michaelbjordan ryan

Photo: Vanity Fair

Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler have caught backlash for a picture published by Vanity Fair. The photo coincided with an interview that highlighted their impressive run with Fruitvale Station and Creed.

However, some have criticized the photo and suggested that the image of two Black males embracing is effeminate and homosexual.

After we posted the image in congratulations to Jordan and Coogler, some responded negatively. Instagram user @Fettimagazine wrote, “The pose insinuates a man dominating another man. He’s palming his head.”

Another user, @Mizzlee_atl wrote, “Why is he holding his head like that anyway? What type of unity does this suggest? It does look a little suspect. Looks almost like he has his head headed towards his … How about a simple handshake?”

Other users defended the photo. User @only1shala wrote, “I see nothing wrong with the photo! I love it honestly. I don’t see  anything that says homosexual. I see two amazing black men that’s all.”

The response to the photo raises an interesting point on how masculinity is viewed within the Black community. As young boys, Black males are often taught to always remain strong, to never cry, and to always fight back at all costs. From an early age, we learn that aggression and combativeness are essential to survival. So we wrestle, slap box, and fight to show strength.

But how should we promote the importance of Black male unity? Is it possible for Black males to show solidarity in brotherhood without the image or concept becoming over sexualized?

Jordan and Coogler are young Black men who have made strides to tell unique stories in Hollywood. The photo should be viewed as two men who have developed a brotherhood while combining their talents. Jordan and Coogler represent a new age of prosperity for Black males. It should also represent a new age of Black males being able to show unity without it being questioned by homophobic voices.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.