EPISODE 73: Gay Gangs w/ Vanessa Panfil

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Show Notes

What happens when two groups of men who are often stereotyped in opposite ways intersect? When we think about stereotypes for men in gangs, we might think of hypermasculine, heterosexual, maybe violent. When we think about the stereotypes assigned to gay men, we go the opposite direction.

Be sure to follow Vanessa on Twitter! Read her article, "What it’s like to be gay and in a gang", and check out her book, The Gang's All Here. Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Sebastian Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. From Straw Hut Media Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcript


Straw media. What happens when two
groups of men who are often stereotyped in

opposite ways intersect? When we think
about stereotypes for men and gangs, we

might think of hypermasculine heterosexual, maybe
even by it. When we think about

the stereotypes assigned to gay men,
we go the opposite direction. This contradiction

is what interested Vanessa Panphil and made
her want to researcher. What does it

mean to be gay and in the
game? I'M LEA by Chambers, and

this is pride. My name is
Vanessa Pan Phil. I'm an associate professor

in the Department of Sociology and Criminal
Justice at All Dominion University in Norfolk,

Virginia. Vanessa is a criminologist,
a sociologist and an urban ethnographer. Pretty

much all of the work that I
do has to do with lgbtq people's experiences

with crime, with victimization, with
the criminal juvenile justice systems and anything related

to that. So for about two
and a half years I conducted an interview

based and partially ethnographic study with gay
and bisexual gang members and Columbus Ohio.

Vanessa is also originally from Columbus Ohio. And the first men she interviewed were

people she had known when she was
a teenager growing up in Columbus herself.

So we all met seeking services as
young LGBTQ people in Columbus Ohio at a

youth drop in center, and so
that's where I first heard stories about,

for example, then fighting back against
anti ga harassment or their involvement in gangs.

And when Vanessa went to graduate school
and decided to dedicate her research to

the intersection of being gay and in
a gang, she started by calling up

some of the people she'd met back
at that Lgbtq plus youth drop in center.

We had some shared experiences, some
shared memories, shared references and you

know the gay scene in Columbus Ohio, and so they were my initial sample

and they helped introduce me to other
people. Vanessa wanted to try and understand

the intersection of gender and sexuality among
people who are in gangs. What are

the tensions and contradictions that they feel
in their lives? What are the expectations

placed on them? What sorts of
stereotypes do they feel they need to respond

to? And so I also explored
the ways that they resisted marginalization and built

community, made money, chose their
own families. Those are some of the

things that I focused on in my
study. So now is probably a good

time to point out that it's just
going to be me and Vanessa talking about

this today to middle class white people, and that's potentially problematic. We did

try to get in touch with some
gay gang members but, maybe not surprisingly,

it wasn't that easy. Vanessa interviewed
fifty three men for her research,

forty eight of which were or had
been members of gangs. They were all

between the ages of eighteen and twenty
eight. The majority were men of color

and their identities are protected. So
today we're acting as proxies, as buffers,

so we can talk about this really
crucial intersection of race and sexuality.

If you're listening today and you have
insights you want to share, please reach

out to us on twitter or Instagram, but for right now, let's look

at some of the really interesting things
Vanessa discovered in her conversations with these men.

So one question that I get with
some frequency is why I didn't interview

women. You know, did did
I meet any lesbian or bisexual gang members?

You know, why didn't I talk
to them? She says, it

came down to challenging stereotypes. There
is such an obvious disconnect between the stereotypes

regarding gay men and the stereotypes regarding
men and gangs. They just flew in

the face of all these assumptions that
we had right and I just really wanted

to dig into what these chromological assumptions
were about gangs, what these popular opinions

were about gangs. You know,
I really wanted to dig into that tension,

what was going on there, and
so I really focus the study about

men and about masculinity. It's maybe
also surprising that these men opened up to

someone who looks like Vanessa. She
is, after all, a middle class

white lady, but the fact that
she knew some of them from her teenage

years. That helped. They knew
her name, they remembered her. But,

even more importantly, she says she
just stuck around a lot. So

some people refer to ethnography as the
hanging around method, and you just get

to know each other. So we
went out to bars, we went to

clubs, we went bowling, we
went to house parties. Some of us

even went to the Columbus Zoo together
one time. Still, she says she

struggled building the trust she needed.
Some people said, Oh, a white

equals police. You know, are
you a police officer? One person told

me never to wear khaki shorts because
they thought it would arise suspicion. We

went to a vote ball together and
someone, like an attendee at the vogue

ball, asked me if I own
the building, and my participants thought this

guy assumed I was at the vote
ball to make sure my property didn't get

destroyed or something. Vanessa says it
was important that they knew she wanted to

tell their stories. I want to
tell your story. I want your story

to be heard. I want people
to know what's going on in your life.

