Black Gay Dads On “Council Of Dads”
New TV show Council of Dads is giving the world something groundbreaking to look at in terms of representation for Black gay men.
The new NBC drama follows a family after the death of its patriarch. The mother, played by Michele Weaver, then has to navigate life as a parent without her husband. In order to get by, she enlists the help of her best friends who are parents in their own right. They then call this parenting support group, the Council of Dads.
In this new show, J. August Richards plays Dr. Oliver Post. Post is not only a father, but also a gay Black man who’s married to another gay black man named Peter Richards. Even better, Peter Richards is played by openly gay actor Kevin Daniels. And as we shared last week, J. August Richards came out as gay while citing the show for giving him the courage to do so.
“I knew how I was affected by the people of color that I saw on television – or didn’t see on television,” he stated. “So this being a married gay man with a family… you know, you have an opportunity to put an image into millions of homes. I wanted that image to be honest and I wanted it to be correct, you know?”
Yesterday was one of the best days of my life… “Thank you” feel like cheap words to describe the depths of the gratitude I feel for your support and the crushing avalanche of LOVE I felt aimed at me yesterday… For now, it will have to do. #PRIDE #LGBTQ #BlackLGBTQ #ComingOut pic.twitter.com/1xrpzsdK3M
— J. August Richards (@jaugustrichards) April 21, 2020
Richards then elaborated more on the power of an out Black actor portraying a Black gay role on network television while speaking to The Advocate:
“It’s so important because I think that when we see ourselves represented with love and intimacy of knowledge, it empowers us and makes us feel seen. So that’s why the role was so important to me and that’s why I made the choice to come out to the producers, the writers, because I needed them to know that I was an authority on this character, on this life. It was important to me that the nuances of the experience of being a Black gay man were represented on this show, because otherwise, why am I even doing it?”
He then elaborated on how he’s brought nuance to the character:
“Just certain things that I added to it. For example, we go home with Oliver a lot. And so I had meetings with the prop department, set decoration, and art direction,” the actor explained. “I said, when we come into Oliver’s home, we have to feel like we are in a very specific space that these two Black men who live here. My experience of being a Black gay man is that I’ve generally put things on my walls and in my world that affirm me because the outside world doesn’t affirm me that often. So in my home, there are things that are just very affirming of who I am and my experience. So I was like, I need that represented visually.”
“Then also, the way that we interact. My husband and I on the show had been together for 15 years. And I wanted that feeling of what Michael O’Neill calls ‘old love.’ There’s new love, when you’re all over each other. But then there’s that old love that is just lived in and sat in, and I wanted to feel that. I kind of modeled it after two Black gay men that I know who are married, and their relationship is just comfy like an old couch. I wanted to bring that to the character.”
Never Seen Before
But why are we making such a big deal out of this one role? What does it matter? And is it really as rare as we’re making it out to be? Well, unfortunately, yes. But I’ll get more personal to explain.
Growing up as a queer black youth, I rarely saw similar faces and life stories on television. After coming to terms with my sexual orientation around age 12, I started to search for gay representation. Keep in mind, this was the late 2000s when public gay acceptance in America and representation on television was starting to pick up steam. Unfortunately, most of what I saw were stories about white gay men.
I then discovered my first gay black tv character through the ABC Family show Greek. His name was Calvin Owens, a college student, fraternity member, and one of the main character’s best friends. In the show, I watched Calvin come out, gain the acceptance of his fraternity brothers, and eventually find love. Only, that love was with a white man.
Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with black men dating white men (or other non-Black men for that matter). But, there is an oddly abundant trend of it on tv.
As time has gone by, I’ve seen many other great queer black men take command on television. Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood; Lionel Higgins on Dear White People; Eric Effiong on Sex Education; Captain Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Pray Tell, Damon, and Ricky in Pose; Jamal Lyon in Empire; and Titus Andromedon in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Yet, most of those characters aren’t dating or marrying other Black men. Lafayette dated a white man and a Latin man; Lionel is playing the field up to the most recent season, Eric chose an unfortunate romantic option, Captain Holt is (happily) married to a white man, and Titus ended up married to a white man as well.
To be fair, that’s not the only case viewed on television. Ricky has been depicted dating both Pray Tell and Damon. Meanwhile, Jamal ended up marrying another Black man (that can’t be denied no matter how you feel about Jussie Smollett). And then you Noah’s Arc, the only show centering on Black gay folk (besides Pose). Though, that show is fairly forgotten by gay society and society as a whole. #ReviveNoahsArc
Council Of Dads
With all that in mind, what’s happening on Council of Dads truly is groundbreaking. While having strong Black gay characters is nothing new to television and I’m happy to see many of them fall in love (no matter with whom), what Council of Dads is doing is very important. Seeing a married couple consisting of two Black Gay men who are also raising a daughter is unheard of. And that’s why we should all acknowledge it and celebrate it.
Somewhere out there, there’s a Black youth that’s just accepting his sexual orientation. He will be on the lookout for similar faces and inspiring life stories. And thankfully, Council of Dads is providing it.