Black and Gay: A Special Case
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Published in: July-August 2013 issue.

for-colored-boys-who-have-considered-suicide-when-the-rainbow-is-still-not-enough-coming-of-age-coming-out-and-coming-homeFor Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home
Edited by Keith Boykin
Magnus Books. 334 pages, $15.95

AS A YOUNG BOY, I used to hang out with the girls at school—long before hanging out with girls was something boys were supposed to want to do. I remember the day when the girls I played with at every recess turned on me and teased me, calling me a sissy. It was only one day, but it was humiliating and it hurt.

There would be other little episodes peculiar to a shy suburban black boy whose inclinations sometimes veered to the effeminate. Many of those memories came flooding back as I read editor Keith Boykin’s stirring collection of personal essays by gay men of color.

I have never considered suicide. I was fortunate. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s with a brother who loved his Barbie styling head (a nearly life-sized disembodied doll’s head whose long blond hair provided hours of amusement) as much as he loved his Star Wars models. I have an uncle who is gay and parents who were loving and accepting of whoever their boys grew up to be. We both turned out to be gay, though I wouldn’t fully acknowledge my sexual orientation until after college. It may have been our socioeconomic class, my parents’ education, the fact that we lived in an integrated community; but somehow I survived my coming of age and my coming out without the despair that haunted many of the authors in Boykin’s book, and that continues to afflict many young black gay men today.

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