Kevin Laroy had many talking on the latest episode of Black Ink Crew mainly because he ditched Young Bae in order to spend the night with a guy, which shocked, who thought they were on a date. Kevin recognized that was rude, and apologized if Bae misconstrued the situation. The shop’s newest artist doesn’t identify himself as “gay,” because to him, the identification distracts people from who Kevin is. So, who is Kevin?
He recently sat down with The Advocate's Kelsey Minor to talk about coming out and what tatting does for him.
The Advocate: Let me start by talking about your background and being born and raised in the South. It’s a different environment there, especially for people of color, and then when you throw in LGBT, it’s almost a different beast. How are the people in your life responding to your truth?
Kevin Laroy: People have been supportive. What’s crazy is on my way to shoot that scene at that club with Bae and L.A., and it was one person in my life that I hadn’t talked to about it and never got any response from. That was my older brother, and you know in my life I’m OK with me, but I always want the close people in my life to be OK with it too. So on the way to shoot that scene I called my brother to let him know that I was on this show and it was going to follow the details of my personal life, and when I said that he stopped me to say that he already knew and it was not a problem for him. He was the last person I needed to tell, and after that everyone has been super supportive.
When you were introduced to the Black Ink audience a number of people took to Twitter saying they recognized you from Ink Master. Since you aren’t new to reality TV, why was Black Ink the right place to live in your truth?
Producers wanted me to come out on Ink Master, but that was a competition show, and it was my belief that my personal life had nothing to do with the competition, so I didn’t want to do it. On the other hand, Black Ink is a show about the lives of the tattoo artists. The platform was right, and I felt like we live in a time where there is no face to being gay, and just because someone doesn’t walk around saying they are doesn’t mean that he’s on the down low. My main focus with telling this story is to show there are levels to being black and masculine and that I shouldn’t have to identify myself to fit into anyone else’s normal.
Staying on that subject for a moment, as black men we often times have to defend our masculinity if we identify as gay or bisexual. Are you in your personality on this show trying to get people away from doing that?
Oh, definitely, in the black community, for sure, it feels like it’s if someone can’t tell you’re gay or bisexual or if you’re more masculine than, say, a more flamboyant gay then you’re DL, and I think that’s totally disrespectful. Saying I’m DL is just like saying that I am afraid to speak and live in my truth, and that is not the case. I want to show people that there are many faces to LGBT.
In the episode you spoke about your hesitance to using the word "gay." I want to know if you could elaborate on that a little bit more.
Well, my hesitation is still there because this is a little complicated to me. Yes, I am attracted to men, but the sentence doesn’t end there because I am also attracted to women. It bothers me that people are referred to by their sexual preferences; I mean, to title someone by their preferences sexually is a little demeaning. So in terms of an identity, I am Kevin but I will never be Kevin, the gay tattoo artist. Society likes to place people in categories, into boxes or identities so people can label and attach you to something, and it shouldn’t be that way.