Jack’d or Jacked Up?

I was scrolling on Facebook and I came across this conversation thread:

“I was having a conversation with a friend recently and he posed the question: "If there are so many attractive, accomplished [Black] gay men then why are so many of us single?"...I'd like to hear your feedback. What do you all think? Do you think there's an issue or is it something that is not really a big deal?”

I reflected on some of the conversations I have had with my close friends. I have always wondered why there has been a difficulty finding a potential significant other--someone who’s willing to be consistent, willing to learn who you are as a person, and willing to work towards something substantive. Some would say that maybe it is not your time or that you’re too young to accept that level of commitment in your life. However, I find that this disconnect not only is apparent among my younger friends but also my older friends. Why might someone who has these qualifying attributes to be in a relationship, such as consistency, transparency, integrity, accountability, intelligence, or romance, have such a difficult time in place where there are so many “attractive, accomplished [Black] gay men?”

After much thought and conversation with friends, I attempted to answer some of these questions; four things came to mind, specifically in terms of dating in Atlanta:

[1] I think there's always a power dynamic that deters some men from meeting or initiating conversation. From my experiences, I usually initiate an interaction with a guy because I don't want to miss a possible opportunity to meet a great person, whether that interaction is romantic or platonic. However, in some spaces, I've had guys literally tell me that they wanted me to approach them first, which afterwards, they never fully conveyed a sound reason for why that was the case. Moreover, this power dynamic extends beyond initial encounters. Sometimes Black queer men become fixated with roles and labels, which are often times rooted in heteronormativity. Some men believe there has to be a male and a female role within a relationship, with each role having assumed actions or characteristics.

[2] Also, as cliché as it sounds, we're in the age of online "dating". There are so many interactions that occur online. This is not to say that it's not possible to meet great men online, but mostly online dating has shifted the focus from consistency and patience to fickleness and immediacy, which seems to have interactions or conversations that result in sex. I also think that online dating has become another way to reassure one’s power or pride—guys have the ability to simply swipe left or right, block, or ignore messages without the person directly knowing, which gives men the power to determine when, how, where, and if an interaction is going to occur without any input from the other party.

[3] The fact there are so many “great options” results in men, constantly trying to find what’s better. This mentality gets rooted in ideals around age, beauty, class, and wealth, which are all surface-level attributes and characteristics. Men get distracted and dissuaded when they constantly look for the “perfect” option because they soon realize that nobody is perfect and you have to be willing to not bracket yourself from guys who may actually be a good fit for you. Also, it seems there aren’t many conversations about personality—emotionality, mentality, and spirituality.

 [4] Lastly, I think there is an overwhelming amount of hurt guys in Atlanta—there are many men who have had unhealthy relationships and haven’t taken the time to heal those wounds before attempting to meet another guy. The hurt is also rooted in the arduous process of coming to terms with one’s sexuality, attempting to understand how both they view themselves and how they are viewed by society. Not to say homophobia or misogyny don’t exist, but I believe society is in a progressing time where queerness is beginning to be accepted as an identity; transitioning from an environment where you’re only told to hate yourself to an environment where you are beginning to be accepted as a person and as a part of society, can be a bit troubling to conceptualize and understand.

Now, this is not to say I have all the answers for problems within the queer community. There’s plenty I’m trying to answer and understand. In part, maybe one of the ways in which we can combat some of these issues is by simply being transparent with ourselves and others, being willing to take a risk and be open to what you might find.

 

Justin Moore 17C, Guest Contributor