Neil Patrick Harris
Subscribe To
Out Magazine
Scroll To Top

P-Valley Season 2's Gay Sex Scene Is Worth All the Conversation

P Valley Lil Murda

Editor's note: this post contains spoilers from Season 2, Episode 4 of P-Valley on Starz.

If you’re not watching Starz’s P-Valley, why not?!

For the month of June, Starz provided those with an Amazon Prime subscription an opportunity to binge the first season of the series for free. In it, you meet the charismatic and gender-irreverent Uncle Clifford, the wild and scrappy employees of the Pynk (a strip club she owns), and a few other key players in the fictitious town of Chucalissa, Mississippi. The storylines are plentiful, but if you need a breakdown of them all, you’ll have to ask someone else. For the purposes of this story, we are focusing on one Lil Murda.

In season one of P-Valley, Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan) finds herself romantically intertwined with Lil Murda (J. Alphonse Nicholson) a local rapper on the rise. This comes in spite of some initial protestations of the bearded and shellacked nonbinary wonder who has a rule book that’s come to govern the behavior of all of those inside the Pynk. Murda pursues Clifford, building something akin to a relationship. And then Clifford’s own fears materialize as, when faced with the choice of acceptance in rap and the budding relationship, Murda chooses his own career over the possibility of love.

It’s important to lay this out. Viewers watched Murda’s pursuit of Clifford, many cheering it on. Some thought it was empowering: Clifford, a bigger, dark-skinned, feminine presenting nonbinary badass, deserved love. So their season one sex scene was welcome. And even in season two, Clifford’s second sex scene seemed to be somewhat applauded.

Now ignoring Murda, who came to regret publicly shunning her, Clifford finds herself being approached by another attractive piece of trade at her birthday party. One thing leads to another and Clifford is on the receiving end of a blowjob, full-frontal nudity and all. And while there was considerable chatter about the size of Clifford’s...appendage, the scene also seemed welcomed by audiences. 

This differed from the reception of the show’s most recent sex scene where Lil Murda reconnects with Big Teak (John Clarence Stewart) — an old friend who is fresh out of prison — in more ways than one. Viewers watch Murda rip open a condom before the pair engage in some pretty passionate, lube-inclusive sex. The format of the scene hews closely to a catalog of work that executive producer Patrik-Ian Polk has built over the span of his career that double as sites of sex education for gay men. But for some reason, the scene has sparked a backlash.

While it may be laughable, some have raised questions about the sexuality of the two actors — both Nicholson and Stewart are dating women and are not publicly known to be queer — due to their acting prowess. Others have said that the scene goes too far. But, for an episode that also featured a sex scene between two women, what exactly about this tender moment was too much?

To say that I haven’t hoped for this moment since Big Teak first appeared on the Katori Hall-created series is a lie. There was no overt indication he was gay, but for some reason...I hoped. When it finally happened, it felt natural. It felt like — and still feels like — something I haven’t quite seen before. Since then, I’ve been wracking my brain for a depiction of two masculine Black men making love on film or television and I couldn’t come up with one. This isn’t a critique, but there has always been something quite heteronormative about depictions of gay sex in the mainstream. It, in part, was why Clifford’s blowjob scene caused chatter: while those assigned male at birth of many affectations receive blowjobs in real life, to see that reality appear on screen seemed a slight wrinkle in the broadcloth of representation. Seeing two pieces of rough trade going at it did the same.

I will stop short of calling the scene historic because not only have I not done a comprehensive study, but ideas around what and who is masculine are largely subjective. But it is interesting to think about how still today, in 2022, an audience that has been tuning in to watch a show centering around a strip club and its gender rebellious owner for a season and a half could be turned off by a gay sex scene — particularly one handled as carefully as this. While some may contend it has more to do with how in-depth the scene went, few will convince me that it’s not simply them tripping over a wrinkle.

RELATED | Historic Gay Film Punks Is Finally Being Released Widely This Year

From our Sponsors

READER COMMENTS ()
    Watch Now: Pride Today
    Trending Stories & News

    Get the latest updates about monkeypox. Click here.