————————————"Brooklyn, or Bed-Stuy to be exact, is an interesting space to explore and play with black masculinities, especially as a black queer man. When I am walking through my neighborhood I feel black and queer and unrestricted and seen and safe (except for my moments when I encounter police) and cool and connected to the black folk around me. In fact, the “street” is the perfect stage to perform and queer black masculinities. It is one of those spaces where black men and women expand the boundaries that are typically used to confine us.
Gender is stretched and pulled and reconfigured by black folk in Bed-Stuy in some amazing ways—so much so that it is easy to confuse someone’s sexuality based on the ways they queer gender. I think that particular aspect is dope as hell and radically political. Straight black men and women are often confused as queer (not just in terms of sexual identity, but as a politics and expression of counter-normative ways of being) simply because of the ways they free themselves from gender boxes. How fly is that? How fly is it that queerness becomes the “thing” that one aspires to regardless of her/his/their sexual identity?
For me, fashion is one of the means through which I express and mess with gender. Whether I am rocking some bohemian-esque shirts or street-fresh Tommie hoodie, vintage neckwear or handmade beaded bracelets, a pair of fly ass Jordans or head turning Alejandro Ingelmos, skinny jeans or an expertly tailored suit, I feel perfectly situated “in” my black skin. I feel cool as a black queer man in a black neighborhood where cool is constantly epitomized and re-imagined. I mean Bed-Stuy is so cool that white folk (and black & brown folk who once thought it uncool and unsafe to live in “Do or Die Bed-Stuy”) are moving here in droves. Go figure.
Nonetheless, to be black gay and masculine does not mean that I need to be conventional; queerness frees me to move from the question of who I am as a black masculine body to the more liberatory notion that beyond the way my body is caught up in a system of White racial supremacist hetero-patriarchy, I am someBODY, a human body. In other words, I try to express who the fuck Darnell is as opposed to what my body signifies (and prompts) as a black male masculine-performing body in a hood that is literally policed and increasingly gentrified.
So, yeah, I feel safe being me on the streets of Bed-Stuy. I feel safe being black queer and masculine…unless I am rocking a hoodie late at night and encounter the police. I guess that’s true of most black bodies inhabiting spaces where we are assailed by police. Shit, that is true of all black folk in America.”
Posts tagged Black Queer.
I drink champagne early in the morning
instead of leaving my house
with an M16 and nowhere to go.
I’m dying twice as fast
as any other American
between eighteen and thirty-five
This disturbs me,
but I try not to show it in public.
Each morning I open my eyes is a miracle.
The blessing of opening them
is temporary on any given day
I could be taken out.
I could go off.
I could forget to be careful.
Even my brothers, hunted, hunt me.
I am the only one who values my life
and sometimes I don’t give a damn.
My love life can kill me.
I’m faced daily with choosing violence
or a demeanor that saves every other life
but my own.
I won’t cross-over.
It’s time someone else came to me
not to patronize me physically,
sexually or humorously.
I’m sick of being an endangered species,
sick of being a goddamn statistic.
So what are my choices?
I could leave with no intention
of coming home tonight
I could go crazy downtown
and raise hell on a rooftop with my rifle.
I could live for a brief moment
on the six o’clock news,
or I can masquerade another day
through the corridors of commerce
and American dreams.
I’m dying twice as fast
as any other American.
So I pour myself a glass of champagne,
I cut it with a drop of orange juice.
After I swallow my liquid valium.
my private celebration
for being alive this morning,
I leave my shelter.
I guard my life with no apologies.
My concerns are small
In between love affairs
I stopped worrying about
my peculiar loneliness.
I don’t search for reason or blame.
I don’t worry that men come
and go through my life
wounded by my hand,
to my own self-inflicted injuries.
I try not to worry too much
because Black men die too frequently
from strokes as fatal as hammer blows.
My hair is growing thin,
my stomach a little weak and nervous.
I have only tired once to kill myself,
but I was too young to understand
how to die.
So nothing happened
when I held my breath.
I’m still here hanging on
refusing to be intimidated.
I worry about this planet,
this human wilderness.
What is called “advanced civilization”
means we are all closer to death.
I worry about the tempers
between men who build bombs.
Men who seek different satisfactions
Their collision would mean the end of life
as I come out of the morning subway
unaware their tempers flared
between Dupont Circle
and Judiciary Square.
I worry about melting down.
catching man-made diseases
in the bus stations,
being a suspect because I live in South East,
because I’m the same color as the assailant,
the thief, the night,
because i think the street boat
will take me home
but it takes me out,
because I want everything to look lovely
I take a toke or two,
because PCP makes me do wild things,
makes me think I’m a white man
so I kill, steal, and thrill myself,
but I’m too dark to escape the consequences,
I’m too proud to imitate a beast.
