Reality star and celebrity hairstylist Derek Jae is creating representation for black gay men.
If you don’t know Derek Jae (who’s more popularly known as Derek J), then you’re probably not a fan of hit reality shows The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Fashion Queens. That said, that doesn’t invalidate the career that the man has made for himself.
The 36-year-old Toledo, Ohio native has put work into his career in fashion and reality television, and now he’s trying to give back by shining a spotlight on the struggles of being Black and Gay.
Derek J recently released a new documentary called “Gay Like Me,” to share multiple perspectives on life by multiple Gay, Black men.
On top of that, Derek J also tackles the discussion of masculinity in the gay community, the black community, and in the intersection of both.
Derek J explained in a quick interview with the Washington Informer that he wanted his documentary to represent all Gay, Black men.
“I have masculine friends that say they never see themselves on TV. So I said, hey, if you have a problem with it, let’s do something about it. For this to be my first project, I really wanted to make an impact. I made sure that the men were good-looking and well-spoken. I wanted a woman or a gay man to look at them and say this is someone I would date. Or for a straight man to say, ‘this could be my homeboy.’”
“I went back to my high school in Ohio and I noticed there were a lot of feminine gay Black men. What I realized is they are acting out what they visually see of gay men on television. I wanted the film’s message to say ‘hey, there are other types of gay men out here.’ The film is a learning tool for everyone.”
That isn’t to say that feminine gay men aren’t desirable or celebrated. Seeing as he sees himself to be fairly feminine, Derek J would never want to promote such as message. Instead, what he’s saying is that we want to see the Ethans from “Love, Simon,” the Calvin Owens from “Greek," and characters who represent a mixture of the two.
“I really think the content of the stories are so well-rounded people will look past that. Regardless of the look of it you could see yourself in one of these stories.”
“The stories of these men helped me understand them, but my story is different. I am considered a feminine gay man. I’ve never been gay-bashed. My mom knew that I was gay. We just didn’t talk about it.”
Derek J’s real goal is to show that Black, Gay men come in a variety of personalities and looks. We are just like any other group of people, and we deserve to be represented that way in entertainment media.