Friday, November 14, 2008


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.


jennifer dunn said...

Great post! I'm discouraged by the propositions that were passed, too. I like that you call attention to the importance of the Black, Gay voice - it was hearing that voice that first made me realize that Christian-fundamentalism (& the associated intolerance towards homosexuals) was not for me. Specifically, it was hearing about one such individual's experience growing up in a faith community - and I think that's an important component too that's missing from the conversation. Ultimately, Black/White, Gays/Allies need to be more outspoken about their faith and how that encompasses compassion and support for the homosexual community...

Anonymous said...

I respectfully protest your use of the word homophobia. Being opposed to the gay political agenda does not mean that people have an “irrational fear” of gays. Don’t citizens have a right to disagree with the gay agenda without being labeled as having a psychological disorder? Agree with my political goals or I will label you as crazy.

The gay agenda seeks to change a definition of marriage that has existed for thousands of years. To do that I think they need to engage honestly with people who are skeptical of yet another redefinition of the traditional American family. They need to answer honest concerns about where does it end? If gay marriage, why not polygamy? Law professor Jonathan Turley has acknowledged this issue and come out in support of polygamy. Agree with him or not, but he has been intellectually honest.

Finally, I hope that gay activists will pursue their goals in the public sphere, by engaging with voters and not seek their solutions in the courts. A court-led movement would only encourage a dramatic backlash (i.e. California). If you can’t convince the majority of people of your arguments you need better arguments.