Written by Eden Carswell
I was out with a stud friend of mine at a club one summer night channeling my inner Chris Brown and swinging my locs in a Waka-Flocka-esque fashion when another stud randomly came up to me and started complimenting me.
She grabbed my hand and spun me around like a Dancing With the Stars competitor, telling me I had a nice outfit on and proudly introducing herself.
It took me a second to realize she was hitting on me.
Since I’d never had an aggressive woman whisper sweet nothings in my ear before, I was oblivious as hell. I wasn’t attracted to her, but she was friendly so I wasn’t bothered. Either way, I didn’t have enough time to politely turn her down.
My friend swooped in like Superman out the phone booth and yanked me up like I was a little kid at the grocery store being destructive.
Once we made it safely to the bar after what seemed like a broke-down scene from a Tom Cruise movie, I had questions. “Was it really necessary to play Captain Save-A-Homo when I wasn’t in trouble?” I asked, surprised that she went about it so dramatically. “Why’d you have to be so extra?”
That’s Some Gay Shit
“Nah, we don’t do that, E,” she responded, sipping her drink casually and shaking her head. “We don’t f*ck with studs, man, we don’t do that. That some gay sh*t.”
But . . . but we are gay, I thought. We’re all gay. Was it really that serious?
Since that night, I’ve had many conversations with black lesbian friends and acquaintances who share her point of view. Black femmes and studs alike scoff at the notion that two masculine lesbians would even try to be intimate, as though it’s completely out of the realm of possibility.
I’ve even heard my fellow black lesbians call stud-for-stud (S4S) dating “unnatural” and “disgusting.”
Down Low Dating
After doing a little research, I’ve found that many S4S studs resort to dating in the shadows; they seek safe spaces where they can affirm their attraction to other masculine women without being judged. They often don’t have photos on their dating profiles and cautiously reach out to other studs via message, with “S4S?” typed in the subject line. It’s akin to being on the down low, like they’re married men with kids looking for gay sex on Grindr. It is that serious. But why?
Why is the idea of S4S so cringe-worthy to black lesbians?
Simply put, in the heteronormative world, masculine plus feminine equals normal. Masculine plus masculine is not.
I believe that ever since baby black Jehovah sauntered across the world like a debutante, we’ve been conditioned to seek opposites when dating. We’ve been mentally trained to believe that men are supposed to date women and that masculine individuals have to seek their opposites to meet society’s expectations.
This is especially true in the black community because for us identity and gender expression are very firm. Black manhood is sacred. Since our pre-slavery days, men have been taught from childhood that they have to be strong, assertive, woman-seeking chocolate gods that don’t produce tears and hunt antelope in the African bush. This is why black gay men are often treated like pariahs. In our world, black gay men are weak, submissive, effeminate defectors from their manhood, slapping their families, our culture and our history dead in the face.
Studs Are Treated Like Men
Unfortunately, because we’ve borrowed many of our ideas about gender expression and masculinity from the straight black universe and let them dictate our behaviors. We lesbians abide by those heterosexual rules, even though we’re humpin’ the same sex.
Studs are treated like men in the black lesbian community, and as such, seeking other studs for romantic and sexual fulfillment doesn’t fly as it’s seen as a rejection of one’s masculinity.
So, what we’re left with are S4S ladies going back in the closet to please others, and other black lesbians reacting to them in the same way that straight homophobes react to all of us. Just a hot, greasy mess.
Ladies, we have to do better. Like, fix-your-grades-before-graduation-day kind of better. We are failing our fellow lesbian sisters and missing the whole point of us building our own community—unity and acceptance.
Here are four things you need to know about studs who date other studs:
1. Black Lesbian Love is not just a femme and a stud.
That’s a closed-minded, short-sighted way of thinking, and is contradictory to the way all of us live. Femmes can date femmes, studs can date studs. End of story.
2. We have to let go of the idea that something different from what we know is automatically wrong.
Just because you aren’t used to or interested in S4S doesn’t mean you should react with hate. Put some respeck on it! Stop treating S4S like they’re two aliens having sex behind a meth lab in a sketchy part of town, and fix your face!
3. We have to stop looking at masculinity through heteronormative lenses.
Masculinity is determined by the individual, not by who that individual chooses to date. A stud can still be the pinnacle of studly-ness, even with a stud girlfriend. We can set the standard and change what gender expression makes us expect of others, with an open mind and a little understanding.
4. We have to create a safe, open space for everyone in our community to date.
S4S ladies shouldn’t have to love in secret. That’s the exact opposite of what the LGBTQ community is about! Normalcy is what we make it, and the second we decide studs dating other studs is “abnormal,” we start alienating them, which is the most hypocritical thing any black lesbian could do. And hypocrisy is not a cute color on anyone.
Family, we have to hold each other down, on a Bonnie-and-Clyde level. At the very least, if others don’t accept us, we have to accept each other. S4S, F4F, S4F—whatever, our preferences are valid!
S4S ladies are on the same journey we’re all on: to find healthy, amazing relationships that make our hearts sing and toes curl, and they should all be allowed to pursue it without judgment.
So let’s show love! Push all those stud expectations off a cliff, look beyond their exteriors, and love them for the stud-loving, fitted-hat-wearing, loc-and-fade-having ladies that they are.