Black gays and lesbians are everywhere, including black colleges and universities, but whether or not we're out is a totally different story. African-Americans have long been labeled more homophobic than any other group of people and in the past I've been quick to refute this belief, but now I pause before jumping to the defense of some of my people who have shown nothing more than hostility and resentment towards black gays and lesbians. The same homophobia that we experience in our families, churches, schools, and neighborhoods have traveled with many students to institutions of higher learning often making it difficult for gay and lesbian students to feel safe about coming out.
In an article published in The Maroon Tiger, (but conveniently and suspiciously pulled from their website) a student newspaper on the campus of Morehouse College, writer Kendrick Daye examines life as a gay Morehouse man through the experience of openly gay student Vincent Allen. “I feel I’m not wanted because of my sexuality,” senior Vincent Allen said. “I sat on a panel about homophobia last year and I was told gay students make Morehouse look bad and I think [that students' remarks] represents the sentiments of a lot of students here.”
Past incidents on Morehouse's campus support Allen’s observations. In 2002, then junior Gregory Love was struck with a baseball bat for supposedly glancing at another student in the shower. According to Love, the attacking student said he hated Morehouse and “faggots” before striking Love in the head, back and, shoulder.
Many students cite Morehouse's religious background as the reason for its homophobic environment. Due to the schools Baptist values, there exist conservative attitudes about sexuality.
Allen said the homophobic environment has to do with Morehouses strict adherence to gender roles. “Our community has strict rules about what to do [and] because you’re a deviant from the norm you’re ostracized,” the psychology major said. I think our ideas of masculinity are [narrower]. “I think I do fit in. I don’t fit in to this idea of what a Morehouse Man is supposed to be and what a lot of that has to do with the idea of what a black man is supposed to be.”
Howard University's student newspaper The Hilltop recently ran a controversial article where they attempted to "understand" the homosexual population on campus but only ended up demonizing their gay and lesbian peers. Student writer Kailyn Hart was completely off base with this one:
"For many students college life may be a safe haven to experience homosexual desires. Within the confines of Howard University, students are concerned with the high number of bisexual and/or gay men and women. Due to mixed feelings and fast spreading rumors, students are paranoid about the notion of homosexual relations taking place at Howard University," said Kailyn in the opening line of her article.
According to J. Garrison, a psychology major who has been researching case studies about homosexual behavior over the last two years, homosexual behavior is normal."
"People become aroused by images because they mentally connect certain body parts to sex," he said.
Garrison also believes that homosexuality is a preference or choice, and that a person can choose not to be gay.
"Most who claim to be gay are addicted to the feelings of belonging or interpersonal interaction they get when they indulge in same-sex relationships," Garrison said.
His statement can be supported by psychologist Dr. Paul Cameron, Ph.D., chairman of the Family Research Institute.
"According to [psychoanalysis], homosexuality is a mental illness, symptomatic of arrested development," Cameron said. "People believe that homosexual desires are a consequence of poor familial relations in childhood or some other trauma."
I honestly don't think I've ever read such a poorly written and researched article like this one in my life. I would definitely advise you to read it in it's entirety on Howard's website. I'm actually surprised the editor hasn't removed it due to embarrassment. If Ms. Kailyn Hart had done her research she would have known that Dr. Paul Cameron was thrown out of the American Psychological Association in 1983 for consistently misrepresenting facts about research regarding homosexuality.
I'm just glad that not all of the Howard student body shares Hart's views. Check out their response to her article here. All of this from a group of people who knows what the sting of oppression feels like...we've got to do better.