I don’t worry about
where my next love is gonna come from.
It will sneak up on me
and rape me in the serious moonlight.
’In The Life: A Black Gay Anthology’ (Edited by Joseph Beam)
pp. 82 - 83
Black Weirdo Of The Week 14: Tiona McClodden
Born in Blytheville, AK. Raised in Greenville, SC. Living in Philadelphia, PA.
I produce and distribute my work through my film and media imprint, Harriet’s Gun Media. Most of my work examines the queer black experience in the most specific ways and broad ways simultaneously. My work takes a look social realism, re-memory and more recently biomythography. I’m trying to build a decent body of work and so far I’ve completed these films- black./womyn.: conversations with lesbians of African descent, a short narrative film Bumming Cigarettes, and an experimental film portrait, roots.|&|rigor. featuring my buddy and Philly based sculpture artist Lorna Williams. I also just had my first solo exhibition of the first part of my upcoming four part series, Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I - The Visions which I plan to mount in a few cities this year. I try to stay working for the most part.
What is your craft/career/creative expression?
Filmmaker and visual artist. I produce conceptual narrative work-I’m into that “head to the hand” art thing and I’m constantly trying to work that out through motion picture format and now through physical production using my hands. I’m in a transition from primarily documentary moving into this hybrid fiction/non-fiction place of work. I’m into producing “insider art”.
How long have you been working on your craft?
Professionally since 2002 when I quit working at a café, dropped out of college, and started working with a mentor at the time.
Why do you consider yourself a Black Weirdo?
I’m cool with fucking around with the formula that makes me who I am. I’m black, queer, woman, and a bunch of other shit and I refuse to partition my shit. I’m definitely about Black Excellence at all times, no matter the form of work or presentation. I’m anti square shit and monolithic. I embrace my weirdness and that of other folks. I move in my body and work with all these things at the same time unapologetically. I think the idea of Black Weirdo is fitting because it has no limitations really, there is no blueprint, and so I’m down for it.
Upcoming events/ projects?
I’m creating some new work with some of my fellow artists and friends called #DRUGMONEYBOUGHTTHISDRESS which is looking at black artists, the work we produce, accessibility to that work and class politics. Still screening my short Bumming Cigarettes and working on my second installment of my Be Alarmed film series, The Seamstress. Finishing up a script to my experimental narrative fiction feature Flowers which will feature black queer femme identified folks as the main protagonists. And working on a music video project with you folks-THEESatisfaction for your new album!
When I enter into a relationship I want it to be an action, not a reaction. Not me responding to loneliness, or being done with the gay bullshit dating, or wanting to wake up with someone in my bed just to fill the space I’m uncomfortable lying in by myself. Not me wanting a heightened social worth because, “I got a man,” an ideology grounded in slavery, or to visually validate I am worthy of love. I want it to be me intentionally deciding I want to curate a romance with someone I deeply enjoy who actively feels the same way.
I am absolutely, completely, utterly obsessed with John Edmond’s work and I think you should be too. Edmonds says that his work is currently concerned with examining the “the external and internal violence that is implicated through the bodies of men on the margins of society.”
If this world were mine, the stereo
starts, but can’t begin
to finish the phrase. I might survive
it, someone could add, but that
someone’s not here. She’s crowned
with laurel leaves, the place
where laurel leaves would be
if there were leaves, she’s not
medieval Florence, not
Blanche of Castile. Late March
keeps marching in old weather,
another slick of snow to trip
and fall into, another bank
of inconvenient fact. The sky
is made of paper and white reigns,
shredded paper pools into her afterlife,
insurance claims and hospital reports,
bills stamped “Deceased,” sign here
and here, a blank space where she
would have been. My sister
said We’ll have to find another
And this is how
loss looks, my life in black plastic
garbage bags, a blue polyester suit
a size too small. Mud music
as they packed her in
damp ground, it’s always raining
somewhere, in New Jersey,
while everyone was thinking about
fried chicken and potato salad,
caramel cake and lemonade.
Isn’t that a pretty dress
they put her in? She looks so
life-like. (Tammi Terrell
collapsed in Marvin Gaye’s arms
onstage. For two hundred points,
what was the song?) Trampled
beneath the procession, her music.
Pieces of sleep like pieces of shale
crumble through my four a.m.
(a flutter of gray that could be
rain), unable to read this thing
that calls itself the present.
She’s lost among the spaces
inside letters, moth light, moth wind,
a crumpled poem in place of love.
’Fata Morgana: Poems’