Radically Coming to Be: The Black Masculine's Construction of Identity, Race and Culture, and Contextual Elements of Sexuality
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Human sexualities typically evoke thoughts and ideas of physical coupling and eroticism. Extant research on the psychological underpinnings of human sexualities support such limited conceptualizations. The interpretations, however, affect the lives of African-descended men in a manner that magnifies and further solidifies the embodiment of what has been constructed as "the Other." Absent from the available fund of knowledge on African American men's identity and sexual conduct is critical discussions about racialized humanity, its influence on mental health, and intersubjective processes. Specifically, quantitative logic is often purported to be objective and a safeguard against biases or social factors viewed as metaphysical. This is an example of race neutrality that supports the strategic invisibility of whiteness and the insidious racialization of nonwhite men. The slippery slope of human desire and the politics of sex(uality) warrant an interdisciplinary synthesis of various forms of scholarship to generate novel insights and questions about current social epistemologies. Nested within qualitative methodology, and through the use of Critical Race Theory and Queer Theory, narrative interviews were conducted with 10 African American men to better understand how they make sense of their sexuality. Multifaceted and complex, three themes emerged from the interviews: (a) Sexual Development, Puberty, and Early Adulthood, (b) The Racialization of Identity, Gender Expression, and Sociosexual Positioning, and (c) The Body Politic: The (Il)Logics of Raciosexual Images and Stratification. Organized within the themes is a vast array of sociocultural, behavioral, and ecological factors that elucidate how Black identity is situated as a site of discipline, both within and between racial groups. Data is used to explicitly discuss identity negotiation and masculinist requisites of performance that impact psychosexual development and ultimately circumscribe sexual difference. The salience and authoritative presence of blackness is questioned and critiqued to provide evidence of how race functions in service of social control and as an auspice governing routine psychological study, theory development, and clinical practice. The results are examined and integrated with extant scholarship to show the omnipresent influence of whiteness, heteronormativity, and the quotidian disdain for difference. Lastly, implications for future research and culturally sensitive clinical practice are recommended.