Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS Laughing at the absurdities of Black homophobia
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2016-04-13

This article shared 1298 times since Wed Apr 13, 2016
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


For many LGBTQs across the nation—especially those of us of African descent—we have been breathlessly waiting for Robert O'Hara's BootyCandy to come to our cities. BootyCandy has finally come to Boston, and each show has been a sold-out performance.

BootyCandy is O'Hara's thinly veiled coming-out story of growing up African-American and gay. And the narrative is told in the voice of the character named Sutter. O'Hara takes the audience on a journey through his childhood home, church and gay bars that's depicted with excessive flamboyance, ribaldry, and unsettling poignancy.

"BootyCandy is a nonlinear narrative comprising of disparate vignettes that's "difficult for you to find a narrative in this play until the end, and it's done that way on purpose," O'Hara told WBUR reporter Jeremy D. Goodwin in an interview. The structure of the play is a nod to George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum, which O'Hara has admitted was a huge influence.

The play opens with a precocious Sutter querying his mother about his genitalia. Showing her unease in having an explicit sit-down conversation with Sutter about his sex parts, the mother euphemistically tells him that his penis is called "bootycandy."

Sutter is a gender non-confirming effeminate male decked out in full Michael Jackson regalia, complete with one sequined glove.

The mother's unease to talk about sex and to accept her son's gender expression is disturbingly highlighted when Sutter comes home one day from school to inform her that a man has been following him. Because of the "politics of silence" in the African-American community that chokes a healthy conversation on human sexuality, Sutter's mother is not only dismissive of his claim, she immediately wants to know what Sutter did to provoke such an unsavory encounter.

Her solution, however, for her son's unmanly behavior is for him to stop reading Jackie Collins novels, stop listening to Whitney Houston albums, and stop participating in the school's musicals. The scene is absurdly funny yet poignantly disturbing.

And just when you think you cannot laugh anymore, there's the vignette with the hilarious telephone scene between two actresses who play a group of sisters on a phone, one of whom is pregnant and determined to name her baby Genitalia. ( I personally enjoyed this scene because it reminded me of when one of my sister-friends was determined to name her newborn baby girl Uretha, in honor of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. ) In a later vignette Genitalia is all grown up, a lesbian and standing before a minister with her soon to be ex-girlfriend, Intifada, in an official break up "non-commitment ceremony."

The lesbians' "conscious uncoupling" ( not my term, with Gwyneth Paltrow making it popular in announcing the separation and then divorce of her spouse, Chris Martin ) vignette is a no-holds-barred repartee that, in the end, leaves both women utterly and irrevocably each other's exes.

You cannot be LGBTQ of African descent and not have a personal yet all too familiar narrative about the Black church's homophobia. O'Hara's Reverend Benson is your assumed classic fire-and-brimstone exhorter, especially with his "call and response" homily. But Benson has a secret of his own.

Preaching a Black queer-liberation theology that excoriates the church's gossipmongers ( the "I Heard Folks" who congregate and become the "They Heard Folks" ) in defense of its gay choir boys, Benson finally discloses his secret by disrobing and revealing what's underneath his vestment.

While homophobia is a running thread in many of the vignettes—particularly, the Black Church and Black cultural brand of it—the storyline makes you laugh to keep from crying in order to look at hard and unresolved issues a young gay Black male coming out confronts, like racism, homophobia, sexual abuse, rape, poverty to name a few ( and at their intersections ), and how that might shape one's self-esteem and further social sexual relationships.

I surmise the best way to depict BootyCandy is to call it a tragicomedy, a play that uses humor and comedic moments to obfuscate not only one's painful personal journey of coming out, but, also, one's unresolved pain and trauma from sexual abuse. One of the dark and most disturbing moments in the play is the last of several gay bar cruising scenes. Sutter and his friend pick up a drunken white "supposedly straight" male who solicit the two men to follow him home to sexually humiliate him. Sutter's eagerness and cold indifference to fulfill the man's request disturbingly suggests both racial and psychosexual revenge for his childhood sexual seduction by an older white man.

In the vignette "Conference," there is a mock panel discussion between four African-American playwrights, each of whom has written one of the previous vignettes the audience has seen, and a clueless white moderator who condescendingly asks the writers, "I'm wondering what you are hoping the audience comes away with after seeing your work?"

Sutter: I think the audience should choke.

Moderator: Choke?

Sutter: Asphyxiate.

WRITER 1: I don't want them to digest it easily.

And BootyCandy isn't easy to digest.

