————————————"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 boys.
Black Weirdo Of The Week 16: Justin Allen
photo credit Cristobal Guerra
Northern Virginia. Specifically a suburban town called Woodbridge.
I moved from Woodbridge to New York City in 2010 and am currently a senior at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. Outside of school, I recently finished an internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem and am one-third of artist collective BDGRMMR.
What is your craft/career/creative expression?
I’m a writer. I write across genres, though poetry may be my favorite. I have written op-eds and interviewed artists, musicians and activists for AFROPUNK, Saint Heron, CATCH FIRE and The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Studio Blog. My most unique assignment was to write the text for the tags of the AFROPUNK T-shirts sold at last summer’s festival.
As I mentioned, I’m also part of artist collective BDGRMMR (pronounced Bad Grammar) and collaborate with multimedia artist Yulan Grant and sound artist Brandon Owens. We’re best known for our zine of the same name that focuses on the lives and work of queer artists of color. You can find us on Tumblr at bdgrmmr.tumblr.com.
How long have you been working at your craft?
I began filling up spiral notebooks with one-page stories around eight or nine. I continued writing throughout middle school, applied and was accepted to the writing department of a local high school’s fine and performing arts program and am now earning my degree in it.
Why do you consider yourself a Black Weirdo?
Growing up, I had little exposure to other queer people of color, and criticism from peers on my inability to fit their limited notions of sexual and racial identity caused me deep feelings of self-hatred and alienation—feelings that have taken me a long time to overcome. Not until I moved to New York City did I encounter social circles through which I could conceive a confident version of myself. I consider myself a Black Weirdo because of my journey to embrace my intersecting and inseparable queerness and blackness—to love myself for all my beautiful multitudes.
For my senior writing portfolio I’m working on a long poem about the origins of Venus X’s GHE20 G0TH1K parties. The work explores the relationship between URL and IRL within the context of nightlife, specifically how this relationship shapes queer and of color identities.
As for BDGRMMR, we’re collaborating with curatorial platform Q_Raider to layout an exhibition (click here for info) titled KNOW WHO YOU ARE AT EVERY AGE and organized for the Bronx River Art Center. We’re also working on the next issue of the zine that features interviews with artists Nikita Gale, Paul Sepuya, Jennifer Packer and Jacolby Satterwhite.
putty boy strut (black boy mondays) | baltimore | 2012
Unlocking The Truth - Malcolm Brickhouse & Jarad Dawkins
…these sixth-grade metalheads from Flatbush, Brooklyn are on a mission to rock your socks off.
Don’t let it be loneliness
that kills us.
If we must die
on the front line
let us die men
loved by both sexes.
Don’t let it be envy
that drives us
to suck our thumbs
or shoot each other dead
over snake eyes.
Let us not be dancing
with the wind
on heavy corners
tattered by doom.
Let us not accept
If we believe our lives
we can’t be conquered.
If we must die
on the front line
don’t let loneliness