Flashes of Pride: Horsley

Carrie George

Harold Horsley, a junior design and technology major (copy note: costume design), dates men, but doesn’t label himself as gay.

In fact, Horsley doesn’t like to label himself at all.

“A lot of people get stuck on those labels,” Horsley said.  “It’s not a shackle, but it’s a restriction.”

Horsley said he must get to know someone before feeling attraction toward them.

“I’m not sexually active, but if I were to be, I would have to be mentally or emotionally attracted to you,” Horsley said. “I can’t just sleep with a piece of meat.”

Horsley initially thought he was asexual but learned that asexuality means no feelings of sexual attraction whatsoever.

“It’s a mix between all of that,” Horsley said. “Which was really confusing as a child growing up.’”

Living in Texas as a gay child, Horsley said he had “to grow up quickly.”

“Kids on the playground would be cruel or mean,” Horsley said. “I had to learn how to fend for myself, so I would fight a lot.”

Horsley said he fought constantly, both physically and verbally, from the ages of four to 12.

“I wasn’t the type to go in my corner and be quiet,” Horsley said. “Why should I have to go to my corner, when you can go to yours?”

Horsley said he has fought off a lot of stereotypes in his life.

“High school wasn’t a bad time for me because people thought of me as this black, gay unicorn,” Horsley said.

A lot of Horsley’s classmates viewed him as a typical “gay best friend,” he said.

“It’s kind of like saying the black best friend,” Horsley said. “It’s not the same thing, but it’s seeing something from a shallow perspective.”

Despite being a costume design major, Horsley does not like shopping and other “typically girly things.”

“I played sports,” Horsley said. “I played soccer for five years. I played basketball. I did everything possibly that I wanted to do. People just think since you’re kind of effeminate, they can automatically say you’re just this girly girl all the time. Don’t put me in that bracket, because there’s so much more.”

As the only African American male in the costume design program at Kent, Horsley has also felt isolated.

“Sometimes it’s very hard because in theatre in general, it’s hard to find someone who looks like you onstage, or it’s hard to find someone in the crew who looks like you,” Horsley said.

Pursuing a career in this industry with no role models who look like him, Horsley has to always push himself.

“Sometimes I have to say it internally: ‘If you just work hard, you’ll get there,’ but sometimes it feels like I’ll never get there,” Horsley said.

However, Horsley still has his parents and his own faith in himself to keep him going.

Horsley recalled attending Golden Flash Day with his mother after being admitted to Kent State.

“I remember getting off the elevator where (my mother) told me, ‘I believe that you should go here,’” Horsley said.

Horsley worried that with no other prominent African American males in the fashion industry, he would have a better chance at success in journalism.

“If I were to do fashion journalism or anything with writing, I feel like I would be deprived because I wasn’t doing anything; I wasn’t creating,” Horsley said. “I don’t regret my decision because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Carrie George is the is the administration and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].