Too Close For Comfort???
Not too long ago, I decided to work out at an area fitness center. When I entered the locker room afterward, I heard an unfamiliar male voice call my name.
I turned around and smiled to confirm that I was the person for whom he was looking. When my eyes finally located the voice, I saw that the person talking was a small white man sitting on the locker room bench.
"I just wanted you to know that I see you on television and I love what you do. I just want to shake your hand.â€
Normally, such an interaction would be equal parts flattering and embarrassing (I'm actually quite shy) but nonetheless harmless. This conversation, however, made me extremely uncomfortable.
The man was completely naked!
As soon as I realized what was going on, Nature Boy removed his paw from his freshly showered lap and thrusted it toward me. Determined to maintain my composure, I ignored my discomfort and gave him a hearty handshake. I then scurried away and went to play basketball.
After playing basketball, I returned to the locker room. Traumatized by my earlier experience, I hastily gathered my things in preparation for a quick exit. This time, I heard an all-too-familiar voice speaking at high volume.
"Who do you think is gonna win the game tonight?â€
I looked over and saw one of the nation's most recognizable politicians. Although he wasn't speaking to me directly (since he didn't know me), he placed his arm around me and began to offer his own insights on the game. While this would normally be a moment to brag about, I was unable to focus on his words.
Yup, naked again.
Instead of basking in a moment of genuine comeraderie and brotherhood, I remained focused on the fact that there was 280 pounds of hairy naked white maleness centimeters from my body. Fortunately, Harry Twiganberry received a phone call and released me from his celebrity death grip within minutes.
Although this was a somewhat unusual circumstance, my personal experience has been that white men get completely naked in locker rooms all the time, while colored folks tend to strip down only to their boxers. Of course, there are always exceptions (peep today's Video of the Day) but the general rule in black spaces is that one's genitals should be shrouded at all times.
While I'd like to think that it's my shyness (and OCD) that makes me uncomfortable around locker room streakers, I can't help but wonder if my discomfort isn't also connected to a deep-seated homophobia that operates within Black cultural life. Am I scared of naked Black men? Are you? Is that a problem? Is it different for women?