I’m Not Gay, I Just Mess with Guys Sometimes – Real Talk for Young Men who Have Sex with Men, but Don’t Self-Identify As Gay
While interviewing the young males in my previous book, Message to a Youngblood, I learned that some of them had experimented sexually with other males but did not identify themselves as ‘gay’. I wanted to give voice to their reasons why they distance themselves from gay culture while still engaging in homosexuality. I wanted to also address the so-called ‘on the down low’ trend and turn what has been the sensationalizing of men who secretly have sex with men into a more serious discussion about denial in the Black community and how Black men are generally not allowed to be full human beings but rather what is expected of them.
In keeping to mission on addressing the concerns of marginalized youth, I’m Not Gay, I Just Mess with Guys Sometimes aims to do away with the trivializing of an underground population that is invisible yet obvious. These young men are either in pain or afraid of living authentic lives. What this book does is give them permission to express their selves in ways they don’t feel they can due to pressure from their communities or internalized shame and prejudices. Parents will be able to use this book to learn how to begin difficult but necessary talks on sexual identity concerns with their sons. Counselors can make it part of their intervention tools. Group home directors, foster care representatives, youth detention centers and male-based program advocates would see improvement in behavior and self-actualizing. Grown men would find this book appealing as well because of how it addresses the long-term negative effects of hiding one’s sexuality. And the young men themselves will learn valuable skills on how to embrace their authentic selves in the face of rejection and changing times.
As with my previous advice book for under-represented young males of African descent, there are interviews with teens and young adults expressing their personal struggles with the focus this time on sexual identity. There are also illustrations by young returning and new artists to provide the visual to the range of topics covered, including functional depression, coming out or being invited in, masculinities, predatory mindset, school safe zones, why we never say ‘females on the down low’, finding healthy definitions of Black manhood, where homophobia in the Black community really comes from, making smart choices with few options, dating a guy who is openly himself, and the role of fathers in the lives of their same gender loving or bisexual sons.
I’m Not Gay, I Just Mess with Guys Sometimes is yet another segment of my book series on working with hard to reach youth. It’s a fresh new look at an on-going discussion in the Black community because of its aim to not focus on why our sons (and men) don’t simply ‘come out’, but on what exactly are they ‘coming out’ to if we are still expecting them to behave according to our set standards and cultural expectations.
"We’re raised to believe that masculinity and femininity are opposites, but they’re actually parts of the wide spectrum of human nature. Think of it as an elastic band that gets stretched and tangled into different shapes. Preferring a certain stretch or shape is your basic right, but it doesn’t dismiss the fact that there’re different ways of stretching that elastic into other shapes. Same as looking at maleness and femaleness. There are heterosexual men who are perceived as 'gay' because their stretch reaches a limit that society decided is feminine. And there are homosexual men who are perceived as 'straight' because their stretch is closer to what’s considered masculine. Put us in a society where hyper-macho and hyper-femme are seen as the caricatures, and mainstream becomes the target of jokes and banishment."