I get a lot of e-mail, most of the time it’s from readers who want to personally thank me for my activism and other times it’s from the anti-gay sect who jumps at the opportunity to tell me I’m going to burn in hell. The latter honestly doesn’t bother me and I’ve created a special place for those e-mails in the trash. But an e-mail I received from a gay brother in Chicago a few days ago that was obviously struggling to reconcile his cultural identity with his sexual orientation gave me reason to pause.
It was a loaded question that I think many gay men of color deal with throughout their lives.
“Should I stop trying to get the black communities favor?”
“If I say yes, then I have to have an identity that is strong enough to surpass their attacks.”
In order to understand where this brother is coming from you need not look any further than your own family. It is in our families and our churches where we learn what is expected of us, who we are and what is not deemed acceptable according to God’s standards.
We come into this world seeking love and eventually hoping to find someone to love in return and along the way we’re taught how to hate. And more often than not the target of that hate has a black face, and if you’re lucky he or she may be born with the inclination of same-sex attraction. And when you’re black and gay and allow others to define who you are life can prove to be an uphill battle.
You may not accept me, but you will respect me!
People often ask me how I’m able to walk so boldly in my truth given the pervasive homophobia that exists in the black community towards gay/same gender loving people and the answer is simple; I acknowledge the fact that I am created in the image and likeness of God and I reject the labels others place on me that do not align with who I am.
I also realize that I’m apart of a (black) community that has been taught to hate the very essence of who we are and we’ve internalized that hatred and used it to oppress others.
So to hell with any community, black, white, straight, or gay that wishes to purport the belief that because of our sexual orientation we’re less than, undeserving of God’s love and shouldn’t be awarded the opportunity to live life free from hatred and discrimination.
You see it all begins with you. If you don’t own your place in the world and view your own contributions as an asset then it’ll be easy for others to tell you that your life is a mistake and you have no value simply based on how you love. Sometimes you have to teach people how to treat you.
“If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it”. - Marcus Cicero
Until the day comes when you’re able to affirm who you are despite what the world may say, then you’ll be inclined to believe what others tell you about yourself.
I think acceptance is so overrated, especially when you’re seeking it externally. Make the decision to accept yourself today if you haven’t already.
Above all else demand respect because you respect others for who they are and you should receive the same in return.
Just in case you missed it the first time allow me to repeat myself. “You may not accept me but you will respect me!
Note: This post also appears on my weekly column Darian Out Loud at The Quinch.com. Check out the newest online publication for the black LGBT community here.