Art "Chat Daddy" Sims is a Chicago based columnist/relationship expert and host of the Real Deal Relationship Chats and Facebook Fridays. His discussions and advice are centered around sexuality and community empowerment.
YLW: When people think African American, they don't usually include gay identity. Why or why not?
AS: Black gays are only identified screaming and carrying on. They are never identified as a black gay professionals openly.
YLW: Why not?
AS: Fears of community, fears of church. Fears of family. These things have been instilled in us for so long it's not even funny. That's why so many of these people can't satisfy their sexual desires.
YLW: Talk to me about the diversity in the black and gay community.
AS: Well, here's the deal. I think the diversity has become much more accepted. What people think of as gay is the most flamboyant, outlandish thing I've ever seen. Black gay men need to network more. We have no children. We have lots of disposable income. We're probably the biggest consumer of health products, the biggest consumers of buying homes, automobiles, art. I'm sure our dollar is incredible. You can go to any black gay club on a Friday night and the line is wrapped around the block.
YLW: Is there such a thing as an African American gay lifestyle? Or an ideal lifestyle?
AS: Yes it is. A nice place to live, nice car to drive. You vacation, you travel. Dog, child. You're a couple. I have two friends they've been together for 20 years. They vacation together, they. But I only have a handful
YLW: Being in a couple is the ideal?
YLW: What else is part of the African American gay lifestyle?
AS: Eating right. Taking care of themselves. I took a straight cousin of mine to a holiday party hosted by a gay guy. He said oh my God everybody in here looks like a Christmas ball on a tree. If I had not chose the lifestyle I chose I'd be in prison, jail or have a bunch of babies. I came from the era of when gangs were getting started. The only reason I stayed out of it was because the head guy was my friend.
YLW: Are you saying that if you hadn't embraced your gay identity you would have lead a life of crime?
AS: No, I wouldn't have lead a life of crime. However, my gay lifestyle exposed me to better things in life - culturally, spiritually. It took me away from the neighborhood I was used to. I was able to go to other lifestyles. I've met some of the most interesting people on earth. Presidents of companies, artists. None of my friends who I grew up with in elementary school have ever gotten off the block. They lived and died on the block.
YLW: What are the most pressing issues in the black GLBT community?
AS: Definitely this economy, with people losing their jobs left and right. HIV and AIDS will always be high on the list. It's something that needs to be addressed. Probably relationships. If African Americans had developed relationships like our white counterparts, we might be better off economically.
YLW: What are your thoughts on the “down low” conversation?
AS: The down low conversation to me is deep in many ways. First of all, no one ever addressed what it was. All women knew was that it was going on. No one ever said, well what issues caused these men to sleep with other men? Is it the prison thing? Is it the curiosity thing? Is it they were always attracted to men? Women try all kinds of things and don't get labeled. Two women can be together and it turns men on. The moment men decide they want to try it and test it out they get labeled.
YLW: Is the “down low” exaggerated?
AS: It's been a part of life forever. It just took E Lynn and JL to come out and talk about it.
YLW: When you think Post Black what comes to mind?
AS: It's so many things that are Post Black. The divide is between those who think things are going to change and those who don't
YLW: Why do you say that?
AS: A lot of these people who have been in power and control they're not trying to help anyone else. They're still trying to get more. They can't get enough. How will there be other chances for others if we don't regenerate?
To learn more about Art Sims go to www.Chicagogayhistory.org.