You're the expert on your life.
Can you teach me? Can you

teach others about your life? Columbus
references helped to she was a local,

not some academic from somewhere else.
But I would say that the biggest factor

that helped me gain the trust of
the men in my study was that I

was openly gay and I knew a
little bit about what they were experiencing in

terms of growing up gay, having
come out, having faced homophobia. One

experience stands out in her memory.
I was on my way to go interview

several members of one gay gang.
So I'd already interviewed one member of that

gay gang and he said I'll introduce
you to other members of the gang,

and so I went to the location, someone's house, and I walked inside

and a whole bunch of people were
sitting in a semicircle and they were all

facing this one chair that they had
set up in the corner of the room

for me. So I sat down
at the chair and they said Toss,

tell us about your study, tell
us about what you're doing, and I

started talking and one of them interrupted
me and said wait, are you gay,

and I said Oh, yeah,
yeah, of course, and they're

like, oh, yeah, okay, okay, okay, this is great,

this is great, and one person
yelled out oh she family y'all like

they were. They were able to
trust me that I wasn't some you know,

outside straight person who didn't have any
clue what was going on coming in

to try to find out what was
gone going on in gay people's lives,

and so they felt like they could
trust me because of that, even though

there were moments when the distance between
them was obvious. Vanessa says she wanted

to address her white privilege and use
it in a powerful way. And ultimately

it was queerness that brought them together, and they would tell me that very

directly. They would say, you
know, if you were a straight woman

or you were a straight guy,
we probably wouldn't talk to you and if

we did, we wouldn't tell you
everything that we've told you. The way

that one man in my study put
it was he said. He said something

like, you know, straight novelists
try to put their ideas of what gay

means out in the world and we
want something that comes from our mouth.

We want something that's ours, that
that's telling our story. And obviously lgbtq

people are very different on many dimensions, but there's something shared about growing up

in a Heterosexist, transphobic society that, you know, we can we have

some shared understanding. So what is
it like to be gay and in a

gang? Stereotypes of gang members are
often that they're hypermasculine, heterosexual, quick

to fight, basically the opposite of
stereotypes of gay men. But even beyond

that, people have terms for gang
members that are often very derogatory. So

people might say things like thugs,
that sort of thing. The word thug

is basically a more socially acceptable version
of the n word and just like the

n word, it carries different meanings
depending on who says it. But it

should be enough to know that rush
limbaugh called Barack Obama a thug back in

two thousand and twelve, that Donald
Trump misstook a black supporter for a protester

in two thousand and sixteen and asked
him if he was paid fifteen hundred dollars

to be a thug before having him
escorted out. If you close your eyes

and picture who is meant to be
described when you hear the word Thug,

the answer is pretty clear. Another
thing people assume about people in gangs is

that they're out committing violent crimes all, all the time. That's actually not

true. Based on about a hundred
years of studies on gang members, we

know that actually most of what they
do with their time is what other people

do with their time, which is
they hang out with friends, they do,

you know, legal activities. But
we have this focus in our society

about gang members as violent thugs,
as ruthless, violent thugs. The men

that Vanessa talked to acknowledge that,
even though they were in a gang,

it didn't mean what movies and TV
would have you believe. So they made

sure to talk about how they weren't
involved in senseless violence. So they made

very strong distinctions of what kinds of
violence they would or wouldn't be involved in.

