Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Sweet Tea Panel: Pride & Priviledge

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Join the Men Of Sweet Tea In Atlanta this

June 28th @ 11:00 A.M at  First E!

470 Candler Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

For an interactive discussion on queer male priviledge and the history of Stonewall.

Hope to see you there!!

Reflection: Growing Up Male — Kind of.

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2009 at 4:04 am

By Michael J. Brewer (Ms. Splenda)

There’s something about the casual nature of a brunch that just ripens the air for introspective conversation about patriarchy. 😉

This past Sunday, us Sweet Teas (declared and honorary) gathered at the Quirky Commune to convene our monthly installment of conversation about Queer men and sexism. It was an “intimate” affair (much less intimate than we had originally intended, based on how much of the food we had eaten before people began showing up!), with seven of us total sprawled across Yolo’s living room furniture. Yolo facilitated the discussion using questions pulled from fellow Sweet Tea member and author/poet Franklin Abbott’s (Brother Chamomile’s) published work “Boyhood, Growing Up Male: A Multicultural Anthology”.

We began with a simple question (for some), asked to recall the first time we remember being identified as or connecting with the concept of being a boy or male. I was personally struck by how difficult this questions was for me to answer! Usually the first question out of the gate is a softball — that pitch you know you can knock out of the park and that eases you into the succeeding, often more challenging, conversation. Leave it up to Yolo to always defy convention : ) I think it’s significant that as a child that I don’t recall the first time I identified as a boy or male. Growing up, I feel like I never completely conformed to prevailing heteropatriarchal conceptions of maleness — while my lack of ascription was no effect of a feminist consciousness, there was a way in which my fluid perception of gender identity not only allowed me to embrace my sexuality and sexuality, but enabled me to challenge existing notions of sexism and patriarchy as I got older. In other words, I always kind of knew what being a “boy” was, but I never really achieved (nor did I ever sincerely try) to be that which social culture alluded that I should be. Not to say that I was a little Audre Lorde — more so that I always existed on the margins of gender performance and that treading perhaps saved me from assuming some of the heterosexist and patriarchal oppression that I otherwise would have embodied. Not all of it — just some of it.

The first time (or perhaps, most significant time which is why it stands out in my mind) I remember being confronted with prescriptive notions of masculinity that there were tangible ramification for not following where when I matriculated to Morehouse College, the all-male, all-black “Havard of the South”. Completely antithetical to the situation I left at home that was open and accepting of my identity as a Black gay man, Morehouse was a place where masculinity was at a premium, and while there were as many expressions of it as there were men at the institution it was made very clear what was masculine and what was not. Men who followed the patriarchal fold were praised — men who fit outside the prescribed conceptions of masculinity were ostracized. It was at Morehouse that I feel I was most profoundly confronted with what it meant to be a man. And whereas my adolescence allowed me to evade judgements/consequences against my gender performance in the past, my adulthood brought me face-to-face with gender oppression and the unique ways in which it manifested — within Black community, within male community, and within LGBTQIQ community. Luckily, my tenure at Morehouse was heavily influenced by persons and forces that reinforced the comfort I felt in my youth surrounding my gender performance and led me to a feminist consciousness that enabled me to seriously examine and critique the rampant oppression that pervaded my college campus.

I know that I’m still an evolving person and that one of the significant reasons I’m still engaged in this work is because of my investment in addressing my own inherent patriarchy and male privilege. However, remembering how I came to my consciousness fortifies me in that work and it’s virtue.

And it’s always nice to do that work surrounded by friends and good food. 😉