In the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, renowned Nigerian writer,
‘the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story.’
In the modern era where we find ourselves, people are constantly carving out their niche in society and coming out with their own unique identities. It gets tricky when a particular group of people becomes identified with certain traits which apply only to some members of the community rather than the whole. The reality is that there can never be one definition for a group of people because we are all inherently different. This is why people and communities must be portrayed as three-dimensional and accurately as possible to avoid creating stereotypes. You may be wondering where this is going. This article is about two men who present a totally different dimension to the definition of a gay relationship.
In most movies and media representation of gay couples, one partner is usually the ‘macho’ man while the other is presented as effeminate. Deducting from this, people are quick to decipher who is a ‘top’ and who is a ‘bottom’. Off of our heads, we probably can easily recall a gay couple or two who fit this illustration either from YouTube, a movie, or a celebrity couple. However, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with such a pairing, the constant depiction of this as the ideal gay couple makes a non-conforming pairing seem abnormal.
Popularly known as ZednRay, Zed Leroi and Rosario Ray are two men that are constantly reminding the world that a gay relationship is solely one man falling in love with another regardless of how manly or effeminate they both are. These two men perfectly fit the profile of a ‘manly’ man from their built bodies to their dressing styles, mannerisms, and their general behavior. Somehow these two dominant men have managed to be together for over three years.
Zed who is originally from Tunisia in North Africa, lived in Paris and London for a while before going to the USA where he met Ray who was born and bred in Louisiana, USA. According to the two lovebirds who also happen to be artists, they met on queer dating app, Grindr and hit it off instantly upon meeting. The two own a couple’s YouTube channel where they upload entertaining videos of themselves, vlogs, and music videos of their songs. They also have a huge following on social media. Apart from the fact that these two guys have stated that they are both dominant in their relationship, another striking thing about their relationship is the level of openness, trust, and love that you see with these two in their YouTube videos and how easy it is for them to express their feelings to each other- a phenomenon which is rarely seen between ‘black’ men.
Zed and Ray had been together for a while before coming out through a video which they posted on Instagram. It generated a lot of buzz and according to Ray on one of their YouTube videos, he went through a serious bout of depression afterward. In a video with his siblings and boyfriend, Ray revealed how his coming out helped him realize that a lot of people who he thought were friends were actually enemies in disguise. Fortunately for Ray, he has a supportive family who has continued to accept and stand by him through the tough times. Zed’s relationship with his family, on the other hand, became strained after he told them he was gay largely owing to the conservative nature of his home country. Ray identifies as bisexual while Zed identifies as gay. Ray has also been married before and has a son who he has introduced to Zed.
For anyone who has never seen two dominant men in a relationship before, this phenomenon would be a little hard to wrap around their head; until they meet Zed and Ray or watch any of their YouTube videos. With the natural flow and tempo of their relationship, it is almost impossible not to acknowledge how they just seem perfect for each other. While Ray is outspoken and Zed is more chill, they are very expressive with each other vocally and physically as can be seen in their videos. Perhaps one of the things that make this couple so unique is that they take time away from their YouTube channel to work on their relationship and they do not hide it or apologize for it. Ray explained this in a video they did after taking a few months’ break from YouTube. He talked about how their relationship was his priority and how they would take as much time as was necessary to work out their issues and grow as a couple away from the screens. While this might not have been splendid news for the fans, it showed a certain realness to them and how much they are invested in each other.
Before meeting each other, Ray was into singing, acting, and modeling while Zed was into designing, singing, and possibly bodybuilding with his incredibly built body. Whilst a lot of people tend to lose themselves in relationships, develop different personalities, and change who they are during dating, these two have been able to find a balance between staying true to themselves and becoming a team. The balance can be seen in how both of them have: independent music careers as well as a combined one, personal social media accounts where they upload individual content, and couple accounts where their romance life is the main focus.
They both have beautiful voices which they tend to casually show off a lot in their YouTube videos. They currently have four songs as a duo namely: 3 AM, Wine It Up, All I want is you, and the most recent one, Je Ne Respire Plus. They recently dropped the video for their 2019 single, All I Want is You on their YouTube channel. The video depicts the two in a Bonnie and Clyde romance setting with them starring as criminal lovers who are eventually arrested by the police and tried in court. Although they both get different prison sentences in the video, they somehow end up in the same prison cell at the end of the video. The video is a beautiful creation that complements the very catchy pop tune of the song. Their songs cover the genres of reggae, pop, RnB, and soul. They owe the lyrics of their song Je Ne Respire Plus to Zed whose first language is French. As a result of Zed’s French background, they tend to infuse the French language into some of their videos although Ray is mostly unable to speak the language.
Regarding their sexual life, they have both revealed that although they both prefer to top, they have learned how to be versatile as compromise is key in their relationship. They live together and work together. While this could cause a lot of friction between them, having been together for three years, they have been able to successfully navigate the dynamics so far.
These two guys undoubtedly do a whole lot of good for the LGBTQ+ community and as numerous fans have testified, are an inspiration not just to young queer boys from minority communities but to the many gay people who are not represented in the stereotype-filled media. It cannot be overemphasized that representation matters. Lack of representation perpetuates itself as people hide their true selves for fear of standing alone. This is why people like Zed and Ray are very important in bringing down the walls for the community. Generally speaking, having people with whom we can identify in our community, the media, and other platforms helps us feel a little bit less alien and much more comfortable with being ourselves. On this note, Zed and Ray are doing a great job of breaking stereotypes in the LGBT community and we only hope that adequate representation of all forms of LGBT individuals and couples will be more forthcoming as the future progresses.