Wise & Young

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I don't use Mr. Keith Boykin

I don’t use Keith Boykin at all. Now before I go further, I have never met him so I am not talking about him personally but the public persona of Keith Boykin that I have seen speak, his television experiences, and the website that bears his name, and articles. In my estimation he’s just another BQ that has positioned himself to be the Al Sharpton of the B GLBT community. In other words a self appointed mouthpiece that the media, and those outside of the community call on to speak about all issues that are Black and GLBT, that people in the community at best marginally agree with. Let me explain how I got to this point.

While I was studying at my alma mater, for a class we were commissioned to listen to a speech by a either a visiting lecturer or someone coming to campus for the GLBT four week celebration. During this time period I was on the debate team, and grappling with the idea that I was Black and Gay so I decided to go to one of the GLBT events. There was one event that really spoke to me, it had a Black male face attached, some guy named Keith Boykin, and so I decided to go the event. I went and I was a bit interested to hear what this guy had to say.

Well I went and I left feeling like I just read a paper. His presentation style at the time, was a bit dry and academic, there was no real relating what he was saying to people in the audience. But that was my introduction to this guy, a very well educated man with great credentials who to me seemed like an obvious leader of BGLBT rights and knowledge. So I found out about his website and checked it periodically. Nothing about it really struck me out of turn or profoundly different. After awhile I got bored, and I started dealing more with my life, and got profoundly involved in pledging HARD, and all things Greek.

Then around 2005 DC pride I started to check his page and read what was going on in the community. Then maybe it was me, but I realized that his site seemed to be a shrine to himself. Now a lot of people’s sites, blogs, and etc are very narcissistic but most of those sites do not promote themselves as a leader either explicitly stated or implied, of the BGLBT community. Around this same time, I stole a copy of a book from a pigeon toed, bow legged size 17 shoe 6’0 Iota, and read it. I agreed with many of his arguments in the book but at the same time, he made critical errors, such as placing the blame the sharp increase of Black women infected with HIV to Black women and not the Black community because in all honesty it takes two. You can’t spread the virus to yourself. But then even in the book when a Black woman confronted him about the increase, he showed no remorse and even in the book his tone seemed callous and flippant to this person. I was pretty shocked by this because this was a critical error any leader could make, how can you try to teach people both inside and outside of the community about such a highly sensitive issue without respecting that and treating that carefully. Then there were the ad hominem slights to J.L. King who wrote the insanely popular and controversial book about living on the “Down Low”. After reading seeing this I started to become more careful of what I read and saw from Mr. Boykin.

After turning my critical eyes to Mr. Boykin I came up with the idea that he is positioning himself to try to become not only the singular Black GLBT source that the media feels comfortable going to for any sound bites, but also a celebrity in his own right. There is nothing wrong with seeking fame, but there is something wrong when you fleece the community that you proclaim yourself to be, in order to do so. What do I mean by fleecing the community? I mean that you jump on every issue and state your opinion on it, without first truly learning about the situation, and giving a haphazard 10 second sound bite that sounds great without much thought.

A few situations I can think of have occurred when he did this. One was when Don Amechi came out and Mr. Boykin applauded him for doing so, and then urging more closeted NBA and NFL athletes to come out. This assumed that just because you have not told the public that you are gay or bisexual does not assume that you are closeted. Even by Mr. Boykin’s own admission coming out is a process that you are never really fully finished. So who is saying that some of these athletes have not come out to the people who are important to them? Its not shade to any team, but your team mates are just like co-workers especially if you don’t know if you are going to traded, or your contract is going to be renewed why tell all of our co-workers about your sexual habits? How many people do this?

Another situation is when Mr. Boykin had a campaign to combat homophobic preachers by pseudo-outing preachers on his site. This to me was done purely to sensationalize and cause controversy only. Never did he come out with any credible information but called for people to send him information. Now let’s think about this, if you are closeted and you are grappling with your religious upbringing and your sexuality do you think that someone potentially ruining your professional life, and your credibility in a community where you may be doing well is going to urge you to change your ways? Even the threat to do so was extremely in poor taste, why not go and sit down with these leaders and talk to biblical scholars who can have an intellectual discussion about the Bible who can go back and forth and maybe learn something or at least come back with a different manner of putting forth the message but in a way that may be better for those in congregation that are GLBT.

