I wrote this blog last week: http://ladecadencepense.blogspot.nl/2017/05/boi.html
some days later, i gained some knowledge about the word BOI. I read this information as a response to a question a friend of mine posted on facebook:
‘how is ‘boi’ black cultural appropriation?’
here's the info:
not so long ago, i would have instantly changed my self claimed identity and profile picture and everything i ever posted about the word to correct myself. I would have been ashamed for not knowing and wouldn’t want anyone to see it, for they might not like me anymore.
however, I don’t believe this ‘self-censorship-and-shame cocktail’ is the attitude that helps anyone. nobody knows it all, and even though i try to be as open minded as can be, i still have limited outreach and i can’t see all the sides of the elephant at the same time.
so, with this writing i want to reflect upon my feelings and thoughts related to the term i was happy to claim as part of my identity, one day not-so-long-ago. after the dynamics of reflection and talks with others, i hope i can make a decision, as wisely as possible.
a short summary of the sources i found on the origins of ‘boi’- it’s in my own words, which is important because i need to really get this:
whereas the term ‘boi’ is used in different parts of the queer/LGBTQ+community in order to create a different manifestation of masculinity (from masculine lesbians to feminine gays and submissive whatevers)---
‘boi’ originates early 1990’s from the black community and served a totally different purpose, “it was more likely a play off the racially charged meaning that has long been associated with the term, given the long history of whites, calling adult black men by the diminutive term “boy.” black men reclaimed the word and changed it into ‘boi’.
-I am still curious about how widespread this word is known amongst the black male community, worldwide. because:
personal sidenote: early 90s, i lived a great part of my life in the midst of communities of colour, or i'd rather say in one mixed poc-community. I never picked up on the term ‘boi’ back then, but hey, i was also called ‘wigger’ (i am not even going to write down where this comes from), without this being offensive for anybody at school back then. and i was a fan of both boyz II men and the backstreet boys...who knows what weird bubble i was living in!
times change, we have to as well. thank goddess. I lived in rotterdam, it might have been, or must have been, a totally different reality from racially mixed schools or communities elsewhere, during that time. of course now i know that even though i was from the same neighbourhood as my black/poc classmates, and even though my parents had more or less the same income as theirs, and we got the same education, there must have been moments when certain doors remained closed for them, whereas for me they were wide open. again: back then, i didn’t have a clue. we just didn’t talk about that. or my poc classmates didn’t talk about it with me...which makes me sad, and wish i'd done better.
anyhow: it’s a good thing that i have to go back to those times and think about it again. and it’s good that i know now where the word ‘boi’ originated from.
but now what?
is it an inappropriate word for me to use, as a white person? or is it merely a positive thing that words lead us to do research on other minority groups, as long as we’re open to do so? and given that, does doing this research make it more appropriate for me to keep on using the word? or should i change it, knowing what i know now?
the following part might be hard for people to follow. please ask if you are curious and don’t get it.
I love it when people call me ‘boi’. it feels playful, it excites me, and it suits me ‘cause it’s bratty, and faggy. it’s the more cheerful and easier way to say ‘fag with cunt’- which also has appropriation glued to it, but since i don’t identify as woman and since i just AM a fag, i already made up my mind about this and continue using it. My faggotry comrades agree. ‘boi’ also has a kinky element, which i also like. I want my lovers to be able to call me boi, because it sounds just right.
still, i want to respect and acknowledge the cultural heritage that sticks to the word, and the sensitivity it can cause for others, with different stories than mine.
since it is all about the spelling (you can’t hear the difference between boy/boi/bxi/bxy when you say it), i decided to change the spelling. i think the queer community needs to change and update their labels continuously, this is my contribution for now. the ‘x’ has been used in a variety of forms already, in attempts of making ‘old’ words more genderfluid - seems pretty good to me! i hope that with this reflection and minor change i can show the process that comes with trying to take into account all 'other' minorities, and how complex this can be, but also: how necessary. respectful feedback always welcome.