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12 comments | Friday, November 07, 2008

I will never forget Tuesday, November 4, 2008. America took one giant leap forward by electing Barack Obama our nation's first African-American President and one huge step backwards by enshrining discrimination against gays and lesbians into the state constitution in California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas. The night was an emotional roller coaster for me as I took pride in witnessing Barack Obama make history while simultaneously being paralyzed with an overwhelming sadness by the passage of bans aimed to strip gays and lesbians of equal rights, particularly in California.

Exit polls for Proposition 8 in California revealed that 70% of black voters voted in favor of the ban including 75% of black women. As expected, the blame game has started and fingers are pointing directly at black voters despite the fact that blacks only make up about 6% of California's population.

I've written about the efforts of the Yes on 8 organizers strategy to capitalize on the homophobia of blacks in previous posts and unfortunately many in the black community took the bait.

I've been engrossed in information regarding Prop 8, my inbox has been flooded with e-mails from every major LGBT organization in the country and I personally traveled to Arizona to help defeat Prop 102. So this fight is personal for me. I've also had the opportunity to listen to outrage from the black gay community towards those who are blaming the passage of Prop 8 on blacks.

While black voters played a role in the success of the amendment they surely had some help and were not alone in their homophobia and religious bigotry.


I'm not really concerned with any other group right now. You may not like what I'm about to say. As I've been listening to black gays discuss the Prop 8 fallout I've been hearing lots of excuses and very little accountability or a plan to clean out our own house.


Yeah I said it. And I can say that with the utmost authority because I'm black and openly gay and I've experienced it firsthand. Please take note that I didn't say blacks were more homophobic than any other group, but we are and it's a problem that is not going to fix itself. We may not like it when white gays point out our shortcomings as it often comes from a place rooted in racism, superiority, and white privilege, but it's time for us to stop denying the truth and start taking the necessary steps to create the kind of change that will benefit EVERYONE in the black community.

Black heterosexuals do not hold the key to equal rights under the law nor do they hold the key to heaven. Why have we sacrificed our authenticity, spirituality, and mental well being just to belong?

The fight for marriage equality at it's core is a civil rights issue. Whether you want to get married today, tomorrow, or never you should have the right to do so and that civil right should never be up for a vote by the majority.

It's time for us to stop complaining about the lack of representation of black gays and lesbians in the media and do the one thing that is required in order to create change-come out!

We will continue to be dehumanized, reduced to disease spreading DL characters, and have our rights stripped away by our own and from outsiders until we find the courage to be who we are when everybody's looking.

70% of blacks voted in favor of Prop 8 because many of them either don't know we exist, refuse to admit that we do or have bought into the lie that homosexuality only exists in white culture. And it doesn't help that the media reinforces this belief.

So what are we going to do to eradicate homophobia and religious bigotry in our own community? How many more fire and brimstone sermons are we willing to sit through? How many more ballot initiatives aimed to take away our rights must we endure before we finally say enough is enough! Damn! What is it going to take? What is it going to take before we start showing up to something other than Black Gay Pride events by the thousands and start to get organized? How many more new HIV infections must occur before we ACT UP!

Our contentment with life as it is and not as it should be is going to destroy us.

I'll be calling on many African-American gay activists in Atlanta and eventually around the country to strategize over the next few months to create a grassroots movement to affect change at home. It starts with one.

Required Reading:

Placing The Blame On Black California Voters If Prop 8 Passes LOLDARIAN

"Yes We Can" to "YES on 8": Blacks Overwhelmingly Approve Prop 8 Rod 2.0

The day after - the bad stuff and a challenge to the lgbt community Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Ballot initiatives provide a wake up call to the LGBT community about race Pam's House Blend

Prop 8 rally wreaks Westside traffic havoc ABC 7

"You'll Want To Punch Them." Queerty

Invalidate Prop 8


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

You wrote that black people are homophobic as hell but you disagree that blacks are MORE homophobic than other racial/ethnic groups.

The vote on Prop. 8 in California suggests otherwise. 70% of blacks voted in favor of Prop. 8. 75% of black women voted in favor of Prop. 8.

Blacks voted in favor of Prop. 8 in FAR greater numbers than any other group. That's a fact. So how are blacks not more homophobic than other groups, at least when it comes to same sex marriage?

November 07, 2008 7:37 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Amen, brother, preach it!

