I am both black and gay, and over the past few days I've seen and participated in the very heated discussion regarding Gays, Blacks, homophobia, and Prop 8.
On one side you have those who have resorted to calling black people ungrateful, niggers, and traitors.
On another side you have those who have said that any criticism of the black community is racism.
Yet another side of people have said that everyone else voted for Proposition 8, so it's not fair to focus on just black people.
And then you have the slice that I belong to and will speak to in this diary.
This is a long diary, and there have been many, but I hope you take the time to read it and not simply skip over this very important discussion.
In short, understanding the state of the black community vis a vis the black church is the first step to understanding how to deal with the problem.
Until progressives here at Daily Kos and everywhere else get past their squeamishness with talking about that particular thorn, nothing will ever change.
During the run up to election day, there were several diaries calling for the exposing of members of the mormon community for their support of Proposition 8. There were many cries of vitriol and disgust at mormons for their hatred and bigotry toward gays and lesbians.
Three of the "infamous" diaries to be recced were "California's Prop 8: keep the pressure on the Mormon church! (w/ UPDATE X 3)" and "How YOU can defeat Prop 8 and preserve marriage equality." by hekebolos which urged Kossacks to find out all of those who donated to and supported the LDS movement to ban gay marriage, and "Prop 8: Under Fire, Mormons Are Backing Off (A Bit)" by juls, which continued this meme.
By the number of tips and recs and "Hear Hear!!"-style comments, one could say that Kossacks were very much against those who would push for discrimination and bigotry toward gay people.
Until it was discovered that the other group pushing for Prop 8 as much as the mormons was the black community. By a 70-30 margin in California and a 71-29 margin in Florida, black voters approved the stripping of gay rights. 65-70% of blacks across the nation do not support equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Does this mean that without black support those rights-banning laws wouldn't have been passed? Of course not. The margins were too large and the black voting community not large enough to make the difference.
What is important, however, is the fact that a historically oppressed and downtrodden minority voted overwhelmingly to keep another minority oppressed and downtrodden.
The same standard can be applied to the Mormon church as well considering the mormons founded Utah due to religious discrimination against them by the US Government in the 19th century.
Yet while there was an enormous push by Kossacks to expose and take down the LDS Church for their transgressions against gays and lesbians, any discussion of the role blacks played in this fight is met with cries of racisim, defensiveness, and more racism.
Where was the push to protest outside black churches for their rampant pulpit homophobia, like this diary and this diary espoused? Or this diary that called on Kossacks to expose the lies pushed by the Mormon church? Why wasn't that energy directed at black churches?
Black churches which can be just as bad, if not worse, than Mormon churches in their spread and support of homophobia?
Is it because blacks are a pillar of the democratic coalition whereas mormons are not?
My honest opinion is yes. And that is why I believe that the Daily Kos community has been horrifically hypocritical on this subject. Add that political reality with the reality of the squeamishness of some to criticize the black community due to fears of being called a racist, and you have the environment that exists today where you get recced diaries such as this one by shannika and this one by icebergslim calling on everyone to have understanding, empathy, and moderation with respect to the anger and hurt directed toward the black community.
I ask again, where were those calls when it came to white evangelicals and mormons, both of whom happen to vote republican?
Those calls were non-existent here.
Although Obama opposes the California ballot initiative, Project Marriage, an organization that favors the measure, believes his candidacy could help its cause. The organization hopes that Obama will bring out enough black socially conservative and evangelical voters who, though Democrats, are pro-life, antigay, and committed to conservative religious values. Black religious conservatives, unlike white evangelicals, tend to vote for Democrats, due to the party's more liberal record on civil rights in modern U.S. history. But conservative organizations have successfully exploited social conservatism among blacks to advance discriminatory agendas, particularly in the area of gay rights. This has created some highly unusual political coalitions. One black minister from Chicago, for instance, boldly proclaimed that he would march with the Ku Klux Klan in order to protest the legalization of same-sex marriage (yes - this really happened).
Just like the FISA outrage that existed when it was the democrats pushing back against Bush in 2007, an outrage that turned to a SYFPH wave when it was Barack Obama and the democrats who decided that it was necessary to give retroactive immunity, something I diaried about as well, the Kossack community has been exceedingly hypocritical.
Or how about the reactions to the bailout bill once it became apparent that it was democrats who were going to drive this through? Yet another subject I wrote on which was, unfortunately, subject to yet another SYFPH wave of democratic lock-step politicking on this site.
Now all this said, I hope that you all do some introspection as to why you react the way you react when it comes to politics. I've certainly done it and that's one of the reasons why I've written this diary. Because I've been just as hypocritical in my reactions toward republicans while turning a blind eye to democrats.
No more. Unless this kind of ridiculous partisanship ends, nothing will push this discussion forward. The anti-gay sentiment in the white evangelical and mormon communities cannot be tolerated. And neither can the anti-gay sentiments in the black community.
