White Heterosexual Content Creators, Create Better Black Gay Characters

By OckyDub | Posted Oct 14 2013 | 30 Comments  

If you have been a follower of Cypher Avenue, you know that we have serious concerns about the lack of masculine black gay characters and representation in movies, television, web series, internet blogs and websites. 

Yeah I already know the answers to most of my questions but that doesn’t mean I‘m satisfied with the answers. Flowing studio resources can equal better scripts and better productions. Bigger budgets can also equal access to a better pool of skilled actors. Okay, I get it.

Being gay is more complex than what we usually see in the form of the typical effeminate gay characters within the aforementioned forms of media.  In no way am I saying these gay men shouldn’t have a voice or be represented; nonetheless there is no harm in having balance in the images that are displayed.  This brings me to the point of this article.

Constantly we hear the same tired and lame argument. “If more masculine black men would come out of the closet, then black gay content creators would have more masculine men within their content.  Frankly I feel this is a misguided argument and points out how creatively crippled many black writers and directors are.  I think it’s safe to say that the majority of black gay men have experienced black gay life and we all know masculine black gay men exist.  More masculine black gay men coming out may help the black community and the level of acceptance or tolerance within it; however what does that have to do with masculine men being included in features or works by black gay content creators?  Besides just being the prize that is obtained by the end of the story or the object of lust or affection, masculine men most of the time are just back ground noise in many projects.

To prove my point against this misguided argument; with the perceived lack of masculine black gay men coming out of the closet, white content creators have still managed to put masculine black gay male characters in their features.  Let’s just focus on network television and cable television. From the list below beginning with HBO’s Oz which came out in 1997 to FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine which premiered in 2013, there have been about 9 masculine black gay men in recurring roles on television in the last 15 years.   

Network TV

CW – Down in LA : Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller).  Tariq Muhammad (Benjamin Charles Watson)

FOX – Brooklyn Nine-Nine : Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher)

Cable TV

HBO – OZ : Simon Adebisi  (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)

HBO – Six Feet Under : Keith Charles (Mathew St. Patrick)

HBO – The Wire : Omar Little (Michael K. Williams)

Logo – Noah’s Arc : Wade Robinson (Jensen Atwood)

ABC Family – Greek : Calvin Owens (Paul James)

AMC – Breaking Bad : Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Giancarlo Esposito)

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With the exception of Wade Robinson, all these masculine black gay characters were written or created by whites. In addition to this observation, looking at this list of characters and their stories within these series, it makes me feel like white heterosexuals (mostly white men) can tell the story of a masculine black gay man better than black gay content creators can.  Is it possible that because of their heterosexuality they are able to tell stories from a more traditional male point of view therefore making the black gay male characters and story lines more masculine?

I do want to point out that Alan Ball, the creator and producer of the very entertaining and critically acclaimed Six Feet Under, is an out gay man. His creation of Keith Charles (played by Mathew St. Patrick) was for me the most relatable and relevant from the above list of characters.  Keith was a masculine hard working blue collar black gay man attempting to make the relationship with his partner work. 

So I ask the question again, why does it seem like white content creators are able to recognize the diversity within the black gay community and bring to life something more than just the loud, sassy, flamboyant, gender bending effeminate black gay man that seem to dominate media created by black gay men?

Understand that the contemptible undertones within my questioning doesn’t mean I am completely satisfied with the masculine gay characters that we have received so far.  If you look at the list, many of these characters weren’t the picture of good behavior or positive portrayals of black gay men.  DL or hyper-masculine thugs, drug dealers, drug king-pins, murderers, drug addicts, rapists and insecure abuse victims.  Yes I understand that the normal everyday life of a masculine gay black man may not be as sexy and drama worthy for TV such as the sometime brutal life complexities faced by these characters; yet positive portrayals like Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) are always welcome and refreshing.

Regardless of perceived masculine or feminine qualities of their characters, I do believe many black gay content creators are continuing to perpetuate the same negative gay stereotypes in media while many black gay reality stars and personalities continue to perform drag coonery all over network television.   

I find it ironic that straight white men (a majority) are telling rich complex stories about masculine gay black men (a minority within a minority of minorities) and in turn are telling our stories and possibly shaping our culture.

About the Author
OckyDub

Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.

   
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30 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. Ocky Williams | October 14th, 2013
    0

    *Side Note*
    I would have loved to include The DL Chronicles in this article; however the DL Chronicles has technically had only 5 episodes including their lasted Episode Thomas within 7 years. The only real reoccurring actor was Damian T. Raven (Chadwick Williams) who played the narrator. Cypher Ave received a lot of inquiries about when the exceptional Episode Thomas was going to be released but sadly we have no updates to provide.

