For colored girls. I mean gay men

I was on the phone last night with my friend, Basit, a rheumatologist at NYU. We were bitching about life and how healthcare sucks. He said something like, “Girl, if it don’t get better, I’m gonna cut a bitch.”

We laughed as we always do when either of us goes into that character. You know the person you become when you talk like a black woman from the ghetto? Well, if you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’re probably not a gay man. I do it all the time, and then I realized how frequently gay men channel their inner sister. My gay cousin, Paul, will invariably spout out two or three lines from the Color Purple during any random conversation in the exact tone and delivery as Ms. Whoopi Goldberg herself. In fact, he has perfected his Miss Celie by watching the damn movie hundreds of times. I can recall one particular Sunday at brunch when I asked him why he was so late and he responded, “I may be black, I may be ugly, but dammit I’m here!”

I will go on record to say that if you ask any gay man to name their top five movies, one would include, The Color Purple. In fact, I suspect that if you asked any gay man to name their top five movies, one would include any movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. Mine would either be Girl Interrupted or Ghost. Think about it. How many times have you said, “Molly, you in danger girl.”

“Ghurl”, is often how my producer at here! TV reacts right before he is about to tell me some deep and low down dirty secret, accentuating the pronunciation of the letter, R, as though he was expelling his last breath. “Ghurrrrrl, wait to you hear what happened to her.” And if I react with disbelief, I will inordinately hear him say, “Child! you better front.” I have no idea what that means, and I doubt he does either.

Last night while I was watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta,  I saw the trailer for the new Tyler Perry movie, For Colored Girls. The movie is based on the 1975 play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf  by Ntozake Shange.  The 1977 Broadway production was nominated for a Tony Award for best play.  As I watched the trailer, starring Janet Jackson and of course, Whoopi Goldberg, I thought, the theater in Chelsea is going to be packed with gay men just like it was when we went to see the movie Precious.

What is it about gay men and African American women? Why do we identify with them?

Maybe it’s the oppression and isolation both groups endure? Better yet, is it the passion that black women express in films and on tv that makes gay men want to embody them in order to overcome any obstacle that stands in our way? In the late 70’s and all thoughout the 80’s, I can recall sitcoms with iconic characters like Florida from Good Times, Florence from The Jefferson and who could forget, Nell Carter in Gimme a Break? I have channeled each of these women throughout my life, and yet, I grew up in a white, Italian, Catholic neighborhood in Staten Island, a far cry from the projects or any black ghetto. I think there was one black girl in my class throughout grammar school, and I certainly would have never had the nerve to go up to her and say, “Give me five,” in fear of being accused of racism.

Interestingly, all of the gay men in my life, have little or no real attachment to any African American woman other than the desire to be like them, particularly in times of great hardship or when it’s comically appropriate. Perhaps that’s why we’ll line up to see movies like The Color Purple, Waiting to Exhale or For Colored Girls.

So next time you’re standing with a group of gay men, count how many times you hear the word, ghurl, tossed around.

Ghurl, you’ll be surprised.

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11 Comments

  1. Aric W Dietrich
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    **shrugs shoulders** as I look in my DVD cabinet at “Sparkle”, “Claudine”, “Lady Sings The Blues”, and Pam Grier’s entire filmography.

  2. Monty
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Hey, doc! I am a gay black man & I love this blog post. I think that every gay man has an inner “strong black woman”. I’ve been fortunately enough to have been raised by strong black women. I bet your favorite Atlanta housewife is NeNe. Lol.

  3. spinellimd
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing. I was brought up by three strong women. They’re white but I do appreciate the strength some women possess. And of course NeNe is my fav.

  4. Monty
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    To front means to do one of two different things. When your producer told you to front, he meant that you must take cover. Basically it means that you have to put up a wall (the front) b/c the gossip is so strong that you will have to shield yourself. Lol. If someone says “Don’t front,” they are saying “Don’t act like you don’t already know ____(whatever it is that they’re telling you).”

  5. Posted October 17, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    It is actually “I may be poor, I may be ugly, but I’m outta here”.

    Favorite line from colored girls:

    “Um Um Um, in the back of that old Buick!”.

    Oppression is oppression and it has its own color.

    You GO GIRL!

  6. Posted October 17, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Poor colored girls, everyone is just trying to steal their shit!!

    HAHAHAHA!

  7. spinellimd
    Posted October 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing but actually that’s not the line from The Color Purple. 😉

  8. Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    you are completely right, I must refine my quoting ability. It has been a while.

    The correct line is:

    [on leaving the farm in Shug’s car, shouting to Albert]

    “I’m poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here. I’m here”.

    here’s the scene:

  9. Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    That is what I get from trying to steal shit from colored girls 😉

  10. Siddharth
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    What I do is “mmhmm”. Whenever my Ex boyfriend would say something serious I would reply “mmhmm” and we would both laugh then. I took inspiration from Family Guy clip:

  11. Mich
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    2 weeks without a new post … We are dying out here in the hinterland!!


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