Banjee or banjee boy is a term from the 1980s or earlier that describes a certain type of young Latino, Black, or multiracial man who has sex with men and who dresses in stereotypical masculine urban fashion for reasons which may include expressing masculinity, hiding his sexual orientation and attracting male partners. The term is mostly associated with New York City and may be Nuyorican in origin. Attitude, clothing, ethnicity, masculinity, physique and youth are all elements of what has been called "banjee realness".
An African-American man writes:
- Banjee. That was the identity I was given back in the summer of 1991, when I, half out/half in approached the colored museum of the Christopher Street piers. I was new to the life, so I had no reference for what people were talking about, but I soon gathered that "banjee" meant that I wasn't a "queen." Whatever the terms of identification, all I knew was that there was one thing that brought both the banjees and the queens (and whatever lies between) to the pier: we were men who loved men. An anxious 19 year old, I wore my banjee realness designation like a badge of honor. [...] a queen schooled me on how my masculinity was something that carried great weight, not only in the gay world, but the straight world as well
Homo thug is a more recent and more popular term which is nearly-synonymous with "banjee". However, homo thug does imply that the man in question is primarily homosexual. In contrast, a banjee might be homosexual but might also be bisexual or only have opportunistic homosexual sex with men when women are unavailable. The latter situation is a theme in many of the pornographic films mentioned above.
Gayngsta, a portmanteau derived from "gay" and "gangsta", is another recent coinage. It has mostly been used in relation to the underground LGBT hip hop scene as shown in the documentary Pick Up the Mic and featured in the "Homorevolution Tour 2007" with these artists. While easily discernible in writing, pronunciation is barely discernible from "gangsta".
Banjee girl is heard so rarely that it is difficult to define. In discussing a fashion show in Paris, one reviewer wrote in 2005:
The low-rise skirt in denim is the first of its kind seen on the Paris runways. What is now clear to me is that no self-respecting Banjee Latina, or ghetto-fabulous “Shamecka-girl” or high rolling white chick will be ever able to resist its urban appeal.
Several examples of the use of the term "Banjee girl" exist in the blogosphere but it has rarely, if ever, made it into print or mass media. An exception is the Billboard charting single "Back to My Roots" by RuPaul, which states the phrase in a list of hair fashions. In the film Paris is Burning, the term itself is used in comparable frequency with its male counterpart, "banjee boy", which coupled with the film's focus on the inextricably connected transgender and drag culture of 80s NYC, lends itself to a contextual definition of those performers impersonating females and attempting to exhibit the ultimately judged quality of holistic visual verisimilitude—"realness".
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