"We are from different countries, regions, classes and cultures. Each of us has a unique perspective to share. It is important that we nurture all that we are, and celebrate all that we can become."
(from Other Countries: Black Gay Voices, p.1)
We’ve been called faggot, fairy, sweet and sassy. Bitch, bottom, down low and queen. We’ve been called so many things, all with a grain of truth, none of them completely false. But these labels do not capture the range of who we are.
This is the purpose of Christopher Cushman’s Fierce! Being Black, Being Gay to shine a spotlight on a range black gay images represent us in all our glory: the good, the bad and rarely the ugly. Representations of black gay men, on television or in the print media, make it seem as if we do not belong to living breathing communities full of fairy godmothers, writers, butches, doctors, leather daddies and lawyers. Yes, our communities have ranges that are unseen in mass media. Which is why it is important to commit each one of Christopher Cushman’s images of black gay life to memory. We are more than the professional sidekick, drag queen or HIV positive brotha on the down low. We rap and mc with the best of them; we pop, dip, spin, and give face to the hidden histories in Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, New York and DC. Why is it that black gay men have a parallel existence? Why is there Pride and Atlanta-Philadelphia-New York- Chicago- Detroit Black Pride? Because we resist being subsumed by the mainstream gay community, excited by the possibilities of creating spaces where self-determination, self-definition, self-love and community can flourish. This is why we need leather clubs that cater to black daddies and different ways of acknowledging one another as “my boy”, which could mean my lover, my friend, my (fuck) buddy or my brotha?
Being black, being gay is not simply a set of stigmas. Being black, being gay is complex in ways that open up so many possibilities… In the words of celebrated black gay author Joseph Beam, “Visibility is survival” - We matter, we have lives. If that’s the case, then Christopher Cushman’s 25-year odyssey to document the lives, loves, visions of black gay men could very well immortalize us.
We are All Fierce!
Dr. Lance T. McCready
Associate Professor of Urban Education,
OISE/University of Toronto
Publish Date/ July 2015