Yesha Callahan

We Complain About Hypermasculinity And Yet We Won’t Let Odell Beckham Jr. Live

#PressPlay: Wayment #OdellBeckhamJr out here battling strippers now ?? via @theformulatv

A video posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoominc) on

“He’s gay”

How many times have you thrown around that assumptive phrase simply because a male you encountered didn’t fit the traditional definition of a man we often claim is problematic yet still uphold as ideal?

“He’s gay” is a label that’s overshadowing New York Giant’s wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s football career now that people who aren’t even spectators of the sport have become consumed with his sexuality and the media coverage has turned from reports on his stats on the field to questions about whether he was staring at another man’s butt on the sideline.

The problem? No one knows if Odell is gay or not. All we know is he doesn’t sit around raping about f-cking b-tches and getting money, or have a reputation with the ladies (or a habit of disrespecting them), or wear a bunch of gold chains — or teeth for that matter — or start fights on the field, or challenge other men’s masculinity online or otherwise.

So what does Odell do? He dances. He and his blonde puff stanky leg, two step, juke, and nay nay all over the ‘gram in hilariously choreographed routines with his friends and that has led far too many homophobic men and paranoid women to conclude he’s trapped in the closet — a conclusion that can be chalked up to lingering DL hysteria, persistent stereotypes about black male masculinity, and insecurities about one’s own sexuality. Though the latter is a universal issue, the first two are unique to the black community which is why this “witch hunt,” as Rafi D’Angelo put it in an article on Slate, perfectly demonstrates “the difference between black masculinity and white masculinity in a nutshell.”

“White men are allowed a greater range of expression before they are automatically considered gay. The boys in Marvel movies are always flirting and nobody cares. Matt McGorry can say his male co-star has a pretty mouth and nobody cares. Channing Tatum “vogued” and nobody cares. But a black football player dances a little with a male friend and it’s proof-positive.

D’Angelo goes on to say he actually hopes Odell isn’t gay because, although, as he stated, “We need more gay visibility in professional sports, especially hypermasculine ones like football. But more important, we need more black men who aren’t afraid to live outside of the box of black masculinity built for us by society and reinforced by our own community.”

Fact.

The cries from black men about the way in which people dictate what’s acceptable behavior for them based on their race and gender often fall on deaf ears unless we’re united against the common enemy of racism. We rally against the label of “thug” when it’s applied to a black boy simply because he’s wearing a hoodie. But we don’t do the same when a 23-year-old athlete is called gay because he dances like Chris Brown but doesn’t have the history of physically or verbally abusing women, a criminal record, or a body covered in tattoos to prove he’s heterosexual.

Many of us are just as complicit in the pervasiveness of the hypermasculine black male trope as the confused brothas who adhere to it. And while it’s true we need more men like Odell who aren’t afraid to live outside of the box, we also need more people in our community who won’t try to shove them out of the closet when they do so.

  1. December 30, 2015 - Reply

    People love labels. Black people don’t fit into one box. If people don’t understand that, then that’s their myopic problem. I don’t know much about this guy, and frankly, if or if he isn’t gay. Why are people so concerned about someone else’s sexuality? I realize that there’s a lot of talk about sexuality in this day and age, and perhaps, the reason people question someone’s preference is because the subject is breached so much. I don’t know.

    P.S. Black men are often labeled as being on the “DL,” but I’ve heard from gay men that many of the married men they’ve slept with are White MARRIED men, so that “DL” label doesn’t solely apply to Black men.

    • December 30, 2015 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      Thank you sis, SMH. so dumb.

    • December 30, 2015 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      Right on Sister.

    • December 30, 2015 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      see you know someone who is in the know and that’s where you get the facts and real picture from because they know, it is primarily white men they cruise parks trying to pickup underprivileged poor black males who preform these acts just for the money.

