Intimacy between black men, particularly gay black men, has always been cause for pause within the black community. While outward displays of toughness and "manliness" are celebrated, open demonstrations of sensitivity and affection are more often shunned.

Many scholars point to the emasculating indignities suffered through slavery as a root cause of this phenomenon. Whatever the case, the effects are very real and in many cases, detrimental to the emotional, mental and sometimes the physical health of our community. As a gay black man, Jermaine Dickerson knows this all too well.

"Growing up I just found it really hard to express intimacy with the male role models in my life, it was hard for me to express a certain level of emotion," said the Michigan based graphic designer. "As I got older and began to learn about heteronormativity and all these things that sort of negate intimacy among black men, I took it upon myself to try to deconstruct some of those oppressive ideals."

Dickerson created #BlackBoysEmbrace to break down those walls.

"With #BlackBoysEmbrace, I really want to encourage more black men to be expressive and intimate in a romantic and in a platonic sense," Dickerson said. "I definitely want to make sure that queer men have a space in this conversation, but I also want to provide spaces for other people -- fathers, brothers, friends, cousins to know, it's OK to be affectionate." This open call for participation does just that.

The responses came flooding in.


Brotherly love.

Black Queer Men came through and blessed the feed.

One time for this throwback.

Dickerson is no stranger to expanding the conversation around inclusion. As founder of Hero Nation, he's a huge advocate for minority representation in superhero culture.

His Hero Nation comic con event held in Ypsilanti, Michigan attracted hundreds of participants this summer.

Kudos to this real-life superhero for helping to reshape our perception of what intimacy between us means.