Fellas, the rules have changed and if you’re committed to evolving as a conscious, relevant, out, and progressive gay man of color you have three choices. You can either go with the flow, if you can’t beat them, join them. There is also the choice of not participating in the sometimes trivial pursuits of gay social scenes, or like myself, can break the rules, create your own, and lead the pack on your own terms. You haven’t a clue as to what I’m talking about do you? Fear not, I’m about to break it down based on what I’ve come to realize that the black gay community has been infected with the inevitable changing of the social tides and etiquette.
Long gone are the days where it was enough to be attractive, financially stable, fit, and a good catch (at least on paper). We are now operating under a new matrix of increased visibility powered by the unavoidable realms of social media and it’s seductive and intoxicating power. It has given birth to what a friend of mine has dubbed as the “look at me boys”. You know who they are, we all know who they are. They aren’t the body beautiful boys of the past by any means. They are the next line in the gay evolutionary chart. They are the stunningly beautiful and often unobtainable forces of nature that command, and have amassed a huge social media presence that could rival that of any A, B, C, or D list celebrity.
“They can be anyone from stock boys at Target titans in the corporate world, to forces of nature in law enforcement, the entertainment world and beyond.”
They have undoubtedly changed the game but have left many wondering are they doing more harm than good. Are the “look at me boys” ruining our community? I’m not sure if I’m the person to answer that question. Let me take you on a journey though and you can come to your own conclusions.
Now first let me define who these “look at me boys” are. They are difficult to explain and are masterful chameleons, skilled with the ability to stunt like their objective is not vapid, intentional, or seeking an end result of attention, sexual conquests, or followers. They are, but not limited to, Greek God like specimens of physical perfection. These men are from all walks of life so don’t let the 40K plus followers fool you. They can be anyone from stock boys at Target to titans in the corporate world, Law enforcement, the entertainment world, and beyond.
Let me apply a dash of critical thinking here and in all fairness say, they have earned every bit of success (however you define it) they have achieved. Their social media profiles are brilliantly orchestrated to present them in the best light (literally), and display a life highlight reel better than anything ESPN could muster on the NFL play of the week. No harm there right? I mean even I don’t post my in between beard shape up photos, or the awkward and scary selfie shot I accidentally took of myself while looking down into my cell phone camera. There is however, something blatantly left out of their myriad of story telling via the magical world social media and photographs. That is family, introspection, and dare I say it, purpose beyond the accumulation of likes, adoration, and compliments laced with sexual innuendos by admirers on their third cup of the “look at me boy” flavored Kool-Aid.
“They have discovered what we all know to be true. SEX SELLS”
To be clear, I don’t need my Instagram hot boys to be Malcolm X. Aint a damn thing wrong with taking the edge off a stressful day by wasting time strolling trough Tumblr and drool a little either. It’s just that we have gotten to a point where it takes more, yes more today than simply being beautiful to be a “look at me boy”. It takes more than having advanced degrees, or a desirable client list that’s keeping your schedule busier than this year’s hurricane season. It is also not necessary for them to be poignant, articulate, or being of service to their community. What is required is that despite their accomplishments, they must be able to be sexually titillating and consistent with it. This is where the problem lies.
Now that social media has deemed itself necessary to us all (get off your high horse, it has), the “look at me boys” have embarked on a competitive war with each other. I must say, their keeping up with the Joneses approach they are exercising is silly, meaningless, topic of judgmental conversations with friends, but we can all admit is entertaining. The barrage of men of a certain age resorting to half naked bedroom photos (you know the ones with the camera strategically placed over the head so that the curvature of the butt is visible), has increased (thank you). Again no harm done, but when they started out with pictures of their daily bouts at Starbucks, mom’s thanksgiving meals, and adorable post barber shop selfies, it makes you wonder, what happened? How did they go from 0 to 60 with little to no notice? I tell you how, they discovered it was not enough, and they were not enough, to be who they are and get people to give a damn about their new painting from an art class they were taking. It was not enough to get a like from their Instagram or gym crush. It was not fulfilling to remain invisible, despite being a pretty amazing person. They have discovered what we all know to be true. SEX SELLS, and not just for television ads, but for the accountant on Main Street looking to stay relevant in an ever changing evolution of the black gay community that doesn’t always award, or acknowledge the reality of what so many of us are, human beings with a back story and a purpose even if not yet known.
“I don’t believe it will change anytime soon, but we are all conscious of unnecessary cruelness we impose on each other either by being a “look at me boy” or in judgment of them not realizing that their struggles internally, often mirror our own.”
There is nothing wrong with beauty and being the best version of you inside and out. We are after all, men who have an inclination to aesthetically pleasing to the eye things and people. We must be careful however, that the landscape of our community is not changed to the point that who we truly are doesn’t matter, and that we have to change, physically and hype up our social media presence for fear of being visibly and socially doomed. We must ensure that men like my friend, are not feeling alienated while attending events because one does not feel the need to be “ON” at every second. You cannot be a “look at me boy” when you feel it matters, then break down the walls of communication and being open to conversation, friendships, and dating opportunities, when the spotlight is no longer on you.
I know that with every “look at me boy” you meet, there is a story worth telling. It’s often overshadowed by the superficiality of a community that celebrates that facade over substance. I don’t believe it will change anytime soon, but we are all conscious of unnecessary cruelness we impose on each other either by being a “look at me boy” or in judgment of them not realizing that their struggles internally, often mirror our own. So are look at me boys ruining our community? Yes, they are and they have help from everyone within their circle and outside of it that at times, keep the illusion very much alive. There is enough blame to go around, but maybe the time has come to make a clear distinction between the world we all present on social media, and the version we actually live in. Look at me boys and their admirers alike.