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From The Bench, episode 6: Chris Bosh gay speculation and the definition of a masculine black male

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In the midst of the NBA Finals, Chris Bosh talked about the perception of him as too soft and the speculation that he's gay.

American society seems to have a very clear, narrow picture of what masculinity means, particularly for a black man. Chris Bosh and other athletes don't fit in that picture. For some, Bosh is too "soft," opting to shoot the three instead of pounding the ball in the paint. He also doesn't carry a certain persona that he says many black men feel they need to put forward to be considered masculine and, ultimately, straight.

From the Pittsburgh Courier:

For a while, they were questioning my sexuality. They still do. They were questioning my sexuality, questioning my game. And I'm like, ‘Why are they all messing with me?' I didn't do anything to anybody. I didn't do nothing. I just came here to play basketball. And they're like, ‘Oh, he's not a real superstar.' I never cared about being a superstar."

Bosh says people wouldn't question his sexuality if he acting like a macho thug:

"What am I supposed to do? You want me to have cornrows and tats on my neck and just punch somebody in the face when they score on me? It's crazy. It's impossible. I can't do that and play. That's never been who I am."

Cyd Zeigler and You Can Play's Wade Davis talk about the idea of black men having to be a certain way to be considered masculine, the social ramifications of that burden, and whether white men have similar pressures.