For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home

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For 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

 

There is someone out there who thinks you’re ugly. You’re not tall enough for them or rich enough or you’re too fat or your nose is too big for your face. But you have to believe. Against all reason. You are good enough. You are capable and amazing and beautiful and lovely and you are here, right now, breathing, full of opportunities to change worlds and forge new definitions in your wake. If you can believe that, nobody can touch it, not some headless stranger on the Internet, not some twink in a white braided belt, not blond-haired, blue-eyed lovers desperate to be worshipped. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll wake up one day, rub sleep from your eyes, yawn heavily into a foreign air. You’ll climb out from the heat of night and find the world immersed in a brave new light. You may find to your surprise, a small sort of knowing on your cheeks, a quiet smile on your lips, that maybe, just maybe, you’ve learned to love the one thing you didn’t know how.

If that wasn’t an excellent summary of the entire message of this book then I don’t know what I could possibly tell you.

For Colored Boys is a collected anthology of stories, essays, and a couple of poems written about the many issues that affects both the gay male youth as well as the of-color gay male youth. This is not restricted to black men as there are collections from both hispanic men and a couple of asian men. The stories are true accounts from the men who come from diverse backgrounds. A lot of the authors are very well known, from RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Jessica Wild (José David Sierra) to professional American football player Wade Davis. At the end of the book there is an excellent resource describing the authors as well as providing titles to the authors’ other works.

The books title is an obvious homage to Ntozake Shange’s famous For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf but is not organized stylistically. Instead of the choreopoem you are reading stories, interviews, and even a couple of poems that are organized into ten sections.

Each section carries a theme that each author tells of in their own style: from coming out, to molestation and rape, and even to HIV/AIDS. Several of the stories are highly graphic but as they are non-fiction they shouldn’t be skipped over and should definitely be read to understand the entire depth of these individuals.

To colored boys who have considered suicide
on dark and cold winter days
in closets and rooms confined and strangled by their own
insecurity…

I really enjoyed this book as a straight ally. While I support all things gay-rights, I cannot say that I know entirely of the depth that it must be to live in this world when society doesn’t accept you. I was also equally drawn by this book as it dealt with issues of people of color. Despite gay individuals being already ostracized, there is still a divide between white gay individuals and ones of color.

…For instance, white gay sex-columnist Dan Savage was celebrated for launching the “It Gets Better” campaign… That makes people feel good, but the campaign makes a range of assumptions about the audience. For young people who are experiencing poverty, racism, HIV, bad public schools, or violence within their homes, it may not “just get better” by virtue of getting older.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who really wants to understand exactly the struggles of being gay in his world, and especially a black gay male when the black culture focuses on hypermasculinity, homophobia, and an entire culture that revolves around the church. Simply saying that you support gay rights isn’t enough when you have not developed the empathy needed. At times I was a little confused and I even scoffed when I read one of the stories where the author described his ordeal as “terrorism”. But upon reading everything I came to understand the psychological trauma associated with living in a world where you are not accepted. For someone as socially liberal as myself, seeing that deep down I still had my own slight prejudices and this book really opened my eyes.

How do you start a revolution?
Does it begin in the dark,
furtive glances
in a dusky city park?

…Will we love the men
who were raped on a date
led to believe
it was just their fate?

Yes, how do you start a revolution?

With a civil war between the states

…Or with a kiss?

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