Ana (@anamariecox) sat down with Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick), author of the New York Times bestseller I Can’t Date Jesus. Their conversation kicked off with an exploration of Michael’s experience as a queer black man, how it is inherently political, and what that means in his daily life: “I don’t want to walk into a space pronouncing that I’m black or that I’m gay. I happen to be black. And I happen to be gay. These things inform my perspective, but I don’t believe either requires a great announcement. Still, when you are one of the few, you are typically asked to speak from those places.”
They then talked about his work as a writer, and why he chose to write the book he wanted to rather than one craved by editors, that would have catered to a white audience: “I would have hated myself, because I would have felt like I was perpetuating an image of queer black men that I think needs to be changed.”
That turned the conversation towards representation, and what it takes for a black person to succeed in traditional media, namely an ability to speak to white people: “That’s a skill set that again, it’s an exposure to white people you learn over time. In school I didn’t necessarily have it, per se, I just think, thankfully, my mom raised me a particular way so in being inquisitive, in being smart, and consuming media a lot it maybe taught me how to have those interactions…”
Ana and Michael also dove into how he discovered his sexuality, and the ways that lack of representation not just of gay men, but black, Latino, and Asian men made that more difficult: “There’s still that oddness and I think it comes from not seeing us be like y’all.”
They finished things off by talking about Michael’s family, and the influence they have not just on who he is, but on the book itself. His mother, a devout Catholic, still has issues with his sexuality, and he explained that despite them maintaining a relationship it remains a wedge: “Sometimes you don’t get the closure that you’re craving, you have to create your own.”
You can find Michael’s book here.
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