And some of them, for example, who sold drugs, they would

say, well, I just sell
weed, you know, I'm not a

bad drug dealer. I'm not out
there to hurt people. So they were

trying to distance themselves from these kinds
of stereotypes. And the men in gay

gangs in particular talked about their gangs
as families and they describe their activities as

things that families do. So they
were talking about eating together, cookouts,

going to clubs, they were talking
about even helping each other look for jobs

or complete their schooling. So some
of the men in my study were going

back to school in alternative high school
programs or trying to pursue higher education.

And so they're saying, yeah,
we might fight with rival gangs and we

might sell drugs or sex and we
might do these other things, but let

me tell you about the things that
we do to support each other and to

try to improve each other's lives.
In doing her research, Vanessa separated the

kinds of gangs into three categories.
For everyone I interviewed, I just asked

them directly. You know, can
you estimate what percentage of your gang is

gay, Lesbian, a bisexual?
I just ask them, can you estimate

it? And so in terms of
the straight in terms of like those heteronormative

gangs, as traditional gangs, people
often said, you know, Oh,

nobody but me, or you know, I don't know of anyone but me.

They're they've never revealed themselves to me. The largest group was what she

called Heteronormative or traditional gangs. In
those gangs, the vast majority of the

men she talked to were not out
to their gang friends. One man in

particular had a lot of reasons to
not come out. He said he was

worried the gang would treat him differently. He thought they might harass him,

he thought they might not trust him, he thought they might be concerned that

he'd hit on them. He thought
they might even kick him out of the

gang. He thought they wouldn't see
him as hard or as tough and he

thought that they might actually retaliate physically. So this is this is a long

list of reasons that they're concerned to
come out right. They feared alienation,

they feared Ostracism, they feared expulsion
from their gangs, but they also feared

physical assault, rape and even death. The Gay men who are in those

traditional or heteronormative gangs said that they
felt like they were living separate lives.

They said they were living a double
or a triple life, and they said

these lives they just can't intersect.
There's my gay life and there's my gang

life. I just can't let them
cross, at least not for quite some

time. They were also very careful
about how they express themselves, avoiding anything

that might communicate femininity. So anything
they thought would give them away, so

to speak. So they said,
you know, I'm really careful with my

clothing choices, I'm really careful with
my mannerisms, and so it was this

constant effort to control their gender presentation
when they were around those traditional gangs.

One danger of coming out or being
outed while in a traditional gang was being

forced out of the gang by violence. Some people might have heard the phrase

blood in, blood out for gangs. That does happen with some gangs.

That does not happen with all gangs. Some of that is is media driven,

but but there are some gangs that
in order to get in you have

to fight, you know, to
prove you can fight, to prove that

you're tough, and in order to
leave. If you're leaving behind the gang,

they might they might beat you up
in order to allow you to leave.

Vanessa says she didn't come across it
much in her study, but there

was one instance. This man was
leaving his gang because of his gay relationship,

because the gang didn't approve. So
him having to fight to leave or

him getting bloed out was also a
form of punishment for repudiating the gang.

And so I think the man who
got blood out felt that the gang was

embarrassed that he was now publicly gay
and so he really felt like him getting

blood out of the gang was like
the one the one final fight that the

gang was going to have about him
now being openly gay. Still, for

the most part, though, Vanessa
says that sort of thing was pretty rare.

Even though blood in blood out makes
for compelling TV, it doesn't actually

happen with all the gangs. Vanessa
says she met a lot of people who

left gangs in much less dramatic ways. A lot of gang members leave their

gangs just by fading away, by
not hanging out with them anymore or by

saying hey, I have other responsibilities
that I need to attend to. But

if you're leaving the gang because you
had a falling out with him or you're

leaving the gang because you don't want
to be the victim of violence, it

is more common for someone to face
violent consequences for leaving under those circumstances.