  2. hannibal
    Hannibal | October 14th, 2013
    0

    I’ve always said scripted TV always portrays masculine black gay men. Its reality tv that neglects them. Was Adibisi gay or just typical of what happens after long stints in prison?

    • SB3000 | October 14th, 2013
      0

      N yea..Adebisi was fukn dudes left n right cus he wasnt ever leavin prison..he wasnt gay, he was a dude who utilized his prowess to get a nut from fukn some smaller dudes he could debo..not gay at all..but yea, gay activity

      • hannibal
        Hannibal | October 14th, 2013
        0

        I’m going down Adibisi memory lane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHU2_AudieU

        • SB3000 | October 14th, 2013
          0

          Im not mad at u..Adibisi was hot..but @ocky I havent seen the new ndre Braugher show, but I still stand firm that my man from 6′ unde is the

          • SB3000 | October 14th, 2013
            0

            this was an epic fail..jus sayin..n owning my shit as a grown ass man..

        • SB3000 | October 14th, 2013
          0

          Not mad..Adibisi was hot..but Matthew St. Patrick was the best EVER depiction of a grown ass black man who happened to have a bf. That was a great show, and it allowed for character development..tv isnt the same anymore.

          • RolandG
            rolandgarros28 | October 14th, 2013
            0

            I can’t imagine this particular pairing, Keith and David, being the same with a masculine black gay man. The whole dynamic would’ve changed I think. I guess they Alan Ball could’ve found a weak ass masculine black man to let Keith punk him out every episode. LOL But you’re right. I think Keith was my first man crush when that show started.

            • SB3000 | October 15th, 2013
              0

              I dont think Keith punked ol boy out. ‘David’ if I remember the name, was a masculine guy. He wasnt ‘hard’ or ‘hyper masc’ but Im sure he got up in Keith’s cakes sometimes, lol

              Tho, if they were both black, it would have been light years ahead of it’s time. Keith could have dated a black mortician who brought everything David did to the table, but that would’ve been a completely diff show, cus they’d have to cast ‘mama’ n ‘nem’ lol

  3. SB3000 | October 14th, 2013
    +2

    Scripted tv has not included masc black gay men! We’re still the boogeymen bcus we’re the ‘unknown’. If a blk man is gay on tv, whether scripted or realty, theyre there to be a sidekick to some female. Another grown ass accessory for some woman. Aint nobody here for that, bcus when/if a woman finds out Im gay, she’s disappointed. Im not her shopping partner..she sees me n see’s husband/baby daddy potential off bat!

    Is everyone, regardless of what lane u fall into, just randomly missing this reality?!

    • hannibal
      Hannibal | October 14th, 2013
      0

      Every example Nick just highlighted (and he missed a few) is from a scripted tv show.

      • Nick Delmacy | October 14th, 2013
        0

        Nick didn’t highlight shit…lol

        • SB3000 | October 14th, 2013
          0

          LOLOLOLOLOL..Thank u..scripted tv is no diff than derek j n his ‘red bottoms’ man..some sht really IS blk n white

          • Nick Delmacy | October 15th, 2013
            0

            I meant, Nick didn’t write this article…That is what Hannibal seemed to imply.

            • SB3000 | October 15th, 2013
              0

              Yea, I kno..but it worked in my favor…

            • hannibal
              Hannibal | October 15th, 2013
              0

              my bad @nick I always think you wrote everything.

  4. Dre G | October 14th, 2013
    0

    Did anyone catch Being Mary Jane on BET?it was a movie they’re planning to turn into a series starring Gabrielle Union.Her best friend was a masculine black gay man.
    But h still fell into @sb3000 about being the sidekick,but eh,it’s a start(?)

  5. RolandG
    rolandgarros28 | October 14th, 2013
    +1

    The primary question in any tv show, scripted or reality, is who is the target audience and is it big enough to attract advertisers who will support its content. Not if the writer is black or white. Although I would love to see a show with two masculine gay black brothas, I don’t see a large enough audience for that show. I don’t see whites watching it. Count out a majority of women and religious/homophobic blacks are also out. Can’t have a network show with 15,000 viewers and think it’s going to be successful. WHO WOULD WATCH THIS SHOW???

  6. Nick Delmacy | October 15th, 2013
    0

    How do you make a list like this and not include Will Smith in “Six Degrees of Separation”?

    • Ocky Williams | October 15th, 2013
      +1

      Because “Six Degrees of Separation” was a movie and not a TV show.

