Check it out! Obio O. Jones shares conversations on Youtube about being Black, Queer, and Proud. His channel features several interviews with Black gay men reflecting on the journey of identity.
The first episode I watched was “ep 22. the black gay man | part 1,” which featured interior designer Andre Hilton. His experience included the Ballroom scene in Houston, Texas, and North America’s East Coast.
“Because my family didn’t really accept me regarding my sexuality, I turned to Ballroom,” Hilton explained. The legendary House of Miyake-Mugler took him under their wing. “They were my mentors and said you have a shining bright light and this world is scary.” Hilton found a family in the Ballroom community.
The next video I watched was “ep 26. the black gay man | part 5.” Artistic Director N.K. Condua reflected on the media’s influence on himself as a kid. “When we did see gay people in media it was always a very specific archetype. And I would have wanted to see a vast spectrum of what gay could ‘look” like,’ Condua said. He then explained that even today people think of him as straight because of how the media portrays gay people.
Hilton and Condua’s stories helped me understand that our community still needs guidance. We still need coming-out stories as young men of color to show us that we are not alone. Some of us can recall a time when the AIDS pandemic plagued cities like New York City and Los Angeles. Others are young and privileged enough to never know that sort of grief, anxiety, and loneliness. I am the latter.
I belong to a generation that watched “Will & Grace” with my mom as a kid. I came out in high school, twice. Each time confused me into believing that other boys didn’t want to be my friend. I wanted people to accept me as gay while also respecting me as a person. I grew afraid that boys would see me as an enemy rather than a teammate on the Rugby team.
Those fears shaped me as a thirty-one-year-old Queer Latino. Those experiences inspired me to create art, but not show it. I didn’t want my truths to make others feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure how much my skin color affected big life decisions like graduating college and working at a non-profit organization. I’m also not sure how much it affects me now, except that this post now exists. I want to help others find the content they need to thrive. Hopefully, this post finds someone who needs it.
Chek out Obio’s channel on Youtube! Check back for more content soon. Thank you for the support.
All the best,
Benjamin P. Gallagher