Being that it is Black History month I found it prudent that in the midst of the shade, foolery, and other entertainment foolishness that I carved out a little time to educate my captive audience. I’ve decided to team up with @Anti_Intellect of the Anti Intellect Blog to bring to you guys a few nuggets of Black History. ~ Funky Dineva
One of the consequences of Black people living in a white supremacist society is that we often receive heavily racialized notions of masculinity and femininity. We tend to look at manhood and womanhood in very narrow, often European, confines that prevent us from embracing the wide array of gender expressions found in our community. Black women are often taught that they aren’t feminine enough, and Black men are often taught that they aren’t masculine enough. This all too often results in our trying to force people into unnecessary boxes of masculinity and femininity.
As we come to the close of another Black History Month, I would like to celebrate Jonte Moaning. Aside from being a fiercely feminine individual, Jonte is one of the most talented dancers and choreographers on the planet. Fans of Beyonce will remember Jonte as the choreographic force behind many of her most memorable videos and performance. Jonte’s choreography can be seen in the “Freakum Dress” video, Beyonce Experience tour, and “Single Ladies” video. Jonte has asserted himself as a talent to be reckoned with.
We live in a society that privileges masculinity over femininity, whether expressed by women or men. We are far more comfortable with a masculine girl than we are with a feminine boy. Girls who are masculine are called “tom boys”, but boys who are feminine have no such accepting term. They are simply viewed as problems by our society that often views femininity degrading when expressed by men, especially Black men.
I commend Jonte for being a proud feminine Black gay man. He could have accepted the dominant view that being Black is weak, being gay is weaker, and being feminine is the weakest of all, but he harnessed those three identities into a ferocity all his own.
I once heard a story about Jonte’s early experiences on the LA dance scene. According to the story, Jonte and other male dancers would audition for the various videos and tours that are available to aspiring dancers. While most of the men tried to make themselves as masculine as possible, Jonte remained his feminine self and let his talent, rather than his masculinity, speak for him. His authenticity resonated with the judges, and he ended up snagging a spot on a Janet Jackson tour. This story beautifully illustrates how important it is to be true to ourselves.
Not content with solely nurturing other people’s talents, Jonte has become a successful artist in his own right. He is a popular overseas music artist, and can be seen all over Japan–where he has amassed a huge following.
I choose to celebrate Jonte as fearless, free, and proud feminine Black man. He continues the long tradition of Black men pushing the gender boundary. Men like Little Richard, Sylvester, Prince, and RuPaul. And Jonte is not alone, B Slade and Big Freedia join him as contemporary Black male artists who proudly and provocatively blur gender lines.
One of the things that I love most about the Black community is the diversity found within it. We are alike in many ways, but also quite different. And these differences are some of our greatest strengths and reflect the wide array of talent among us.
Jonte is the diversity of Blackness!