My formative years is a story of people choosing to leave me, including my parents each utilizing their own method of escape. I was a young Black, gay man who grew up believing that I was abandoned by his parents and subsequently by anyone who ever came close to caring for me. I never understood what it meant to be a child, just a boy; and soon I learned that the world would have demands of me as a Black man that would eventually lead to a crystal meth addiction. In my recovery, my ability to form healthy intimate connections is as estranged as my concept of what manhood truly means for me as a Black man.
David J. Cork, an actor, writer, and creator from Indianapolis, Indiana has started a social media campaign called “Manhood Monday” which asks all men of color to define what manhood means to us. Cork sent out the following call for Black men to respond to the following questions:
“Who taught you how to be a man/what being a man means? “
“When did you realize you were a man? “
“What qualities and traits define a man to you? “
Each Monday, Cork shares 3 responses via Instagram/Facebook/Twitter.
While facing his own conversation around manhood, David challenges us to face our own. For one thing, we are subjected to such pervasive, scientific objectification by society that a consideration of our interior lives, is often unthinkable. To talk about meth addiction and Black, gay men, forces a conversation about our sexual practices and our sexual pleasures. It forces a conversation about how we seek intimacy and connection. It forces a conversation about how we struggle to cope with racism and homophobia, and also struggle to transcend them. It forces a conversation about how Black, gay men – Black men period – have inherited the collective trauma faced by our ancestors and elders.
His campaign is poised to develop a lens and an approach that recognizes the complex ways we all navigate the world. Manhood is positive, restorative, culturally tailored, and insistent upon saving our lives. Most critically, such an approach would recognize that although we as Black men may inherit the collective trauma faced by our ancestors and elders, we also inherit their resilience.
Cork’s Manhood Monday campaign celebrates the intimacy, love and brotherhood that is too often misinterpreted as something other than what it is, whilst at the same time challenging the negative stereotypes that such interactions between Black males can assume. It is a call to action that encourages men to consider and reshape our perception of what intimacy between us means, and gives viewers a glimpse into something other than what they’ve become accustomed to through decades of misrepresentation.
This distortion must end.
And we, as Black men, must learn to love one another and embrace through the meaningful intimacy and connection we’ve long been denied.
As someone who has answered the call, it gives me hope that I won’t feel like a lost boy because I have chosen my own path. It doesn’t matter if I am with or without any love interests. What matters is that I get to make that choice. If I choose any family or intimate connection, what matters is that they respect my right to make my own decisions about my life and our life together.
For a man whose life was so often defined by the choices made for me, the happiest ending imaginable is one I get to choose for myself.
Perhaps a lost boy can find his way home if he finds a reason to believe.
As a writer and creator, David and his production company BiUS Entertainment have released Bi: The Webseries, with David staring as Alex Walker, a young black bisexual man looking for love in New York City. The series has been featured in NBC OUT, LGBT Update, Huffington Post, and Now This Entertainment highlighting the show’s unique and fresh point of view. David is currently working on a documentary called No Homo, No Hetero with bisexual activist and author, H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, Ph.D, M.Ed, which will explore the relationship between masculinity and identity in black bisexual men. He is also directing a series of short films called The ExCylce which is slated to come out in the New Year. He is on instagram and twitter @davidjayokay