Jeremy Pope examines masculinity as a gay Black Marine in ‘The Inspection’
When I met Darryl Gray one day over a beer, I couldn’t help but ask him some questions about his sexuality.
He looked me in the eye, gave me a slow smile, said, “Hell, yeah,” and laughed. One thing was clear: Darryl Gray was gay.
He told me his story in his own words. As for why he was gay, he had long ago figured out that he could not be himself and be happy, without also being a gay man. It was just who he was.
Darryl was 20 years old, a junior in high school. He had always felt that he didn’t fit in the predominantly straight society he grew up in. He wasn’t the kind of kid that people took to school on the first day, or in the classroom that first day. He was quiet. He didn’t have a big group of friends. He wasn’t going to any of the parties. What he was, though, was something he felt he was not capable of being.
Darryl was sexually attracted to his brother. He had a secret crushes on just about everybody in the family. What he’d done — the kind of things his father would talk about to his friends — he felt was just that; crushes.
He was a good student. He was interested in video games, science, and technology. But he felt the world was against him, was a place full of people who didn’t like him and his family, and all the rules he’d grown up with. He had trouble fitting in and he felt isolated as a result.
He thought that maybe one day he’d find a way to show people who he really was, that he was really gay without having his family become an issue. He knew he really wanted to go to college. He was still in high school, at a time when many young men weren’t able to buy cars without help from their parents.
And then, one day, Darryl’s father called him on