In honor of pride month, Black Coffee invited special guest Michael Arceneaux to discuss everything from his 2018 bestseller, I Can’t Date Jesus, to toxic stereotypes within the Black and queer communities.
On Tuesday (June 11), the author sat down with hosts Marc Lamont Hill, Gia Peppers and Jameer Pond to discuss social awareness, and his upcoming projects. While on the topic of PRIDE month, and the inclusion of Black people within the LGBTQ+ space, Arceneaux stated:
“People try to make it seem that Black people are more dramatically homophobic or transphobic than everyone else, when statistically, that doesn’t happen,” the writer started.
“Black people self identify more as LGBT than White people do. They have for a long time. Most of the queer parents in the country are poor Black lesbians in the south. It’s not [just] White people, but you associate all of this (Pride) with whiteness. Blackness is also a lot of times queerness just by default, because it’s the ‘other.’ So I want to talk about that. I want to confront straight Black men and straight Black women and their attitudes towards [identification and orientation].”
During a discussion on toxic masculinity, and the inability for many men, including Black men, to feel comfortable crying and showing emotion, the author was very honest about his own experiences.
“I don’t like to cry, and I don’t say that as a badge of honor. I personally just grew up in a violent home. I also saw crying used as a way to manipulate people. I cried so much as a child,” Arceneaux revealed.
“For me, just being gay, and being considered ‘soft’ to people, you had to let them know, ‘We can always go [too].'” The author also admitted that the stigma of crying being often associated with “femininity,” and thus frowned down upon during his upbringing, added to his own reluctance to show emotion growing up.
“I know I should be better than that by now, and I’ve worked on that, but it can be hard because when you’re conditioned a certain way, old habits are really hard to break… Even when I want to cry, it can be very difficult.
Host Hill chimed in to say that even he only recently got comfortable with better expressing his feelings, adding that he is also an advocate of seeking professional therapy.
“I cry more now in the last five years than I did in the first 35 years [of my life],} Hill revealed.
Pond opened up and likened the struggle to that of most men being “emotionally constipated,” after years of conditioning, and being forced to suppress how they feel.
“I have a problem with, especially us, Black men, being ’emotionally constipated.’ We know that there is something that effects us, and it’s like PTSD… I’ve talked to people who’ve been in gangs or are in gangs, or went away to war and come back and are emotionally gone. It’s like, ‘I can’t cry anymore.’ They’ve ran out of tears.
“You grow up years without expressing yourself,” Pond continued. “That’s a problem! A lot of people think if you show emotion or if you cry, you’re ‘soft.'”
Pond continued by urging more men to be in touch with their feelings, as well as flat out cry, if they need to:
“I think that the most vulnerable and strong thing that a man can do, or a person can do, is express their feelings, because you’re acknowledging that something is wrong with me, and the human reaction is to cry, or to feel some type of emotion. And people put up this like wall like, I can’t show emotion, I’m too strong. Na. Cry bro!'”