Charing Ball at Madame Noire asks a provocative and probably long-overdue question: Are Black Gay Men the New "Mammies" of Reality Television?
[T]he gay black man has become the new housemaid "Mammy" to these women’s Scarlett O’Haras. Most of these gay characters harken back to a time in cinematic history where the white rich women in the antebellum South needed their "sexually non-threatening" black female maids to nurture and basically make them feel good about themselves. If the black maids weren’t "fussin'" after the mistress of the house, making sure her dress fitted properly and her hair was tight, she was in the kitchen, dancing, smiling and singing Go Down Moses. The gay male characters of today act very much in the same [vein]. But instead of shucking and jiving for the approval, and favor of rich white women, these gay best friend characters trade on their non-sexual “companionship” for heterosexual legitimacy.
[M]ore often than not, it is assumed that since the men are gay, he is there for the sole purpose to entertain or serve these women in some way. I have watched on several of occasions, characters from these shows not only proudly proclaim their affinity for "The Gays" but then go on to declare the gay character as "one of my girls." Well they are not girls. They are men, albeit gay. ...
Moreover, on these shows, ALL gay men are into the same thing (i.e., fashion, hair, makeup, electronic music and listening to the women banter about their heterosexual sex life). And because all of these gay male characters are the same, it gives an unfair expectation of how gay men are in real life. ... The irony is that the gay male sidekick is supposed to show how progressive and completely accepting of homosexuality these women are. However, watching these reality TV show characters tote these men around on their arms like latest handbag would be just as bad as watching a character in an old black and white film, saying that she loves Negro people because, "I have a Black maid."
Many of the Black gay characters on television—the reality genre in particular—come across as caricatures based upon the asexual "sassy Black gay sidekick." But "the gays" seen on series such as Real Housewives of Atlanta are ... often much more theatrical than those seen elsewhere, no?
Thanks Michael Gipson!