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My personal Instagram account has been all about celebrating the concept of #blackboyjoy. But when someone asked me what it meant, I thought it was worth doing a deep dive in thinking about what black boy joy means to me.

Black boy joy is about challenging conventional ideas around black masculinity. Growing up I remember not wearing bright colors, not smiling in photos, and overall not feeling totally comfortable in my skin. Culture has changed so much since then and so have I. In the past few years, aside from buying new shirts in bright yellow and pink, I’ve cultivated spaces where I can exist outside the expectations of society. That’s worth celebrating.

Black boy joy is about openly showing platonic affection. There is a challenge in male friendships where you historically couldn’t openly display genuine interest. But having bonds with like-minded people is invaluable and the key to black boy joy is celebrating the relationships that you have with the people that you love–creating space for conversation and bucking them up as often as you can.

Black boy joy is about having the space to be open and vulnerable. So much of toxic masculinity is built on the thought that the only feeling appropriate for men to display is anger. A lot of my personal life shift is focused on expressing by struggles with anxiety and talking publicly about going to therapy. The hope being that if I’m open about it, maybe it will give other people the gentle nudge they need to take care of themselves better.