Insecure’s Ahmal Hints At What Black Gay TV Could Be

Discussion in 'Television and Web Series' started by cuspofbeauty, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. cuspofbeauty

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    There’s a lot happening on Insecure this season. Issa is, unconvincingly, running a “hotation” as a means of getting over Lawrence. Molly is caught up in a steamy affair with Dro, her married childhood friend who’s in an open marriage. And Lawrence even has a new bae. But one thing you might have missed was the introduction of Issa’s gay brother, Ahmal (played by Jean Elie). And the reason you might have missed him is a good one—he’s not a stereotype.

    Prior to the first episode of the season, we had no idea Issa even had a brother, considering she behaves a bit like an only child. But he’s a welcome, and minor, addition to the cast. At Issa’s disastrous house party, she brings Ahmal as her “plus one”. When he greets the guys at the party, his voice drops and he plays it cool. But when he sees his female friends, his tone shoots up and he’s like one of the girls. It’s a “blink and you missed it” kind of moment, but it provides a window into black, gay life. The Advocate did a great job of deconstructing the scene here, so there’s no need to dive into code switching. But there is another element to Ahmal’s presence on the show.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Insecure, because it’s already repping an underrepresented Hollywood demographic. And I’m not expecting it to be everything to everyone. But given the show’s open discussion of male sexuality, I kind of expected a gay character to pop up somewhere.

    I was happy to see Ahmal, and I was even happier to see Ahmal’s portrayal. He’s not onscreen long enough to show layers, but in the short time he shares the screen with Issa, he’s her brother—not her gay brother. There aren’t a lot of gay, black male characters on TV right now. If you think about it, other than Ahmal, the only other representation we have is Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Captain Ray Holt (played by Andre Braugher) and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess). The portrayals are all comedic and, in some cases, overblown or one-sided portrayals of gay life. Insecureavoids that, which is great. But it gets my wheels turning—why haven’t we seen a full, HBO-quality series about our experience?

    I’m not naïve—I understand why we haven’t seen a full series materialize. Certain elements of our culture (our sayings, drag, voguing) are more bankable than others. And Hollywood’s diversity push has focused almost exclusively on race. Not sexuality. But it’s high time our community got a little bit of that cable production money for a new, black LGBTQ statement.

    Remember Noah’s Arc, Patrik-Ian Polk’s groundbreaking sitcom about the lives of four gay, black men? That series went off the air after 2 seasons—over 10 years ago. And we’ve seen nothing like it since. We’ve had to settle for playing second fiddle to other characters, if we’re present at all.

    Gay TV in general is suffering right now. The last gay-centered show we had was Looking which suffered a similar fate as Noah’s Arc. So, it might seem presumptuous to ask for something so specific when there isn’t even one current show to use as a reference point. But I think we’re ready for it.

    Queer visibility, like that of Ahmal, is two-fold. On one hand, it’s incredible that he’s black and gay, and no one is talking about it. He isn’t a stereotype, and he seems to be three-dimensional. But at the same time, being mixed into the cast of show, with several other characters who drive the dominant narrative, isn’t exactly visibility. Kudos to Insecure for writing a character like Ahmal into the show. But shame on everyone else for constantly forcing us to sit on the sidelines.

    We’re ready for primetime.
     
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  2. OckyDub

    OckyDub is a Verified MemberOckyDub Fair Use Nigga....Fair Use
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    Maybe I missed something but the code switch to me proved (at least with his introduction) that he was somewhat stereotypical.

    Due to regular normal black gay dudes not being entertaining due to their lack of gay cooning; I just cant see a show representing anything that we haven't seen before.
     