A second type of gang that Vanessa
identified she calls hybrid gangs, meaning there's

a sizeable minority of gay, lesbian
or bisexual people. It was a critical

mass of people, so about a
quarter, two, almost even a half

of the gang. And so yeah, they're still majority straight gangs, but

in terms of how they treat gay, lesbian or bisexual members, it was

just so different from those heteronormative gangs
that were, you know, almost one

hundred percent straight. Originally Vanessa thought
of hybrid gangs as a subset of straight

gangs, but the more she spoke
to people, the more she saw vital

similarities between hybrid gangs and gay gangs. The hybrid gangs were like straight gangs

in most ways, except for in
their interpose and old dynamics. They were

out to their gangs. They talked
about their boyfriends and their hookups openly and

the gang didn't care because that wasn't
a novelty, right. There were other

people in the gang like them and
specifically for a few of the gangs,

they had just sort of grown up
together. So men in hybrid gangs said

things like well, they know the
real me, or you know, we

grew up together. I can be
the real me around them when we come

back coming out and being known.
Welcome back. Today we're talking to Vanessa

Panfil. She spent two and a
half years talking to gay men and gangs

in Columbus Ohio about what it's like
to be gay and in a gang.

Those of us who are gay or
lesbian, bisexual or transgender, we know

that coming out isn't a onetime thing, right, that you have to come

out repeatedly to various people and that, as you know, there are varying

levels of risk depending on who you're
coming out to and under what contexts.

A big part of Vanessa's study,
she says, was learning about the men's

families, partners, friends and world
views. And one of the reasons that,

you know, some men feared coming
out to straight gangs was because of

the homophobia they'd seen or experience their
entire lives. So it wasn't just about

gangs, but it was about our
culture and our society. Some of the

men that she spoke to had had
traumatic experiences coming out to their parents and

their families. These included being beaten
repeatedly for coming out as gay or being

forced to go to church for the
equivalent of an exorcism. So they were

concerned that if they faced homophobia and
circles that were supposed to give them unconditional

love and support, what could possibly
be facing them and circles that are seen

to be tough and be ruthless?
And they'd also experienced bullying and harassment in

schools, even if they weren't out
as gay. So they knew something about

social dynamics when you're seeing as the
other, when there are groups of people

and you don't seem to fit into
them at any given time. And this

reveals a common thread between gang culture
and non gang culture. Absolutely it was

still this overall concern that, if
I see and hear and feel and experience

homophobia in my daily life. Why
would this gang be any different? A

good proportion of the men Vanessa spoke
to who were in traditional gangs weren't out

to their families and if and when
they did come out, they often felt

more stigma around being gay than around
being in a gang or having been incarcerated.

So there was a man of my
study where he said he had been

in prison for I think something like
seven years for for a robbery and a

serious assault, and he said that
when I came out of prison, my

mom let me stay on her couch, she supported me, you know,

she was there for me, and
when I told her that I was bisexual,

she told me I couldn't stay at
her house anymore. I also don't

want to give the impression that you
shouldn't let people who return from prison sleep

on your couch or support them.
I don't want to set it up as

a false dichotomy, but it's absolutely
illustrative that things that would stigmatize someone in

a lot of contexts were seen as
less stigmatizing than him coming out as gay.

One source of power for openly gay
men was something called being quote unquote,

known. I actually didn't know before
I went out in the field how

important that was going to be.
People, especially in gay gangs, talked

about that very frequently. You know
you want to be known, you want

your gang to be known. Basically, being known is being able to achieve

stereotypically masculine ideals, making money,
being taken seriously, gaining status, looking

good, but doing it as an
openly gay man. So you want to

know him, you want to spend
time with him, but you don't want

to make an enemy with him.
People literally knew your name, they literally

knew who you were, they knew
something about your reputation, they'd maybe knew

something about your gang. One of
Vanessa's most compelling findings in her study was

gay men fighting back. Vanessa told
us about a guy named Amani who had

come to the LGBT youth center in
two thousand and five or two thousand and

six. He told a story about
being repeatedly harassed by a group of men

for being gay. He was threatened
with violence, he was chased, he

thought they were going to jump him
and after two instances of them harassing him

for being gay, following him,
attempting to beat him up, he just

felt compelled to fight back. And
Moni ended up cutting one of the assailants

with the blade that he carried for
protection and got away. Shortly after that

his family moved out of the area
and I had heard this story at the

time, like like current to when
it had happened, and I thought right

then and there, what does it
mean that young gay people are fighting back?

What does it mean that they're joining
gangs? How do they experience that?

