How large of a web could you create to hide who you truly are? Especially in a world where we are all encouraged to love ourselves? A man named Gamal “G” Turawa did just this, spinning himself a masked life to keep his true self sheltered. The Black Cop highlights Gamal’s journey as the first openly Gay, Black policeman on the force and how he came to accept himself for all he is. Read more here In our article Masked Cop
You must understand two very important things before watching this film, The Black Cop: First off, it highlights the way people behaved in the 70s. Many of the conversations are shocking in today’s day in age. The unacceptable language and behaviour in regards to race and sexual orientation were very common. There was a lack of understanding of how offensive these things truly were. To feel part of it, Gamal colluded with their behaviour. Staying hidden was a lot easier if he complied.
Even Gamal’s white foster parents made many jokes about the colour of his skin. These were people who loved him. While we don’t know if they had bad intent, there were consequences. After a policeman spat “fuck off you black bastard,” at him, he truly began to process the colour of his skin and what it meant to him at the time. As you can imagine, Gamal detested the police after this. The malice quickly turned to admiration, though, when he saw a black policeman on traffic duty. When he put his hand up, people listened. To Gamal, this was power. This was what he wanted to do.
Throughout most of his career, Gamal had tunnel vision. He had to work twice as hard to be looked at with half the regard of his white colleagues. His “ultimate opportunity” came when one night, some colleagues of his came banging on his door. They came into his room, told him that he was the “wrong colour for the job,” then proceeded to take a white shoe shiner and paint his skin.
Ultimately, it came down to how well Gamal could hide behind the badge. Even he would throw around racist and homophobic jokes. He took shelter behind the arrests of the people who reflected the parts of himself that made him fear his reflection. This feeling can, unfortunately, be quite relatable, hence our article Masked Cop. Becoming a policeman gave Gamal’s true identity the ultimate hiding place from not only the world around him but from himself. He spun himself the perfect disguise.
Bit by bit, the web became more difficult to hold together. It began to unspin rapidly as more instances of blatant racism and homophobia occurred. Staying in the shadows was no longer an option.
You know that feeling when the weight of everything you are holding in becomes crushing, and eventually explodes? Following Gamal’s explosion, he starts to heal by answering the question “Who defines you?” He never looked to himself for the answer before. His whole life was an effort to be his version of “correct”. He accepted himself after learning that he owned his identity, and eventually took pride in who he was. “40 years of hiding and I’ve come out,” he confidently said to a large crowd.
Did it cross your mind how long you can manage to stay hidden when you do not want to be found? As long as forty years. Gamal grew up in a time when people were ignorant and may well not have grasped the harm of their words and actions. He was perceived as perfection, then rebuilt into the embodiment of all things he previously concealed. But, he did not look back after finding his true self. Hopefully, neither would you.
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