Even with the most recent Cocodorm controversy, Mr. Boykin was quick to denounce Flavalife for same reasons that the mainstream has criticized the company. The whole “not in my neitbhorhood has been the same rational for restrictive housing covenants that kept people of color out of certain neighborhoods, and also White flight that many urban cities are still suffering from. Then that are underlying issues with the story that have not been looked at, and as a commentator on the Black GBLT community Mr. Boykin should have taken the time to discuss. This is a blatant case of someone or a competitor intently alerting people to create a furor, who else would send copies of the site, a DVD, and print out of the website to the media and to neighboring homes. In my opinion this thoughtful analysis was not done on the issue due to the fact that it dealt with Gay pornography and Gay men’s unfading fascination, issues that remind the general public that Gay and Black people are not these eunuchs like creatures makes many straight people feel very uncomfortable. For someone positioning themselves to become a celebrity issues dealing uncomfortably close with Gay sex is something that would wanted to be avoided.

There is nothing wrong with evolving, changing, and making moves that in your estimation could change your life in a positive manner such as gaining publicity and the success thereof. But there is something inherently wrong with exploiting a group that needs help, offering yourself as a leader but only touching dealing with issues that would sound great in a 30 second news clip. The B GBLT community has a variety of issues that intermix issues that affect Blacks and People of Color and also Gays. Some of these issues are more clearly cut than others, but the community is desperate for leaders who are not out there to be contemporary carpetbaggers there for personal gain. This is how I see the actions of Mr. Boykin. It’s no shade, though.


  • Wise and Young,
    I have to give it to you you hit some issues on the head for me. I'm not DL nor closeted I just don't believe in everyone knowing my business. So when I read "why tell all of our co-workers about your sexual habits? How many people do this?" I was laughing because it seems like logic if you want to be consider somewhat professional and not Mr. or Ms. my business and sexual,social, and love interest is all over the office. And this is something I have always thought.
    Why do people feel they need to always say "we" and not "this is my views or opinions as a memeber of the community." I did elected you to lead me so please don't try I can speak for myself.

    Thank you for blogging about this.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:10 PM  

  • Alrighty… I read this blog post yesterday and had to think about it… I called a friend and mentioned your post to them – not out of gossip, but as a real point I hadn’t really considered. You have some valid points, but the truth is, our community didn’t have much of a voice at all (B-GLBT) and so it’s difficult to complain that someone took the reigns and established himself as our mouthpiece. Like any other mouthpiece, he doesn’t speak for all of us – especially, not all the time. He is an amazing man – professionally. I don’t know him personally. He has great credentials and my biggest criticism of him is that sometimes (and this is more for his appearances than his writing) he is too passive and allows the opposing side to get too many good shots in. His site does cover many points and probably gets more hits than all the B-GLBT blogs combined, so he is an important voice for our community – whether we like it or not. Funny thing is, I just posted a comment on his page today because I felt that his top column would’ve better served paying homage to Yolanda King than Jerry Falwell; they both died the same day and King was a better role model and community leader. I’m hoping our opinion matters to him – otherwise, we can always stop reading. As a catty shot I will say he appears to be a pumped-up bottom, but strangely that appeals to my freaky side…LOL :)

    By Blogger Cocoa Rican, at 2:47 PM  

  • You know what, you did your thing with this post right here. I like the fact that you stand firm in your views.

    Boykin, though I don't know him, I have heard that he is a "know it all" kind of guy. I am glad that at least SOMEONE is called to be a voice for our community. Years ago, NO ONE was called. Who knows, a couple of years from now we will have a few more people who will throw their names in the hats to spokespeople. Having a lawyer, Ivy League graduate, and ex White House Aide is not a bad role model for the B GBLT community, don't you agree?

    Now, onto some of his commentary. I agree wholeheartedly. He is gets on a soapbox from time to time, but he is entitled to an opinion. I admit, however, I, too, was turned off by the way that he handled the controversy with the pastors by trying to out them I thought that the approach for someone of his self driven status should have handled that one a little differently. I guess that that will be his cross to bear for being who he is.

    Once again... thanks for this post. Now this is a conversation piece!!!

    By Anonymous kennyking78, at 3:56 AM  

  • You know you make some valid points and I'm sure Keith wouldn't mind hearing them. I just wish there were others like Keith that would step foward into the public arena and speak on behalf on the BGLBT community.

    By Blogger WhozHe, at 4:32 PM  

  • I have to say ... I like Keith, but my perception of him changed when I watched the show "My Two Cents." There's an aura about him that I can't explain that is a bit off-putting. I can't say he is not a role model - he is definitely someone for young black gay men to look up to. Give me him over a lot of these other catty wanna be journalist blogging queens any day. BUT, the preacher thing did seem to be a bit much, though I can understand where the rage and hostility came from. I just would not have expected it from him. Nonetheless, since many black gay men are content to bury themselves in shame and denial, I'm glad we have SOMEBODY to represent our issues. We'd really be fucked if we did not have him.

    Good post - very thoughtful and well written.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:34 PM  

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