All have to be called out for what they are. And nothing at all can stamp that reality out.
Until you understand the deep rooted homophobia in the black community and call it for what it is, you'll never get anywhere.
Last, but not least, please read the following links regarding the Black community and widespread homophobia. While many of you were shocked that 70-30 voted for Prop 8 in California, and 71-29 in Florida, I certainly was not. Here's some reading as to why that is.
Barack Obama and Reverend Wright: An Agnostic's Take - One of my diaries
While growing up, I realized that I was different than others around me. When the other boys were talking about the girls that were developing in front of their eyes, I was instead looking at them.
And it terrified me.
The Pentecostal denomination of the Christian faith is not one that is particularly forgiving when it comes to homosexuality. Neither is the black community at large.
I listened to the sermons of the man I looked up to, sermons that in many memorable cases demonized gay people. I listened with growing horror and self-loathing at my burgeoning feelings as I entered and progressed through puberty, hearing speech of "those people" who were destined for hell. "Those people" who should never be allowed near children. "Those people" who fornicated in filth and were no better than gutter trash.
In light of these sermons and my own readings of the Bible, as well as my strongly held belief that you cannot cherry pick your faith simply to fit the particulars of your individual life, that I walked away from Christianity.
How could I possibly reconcile my core being with my core beliefs? Which could I slough off to be in alignment with the other? Despite my burgeoning problems with the orthodoxy surrounding the nature of faith and the calls to accept it blindly and without question, it was truly my sexuality that finally pushed me to walk away. It was, in the end, the tipping point. I could either go insane as a closeted gay man in an anti-gay, anti-me faith, or I could walk away from my faith and answer the questions I had about it, regardless of sexuality.
And yet, despite the trauma of growing up gay in the black community, in the incendiary Pentecostal faith, could I curse the man who I saw as a father figure then, and hope would see me as an accomplished young man today? Who would look at the sum of my life and pronounce himself proud of me?
The "Down Low" Phenomenon and its implications
Today, while there are black men who are openly gay, it seems that the majority of those having sex with men still lead secret lives, products of a black culture that deems masculinity and fatherhood as a black man's primary responsibility -- and homosexuality as a white man's perversion. And while Flex now offers baskets of condoms and lubricant, Wallace says that many of the club's patrons still don't use them.
I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.
Having read and reviewed Horace Griffin's new book Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians And Gays in Black Churches, I basically concur with his premise that the vehement homophobia expressed by many Blacks stems from a the history of so many Black slaves being converted to Christianity by conservative denominations that stressed biblical literalism, strict Victorian sexual morality that was prevalent during the same period as American slavery, and a reaction against the stereotypes of Blacks as insatiable sexual savages. The Central State students, however, do not have the excuse that their ancestors had. Having a few centuries between them and slavery, and being at most a few steps away from information — or, to extend the metaphor, a few steps away from the fucking light switch in that darkened room you're now sitting in and choosing to keep darkened — makes choosing not reaching out for it and inexcusable act of willful intellectual and spiritual laziness.
And no, by the way, I no longer give a shit about defending African Americans against the notion that they're more homophobic than whites, for the same reason I no longer give a shit about defending a Black politician like Harold Ford against the racist attack ads the Republicans are running against him. Because Harold Ford is no different than the racist Republican candidate running in Virginia, and the students at Central State University are no different than the Klan or a gang of marauding skinheads. I don't defend anyone who would turn around and leave me and mine twisting in the wind. I no longer care.
As an African-American lesbian who has been in a loving relationship for over two decades, I have been made well aware of the black community's discomfort with things gay. Our long and courageous history in the forefront of the struggle for civil rights notwithstanding, the leadership of black America -- politicians, ministers, business leaders -- has not been as outspoken as it could be and should be on the issue of gay rights. Homophobia and traditional religious teachings play a role in our silence. But the roots of our discomfort, I think, go deeper. Sadly, some African-Americans believe that it is only we who should benefit from the gains achieved by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They fear that to allow the gay community to enter the doors of opportunity opened by our struggle, to permit gays and lesbians to share in the fruits of that movement, will diminish those benefits for the black community. Truth is, there is more than enough to go around.
While thinking about the brutal attack, I recalled another news story in which a similar attack was made on a man thought to be gay. His abusers taunted him with shouts of "fag" and "queers should die."
When I read the description of these cowards, however, I was shocked.
They were black men.
I’m not saying that I’m so surprised that some blacks discriminate; rather, I’m saying that discrimination itself does not discriminate.
I never knew that I was being fed hate when I was young. I would over and over again hear my mom and some of my cousins talk about the "lesbian outcast" who shamed the family when she met and fell in love with her female companion.
At age 10, of course I did not know what a lesbian was, but after learning what that word meant, I asked my mom why she had talked so badly about Cousin Janice.
