How many times have you witnessed mainstream gay organizations and activists compare the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement of the 60's? Probably more times than you can count on both hands. You've probably also lost count of how many people within the Black heterosexual community that have been offended by this comparison. If only I had a dime for everytime a preacher or some homophobic "God fearing" person has said that "Black people couldn't hide who they were, gays on the other hand can walk into a room and nobody would ever know", therefore escaping the opportunity to be oppressed.
I know many people in the Black community feel the civil rights movement is being "hijacked" by white gay men. These are the same men who wear the faces of those who were instumental in denying African-Americans their basic civil rights less than seventy years ago. Trust me I get it. But as a Black gay man who identifies proudly with both sides of his identity, I have some major issues with this argument.
I came across an article written by Black conservative bloggerLaShawn Barber and her words echoed the sentiments of many angry Black folks who are unhappy with the strategy and success of the gay rights movement. To be honest, I'd never heard of Lashawn or her blog until today, she seems to have a huge following despite how misguided and uninformed she is on GLBT issues. This is what she had to say:
LaShawn throws around some typical conservative gay bashing words in her article, "perversion" has to be my favorite. But as she attempted to paint a picture of just how different the two struggles are, unbeknownst to her she clearly points out the similarities. For today let's just flip the script and put a Black face on it.
I think many people within the Black community forget that gays and lesbians of color exist, because each time someone argues that gay people didn't have to sit at the back of the bus or drink from the "colored only" fountain they clearly only see a white face in their minds.
Obviously LaShawn and others have forgotten that Black gays and lesbians marched from Selma to Montgomery, were attacked by dogs and fire hoses on Bloody Sunday, and lived in fear just as those who didn't identify as GLBT. We are treated as second class citizens today much like our people were during the civil rights era. Blacks were considered sub-human, ignorant, hyper-sexual,( dare I say"perverted") and a threat to the traditional way of living.
Black gays and lesbians live in fear of physical, emotional and spiritual abuse simply because of an orientation that is as natural to us as our skin color. I know LaShawn would never be able to wrap her right-wing, conservative, bible-thumping brain around that statement but it's true, at least for me.
Do you know it's perfectly legal in 33 states to be terminated from your job solely because of who you love? So the argument that gays aren't barred from certain types of employment doesn't fly, try again LaShawn.
It doesn't matter who was oppressed first or the most, what matters is no one should ever be oppressed.
This is a lesson that conservatives like LaShawn obviously tuned out during vacation bible study. I think Wanda Sykes said it best on an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show, "Gay is the new Black".