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Thursday, August 06, 2009
11:54 AM

Leave That Line?


As a writer, I have a natural inclination to dislike editors. Not because they're bad people; rather, because they're sole purpose in life is to change my words and as an artist I'm sensitive about my work shit.

Ideally, their edits help tighten my pieces. I think the guest blog I did for Aliya King's site is a perfect example of such. Upon reviewing her notes and edits, I quickly realized what I needed to do to step it up and not embarrass myself on her site.

There are other editors, however, who will chop and screw your words and have you looking as silly as Bow Wow on ustream.


Or they may edit things just fine, only they will tone your language down in an effort not to offend readers.

I'm guessing such is the case for the piece I wrote on Anthony Woods for the site, The Grio.

Anthony Woods is an Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress in California. What makes Woods' story unique is the fact that he is an openly gay black man running for Congress. You typically only hear such a term used to describe someone at a Beyonce or Janet Jackson concert.

I don't have a problem with the edits overall, it's more so one specific change. I'm not upset by it, but I think generally, people sometimes deflect from things that need to be stated as bluntly as possible.

Here's how this portion of the piece originally:
And in telling the story of his life, it will be noted that the ex-second lieutenant in the Armor branch carried himself in a way antithetical to the character traits still largely associated with gay men.

Woods’ wrist doesn’t flick like he suffers from a stroke every other second, he doesn't speak with a hiss, and he doesn't fall into any other stereotype associated with the effeminate gay male.

He speaks with confidence, remains assertive, and as an ex-soldier proves to hold bravery not often attributed to homosexuals.

Here is how it ran on the site:
And in telling the story of his life, it will be noted that the ex-second lieutenant in the Armor branch carried himself in a way antithetical to the character traits still largely associated with gay men; he speaks with confidence and remains assertive. For the number of black men who struggle with their sexuality, Woods's largely positive depiction in the media may encourage others to come to grips with who they are.
Gay men can be just as confident and assertive as everyone else. In fact, even more so depending on the crowd we're talking about.

That's the reason why I stated specific stereotypes. I feel that it is important to speak on it openly. I have to deal with it everyday of my life. Why should I spare groups who aren't subjected to it from such language?

A lot of people often ask me why do I think so many black men tuck and roll in the closet in regards to their sexuality. In addition to pointing out the homophobia permeating the black community, I note that for a lot of men the baggage associated with homosexual males is too much to deal with.

Black men have enough problems in this country. There's no sense in adding additional stress.

Now more than ever do people meet me and say, "You don't seem gay."

And by seeming gay they mean, I'm not wearing a skirt, I don't want to be called girl, I'm not wearing any foundation, and they didn't see me skip my way in and out of the door.

That in turn leads people to make comments like, "You're not [really] gay, you just need to meet the right girl."

You know, one with some genetic altering superpower in her clitoris.

Or people get too comfortable and make backhanded compliments such as "You're too cute to be gay."

If you're really (un)lucky, then you get loads and loads of questions from people who are under the impression that every gay knows the world history of homosexuality and own some magic sensor between their legs that can spot a non-breeder (or at least, part-time peen player) a mile away.

Do you know how frustrating that is, especially when you realize there are countless people exactly like me?

That's why I wrote that part of the passage that way.

Anthony Woods is an ex-soldier. He is strong, he is brave, he's not prancing around to "Freakum Dress" -- not that there's anything wrong with that. That song knocks, ya'll.

But I think you know what I'm getting at.

A lot of men who do come to grips with their sexuality unfortunately fall in line with the idea of how a gay man "should act." It's akin to those who feel they have to behave a certain way to prove their "blackness." For some people, flamboyance comes natural. For many newly realized gay men, it's merely the way they think they ought to be in order to "fit in."

To that end, many men who want nothing to do with that behavior distance themselves and try harder and harder to go in the hetero direction. You know, the "normal" way to be.

I used to get annoyed at certain types of guys who model themselves after Tinker Bell. After a while, though, I realized people are people and no one else's behavior necessarily has anyone reflection on me.

They may fuel other people's perceptions, but it doesn't determine my reality.

Likewise, my agenda is not theirs so they have every right to carry themselves however they please...and damn what anyone thinks.

The gay community is as diverse as any other. That's not something you see often, which is why I think a person like Anthony Woods is important. I'm all about the power of symbolism and I think if he were to win his seat and not be marginalized for his sexuality by the press, it will send an important message to gay men of color.

That you can be gay and be free to dress in drag or play ball. Let's say Dennis Rodman, without the prejudice.

That's the message I hope I conveyed in my piece.

I've come to grips with who I am, the community I belong to, and the fact that some people are fronting and others are just being. Not as many like me have discovered that, which is why I hope more people who break from the stereotypes come out.

If they don't the perception will linger.


The Cynical Ones.
posted by Michael at