      PS: Noirluv45 I use to play football I love sports and the truth is this type of behavior is quite common between the lines and always have been [hell when someone fumble the ball guys be hitting and pulling each other “balls” not for sexual pleasure but to get the player with the ball to give up the football] ball players do this just to piss each other off and get them out of their game and after the game they might go out to dinner or in the off season take their families on vacation together only recently because of the new political correctness which have cheeped into sport this trash talking have become a issue, guys have always call each other names like that just to make them mad or to piss them off but now in the days of PC the media and the soft belly citizen now want to make a big issue out of it.

  2. December 30, 2015 - Reply

    Maybe he is maybe he isn’t. All this video shows is that he has rhythm. I’m from NO and I’ve seen plenty of straight guys dance in a similar fashion including guys fraternities. The only reason this is even an issue is because he’s already suspect to some people. SMH

  3. December 30, 2015 - Reply

    Anyone who judges someone’s sexuality on how someone dances is wrong and just plain ignorant. We have black people being murdered by the police, issues of the water having high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan, and other important things. We can judge whether O’Dell Beckham Jr. (who plays for the NY Giants) deserves to be suspended or not for his actions in a football game, but to assume that his sexuality is based on his dancing is silliness. There is the evil stereotype that being a real man must include a limited amount of characteristics (like being a brute and hugely obnoxious). The truth is that a man have the right to fight for justice, to defend the human rights of women, and to advance the interests of his own community.

    Men and Women have the right to think outside of the box and be creative. Likewise, closeted people exist in every race and in every nationality. At the end of the day, let that man live. Many of the same ones who obsess with a person’s sexuality have issues. Some of these folks (who act like McCarthyites in determining who is straight or not) protest too much. I will leave it at that. Black masculinity is diverse and black people in general have the right to express themselves in diverse ways. Liberation is a fight. It is about fighting false stereotypes and recognizing how black people should live in the realm of human dignity.

    • December 30, 2015 - Reply

      @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

      You knocked another one out the park brother Truthseeker–it is a shame how limited some folk can be. I mean why do they even care?!?! One of the main problems with social media is how one limited, often young and dumb mindset (esp. of those who protest entirely WAY too much) can have the loudest influence on a chain of false information. You can tell absolutely nothing from this gif image besides the fact that the brother is not afraid to bust a move and I for one applaud that- we should all be so free to be ourselves.

      • December 30, 2015 - Reply

        @eLLe D.

        I agree with you Sister. Good Evening.

        Back in the day, our people danced all of the time. We dance a lot today in our generation too. Some folks get too caught up in their feelings or emotions when using social media. Too many people invest way too much of their own time to criticize others and to display their own personal lives in it. Many folks, who want to nitpick over every action of another person in social media (in a constant fashion), have profound insecurities. Black people are multidimensional human beings. We are explorers and writers. We are athletes and musicians. We love creativity and Blackness. There is a time for seriousness. There is a time to have fun. There is a time to work and there is a time to play. This balance is part of our lives and to respect this balance is fine with me.

        • December 30, 2015 - Reply

          @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

          Exactly and good evening to you as well. Hell brothers USED to always dance in the videos. We all danced on the floor. Now folks are too busy posturing and selling sex TRYING to look cool. You are so right about the insecurities, isn’t that always it though? Folks are so critical of themselves and everyone else via projection. They envy his freedom not realizing that they too can choose freedom if they are brave enough….

          • December 30, 2015 - Reply

            @eLLe D.

            Some folks are so scared about what others think of them instead of being happy to be blessed to live on this Earth. Frankly, millions of people on this Earth now live on less than 2 dollars a day. Millions of people on this Earth lack the basic necessities that we take for granted. Therefore, the haters in social media better thank God every single Day for the blessings that they have since other struggling people in other parts of the world are hurting (and charities do their best to show compassion and assistance to the world’s poor). That is why I don’t agree with materialism.

