Heels and dresses
Jasmyne Cannick’s Black America’s Infatuation With Butch Men Up in Heels is a must read. She asks the question:
While images of Black men dressed as woman have become a popular part of Black American culture in entertainment, does the success of the Black actor who plays a role in drag depend on that actor’s heterosexism in real life?
It’s interesting when you look at the contrast in acceptance in the black community of Tyler Perry in drag in Madea’s Family Reunion, Martin Lawrence as Big Momma, or Damon Wayans and David Allen Grier as flamers Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather on In Living Color versus RuPaul, who is openly gay. His success has largely come from white audiences. Jasmyne notes how this represents the unaddressed homophobia in the religious black community.
But what if Tyler Perry were gay? Would Madea continue to be as popular among Black churchgoers? Probably not. At least with his assumed heterosexuality, Christians can rest at ease that they are not supporting anything gay because after all, it is just a role. RuPaul, while a great performer, was openly gay and therefore never found the wide spread acceptance and fame that Madea has.