June 14, 2007 will always be remembered as the day when prejudice, bigotry, and homophobia were put aside in Massachusetts and the landmark decision granting full marriage rights to same sex couples were upheld. After three years of marriage equality the world has not come to an end, divorce rates have not increased, and religious expression and freedom of speech have not been altered.
Since Massachusetts began performing gay unions thousands of people from all over the country have flocked their to have their unions legally recognized by the state. It seemed that every wedding photo or news story that came out of Massachusetts had the face of a white gay or lesbian couple. Initially I held out hope that I would see an African-American gay couple who were committing their lives to one another but that hope was quickly diminished. Instead over time I was left wondering if Black gays and lesbians were even interested in marriage equality or if it should be a non-issue with other pressing matters such as racism, lack of education, lack of health care, unemployment, and HIV/AIDS on our plate.
I've always been an advocate for marriage equality and I've never entertained the notion that I wouldn't be able to marry the love of my life simply because I'm gay...that simply just isn't an option for me.
The following e-mail from a gay male psychologist who just happens to be white turned up in my inbox one day and stirred up a number of different emotions in me from anger to...well more anger. This is what he had to say:
Is the right for two same gender- loving males to get married a black gay issue? No, it is not a black gay issue. I’ve noticed that black gay males for the most part do not desire to enter into monogamous relationships with any intent on a long term commitment. I believe as most black gay men believe that “they” are inherently unable to sustain or comprehend monogamous long- term relationships; therefore, they should not try to operate in a conduct that is not local to them. Black gay men have so much more to concern themselves with other than the right to get married. They can hardly get along long enough to even consider taking the momentous responsibility of marriage. All of the emotional issues that black men deal with in regards to personal relationships, friendships and family need to be resolved before marriage should even be thought of.
As in most areas, black gay men will eventually follow in the footsteps of white gay males. Although it may be years down the road, I do believe black gay men will find that the right to get married will be important to them. However, by that time it most likely will be a mute issue and as usual the in fighting and community turmoil will be the only obstacle.
Black gay men should resolve not to have to try and follow a white gay agenda. White gay men do not have, for the most part, the emotional and spiritual baggage that black gay men have. It would stand to reason that black gay men would have a much more difficult time addressing and embracing same sex rights issues with all of the internalized debate and doubt about their place and role in the general society. It appears very important to black gay men how they are perceived in the overall black community. With the inability to establish and maintain a cohesive and self sustaining black gay community I can see how important it is to them how they are perceived.
It is very apparent that the black gay community focuses on the sexuality of gayness first and the emotional secondary. I’m sure there will be an evolution of this hierarchy and in time it will change. I believe that once being gay means more than sex in the black community more strides will be made in the political arena. Black gay men do not feel reflected in any facet of America and that is mostly because they have no desire to be reflected. White gay men do desire to be reflected in the fabric of the country in which we profess loyalty to. Gay rights are only important to those who have embraced that they are gay. Black gay men have long denounced and rejected being termed/labeled gay. There is an identity crisis in the black gay community that most be addressed prior to taking a stand on any issue.
In conclusion gay marriage is NOT an issue for black gay males, not right now. It can not be an issue for them because they don’t want it to be. If black gay men thought committed monogamous relationships were important then the right to get married would be important. White gay men have a sense of completion and wholeness that encourage us to seek equality under the law that encourages us to fight for and establish what we believe in. If you do not believe you deserve a right then you will not seek such equality.
Initially I wanted to respond to each misguided and uninformed statement this person(who only went by the initials PTW in his e-mail) made in reference to Black gay men, but I simply don't have all day nor do I have the patience to educate a gay white man on the realities of living and loving while you're Black and gay in America. It frightens me that he's a psychologist.
I would like to bring five points that he attempted to make in his e-mail for you to ponder.
1.Black gay men do not want monogamous relationships.
2. We are unable to sustain monogamous relationships.
3. We can hardly get along with each other.
4. We are unable to maintain a cohesive and self-sustaining gay community.
5. We focus on the sexuality of our gayness first and the emotional connection second.
All I can say is this is spoken by a person on the outside looking in who has no clue about how Black gay men live and what we contribute and expect from our relationships. When did having white gay privilege give anyone the right to speak for an entire group of people? I'm not going to go any further, but I do feel the need to re-visit this post .