Vice Documentary on Black French Voguers…Why Is This Gross To Me?
A couple things ran through my mind as I watched the new Vice Magazine documentary on poor, working class Black French Voguers.
1. There are seemingly no masculine black gay men in France…at least none brave enough to step in front of the camera for this documentary. I know what some are thinking…here we go again with the militant masculinity talk.
No, that’s not the case…Effeminate men are A-Okay in my book, let them live their lives to the fullest. But as a guy who has ZERO gender issues and doesn’t identify in any way with women (except as being fellow human beings with equal rights), I like to see gay men who actually like being men. Especially in different countries.
2. This whole ballroom scene, in general, is Gross to me. Yes, I said it. This is not an attack on femininity or a display of patriarchy, heteronormativity or any other academic multi-syllable word that feminists use. This shit is just gross to me.
Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who thinks that strip clubs are Gross too. The pungent smell of baby oil and sweat hits my nostrils even when I just see a video depicting those events, straight or gay.
But I get it, I really do.
In the past, I’ve watched documentaries on the ballroom scene like Paris is Burning…so I get it. You have gay men who are displaced from their real families because of their sexuality so they find new, more accepting “families” to join. They call them Houses…there’s even a Gay Mother (usually a man) who takes them in or mentors them.
And they compete with other Houses through a dance called “voguing”, probably the gayest dance style known to man…even more gay than men who twerk.
I remember when I was a teenager I accidentally watched the Madonna: Truth or Dare documentary on Showtime…yeah, I know…One of her dancers was this skinny dark skinned guy who spent most of the film shirtless. The horny young man in me kept watching to see more of him.
As I was watching it, my mother walked into the room. I scrambled to find the remote and quickly change the channel. You would have thought I was watching porn. It was too late.
“What are you watching?!” she asked with a judging tone in her voice.
Its the same judgmental tone that I now ask myself as I watched this documentary on the Black French Voguers. What the hell am I watching?!
The hooting and hollering…the cackling…the chanting…”Yassss Honey!!!”
Would I be “grossed out” by the ballroom scene if it instead featured groups of black gay men in hyper-masculine Rap Battles?
But that may be part of the problem I have with it all….The fact that gay men DON’T engage in “masculine-leaning” events and activities to balance things out, probably bothers me the most.
Imagine a world where gay events on both ends of the gender spectrum existed? Instead, most of our gay events have female and feminine dominate themes.
Am I a victim of “gender policing?”
I don’t think so. I’m not advocating for these events to go away, or the effeminate men to be more masculine. Let them enjoy themselves to the fullest is what I say.
I’m actually advocating for more balance. Isn’t there room for all?
In fairness, this Vice Magazine documentary on Black Gay Voguing does dedicate a section to maleness and masculinity…30 seconds worth.
You read that right. Out of a total of 13 minutes in the documentary, 30 seconds of it focuses on gay men who are masculine (check the 5:30-6:00 minute mark). And even then, the narrator says that it’s a part of the competition where gay men have to pretend that they have “school boy realness” without looking gay.
Gay men can’t naturally be masculine? According to the French Gays and the Vice Documentary producers, “Gay” equals feminine. The rest of us are pretending.
And why is “pretending to be masculine” even a part of the fucking competition? This happens in the American ballroom scenes too.
Okay, maybe this did in fact turn out to be yet another rant on gay masculinity. But can you blame me?
It’s just very frustrating to be a part of a culture that I have not much in common with. On top of that, its a culture that doesn’t seem very concerned with making sure that myself and gay men like me do have things we can relate to in the “community.”
While its fantastic that they have stepped up to the plate, even our latest representatives like Jason Collins and Michael Sam seem to be cut from a different cloth and are not very relateble to men like myself.
Even seeing new rapper Fly Young Red explicitly describing how he’ll skewer “boy pussy” over a trap song track doesn’t make me fill up with black gay pride.
What was the point of this post?
Who knows. Slow news day and I felt the need to vent a little.
While gay feminists out there may think that dialogue like this is “problematic” and “divisive”, I think its important to get it all out there and discuss these things frankly to possibly come to a mutual understanding.
Many gay feminists are only interested in regurgitating what they learned in their “Queer Studies” college class and lecturing you on why they are right and you are wrong instead of listening and finding a middle ground in thought/understanding.
Pro or con, share your thoughts on the documentary and the Ballroom Scene lifestyle below in the comments section. I’d be curious to see what all of you think, whether you agree with me or not.
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