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3 comments | Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It was just a month ago that New York Times reporter Benoit Denzit-Lewis was on the defensive after his article on married gay couples in Massachusetts failed to include any black gay couples. Lewis reported at the time that he'd spent a month looking for a black couple but was unsuccessful.

Well in a new NY Times article by Cara Buckley on the reaction to NY Gov. David Paterson's ruling to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in the Empire State, the NY Times travel to Harlem where there is no shortage of blacks to interview.

The reaction from the Harlem residents was less than positive further promoting the belief that the majority of African-Americans are extremely homophobic.

"Some people said they were shocked by the news. Some refused to talk about it, holding up their hands and walking away at the mention of the phrase “same-sex.”

"Mattie Smith, 53, I was absolutely shocked. I had to read the paper three times,” she said. “No one expected this, this came from out of nowhere. I don’t know why David Paterson supported this. Maybe he was forced?” Isn’t it shocking,” Ms. Smith interjected, referring to Mr. Paterson, “for a black man to support that?”

Actually, no it's not shocking. But what is shocking is that once again the NY Times failed to write a fair and balanced piece that reflects the lives and views of the people who are most affected by marriage equality and homophobia in the black community-black gays.

You would think that there weren't any black gays single or coupled living in Harlem that was willing to be interviewed for this piece. I was a resident of Harlem for three years and I know we're there.

The biggest problem I have is that none of the people interviewed for the article identified themselves as having same-sex partners or as being personally affected by Gov. Paterson's decision.

Instead what we get is more "proof" that homosexuality and equality for this particular minority doesn't affect the black community because blacks AREN'T gay and the general consensus is that those who are are morally bankrupt and white.

Memo to the NY Times: Black gay power couple Keith Boykin and Nathan Hale Williams are Harlem residents. Just thought I would throw you a bone.

It was refreshing to read the reaction from 70 -year- old New Yorker Lorice Johnson who said she had "nothing against same-sex marriage if it makes people happy." “To each his own. I can’t judge. I can’t tell someone who to love,” Ms. Johnson continued. “I think it’s a good thing.”

But sadly opinions like Lorice Johnson's are either rarely reported or drowned out by the loud homophobic sentiment that is usually associated with blacks around gay issues.

There is no doubt that the black community has a lot of work to do regarding its homophobia, but it does us a huge disservice when only one side of the story is being told whenever a reporter wants to know how our community feels about gay issues.

Not all blacks are homophobic and not all gays are white. Research for an article may be tedious but obviously necessary.


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

"Not all blacks are homophobic and not all gays are white".

The aforementioned quote is certainly true but a study/poll I saw a while back indicated that blacks were more likely than other groups to be against same-sex marriage. As far as not all gays being white, that misconception will change when more black gay men (and women) come out of the closet and into the light of day.

How about black gays, lesbians bisexuals and transgendered persons having a March on Washington next year? I would make sure that all my friends are there. We will have to FORCE ourselves into the conversation if we want to be included.

June 03, 2008 2:02 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Not all blacks are homophobic and not all gays are white".

but one of the things i have experienced, in particular in trying to engage in discussion on this site, is that if i do not [fully] support/back SGL or stand in their personal ra-ra corner, they i am labeled homophobic. me and one of the many anonymous posters got into this very discussion a while ago on a thread.

June 04, 2008 6:23 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...


Do you think the NYT and the person writing this story are completely ignorant of the number of black gay couples residing in NYC?

Not all black people live in Harlem. Certainly not all black gay people live in Harlem. Some are in ParkSlope, Brooklyn Heights, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, etc.

If the NYT wanted to find black same sex couples, male or female, they could have. They simply chose to take another opportunity to villify the black community (as if whites are so much more accepting of homosexuality) and I guess they succeeded with this story.

The NYT will never get it right. We can't expect them to. No white-owned media outlet will. Until we, as black LGBTQ, SGL, (and any other alphabet soup we want to include) accept the onus of defining our own image in media (whatever that may be) we will continue to get the short end of the stick.

The other thing is that when we do develop the forms of media to decsribe ourselves, let's include EVERYONE... not just what white people tell us that we should be.

June 04, 2008 12:51 PM


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