Jaboukie Young-White Says We Have to Re-Brand Masculinity

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Comedian and Daily Show correspondent , Jaboukie Young-White is in the new issue of GQ. The issues theme is “The New Masculinity” and features Pharrell in a gender neutral outfit (see below).

Read and excerpt of Young-White’s interview below:

GQ: Your stand-up includes jokes about being perceived as “masc”—which you have defined as “basically just gay for ‘I’m not like other girls.’ ” Is that part of how you see yourself?
Jaboukie Young-White: I would say it’s more something I’ve been made to be aware of. My dad is a barber, and I grew up spending most of my days after school in a barbershop. I remember there being so much casual homophobia. That environment is where a lot of my behaviors that are coded as “masc” come from. It was a survival technique. Growing up in so many of these hypermasculine, super-homophobic environments, I think that just naturally became an extension of who I am. I always find it weird, especially in the queer community, when people fetishize “mascness” or masculinity. Because for so many people, those are actually scars, you know. They’re battle scars on your personality. Which is tragic in a certain way.

Do you see any positive sides of masculinity?
The positive aspect of masculinity, to me, is just being sure of yourself. Getting to a point where you can take care of yourself so well that you can also be of service to others. That’s always been so tied up with masculinity, for me. Even though I was around a lot of people who were homophobic or exhibiting these toxic mannerisms, there was also this high level of chivalry, where if a woman walked into the barbershop, you would make sure she had a seat, or if someone differently abled walked in, you would make sure they had a seat. There is a code of ethics that I think is noble and good and doesn’t need to only be practiced by men. There are aspects of masculinity that we all exhibit.

It almost feels strange to say that, because masculinity has been so demonized. It almost feels like you have to come up with a different word or rebrand it.

Read the full interview here.

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Photograph by Matt Martin


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