And so the story had really stuck
with me, not only because it

was appalling that someone would have to
defend himself for being gay lest he be

attacked more, but also because we
do have these assumptions that gay men are

weak, that they're effeminate. You
know, people say things like Oh,

he's limp wristed. I mean that's
literally a reference to to your physicality right,

all these words you can think of
that that assume gay men, like

I said our week, and wouldn't
fight back. But in fact over two

thirds of the men in Vanessa's study
had been in a physical fight with an

other person because of anti gay harassment, threats of violence or actual violence,

and some men in my study estimated
that they had fought ten, twenty or

thirty times over anti GA harassment.
Thirty Times they explain to me that this

insult, you know, being called
a fag or a Faggot, was,

in their words, not the thing
to say to me. They did not

want to be called that, and
sometimes these fights were extremely serious, resulting

in injuries. Aggressively fighting back against
anti gay harassment basically reclaimed the masculine status

that was being questioned. So one
of the men in my study, he

said something like when you call me
a Faggot, I know what you mean

by that, and he wasn't going
to let someone get away with insulting his

masculinity and his sexual identity. And
a few people my study even did something

that they called fagging out, which
was basically acting in aggressive and flamboyant ways

simultaneously, and that was to mark
themselves as gay during their response to being

insulted for being gay. So this
this action of fagging out or fighting back

against anti GA harassment, it turns
the Anti Gay insult on its head.

Some of Vanessa's favorite sound bites are
what these men said about fighting back.

You know, they said things like
Faggot's fight to one person said, I

don't know why they think gay people
can't fight. One man said, I'm

going to show you what this faggot
can do. And then, finally,

one that I reference all the time
is I will fight you like I'm straight.

So he's saying you're assuming that I'm
not going to fight back, but

I'm going to. I'm going to
fight you like I'm straight, like you

know, like you would fight back. And these comebacks a directly challenge many

of the assumptions made about gay men
that I talked about, that they lack

nerve, that they're week, that
they're unwilling to physically fight. But the

men in my study they were determined
not to be ready victims, as they

said. You know that that is
not the thing to say to me.

Did you run into anyone in your
study or you know a couple who were

together as a couple while in a
gang? Yes, I did. They

were not in the same gang together, but they had similar social circles.

So one of the men who was
in this relationship he had been in a

gang for I don't quite remember,
but something like ten or twelve years.

He had spent a number of years
incarcerated for gang related crimes. He actually

had tattoos of his gang and his
name all over his face. I mean

he was very clearly identifiable as a
gang member and had a reputation in the

city for being a gang member and
being a drug seller. Vanessa says,

publicly he had a girlfriend and a
child, but he had also been in

a five year relationship with a man
who was in another straight gang, and

that's how I met him, was
through that other man who referred him to

the study. Vanessa says, on
one hand they both had a difficult time.

He felt like publicly he was saying
and doing one thing and privately he

was saying and doing another, and
he said, you know, I love

my girl, she's she's great,
but I also have these other feelings that

I want to try to explore.
He didn't like keeping secrets or being deceptive,

but he didn't really see another option. Privately was the only way he

could explore his same sex interest because
of his reputation around town, because of

this public persona. And so he
was in this relationship with another man and

when I interviewed that man he told
me, he said I love him so

much. He loves me too.
He trusts me more than anyone else.

He has these deep feelings that I
wish he could reveal, but he can't

because because of his reputation. Vanessa
had private conversations with both of them about

their relationship and how it felt.
They felt like they connected very well,

they felt like they were compatible,
but they just felt like there were other

circumstances that weren't allowing them to be
public at the time and they had talked

about trying to have their own private
sort of commitment ceremony, like like just

the two of them, to establish
some sort of commitment to each other long

term. But that, you know, just even that was they they just

had mixed feelings about how their relationship
would be seeing if it were to be

disc effort. Even though I asked
people in my study about their gang and

crime experiences and and, you know, being gay and in a gang,

I also ask them just about their
their life history. I asked them about

their identity. You know, how
do they form an identity as a gay

man or as a bisexual man in
the case of some of them? You

know, when did they start coming
out to people? What were their reactions?

But one of the questions that I
asked was what does it mean to

be a real man? What qualities
does a real man have? Vanessa says

she got really consistent answers on that
question. They need to take care of

their responsibilities, they need to figure
out ways to make things happen. That

was a phrase men in my study
really like to use. They said you

got to make it happen, you
got to make things happen. So being

a real man meant figuring out how
to make money, and hopefully legally.

