Deon Cole is known for his comedy and for portraying Anthony Anderson’s asinine co-worker “Charlie” on ABC’s Black-ish, but over the weekend he went viral after rocking a Gucci velvet tuxedo complete with full bell bottoms during Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards.
The bold fashion choice was daring and highlighted the ways that men are often pigeonholed when it comes to expressing themselves through the lens of fashion. Instead of going for a traditional black tuxedo, he instead wore something as a tribute to the past, pulled from the archives of the 60’s and 70’s.
However instead of concentrating on the night’s abundance of Black excellence, many people focused on the bell bottoms, questioning his sexuality and hurling homophobic comments in his direction.
Cole responded to the backlash on social media, sharing one of the homophobic critiques in an Instagram post.
“Tomorrow [I’m] going to a post talking about this and the many many more derogatory messages and threats I’ve received about that gucci velvet bell bottom pants suit I wore,” he began. “It’s sad that these messages come from my own kind but more about this tomorrow. #justakidfromthechi #gucci.”
On Tuesday Cole followed up with a lengthy 14-minute Instagram Live where he expounded on how people should be free to express themselves without hate.
“I’ve always had the balls to wear what I wanted to wear and with that comes opinions,” he began.
“The part that I’m tripping over about this is the hate. The hate that I have been receiving because I wore a bell bottom velour velvet suit has been unreal. I’ve been told–I’ve been called a “b—h a– n—a,” while he named other offensive derogatory phrases and claimed that some even threatened him physically.
He explained that the comments came from both women and men who even went so far to denounce his comedic talent. Cole confirmed that the outfit was a tribute to his love of the disco-era.
In his comment section Cole was offered support by his famous friends including Gabrielle Union, Don Lemon and Snoop Dogg.
“I’m baffled and hate you got threats but keep on doing you and what makes YOU happy @deoncole because your joy will allow you to keep bringing joy to others. Respect,” Gabrielle Union wrote.
Deon, You give me joy too brother. You are the real f’ing deal. Keep spitting truth,” wrote Don Lemon.
Even after his Instagram message, Cole shared that he’s still receiving hateful messages online.