Ivorie in the New Age
Written by Claire Green
@claireilana_ @ivoriej @zanah_marie
Los Angeles, CA
Sexual fluidity, regarding black men, remains a taboo subject. An individual first, and an artist second, Ivorie explores his idea of sexuality and beauty throughout his lifestyle and artist expression. What makes a black man beautiful? Muscle definition, a strong jawline, pearly whites with moisturized skin, a clean line up or well-kept locs?
What makes a black man strong? Being the financial provider for his family? Would his strength be weighed in his ability to mask his vulnerabilities? If these questioned actions assumed strength he would always need to have a solution to any problem that crossed his path. He'd need to be superhuman or maybe not human at all. What defines a black man's masculinity to his community? To society?
Within the black community, masculinity is defined by heterosexual norms first. A black man is rarely seen crying or unsure of himself. Emotional intelligence is not encouraged.
To society, black masculinity is also defined by heterosexuality and behaviors that would make this personal choice apparent. The black man is viewed as a sex symbol. Animalistic, aggressive, & hyper-masculine emotions are all that is expected from them, even in 2019. Black men acquiesce to these standards within their communities and in society. If they dare step out of the lines, strong ridicule awaits them.
Being an openly gay black man in America remains political even in 2019. RuPaul said it eloquently during an interview with Arsenio Hall in 1993, "every time I bat an eyelash, it is a political act. It's the most political thing you can do, just doing your own thing". More than twenty-five years later, that statement remains accurate. Ivorie does not subscribe to the notions by the black community or society.
His artistic expression is just that; his own. His art expresses his ideas of beauty, black masculinity, and his experiences with love. Ivorie aims to challenge one's stereotype of what it means to be a beautiful black man.
This singer/songwriter possesses a whimsical persona accentuated by a beautiful golden mane and dazzling smile. He ironically fits most of the characteristics previously mentioned of society's standards of an attractive black man; smooth skin, pearly whites, and beautiful hair.
The artist's expression of beauty is displayed through the capricious garments he wears and accentuates with crystal jewelry. His hair is often, twisted but when he's "feeling" himself he wears it blown out in a voluptuous blonde mane. What does the artist's outward appearance convey to his community? To society?
Ivorie is strong, in that he embraces the mystery of vulnerability through songwriting and performing, to achieve self-awareness. His confidence is not loud or outspoken, however, it does command action. His presence activates a level of self-discovery in anyone who listens to his music. His interpretive, silky movements are the manifestation of a black man, comfortable in his body.
The oldest of five children, Ivorie is a role model for his siblings. He demonstrates to them what it's like to sit with the consequences of one's actions. He holds them accountable, guiding them when he recognizes that they may not be behaving to their full potential.
As a spiritual worker, Ivorie provides support to his community through tarot readings that offer insight which encourages growth and enlightenment. As cliché as it may be, the saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is not applied to the black man enough. Despite what society and the greater population of the black community may think, this saying does apply to black men. Not only can they exist as beautiful beings outside of the standard, but they can also emulate strength in a variety of ways outside of the norm set for them.
I applaud Ivorie for exploring what beauty, strength, and sexuality mean to him. I encourage you to explore the definition of those aspects of life for yourself, especially if you are a black man.
This story was previously published on Medium