The men of my study wanted to
make money legally. They wanted a nine

to five job, they wanted a
legal job, but there were a lot

of structural factors that prevented that from
happening regularly. But again, so a

real man can figure out how to
make money, figure out how to support

people who need support, and a
real man can make his goals come to

fruition. They didn't say a real
man can beat anyone up. They didn't

say a real man fights all the
time. They did say things like a

real man defends his loved ones,
defends other people, a real man defends

him self. Their answers about being
a real man. We're not actually about

being physically tough. They were about
being mentally tough, about being mentally present,

about being someone who could support other
people, being a rock for people.

Those were the values they had for
men. So it was really interesting

was that in these descriptions they focused
on caring. Actually they focused on a

sense of duty, and that really
just isn't what people might assume about gang

members values because of we're Vanessa's field
of study is most of what she reports

on is related to criminal behavior,
but she says the value system within gangs

are really not that far from those
outside of gangs. I really think it's

important to say these men are gang
members. A lot of these men have

committed violent crimes. A lot of
these men have committed other crimes like drug

selling or theft, any number of
crimes, but that's not where their value

system lies in terms of being a
man. They don't want to have to

do those things. They would rather
be able to get a nine to five,

as they referred to it. You
know, they want steady employment,

they want their family to be proud
of them, they want to be able

to support a future partner and children. That was another thing I heard very

commonly. They said, like anyone
else, I want to get married,

I want to have kids, and
this when I was doing my research.

This was actually before it was even
legal to be a same sex couple and

be married in Ohio, but that
was one of their goals. I want

to be able to get married,
I want to be able to have children,

I want to be able to support
my children. I don't want my

kids to do the things that I
had to do. So they had these

very what we might see as as
every day or, quote unquote, normal

goals and and hopes for their future. But that's just not how we often

talk about gang members. Do you
feel like their perspective was that a same

sex relationship could be their long term
life, that they could have a same

sex life partner, as opposed to
you mentioned one person being bisexual and it

maybe just being more sexual and they
intended to perhaps marry a woman and have

children. But do you feel like
a long term same sex relationship was a

viable option for many of them?
Yeah, so definitely. Well, especially

the ones who were in all gay
gangs. I mean everyone knew they were

gay. They weren't hiding that from
anyone. They didn't feel like they needed

to hide that from anyone, and
so for them they absolutely said, you

know, I want to be a
good boyfriend. I want to be,

I want to get married, I
want to be at a full committed relationship,

and they were saying, you know, with another man, even though

at the time legally that was that
wasn't legally possible, at least in Ohio.

But what I take from that is
that even that goal referenced an aspirational

gay life. You know, I
want this to be normalized, I want

this to be legal, I want
to be able to do that, and

so I think in that way they
were actively critiquing the structures that would prevent

them from being able to be openly
gay or in that sort of relationship.

But I will say that some of
the men in the study were still sexually

involved with women and wanted to be. So often I refer to the men

in my study as gay because that
more that more accurately reflects their speech patterns.

So often they were setting up a
difference between being gay and straight.

So even if they identified as bisexual, they might say when you come out

as gay or when people think you're
gay or when you come out you know,

they were referencing something different than being
straight, and so I don't in

any way mean to erase bisexual identity. I know that's something that that happens

in in media and in our culture, that bisexual identity as a race.

So I don't want to do that. So some of them were indeed in

sexual relationships with women or had been, and so some of some of those

folks didn't say, you know,
yeah, I definitely am going to marry

a woman or yeah, I'm definitely
going to marry a man, but they

were still saying, you know,
I've experienced things as a results of being

bisexual that gay people also experience.
So they were trying to set up,

like I said, that there's something
meaningfully different in our culture between straight people

and everyone who's not straight, if
that makes sense. But yeah, so

to answer your question in a more
short in a shorter way. Yes,

the men who were openly gay,
everyone kne who they were. Everyone knew

they were gay. They were absolutely
focused on a future with a with a

man as their romantic partner, and
the men who are bisexual didn't necessarily have

a strong leaning. There were men
in the study who knew they were expected

to settled down with a woman.
They were actively working through their feelings about

those expectations. And we're just sort
of leaving it open and I did want

to mention there were, I think, I think nine of the men in

my study had actually fathered children,
but they're living situations looked very different.

