THE #1 REASON THAT “DISCREET CITY” FAILS AS A SITE FOR BLACK GAY/BISEXUAL MEN
I wanted to believe that DiscreetCity.com was a satire site. The strange, but funny, creation of a Black gay man with way too much time on his hand, and not enough awareness of the dynamic issues taking place in the Black gay community. I was mistaken. DiscreetCity.com by all intents and purposes appears to be a very real website with a very real (if not very critical) aim.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that DiscreetCity.com was more than a little bit problematic in its claim of providing a safe-space for the maligned(?) masculine gay man. On the surface, the aim seems legitimate, even noble, but it doesn’t take a Ph.D to realize that DiscreetCity.com is operating under some very serious, and very dangerous, delusions.
DiscreetCity.com is not at all shy about identifying itself as a site for *masculine* and and bisexual Black men. Why the singling out of masculinity? I’m not sure, but that is how the site chooses to organize itself, and I suppose that is how we should judge it–as a site for *masculine* gay and bisexual Black men. The site claims that it is filling in the gay for the poorly represented *masculine* gay man in the mainstream media, but I think there are other aims at work, as well.
The site claims that it is “not here to bash femininity,” but that seems to be what a number of the posts on the site are about. One does not have to overtly attack something in order for it to be attacked. Covert attacks are, and continue to be, lobbed against feminine men in the Black gay and bisexual community. The site, in fact, seems to be obsessed with femininity in the Black gay and bisexual community despite its claim of being centered on masculinity in the gay community. Of it’s featured articles, at least two are about femininity. The sites featured articles include, “Missing: Masculine homosexual men of color in the media” and “Are Young Black Boys and Men Becoming More Feminine.” Of course, these articles rely on a host of feminine stereotypes to get its point across. Apparently, femininity in the Black gay and bisexual community is nothing more than wearing lipstick, doing drag, and being “flamboyant.” At least, that is what one gets from the images and writing used.
It appears that DiscreetCity.com doesn’t know who it wants to appeal to. The site claims to be focused primarily on masculine Black gay/bisexual men, but it proceeds to write posts for Black gay and bisexual men in general. Can the site make up its mind? Either it wants to cater to a supposedly marginalized segment of the Black gay and bisexual community, or it will represent the interest of all men in the Black gay and bisexual community, regardless of gender expression. A recent post, “The Top 10 Reasons That You #Fail as a Gay/Bisexual Man” appears to be speaking to all of the Black gay/bisexual community–as it doesn’t specify masculinity–but that seems at odd with the sites own stated interest of catering primarily to masculine Black gay and bisexual men.
My biggest issue with DiscreetCity.com stems from the sites seeming lack of interest in understanding how femininity and masculinity play out in the Black gay and bisexual community, and why. Historically, feminine gay men have been the most represented in the media because they have been the most willing to be seen. Masculinity has long been seen as synonymous with heterosexuality. And, when given the choice between been seen as homosexual and being seen as heterosexual, many masculine gay men have chosen the latter rather than the former. The media barriers in the Black gay and bisexual community have consistently been broken by feminine Black gay and bisexual men. Whether it be RuPaul tearing down barriers as a singer, producer, and actor; or the dynamic cast of Paris Is Burning. These, in my opinion, are not cases where we should turn our head and lament the presence of feminine men, but rather celebrate the fact that someone is willing to usher us into the mainstream–if that was you goal to begin with. A homophobic society is going to reward masculine Black gay and bisexual men for remaining silent and invisible. While this is unfortunate, it is not the fault of feminine Black gay and bisexual men. That femininity, and not hetero-patriarchy, is seen as the enemy is one of the most deeply troubling aspect of DiscreetCity.com’s existence.
DiscreetCity.com seems to be focused primarily on media representation, but I want to dig a little deeper. The claim that masculine Black gay and bisexual gay men seems laughable given the complete and utter disdain held for feminine Black gay and bisexual men across the Black bisexual and gay community. When I can visit a Black gay and bisexual social networking site and see “no fems” proudly displayed on profile after profile, we have a serious problem, and no amount of masculine crying for wolf will change that. Where is the interest in this interrogation? Perhaps it will come from a site with the specific interest of redressing that community wide disdain, but it should be known by sites like DiscreetCity.com. I suppose, it is easier to be divisive and reductive than it is to be inclusive and visionary.