            Yes, many videos back then have Brothers dancing like Kwame and his polka dots. LOL. Kool Moe Dee was dancing too. We didn’t think of it in any other way, but just Brothers being creative. Being cool is being comfortable in your own skin and treating people right. That is the message that some of them youngbloods have to understand. Being brave to express oneself honestly is one of the greatest things to do. You are right.

            • December 30, 2015 - Reply

              @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

              I totally agree, and I mean I know absolutely nothing about this dude, but we all should be comfortable in the skin we are in. LOL you took it allll the way back with Kwame and Kool Moe Dee–yes yes ya’ll!! Ha. I also agree about materialism, a lot of folks take way too many things for granted in this country and globally–to be able to even take the time to sit back and judge someone else’s pics on the internet is a blessing compared to what other people are out here dealing with on the regular.

              • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                @eLLe D.

                I heard about O’Dell. He plays for the Giants. He is a great player, but his team is going through a struggling season. His team won’t make it into the playoffs for the NFC. Kool Moe Dee is a legend like Rakim. Kwame is a creative artist. I was in elementary school during the late 1980’s and in the early 1990’s (when people wore BK Knights, etc.), so I remember many old school records. People dressed differently back then during the 1980’s to put it lightly. To each its own. I will leave it at that. LOL. I like the fashion from the 1990’s too. You’re right about how people should place things into perspective.

                • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                  @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

                  The fashion was fun though you know? Loud and bright for sure but fun LOL. And the hair? Whoo. My mother never let me get the jheri curl though.

                  • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                    @eLLe D.

                    It was loud and bright certainly. LOL. That’s true.

                    • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                      @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

                      LOL!

                      • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                        @eLLe D.

                        Today, it is one of the days Sister. Humor just comes out of me sometimes.

                        • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                          @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

                          Humor is a blessing, it is great to see that side of you–I was thinking good thing we can’t upload pics of ourselves back in the day. Although, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t hitting it back then–fresh to death LMAO.

                          • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                            @eLLe D.

                            I feel you Sister. There is nothing wrong with humor. I will never doubt your swagger.

                            • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                              @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

                              😉

                              • December 30, 2015

                                @eLLe D.

                                Go head with ya good self. 😉

                            • December 30, 2015 - Reply

                              @truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

                              And you know we can’t doubt yours–Black folks can shine when they want to!

                              • December 30, 2015

                                @eLLe D.

                                Yes, one thing about us Black folks is that we will shine our lights. A’int nothing will turn us around.

  4. December 30, 2015 - Reply

    the problem people are having with O’Dell Beckham Jr, Russell Wilson, Stephen Curry and a lot of the young athletes like them is these guy didn’t come from the same background as your typical black athlete these guy come from a middle to upper middle class background some from well to do back ground with highly educated parents so they act different, talk different and carry themselves different than your typical black athlete and sometime that promotes envy from other players and misunderstanding from the public and the media because middle and upper middle class blacks are strange to some black folks and unusual to the media.

  5. December 30, 2015 - Reply

    I’m gonna need for people to realize that humans are multidimensional, not all cut from the same cloth, and wonderfully unique. And black men are humans. Give black men their humanity. It’s so simple.

  6. December 31, 2015 - Reply

    People need to come to terms with their OWN sexuality and live with their own truths before coming for somebody else who they don’t know or will never meet. Some of these people wouldn’t know a real man or woman if one was standing right in front of them with instructions. Worry about what or who you let into your own body.

    • January 1, 2016 - Reply

      @paintgurl40

      Amen.

  7. January 1, 2016 - Reply

    You see, this is why I like reading the articles on Clutch. You call out social phenomenon in our community and address the complexities in a way that few media outlets are either not capable of doing or just not willing to do. This was a timely article.

  8. January 2, 2016 - Reply

    Judging this man because he is just having a good time dancing and labeling him gay is just plain stupid.

    • January 2, 2016 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      You’re right.

  9. January 5, 2016 - Reply

    He likes white girls soooo….

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