This question came to me recently while discussing Dating and Relationships with my fellow Cypher Avenue Squad Members. If all the examples and discussions we have about Relationships are from a negative perspective, why do so many single black gay men want to be in one so badly?
Think about it. It seems like every time we’re discussing black gay couples, its from a salacious, messy or drama-filled perspective: He was flirting with other men. He cheated on him. He gave him HIV. He outed him to his family. He was always broke and never had a job. He just used him. They fought all the time. They argued constantly.
The list goes on.
Very rarely do black gay men actually in relationships share the joys and benefits to their unions. The blogs, videos, articles and lectures are always about how to respond to crisis in a relationship, not reasons why they’re good to acquire in the first place.
Even our black gay web series all feature dysfunctional relationships. From Freefall to The Triangle to Tha Life Atlanta, nothing is presented to make one think being in a black gay relationship is anything but a headache.
Many of the celebrated black gay couples we’ve seen in media have since split, making one question if a long term black gay relationship is even possible. It’s as if these drama filled real-life relationships are actually just extended seasons of social media publicized black gay web series starring themselves.
We had two good seasons of “Kordale + Kaleb” directed by Lamont Pierre featuring two melodramatic black gay dads struggling to raise 3 kids on their own.
Then we had 3 seasons of “Kappa Alpha Psi Love You” directed by Noah’s Arc creator Patrik-ian Polk about two black gay fraternity members’ rocky life after marriage.
No, these aren’t actually web series to be found on Youtube, but they might as well have been since their relationships were well documented in detail for the world to see on Facebook and Twitter. Even both couples’ eventual breakups were well publicized:
So if many of our public examples of black gay relationships end in break ups, petty social media attacks, drama and divorce, why do so many black gay men STILL obsess about being in one?
And I mean obsess. Men will risk getting robbed from solo Jackd meetups, pay hard earned money to dating sites, even “date” men halfway across the country, all to achieve the title of “Boyfriend” and “Relationship.”
Before you answer with over-simplified reasons like “companionship,” I’d argue that companionship can be achieved without the drama that seemingly comes from being in a relationship. On top of that, many men in relationships often tell me they STILL feel lonely at times, even with a boyfriend.
Is it the desire for consistent sex? You can easily achieve this without the relationship banner. Maybe its the desire for consistent UNPROTECTED sex, something some men say they will only do in a monogamous relationship. Considering that 99.9% of the men I’ve personally spoken to with HIV said they got it from unprotected sex with “a partner they trusted,” I’d argue that’s not a great reason to rush to get coupled up.
The only other obvious reason I can see is many single black gay men want the photo opportunities…they want the manifestation of the fantasy in their head of what a black gay relationship is supposed to look like. They see photos of the men like the ones shown above and they say, “I want that too.”
They don’t take account the costs of living out that fantasy.
One of the problems is that there is no balance in the propaganda of relationships. Hardly any of the men actually in relationships EVER discuss the positive reasons to be in one in the first place. They just share loving photos of them together.
Besides these “they look cute together” visuals, we get no positive affirmations or reasons to enlist in the infamous Relationship Status. All we hear is relief from them that they’ve made it through another day as if they were soldiers in Afghanistan. Seriously, talk to someone in a relationship and you’ll hear a loooong sigh then them saying, “It’s a lot of work, chile.”
Yet everyone who is single still wants what they have. It’s like being President of the United States, it seems like the worse job to have: constant crisis, decisions scrutinized and outsiders constantly trying to take your job (and even kill you)…yet this election cycle we actually have TOO MANY ppl running in the position, not too few.
Oh sure, there may be Love (and lust) involved…but is that the only reason to be in a relationship? You want to love and have someone love you back? If the track record for black gay love shows us that it will eventually lead you to this:
Is it worth it?
I guess one could also make a case that successful positive black gay relationships aren’t spoken about because the topic would be “boring.” If that’s the case, I disagree with that stance wholeheartedly. There are tons of helpful and inspiring topics celebrating black gay relationships that could be had.
Even on this website, most of the discussions are about how to fix already damaged people or already troubled relationships.
Where is the inspiring “Anniversary Ideas for Black Gay Couples” article?
Where is the affirming “15 Reasons why you ARE relationship material” article?
Admittedly, Cypher Avenue editor Octavius Williams has published quite a few positive podcasts featuring his 6-year partner. And there are examples out there like The D.L. Chronicles creators The Gossfields and Gee and Juan Sessions of Love Works, but is that enough to make the case that it’s a goal worth achieving?
So I ask the question again, besides the need for companionship…besides the desire for (potentially) consistent sex…
Why do you even want to be in a relationship in the first place? What does “being in a relationship” even mean to you?