August Alsina and the power of Black men hugging each another

Social media users jumped to conclusions after the singer hugged another man on TV
August Alsina and the power of Black men hugging each another
Singer August Alsina (Photo credit: Bang Media)

August Alsina left social media buzzing when at the end of VH1‘s “The Surreal Life” on Nov. 21.

“I would like a love that feels limitless,” Alsina said. “And then, what do you know? Love showed up, but in a new way.”

Another Black man entered the frame, dapped Alsina up and gave him a passionate hug. The moment the scene made it to social media, people started assuming Alsina was coming out and was announcing he had a boyfriend.

The assumption even made it beyond social media users and to reputable media outlets with headlines questioning who was the “rumored boyfriend.”

The clip of Alsina describing a different perspective on love, followed by a hug and no actual announcement of having any romantic interest in the man nor kissing him on the lips begs a different question: Why is it out of the norm for two heterosexual Black men to hug one another? To help dive into this topic deeper, rolling out spoke to Reginald Howard, the senior program coordinator of Black Men Heal.

Reginald Howard
Reginald Howard (Photo courtesy of Black Men Heal)

Why is it considered to be out of the norm for two Black heterosexual men to hug each other after professing love for one another?

We have a men’s support group called King’s Corner. We went on tour to different cities, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta and ended it in our home base, Philly. This year’s theme was Black Men Need Hugs. I’ll speak to two instances that made an impact on me.

I have two sons. Doing this tour, I realized I don’t know how to show love to other males because I haven’t received that from my father. I broke down in the middle of the session because I had my son with me, and I realized I was missing it from my father, and I didn’t receive it, but now I’m afforded the opportunity to give it to my son because now I’m learning how to do that.

Man-to-man platonic relationships are hard to describe. The first time I told my friend, that I call my brother, I love him was when he was locked up in a cell. It was like, “Why now do I have to show you that love when we were spending day to day together? We could’ve said we love you to each other all the time.”

There was a brother that brought up the topic of who was your first heartbreak. Most of us went to a woman or a former significant other. He pointed out to us that none of us said our father was our first heartbreak. The love we never received, or the love we were trying to expect and never got. I never even considered my father could be my first heartbreak because I don’t even look at love, or him, in that way.

What makes a hug powerful between men?

That full embrace shows the safety a lot of men are looking for. Is it safe to be vulnerable with you in this space? Someone on the tour brought up our hearts are touching at that point, our energies are transferring and we are really safe at that moment.

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