    #2 OckyDub, Sep 11, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
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  3. Cyrus-Brooks

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    @Ockydub Exactly right they contradicted themselves he "code switches" when he talks to the female characters which is a stereotypical behavior. Ocky makes a good point in that Black gay men and gay men of any ethnicity really who are "regular dudes." Are not deemed entertaining. This seems especially true for black gay characters. Content creators don't seem satisfied unless they're queening out for the camera.
    They wanna see flamboyance, finger snaps, eye rolls, and bitchy attitudes, but no overtly sexual behavior. This is considered comedic, entertaining, and non-threatening. Otherwise otherwise gay black man is just another threatening black male with the added threat of being a homosexual which makes heteros both black and white very uncomfortable. If you wanna see a non stereotypical black gay character check out "Hap and Leonard." Leonard is played by Michael K. Williams who we all recognize as Omar from "The Wire." "Hap and Leonard" is now in its second season.
    850c49a334fce26718e249f21e8e5ee6-hap-and-leonard-season-2.jpg
    600x600bb-85.jpg
     
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  4. OckyDub

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    I've seen maybe 6-7 postings on various websites/blogs/social media written by a black gay/queer writers on the need for diverse non-stereotypical male black gay characters...yet I find it very interesting and telling that the ONLY place I've see Leonard given the time of day is on this website.
     
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  5. takeyourmeds91

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    Meh, I slightly disagree with some of what is said above.

    I think the code-switching captures the reality for a bunch of masculine-leaning gay men. It's the same idea of code-switching that Molly does at work. Why aren't we calling her the stereotypical black woman when she gets around her friends?

    I don't even think it's a matter of being entertaining as is it just another walk of life that exists outside of the overtly flamboyant gay man. My friends and I cut up all the time (albeit an attenuated version) but when I step out into the world, it's a different story.

    I do think there should be a lane for masculine gay men who don't cut up at all lol but don't completely write-off the code-switching experience as a way of catering to the cliche.
     
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  6. OhSheit

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    Again, I never notice this character until the think pieces roll in/you guys talk about him. :deadmanny:
     
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  7. Omega Level

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    Question - Why are people even still writing about this character? He's gay, get over it.

    I understand it would be nice to have representation thats non stereotypical, but seems like an article is written on any gay black character that comes about and it just so doesnt need to be. Dude isnt even a main character yet.

    Damn, sometimes i feel like we desparate as fuck to be noticed.
     
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  8. OckyDub

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    Thank you using this example.

    Molly conducts herself in a professional manner while at work as she should. Yes she code switches around the white folks at work. When she is around her girls, yes they turn up.... In many regards she may be a stereotypical women but she does not embody negative stereotypes that many black women perpetrate. Her nor her circle have multiple baby daddies nor are they uploading their fight videos to the internet and living for the gram like the black women that surround me at my current job (who as I type this, are discussing OUT LOUD how they and their multiple children steal from stores...no lie).

    The character is not the most fem gay man on tv by any means. I would most def consider him in between.

    The masculine gay men I know and have hung out with for years don't turn fem or sassy when they interact with women. This gay dude turned into a black woman, when he got around other black women.
     
    #8 OckyDub, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
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  9. SB3

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    Damn! Did you start picking up shifts down at the Waffle House?! Who is shameless enough to have that kind of convo within ear shot of other coworkers?
     
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  10. OckyDub

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    Great question that you already know the answer to.
     
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  11. alton

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    {sassiest gay voice} "Biiiitch....Who YOU talkin' bout? Mmmpfff...I know YOU f#$kin lyin'! Anyways, bitch {standin' beside the water cooler in the main hallway where the bosses pass thru}...so yeah, this nigga came ovah las' night hunty...he had a BIG a$$ di...." LMAO
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Omega Level

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    Damn, did he do all that? I thought his play with the women wasnt full on gay fem boy being a woman. I mean I have actually seen black straight man laugh with black women in a similar way jokingly. And thats what I got from him. He was joking with them and he happens to be gay.

    I didnt think it was all out queendom and he came in vogueing in a blouse with makeup on. But I could be wrong.

    What scene was he a black woman? The party scene or the dinner?
     
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  13. takeyourmeds91

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    Yea, I didn't get all that either. He was bit spicy at times but it wasn't outrageous.
     
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  14. OhSheit

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    lol Ocky's doing too much and dwelling on that party scene, because I couldn't tell you any other moments worth mentioning him, just in general. That's the issue I have actually, he's kind of irrelevant.
     
