Last weekend one of my readers, a black gay male, left a comment on a post I'd written a while ago titled "Gay Marriage. Do We Care?" and in his comment he asked a lot of very important questions regarding the state of black gay men in America and how we're marginalized by the African-American community and society. One question he asked was one that I'd heard before but I'd never given it much thought beyond the time it was initially brought up in a previous conversation.
"Where is the "black gayborhood"? you know, where is the place in any city in America where a united black gay front exists where black gay men live together, rally together as a community and set up a portion of town where they are safe and proud and ...free? On the surface some people might think that this question is at the bottom of the list of a host of other issues that plague the black gay community or just the black community in general. But the more I thought about it the more I couldn't understand why we didn't have a place to call our own in any of the heavy populated gay cities in America. I've been to the Castro in San Francisco, Christopher Street in New York, West Hollywood in L.A. , Boystown in Chicago, and Midwtown in Atlanta(I'm actually writing this post in Outwrite Bookstore in Midtown) and the one thing that all of these gayborhoods have in common is the huge presence of white gays and lesbians.
For many LGBT people these gayborhoods are safe havens where they can go and be themselves or hold their partner's hand publicly without having to deal with homophobic bigots. Many black gays and lesbians choose to "blend" in with the crowd but are often faced with racism from the larger gay community(i.e. San Francisco) or find themselves becoming unwanted sexual objects for white gay men who...pardon the expression, love big black dick. In a world where black gay men are often overlooked, misunderstood, and rejected, a place to call our own outside of the bar/club scene where we would have no hangups about being black, gay, and out would be a breath of fresh air.
So why don't we have our own Castro or Christopher Street? I can't believe it's because we don't have the money or the resources, it's a known fact that gay men have a huge amount of disposable income. Could it be that having our own visible community would require many of us to be out? Being closeted was never an option for me, so I can't even begin to say I can relate to those individuals who feel the need to stay in the closet. I know everyone has their reasons and most people will come out when they are ready. But I can't help but wonder if the attacks on our character as black gay men and the lack of a real gay community that is built for us and by us is a result of us being afraid to live openly.
I have to give it to the white gay community, when they were rejected by family they formed their own and created a world right outside of their front door that had no hang-ups about people who are different. So where does that leave us when we're rejected by the black community and rejected by the white gay community? There's nothing wrong with the Catch One's and Atlanta Live's of the world, but we deserve more. Then why don't we have it?