This post was originally published earlier this year, but I felt the need to post it again after observing first hand how cruel we as black gay men can be towards each other. It wasn't pretty and it forced me to take a couple of days to re-examine my own interactions with others and my position in the community. As a marginalized group of people we could all benefit from giving and receiving more love in the face of hate. Until Monday, be blessed.
Are We Our Own Worst Enemy?
Originally Published on May 14,2008
When I came out to my mother at 16 I can remember one of her greatest fears was that I'd be subjected to the cruel and unfair treatment that gays and lesbians face in society. She was equally afraid that I would face employment discrimination as well as rejection from the church. I assured her at 16 that I was strong enough to deal with any curve ball that life threw my way as a result of my "choice". I would later find out the choice I made to tell the truth and walk with my head held high was not as easy for everyone else as it was for me. But it was that decision that filtered over into every area of my life that I believe shaped my character and eventually led me into activism.
Gay rights is a civil rights issue. No American should be denied the right to housing, employment, healthcare, or marriage based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. But allow me to take it a step further. No American should ever have to feel unsafe because they decide to walk down the street holding their partner's hand or face rejection from their family and church because they don't fit into the traditional roles. There should be a place at the table for all of us. I believe there can be- and if doors are being closed on us before we can pull out a seat at the table, then by all means we should kick the door down.
The problem I'm finding in the black gay community is that not everyone believes they're entitled to these rights and it's painfully obvious in many different ways. Now what I'm about to say will probably upset a lot of people and you may disagree and fire off a nasty comment or e-mail and that's fine. But this is the truth as I see it.
If I never had to read another online message board it would probably be a good thing. You see it's online where people really get to show who they truly are. They use their keyboards to spew the hatred that would likely get them into a lot of trouble if it were done in the real world. But what's appalling is the division and anti-gay sentiment that often comes from those within the community and not just from the opposition.
I have my issues with the broader(white)gay community, but when it comes to rallying together to fight for their civil rights or to be represented in the media they are on one accord. How I wish it was the same for us.
It seems many of us are so afraid to live openly that we wear the DL title like it's a badge of honor. We sit in churches and listen to religious dogma that's detrimental to our souls, refusing to leave, refusing to acknowledge who we really are and willingly participate in the bashing.
We run to black gay pride celebrations all over the country in droves but we fail to show up to events that will have a long lasting impact on our lives.
We divide ourselves by our outward characteristics. Fems, fats, queens, thugs, trade, or "straight-acting".
We slowly destroy the very small representation we have in the media with the power of our own tongue. It happened with Noah's Arc and it's beginning to happen with The DL Chronicles. While we should always expect quality material we should never expect these shows to be all things to all people.
We scoff at the idea that black gay relationships can and do work often becoming jaded and closed off.
We're not in a position to defend ourselves publicly from attacks because we're too afraid to come out. And we wonder why the black community is content with equating gays with whites even when they know better? Our community spokesperson that we could all count on to speak for us whether you agreed with his politics or not is retired. Who do we have now?
Our self esteem plummets as a result of internalized homophobia and it leads to all kinds of reckless behavior.
This is a problem. Forget about the homophobes in the world and the great white gay majority because somedays it seems we are our own worst enemy.