. Plain and simple. We cry, laugh, fight, create, love, sympathize, dream, just live like the rest of the human race. 

My granddad is that figure of masculinity for me. I watched him work day today, provide for our household and coach my uncles and cousins into adulthood. He was reserved, funny and confident in his masculinity. 

Positive self-talk, as well as setting goals, have always helped me ignore the bullshit America has to offer black men. Finding my place outside of having to rely on the dominant culture and relying on myself cements my positive identity. 

Brian Lawrey left, and his father, James Lawrey, 2016

Masculinity as a black man is remaining genuine. Believing in your movements by moving with a strong moral purity. Having an innocence at the core of wisdom leading the male along his path and resonating his joy through action. A black male in America is tougher. I personally do not like America due to it sticking a target on my back. “America” is an adjunct of where I reside currently. I have learned the “idea” of freedom in its constitution, yet I rely on my own strength and history to create my freedom. America is a house to me as a black male, not my home.

Christian Cody left, and his father, Ywahnos Cody, 2015

Andre 3000 came to mind first, so I’ll use him as an example. I admire how he exists within the Hip-hop world without selling himself to be the stereotypical rap icon. He has a strong sense of self expression undiluted by his surroundings. I like when men aren't afraid to show themselves. To me black masculinity is a liquid; loose and easily manipulated. It can take many forms. I’d say that my own identity as a black male would be characterized by intelligent, hardworking, and loving. That is who I am and what I have experienced. 

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