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  15. Omega Level

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    Im saying bro, damn.

    It just seems to me some people are so into this strict definition of what
    "masculine" is that the second you say girl, roll your eyes, or say anything deemed "fem gay" your flat out placed into the box with a rupual watching, queendom, wanna be black woman.

    I remember Chad ocho Cinco was saying chile please and yea some questioned his manhood but many just saw it as him being funny. I have seen Big Boi do the same thing. But I guess if your gay your being serious and wanna be a woman huh?
     
  16. Sean

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    i thought the bharacter was ambiguously gay from the beginning. i didnt batch the so bode switch yall were talking about, so it wasnt until the last episode when he said, "no bringing guys back to the house unless im fucking them," did it bonfirm for me that he was gay. i would suggest that because of the ambiguity of this guy, his portrayal wasnt stereotypical and upon reflection, i'd say he is inbetween too.
     
  17. OckyDub

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    LOL...yeah maybe I went a bit overboard...but for a hot 8 seconds, he was one of the girls. AND every scene he has been in, he is being sassy, with attitude and displaying resting bitch face. A dude doesn't have to wear heels and carry a purse to be fem. Even though he comes off as in-between, FOR ME he is still on the fem side of the spectrum.
     
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  18. mojoreece

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    I just finish watch all of the seasons (Ive been behind lol).

    I like Ahmal's character and would like to see more of him. Everyone code switches based on the environment and groups of ppl where around so no big deal w/ me.

    Even though the show has folk having random sloppy sex multiple times in episodes; would the audience be comfortable seeing 2 "normal" handsome black men having sex on tv just like the straight scenes?

    Imagine Issa and Daniel's "milk eye" scene w/ two handsome black men. I still don't get why Issa stopped and was mad.
    [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    #18 mojoreece, Sep 26, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
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  19. Dante

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    FACTS!

    I haven't seen the 2nd season yet. However, when I do, I hope that this Ahmal character is not the stereotype. The stereotype is overrated and is problematic, especially if we want gay men to be well represented through the eyes of tv and entertainment.
     
  20. SB3

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    The audience wouldn't be comfortable with that, at all! Insecure's target demo is black women. 'They' have made it abundantly clear that gay men are fine if they are 'tea' spilling, shopping buddies. However, if you have the audacity to be a legit masculine gay dude, AND have the nerve to be a functional member of society, AND be half way attractive, you are INDEED, a disappointment.
     
  21. mojoreece

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    Touché brother. But the men scene would have made a better sense lol. Like a dude prob would of swallowed or the like spill wouldn't of even faced him laughed it off and keeping puttin work lol.

    I still don't get why she was so upset. She acted like his cum was poison or something. She got the nerve to put a damn napkin over her eye lol.
     
  22. SB3

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    Blk women have a reputation for being uptight, sexually.
     
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  23. Cyrus-Brooks

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    The reason is because women especially black women are under intense social pressure even in modern America to be seen as virtuous. Doing things like blow jobs is something "good girls don't do." I'm not certain of this but based on my observation I think the only reason the average black woman will suck dick is because she knows that's what she has to do to keep her man. This is the total opposite of the average gay man of any ethnicity who will enthusiastically suck the dick of someone they barely know and swallow too.
     
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  24. takeyourmeds91

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    Yesss @mojoreece I like where your head was at!
     
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  25. machoBLKnerd

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    age is also an important variable here. among millennials, particularly ones in their 20's, blk women report (in surveys) very different social norms around sex than 80's babies (35 year olds). in fact, the insecure episode where issa shared conservative views about fallatio prompted a lot of online dialogue among blk women about the episode 'falling flat' and feeling more like an episode from a sitcom airing in the 90s. so blk women are certainly not monolithic regarding this issue.

    edit: just realized i replied to the wrong person. actually intended to respond to comments from @Cyrus-Brooks, not @SB3.
     
    #25 machoBLKnerd, Jan 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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