While I was crying like a baby as I watched the nation elect BHO as POTUS, I was wondering how the propositions in CA, FL, AZ and AR were doing. Sadly, each measure passed. So, my wonderful day of celebration was marred by the realization that the GLBT community suffered more losses to the popular ballot.
What I did not expect was the aftermath of the decision in CA. CNN reported the findings of ONE exit poll, and it noted that approximately 70% of African Americans supported the ban on gay marriage (incidentally, that percentage ticked higher among the African American women polled).
Baby, "The Gays" lost it. The gay blogosphere went up in arms, and black folk were maligned as I've never seen before. Dan Savage would no longer support black issues. Andrew Sullivan stood atop his soapbox declaring that "African Americans are the most homophobic" demographic in the nation. White gays could not believe that black folks "threw them under the bus." Comments throughout the gay blogosphere were littered with anti-black vitriol that would have made the Klan weep tears of joy.
The black blogosphere hit back, particularly those who support gay rights. Continually pointing out that this animus from the gay community was based on one exit poll reported by one news source, the black blogosphere attempted to add reason into the maelstrom. "The Gays" were not having it. Meanwhile, the black gay voice essentially was ignored.
A few truths have come to my mind. First, there is no question that the black community is painfully homophobic. I see that homophobia as similar to the homophobia of the conservative Christian community (meaning I don't see the black community as the most homophobic; that's a red herring). Second, there is no question that there is a prejudice against black folks (regardless of sexual orientation) that has not been sufficiently addressed by the gay community. Third, too few black gay folks have come out and been honest with their family and friends. I think that the act of coming out within the black community would work wonders at mitigating the homophobia that we see. Finally, the gay community has to deal with the fact that it has been its own worst PR enemy. It's conventional wisdom that gay = white in the minds too many within this country, and we in the gay community know that it isn't true. Yet, by looking at our collective output to the world, it would be hard to deny the "whitewashing" of our image.
There is a great deal of work to be done. And I have to admit that I think that there are other issues that the gay community needs to address just as vigorously as marriage. However, until we get our act together with the issues of race and representation, we will see sad displays like we have seen in the last week. Bridges will be burned, understanding lost. The gay community has come so far so fast, and momentum is on our side. But we need everyone who supports us to feel as though they are an equal part of this fight. That is the lesson from the Civil Rights Movement that the gay rights movement needs to understand in order to succeed.
Okay, I'm done. Kill the hateration and holleration (thank you Ms. Blige); we don't have time. I have a march to attend here in DC on Saturday for marriage equality.