A group of BlackOutUK contributors went to see the debut of Matthew Lopez’s play, The Inheritance at the Young Vic in London. It’s on until May and definitely worth seeing. Inspired by the themes of Lopez’s epic, we got to wondering what knowledge, wisdom, or artefacts we have inherited from other black gay men and what we would like to pass on.
‘Don’t be afraid to do you. Appreciate and enjoy the scene, but don’t get caught up; remember the world is big and you should not base your life experience solely around your sexual preference’
This advice came from my gay cousin who introduced me to the scene late around 1989, I was in my late 20’s. He indicated his reason for this advice was that so many unsuspecting impressionable young boys had hit the scene with no guidance and had basically been chewed up and spat out.
Fortunately for me, by the time I hit the scene I was already my own person, and I also had my cousin to guide me. Sometimes we cut ourselves off from positive life experiences by limiting our social circles and we shouldn’t. In the words of the old Glen Jones disco classic ‘I am somebody and the universe is mine, I am somebody and the world belongs to me’.
The lyrics from this beautiful Jill Scott track, Brotha, spoke to me the first time I heard them, both as a black man and a black gay man. As a British Black man, I sometimes doubt my ability and capacity. I can trace that back to my primary school teacher advising my parents it would be better to go to a comprehensive school and aim to get into the top stream instead of the grammar school I wanted to go to. The truth is we should not doubt, too often we have to be twice as good as our white counterparts to even feature, and very often we achieve it! Figure out who you are, learn to ‘wear yourself’ and don’t let anybody tell you, ‘you can’t’.
Brotha don’t let nobody hold you back no no no
If’n nobody told ya brotha, I’m here
to let you know that
You’re so wonderful
You’re so marvellous
You’re so beautiful
Brilliantly blessed in every way
Y’all can’t touch we
Brotha don’t let nobody hold you back
One of the main things I’ve inherited from other black gay men has been the inspiration to develop unique friendships. I love how our friendships can develop into created families; with all the love and support that can bring. Many black gay men aren’t raised to be proud of who we truly are so we need to look to one another for support and inspiration.
I learn from my friends who are in long-term relationships preparing to declare their love to friends and family; from those friends who are single and unashamedly living and owning their sexuality; and from those that are seeking love and navigating the dating world, and realise that while there are many paths to happiness, we all need support from others who have trodden similar paths and can relate to our experiences.
Never be ashamed to live your truth
I’ve tried through my creative outlets, such as my music, to always express that and share my own personal experiences. More visible, out black gay men in the film and music industries will be inspirational for the generations coming up.
Tell us about what you have inherited and what you would like to pass on #BlackOutInheritance
The Inheritance is on at the Young Vic until May 2018 – get tickets here