So one man actually lived with his
child full time, another another. Several

men had children but didn't really have
any contact with them. One man had

sort of served as a sperm donor, you know, for a for friends

of his who were a lesbian couple. So there was a variety. What

one one young man actually his his
daughter had died at a very young age

and he was still gaving that and
so I'd there were men who were fathers

in my sample who had, who
had had children as a result of relationships

with women, but those men didn't
necessarily want to continue having relationships with women.

So that was something else I explored. But again, I don't talk

a ton about that in the book
just because of the focus on on being

in a gang. Do you feel
like the book is a resource for someone

who is in a gang now and
questioning their sexuality or their gender identity?

Could you talk a little bit about
what you would hope the book could be

for someone who's experiencing this right now? And that doesn't know what to do

or feels alone. Yeah, so, some of the men in my study

actually said the reason I want to
participate in this study is so that other

people, other young gay people,
can read about me, read about my

story, read about what I did, so that they know what ought to

do, you know, to the
path to not take. But also I

want to tell them you're not alone. There are people who will care about

you, there are people who will
accept you. You need to find those

people in your life. It may
take a while, but they're out there

and your story is important. Your
Life is important. In fact, Vanessa

says after her first few interviews,
they told her she should ask them what

they would say. So she did. She started asking. I don't know

if any of them said it gets
better as such, but they were saying,

you know, it's hard to be
young, it's hard to it's hard

to go through this, especially if
you know you're in an urban setting,

you're a young black gay man,
and a lot of them talked about that

really specifically. They're like, I'm
black and I'm gay, and so I'm

working against these particular stereotypes, you
know, these racist stereotypes of black men

I'm working against these homophobic stereotypes of
gay men. I'm in an urban setting

and and you know, a lot
of the men in my study lived in

areas of Columbus that were considered to
be economically depressed or economically marginalized, and

so they were saying, you know, you're there are other kids out there

like me and I want to help
them. I want if my story can

help, I want it to help. Sometimes I really grapple with the ethics

of doing this kind of work,
like should I really be talking about gay

gang members when people are trying to
take away LGB Betq People's rights? You

know, is that really something I
should be talking about? But I think

we need to talk about this,
especially if young gay men are seeking others

for support in illicit ways against had
our sexist backdrop of familial and societal rejection.

So it's a really telling statement to
me that these young men join gangs,

which, you know, they can
provide young people with protection, a

sensiblonging and opportunities for socialization. But
they're joining these gangs instead of, or

in addition to other social groups and
I think that we should think really critically

about what it means that young queer
people of color might think that joining a

gang is their best way to feel
safe, to be empowered, to make

money and to build community. I
think we need to think really critically about

that. Will put a link to
the article Vanessa wrote for the conversation and

a link to her book in the
show notes, and you can follow her

on twitter to stay uptodate with new
publications. My social media presence is a

bit lackluster. I need to work
on it, but you can find me

on twitter at Vanessa Panhill, v
An e SSA Panfil or through my faculty

page at Old Dominion University. In
terms of the book, the gangs all

queer, the lives of gay gang
members, you can find that either through

nyu presses website or you can find
that on Amazon. You can buy it

an ebook or in a hard copy, and I've even heard that it's at

a number of local libraries. Thanks
for listening. Pride is a production of

Straw hyt media. If you like
the show, please leave us a rating

and a review on Apple, podcasts, spotify or wherever you're tuning in from.

Share us with your friends, subscribe
and follow us on Instagram, facebook

and twitter at pride. You can
follow me at me by chambers. Pride

is produced by me, Maggie Bowls
and Ryan Tillotson, edited by Sebastian.

I'll call out. Sorry, I
was just checking at my ipads on my

bed. It's a very weird podcasting
studio. At the moment I'm in the

yeah, don't even ask
PRIDE
The LGBTQ experience is more than just a rainbow flag, it’s a movement. The PRIDE podcast hosted by Levi Chambers celebrates every person under the queer umbrella wit... View More

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