You leave BootyCandy knowing O'Hara's journey was difficult -like that of so many LGBTQ of African descent. O'Hara didn't touch on HIV/AIDS ravaging our communities, and the Black Church continued silence on it. O'Hara masterfully shows that only through humor could the absurdities of Black homophobia keep you laughing instead of crying.


This article shared 1298 times since Wed Apr 13, 2016
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

OP-ED The Black church was one of R. Kelly's enablers 2021-10-13
- The long-awaited justice for R. Kelly's survivors finally came last month when a New York federal jury found him guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. For nearly 30 years, underage Black girls and their families have ...


Gay News

VIEWS Finding the Crossroads 2021-10-08
By Martha Miller - The first time I saw a psychic, I was 19 and my friend Sandy and I drove to Jacksonville to see an old woman who read cards. We were young and it was fun going to her old house where a ...


Gay News

TRAVEL Conde Nast readers select The Gwen as Chicago's best hotel 2021-10-05
- Conde Nast Traveler's readers have spoken—and their views of Chicago's hotels are distinctly different from those of another top travel publication. While Viceroy Chicago topped Travel + Leisure's readers' list of local spots to stay, ...


Gay News

SAVOR South Branch Tavern & Grille 2021-08-19
- Before taking a bite of anything at South Branch Tavern & Grille (100 S. Wacker Dr.; https://www.southbranchchicago.com/), patrons are likely to be impressed. The reason lies in the picturesque views surrounding the spot. Ensconced near some ...


Gay News

VIEWS U.S. Senators: It's time to act against anti-LGBTQ discrimination 2021-07-28
- Georgia has had the eyes of the nation on it for some time now. It's just over five years since people across Georgia braced themselves as lawmakers sent sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation to the desk of then-Governor ...


Gay News

OP-ED Foreign drug pricing puts America's most vulnerable patients last 2021-07-03
By Guy Anthony - It's no coincidence that American companies led the charge to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Numerous policies—from strong patent protections to a welcoming immigration system—help ensure that the world's smartest scientists can ...


Gay News

Op-Ed: Elevating 'T' in LGBTQ: State government, transgender equity in 21st century 2021-06-28
By Illinois state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz - In recent decades, our laws, pop culture and morality have shifted dramatically for same-sex couples. Our LGBTQ+ neighbors are interwoven into the fabric of our communities now more than ever. We celebrate this recognition and indeed ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Pride at work 2021-06-23
- Pride Month is a chance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people to be proud and visible in a world that tells us not to be. Pride Month is a chance to celebrate and ...


Gay News

LETTER: Pride, a time for hope 2021-06-12
- Pride is so much more than a parade, a march or even a demonstration for the LGBTQAI community. In other words, this is an opportunity for us to celebrate our diversity among our various communities, and ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Tulsa Race Massacre reparations would begin the healing 2021-05-31
- When HBO's 2019 Watchmen series opened with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and HBO's 2020 Lovecraft Country series closed with scenes from the riots, most Americans had never heard of the event—even Tulsans. On May 19, ...


Gay News

Illinois Holocaust Museum makes statement on anti-Semitic attacks 2021-05-28
--From a press release - Dear Museum Community, At Illinois Holocaust Museum, we are appalled at the recent rise in worldwide anti-Semitic incidences. We cannot stand by while Jews and synagogues are violently attacked, including in Skokie, New York, Los Angeles, ...


Gay News

LETTER A matter of race 2021-05-20
- I applaud Mayor Lori Lightfoot's courageous statement on only giving one-on-one interviews to journalists of color. She obviously wants to see a public dialogue on this matter. White privilege is a topic we must look at ...


Gay News

The Amazon Trail Notes from a Homebody 2021-05-19
- 's finally here. The end of total lockdown. Am I ready? Absolutely not. I like my burrow. I don't wanna play with others. We've fashioned a comfortable little routine. Week days, work. Evenings, spend time alone ...


Gay News

Illinois Latino Agenda issues statement on shooting of Adam Toledo 2021-04-15
--From a press release - On March 29, 2021, 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer. Since the shooting, there have been different narratives formed of who Adam Toledo was. Various media have made allegations saying ...


Gay News

Pastor Donnie McClurkin's struggle with sexuality mirrors the Black church's 2021-04-13
- The most significant factor that keeps the Black church on the down low are closeted, homophobic ministers. Pastor Donnie McClurkin—a three-time Gospel Grammy winner and the former poster boy for ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.