She simply said to me that the lifestyle she chose was not one of God-fearing people like us. She told me that Janice would burn in hell unless she begged for forgiveness.
Thinking back on that 12-year-old conversation with my mother, I now realize that she was feeding me hate. Hate was something that she said was a bad thing, but only according to whom you hate and for what reason.
More recently, I have been gay bashed and taunted by other blacks.
After meeting up with my friends later that night, we decided to walk up to Chelsea to the Kurfew party when we were heckled and tormented by a couple of ghetto boys in a black convertible. The words that were being used were nothing that we haven’t heard before, so we decided to ignore them and show them that we weren’t either afraid or ashamed of who we were. We continued on our way.
The saying "ignore them and they’d go away" was never more false than it was that night. Knowing that their words were bouncing off of us really annoyed the thugs and they decided to make us hear them.
At the next light, they pulled over and got out of the car. When we heard, "Get over here, fags," we began to run frantically.
Then we came upon a police officer. Feeling safe, we told the cop what had happened and that these guys were after us.
The cop looked at us and simply said "You guys are queers, you deserve it." After that, they walked away and disappeared into the evening night.
said a Black man on the corner of 129th and Fifth Avenue in Harlem to an effeminate gay Black man walking by. Most Black and Latino heterosexual men say they have called a homosexual "faggot" or "punk" at one time or another in their life, a new poll shows.
But the Black and Latino AIDS Coalition (BLAC) survey of 500 respondents said people of color are split over the legalization of same-sex marriages. Asked should same-sex marriages be legal, 37 percent of those polled said yes and 36 percent said no, while 18 percent aren't sure. Another 9 percent said they don't care.
A whopping 58 percent said God would not approve of the gay lifestyle. And 53 percent said they would not have a homosexual friend. Clearly, homophobia is alive and kickin' in the Black and Latino community. Rappers such as Ice Cube tell us in their records, "Real niggas ain't faggots." Many Black and Latino ministers with bible raised high, proclaim homosexuality "a sin before God." And in a TV interview with Evans and Novaks in March 1997, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan made it clear he regarded homosexuality an "unnatural act," and would discourage the practice whenever and wherever he could.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Ph.D., said "[T]his will only change when more Black leaders understand that when you scratch a homophobe underneath, you'll invariably find a racist."Unless we address the issue of homophobia in minority communities, we can't begin to stop the rise of AIDS. We must teach people of color that HIV affects and infects people regardless of their sexual orientation, race, or beliefs."
What does the poll finding mean to Black and Latino heterosexuals struggling to end the AIDS epidemic in minority communities? First, the rise of AIDS among Black and Latino heterosexuals is indirectly a result of homophobia in minority communities where AIDS is still seen as a gay disease.
The most lethal homophobia is arising out of the African Anglican churches and any TV viewer who saw the interview with the Nigerian Archbishop frothing and raving against homosexuality will know his intention is to seek our extermination. The following articles published confirm our fears.
An overwhelming number of Blacks suffer from homophobia - a fear of homosexuals. Homophobia, as in other phobias, is rooted in the fear of the unknown. People generally fear something which escapes their understanding or which they lack sufficient information to adequately judge a situation. The over-abundance of erroneous information on homosexuality only serves to further confuse and complicate the issue.
The influence of the Black Church, the importance of masculinity and the role of the family appear to be the underlying causes of homophobia in the Black community. These issues deserve further exploration.
First, there is the issue concerning the influence of the Black Church. A majority of Black ministers view homosexuality as going against the teachings of the Bible and immoral.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.
We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.
The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.
For gay and lesbian black men and women, the blow is even harder. But this community needs to be engaged not demonized, and we haven't engaged enough. The black church is one of the most powerful forces fomenting homophobia in America, and has fostered attitudes that have literally killed countless gay black men. It's time to Act Up against those elements that p.c. liberals have been too timid to confront. For the sake of African American gay and lesbian people as much as anyone else.
Last night was an eye opener. In the 10 years I've been giving public speeches, I've never faced a crowd like the one in Wilberforce, Ohio Tuesday evening. I often talk about sensitive issues in my speeches, so I don't expect everyone to agree with me when I take to the podium. Although most of my speeches go off smoothly, there have been a few times when things went wrong. I've been protested, challenged and questioned several times before. I've even seen a few people get up and walk out in the middle of a speech. But I have never spoken to any audience where dozens of students actually booed and jeered and hissed. Until last night.
Last night I was a keynote speaker for the annual convocation at Central State University in Ohio. Central State is a historically black college with a long and proud tradition of educating African Americans. So I was really looking forward to speaking to an educated black audience about homophobia in the black community. I was also looking forward to joining my friend and colleague Staceyann Chin, who was the other keynote speaker for the event. But my optimism quickly turned to disappointment only moments after I walked on stage.