A few weeks prior, social media users found themselves in a frenzy over a steamy sex scene on the hit Starz series P-Valley. When Lil Murda (played by J. Alphonse Nicholson) took Big Teak (played by John Clarence Stewart) on a passionate journey to sexual bliss, he took us, too. Most fans praised the scene for humanizing Black queer men and how we love, but others were less than enthused.
The ensuing outrage is to be expected. Of course, some folks refuse to liberate themselves from internalized white supremacy, which manifests as homophobia — and that isn’t surprising. What’s most shocking is that the same criticisms, dripping in discrimination, aren’t applied to other storylines on the show. In that same episode, we saw the series’ leading lady Mercedes (played by Brandee Evans), having sex with her benefactor’s wife. We’ve also seen bouts of physical violence, colorism and much more, yet an intimate scene between two Black men is where the line is drawn? It’s the hypocrisy for me.
Keep that same energy
— P-Valley (@PValleySTARZ) July 11, 2022
P-Valley‘s legacy will transcend television as it continues to tackle the realities of being Black in America. The ability to create dialogue around real-life issues is why this show stands in a lane of its own. This season alone, we’ve witnessed the longstanding effects of colorism on Black women, the complexities of Black queer love and more.
Out of all of the traumatic scenes that P-Valley brings us, why do the scenes showing the nuances of being Black and queer receive the harshest criticism? I’ll go a step further. Why do scenes with Black queer men and nonbinary characters elicit such spiteful responses?
I question the validity of anyone who gleefully jumps at the chance, lotion in hand, to gawk at scantily clad women but draws the line of decorum at queer characters being queer. The problem isn’t your imaginary threshold of respectability; it’s your internalized homophobia.
Black queer men exist, and we aren't going anywhere
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What I love most about this show is that its definition of Blackness reflects the world we live in — the diversity of our culture. I’m sorry to any homophobes reading this, but there are Black, queer people worldwide. We won’t just disappear to accommodate your insecurities.
Blackness is a neverending spectrum that illustrates all the nuances of our melanin. Those differences should be celebrated, not tolerated. The same way heterosexual individuals and couples are allowed to explore their sexuality with the freedom to do so should be afforded to LGBTQ+ people. This freedom should not be attached to whether you find us attractive or worthy. In the same way that your biased opinions do not matter to queer people in real life, they don’t matter to the characters of P-Valley either.
Storytelling doesn't require opinions
— P-Valley (@PValleySTARZ) July 11, 2022
Do you know what’s free, but too many people don’t take advantage of it? Keeping your opinion to yourself, especially when it’s negative. The writers and producers of P-Valley are paid to bring these beautiful stories to life while you are tweeting your disdain for free.
The art of storytelling involves reflecting on the times we live in while making people feel seen and heard through these impactful stories. That process doesn’t require your opinion at all. That same homophobia you proudly wear as a badge of honor is why your closeted brother, homeboy, cousin,or father doesn’t feel safe disclosing who they are to you. How you all ride on this invisible train of masculinity and Black families that you claim to be disrupted by queer representation lets them know that you aren’t worthy of an invite into their lives.
Why I'll keep watching
I, for one, am ecstatic to see Lil Murda’s journey to self-love and accepting himself in all of his complexity. What we’re witnessing is something that many of us never got the grace to do — explore our sexuality. If P-Valley has taught us anything, it is essential to give people the grace and freedom to discover who they are. I hope that’s a lesson that we can all take away from this show. That might even be one of Uncle Clifford’s rules.