Buller Men and Batty Bwoys

Buller Men and Batty Bwoys: Hidden Men in Toronto and Halifax Black Communities

Wesley Crichlow
Copyright Date: 2004
DOI: 10.3138/9781442671645
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442671645
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  • Book Info
    Buller Men and Batty Bwoys
    Book Description:

    InBuller Men and Batty Bwoys, Wesley Crichlow focuses primarily on the lives of nineteen Black gay and bisexual men in Toronto and Halifax, seeks to give voice to those who have been displaced, and explores the process of self-definition in the context of racial, ethnic, and sexual conformity. Crichlow's perceptive study brings to the foreground several concepts, including the role of homophobia in Black identity, and the problematics of Black 'heteronormativity,' in relation to Black men who engage in same-sex practices.

    In his sociological analysis, Crichlow introduces to the discipline Audre Lorde's unique literary genre, "biomythography," which emphasizes the connections between the creation of culture and community (through mythology and story-telling) and the creation of personal identity (through names, labels, and group membership). At the same time, he problematizes and celebrates the multiple differences among the men he interviewed as he aims to broaden the study of Black history, Queer Studies, and culture in a Canadian context by bringing sexuality into the various theories that attempt to generalize experience.

    Buller Men and Batty Bwoysoffers the reader critical insight into the complex lives of Black gay and bisexual men in Canada. Equally important, Crichlow's research makes a substantial and original contribution to the limited body of academic work in this area.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7164-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Entering and Opening the Black Closet
    (pp. 3-22)

    So I would say of buller men and batty bwoys.

    This book is personal, situated in my own life, but it is also collaborative¹ and dependent on the assistance of other buller men² and batty bwoys³ living in Canada. My goal is to interrogate how these names and the associated experiences shape the daily realities of English-speaking⁴ African-Caribbean men living in Toronto and African Canadian men born or raised in Halifax who engage in sexual and emotional bonding relationships and practices with other men.

    This research is limited to the life experiences of English-speaking African-Caribbean bullers and batty bwoys and...

  5. Part One: Oh My God! Look Whoʹs in the Closet! Hidden Black Men Having Sex with Other Men
    • Chapter One Hidden Men
      (pp. 25-40)

      It is often hard to sustain meaningful dialogue between members of heterogeneous Black communities – that is, heterogeneous in terms of family histories, classes, and sexual orientations. Even in the absence of overt heteronormativity, men who engage in same-sex practices are overlooked or forced into the homogeneity of the Black nation, the Black family and the Black communal structure; this leaves no room for difference or visibility. Hence the reference to ʹhidden menʹ in the title of this chapter. Giving these men a voice might help make Black communities more positively aware and accepting of buller menʹs and batty bwoysʹ...

    • Chapter Two Collaborative Connections: My Biomythography
      (pp. 41-76)

      The stories you are about to read – mine in this chapter, and those of the interviewees in chapters 3 to 6 – are not exclusively stories of oppression. They do, however, express a considerable amount of pain and humiliation. This process of articulating my own story and asking other bullers to make public their stories is an attempt to assert and broaden the reality of Black male same-sex existence, which too many people for far too long have tried to erase. If we are to facilitate more humane social relationships, it is essential that we begin to assert and...

  6. Part Two: Negotiating Everyday Life
    • Chapter Three Family
      (pp. 79-105)

      The interviews I conducted in Toronto and Halifax form the basis of the next four chapters, in which we look at these menʹs connections with family (chapter 3) and with community (chapter 4), at the fear, violence, and hypermasculinity that so threaten them (chapter 5), and at their search for pleasure, love, and identity (chapter 6). We learn how Black nationalism and its ideological constructs seek to regulate Black male same-sex bodily practices. I examine how Black men negotiate their everyday lives in Black community settings, and I look at the techniques they employ to be Black, to have sex...

    • Chapter Four Community
      (pp. 106-127)

      The complex phenomenon known as ʹthe Black communityʹ is often put forward as a homogeneous space with a common culture, language, and history. For many members of the African diaspora, ʹthe Black communityʹ signifies home – a space where they feel they belong and where they can be themselves. But in my interviews, I found the opposite to be true for many Black men engaging in same-sex relationships. In their community involvement, these men have witnessed and experienced the tensions of heterosexism and homophobia. As a result, they vary in their commitment to and identification with Black communal life.

      Same-sex...

    • Chapter Five Violence, Fear, and Hypermasculinity
      (pp. 128-149)

      In this chapter I examine Black heterosexism and its three wicked progeny – violence, fear, and hypermasculinity. As articulated by Black nationalists – and I look at a number of often highly regarded figures – these forces inform, express, and enforce the heterosexual structure of dominance within Black communities. I elaborate on the commitments and investments this discourse mobilizes, and I link them to the experiences of the Black men in my study. I hope to show why same-sex practices remain outside the normative framework of Black identity and Black nationalism. Black intellectual discourse has helped generate a Black consciousness...

    • Chapter Six Pleasure, Love, Identity
      (pp. 150-171)

      Buller menʹs lives are not simply about oppression, pain, and suffering. Despite the oppressiveness of mainstream white society and the threatening aspects of heterosexist Black communities, bullers enjoy connections filled with passion, joy, and intimacy. Many of the respondents spoke about the things they like to do for pleasure and the satisfaction they derive from loving relationships. To present an adequately textured portrait of their lives, we must consider this. Yet as we shall see, the possibilities and opportunities for pleasure – both interpersonal and aesthetic – are constrained by the structures of dominance I have explored in this study....

  7. Conclusion: Seeking Inclusion
    (pp. 172-188)

    I intend this book to provoke questions and dialogue aimed at re-evaluating African-Canadian and African-Caribbean positions on same-sex practices. In this study, I have asked people in Black communities to consider whether there are other, more humane ways to embrace Black same-sex energy and make its expression visible. I have attempted, as well, in this inquiry to present the voices of people constructed as outsiders, deviants, and sick. These are Black men who live in Black communal settings that oppose same-sex practices, but they have had the courage to express their sexuality within a Black community that does not always...

  8. Appendix A: Participants
    (pp. 189-190)
  9. Appendix B: Partial List of Interview Questions
    (pp. 191-192)
  10. Appendix C: Chronology of Buller and Zami Activities in Toronto
    (pp. 193-196)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 197-212)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-226)
  13. Index
    (pp. 227-230)