  7. Ace of hearts | October 15th, 2013
    +1

    This is a good article and a good point. I personally feel that “white content creators” write from the outside looking in. They are not black and gay so they actually research what could be perceived as average black homosexual. Of coursed it is dramatized for television purposes, but to the core take away the drama aspect you will find a black man who recognizes that they are not living up to what society expects of them and have to find their own niche. This is different from “black content creator” who I think writes about masculine from a fantasy aspect or from the point of lets be different and make the feminine flamboyant character masculine. I must say I am enjoying Captain Holt. He is a different perspective of a masculine gay man, but Kaldrick King will remain my all time favorite.

    • Cyrus-Brooks
      Cyrus Brooks | October 18th, 2013
      +1

      I think you have a point. Sometimes it helps to be an outsider. It allows you to clearly observe and tell a story from a the outsider’s perspective. A str8 white man wouldn’t have the same emotional baggage as black gay man or the preconceived notions of say a str8 black woman, str8 black man, or gay white man would have about black gay men so it would allow them to write a better non stereotypical black male character. Just a thought.

  8. Nick Delmacy | October 15th, 2013
    0

    Missing from the list was Taye Diggs (Will & Grace), Forrest Whitaker (The Crying Game), Michael Boatman (Spin City), Brian J White (The Family Stone) and Blair Underwood (In Treatment)

  9. budda | October 17th, 2013
    +1

    Michael K. Williams the dude played Omar on the Wire was off the hook and my favorite. I agree with Ace of Hearts white creators do more research and they get better actors. White creators are not afraid to push the limits. Omar was a thug but also he was in a monogamous relationship with his partner. Omar was not a punk on the street he was a hustler, thief and a bread provider for his family. The reality is their is no difference between Omar and someone in corporate America on Wall Street the both ruthless and will do anything to get ahead.

    • Cyrus-Brooks
      Cyrus Brooks | October 18th, 2013
      0

      I love the character of Omar Little because he carried himself like a man. His sexuality was part of who he was but it didn’t define him. He first and foremost a street dude. He just happen to be gay.

  10. Rox808 | October 17th, 2013
    +2

    Kaldrick King was one of my favorite characters. He shows such a dynamic having to struggle with living up to a certain image and what he truly feels about Tariq. Hands down though, Omar is probably the true King of Gay Black Characters. He is the toughest stick up kid and has the respect of even the most hardest gangsters and is not ever shy about being gay and is open about it. One of the only openly gay characters that a lot of straight people respected, especially for minorities. I hope that more characters like this show up a lot more.

  11. Cyrus-Brooks
    Cyrus Brooks | October 18th, 2013
    +4

    I think there’s more than one thing at work when it comes to good well written masculine black gay characters being written by heterosexual white men. 1 str8 white men still do most of the writing and calling the shots last to what gets on tv. 2 The characters mentioned for the most part are the side act in the story the story is really not about the black gay man. 3 (my opinion) Perhaps black gay writers focus too much on the gay aspect and not telling a good story with dynamic masculine black man who is gay? 4 most str8 blacks for the most part still don’t f**k with us black gay men(especially if you’re masculine) because we are still viewed as either the sinner, the DL predator, or the race traitor for not reproducing by most str8 blacks. Feminine black gay men get a pass because they are less threatening and can be used as comedy relief.

    • Rick
      Richard Chatters | October 20th, 2013
      0

      You are right on Cryus I so agree with what you posted up, couldn’t have said it better.

  12. Deacon
    Deacon CJ | October 19th, 2013
    +1

    I have to say out of the characters listed Matthew St. Patrick as Keith Charles was the most well developed masculine black gay male in television history. He once stated in an article right before SFU aired that he saw the character as just another man in a relationship trying to make things work. As much as it would be great to see more characters like him and the others listed they will be far & few between, as to the point of will people want to watch and target demographics, it all comes down to talent, if the writer is talented enough to produce a great product people will watch. One truth is the fact masculine black gay men are threatening because they are not stereotypical, they cause a person to question their beliefs about what a homosexual is and looks likes, for example football & basketball 2 sports where black men dominate true a few athletes have come out as gay but none that were or are high power celebrities, the one show that could have had a masculine gay character in a recurring role was “The Game”, sure they did a messed up two episode arc on the subject of a gay player and that was it, why not make him regular character on the show. We shouldn’t be satisfied with the ones we had and we can’t wait around for more to be created but what we can do it right the production companies of the shows we do watch and tell them what we’d like to see, but how many of us are willing to do that.

  13. Dreamwalker
    Equilibrium | October 23rd, 2013
    0

    Found one. Unfortunately the series didn’t last long. http://othersiderainbow.blogspot.com/2005/03/eyes-introduces-new-gay-character-to.html




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