November 07, 2008 10:12 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I don't have anything intelligent to add. I just want to say that this is a great post, and I couldn't agree with you more. We all need to stop the finger pointing, and stop getting angry with ignorant people who want to play the blame game. The Mormon Church has already said that they aren't going to stop, so we all need to organize and figure out how we are going to fight for all of our rights. We don't have employment protection, and who knows what campaigns these people will launch in order to hurt us more than they already have.

November 07, 2008 10:35 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I can think of a million other things blacks can organize to do before this. Like raise the level of education and change attitudes towards schooling; or re-build the black family (the cause of our economic downfall--period).

And the funny thing is, you keep running away from this politically (since the old prescriptions are so alluring); but an educated, home-stable populace would likely have rejected Prop 8.

Oh how we bite ourselves in the ass!

November 07, 2008 12:19 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I suspect the writer above who could think of a "million other things blacks can organize to do before this" is not a part of the LGBT community. Most people are not interested if it does not affect them personally. It takes a rather progressive person to realize that one person's/group's struggle is everyone's struggle. At any rate I do not think Darian is asking the Black community to mobilize on behalf of LGBT rights (though that would be ideal) but he's calling out the Black LGBT community itself-DL and closeting folks of color in particular. We are the ones who need to confront our straight Black brothers and sisters on the issue of homophobia. And the more visible we are the better our chances will be. How many prominent LGBT people of color do you know? Yet you can name several White out LGBT folk. We can also assist in the education issue because as I said one person's/group's struggle is really everyone's struggle. Can we not help each other?

November 07, 2008 1:04 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

To elg, according to the poll that said that 75% of Black voters voted for Prop 8, they only polled 224 Black people of those 224 people 168 said they voted yes. I'm not saying that Black people aren't homophobic, but to make a giant leap and say that the actions of 164 people should be used to judge 30 million people makes no sense. Most polls would at least ask 1,000 people before they would make any conclusion. Your stance makes less sense when you consider that around thirty states have passed ammendments banning gay marriage, and in most of those cases, just like in CA, the Black population is just a fraction of the voting base.

The main issue is that it is stupid to point fingers, or to make this an arguement about who's more homophobic. Our rights are being stumped on, but the only thing some people can do is name call and show their own bigotry. Nothing will get accomplished by doing that.

November 07, 2008 1:19 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Cadence: Read Darian's article. I cited the same poll numbers that Darian (and everyone else on ALL the other blogs) are citing. If you don't believe the polls, that's your perogative but what does that have to do with me.

November 07, 2008 7:26 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

ELG: My post isn't about believing or not believing the poll, please read and process what I said. You are making a broad generalization based on the response of only 224 people. Please explain to me how that makes any sense.

There is a wonderful diary on Daily Koz which pretty much breaks down why your arguement is baseless: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/7/34645/1235/704/656272

November 07, 2008 8:29 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

This is a very sensitive time for the black GLBT community in California. I just feel that we as a community, African-Americans, need to stop treating each other like second class citizens.

In this instance, due to one's orientation. We have to change the way we do things as blacks, because if we don't, the community will fragment, and fall further apart.-QH

November 08, 2008 5:18 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

As always, Darian, you sum up the consternation and frustration of our community based on the recent political events so astutely and clearly -- I don't know if anyone else could have captured this moment as well as you have. A few reactions to your post, and the comments inspired from it, if I may:

1. Darian's assertion (or definitive declaration, lol!) that Black people are "homophobic as hell" is justified enough to stand alone -- without juxtaposing the (in my opinion, unquantifiable) homophobia of one community against another's to relatively gauge either's, and without using exit poll data to exacerbate his point. Even if the empirical survey research data used in the blog was poorly founded or fallacious, or even if there are other communities that are even more homophobic that the Black community (even though, personally, I'd be hard pressed to ascertain one...), it doesn't change that fact that Black people ARE homophobic. As hell. In addition, seeing as the focus of this post (in my eyes) is the homophobia of the Black community exclusively, I don't see how it strengthens (or devalues) Darian's argument to include figures or information concerning the homophobia of other communities. By my reading, the poll figures were a lead-in; for those who are still raw, think of it as the consciously-liberal-blog equivalent of "They call me Ishmael."

2. Furthermore, I don't believe that Darian is all-too-concerned about other communities that helped propel Prop 8 into California's state constitution, either. Certainly, it wasn't Black folk alone who guaranteed its passage -- they had help; LOTS of help. Hell, I'd dare say that Prop 8 probably would have passed even if a single Black opposer had never made her or his way to the polls. However (and again), I humbly offer that this is not the message of this post. No, Black people are not wholly responsible for the LGBT community's disenfranchisement. But, and I side with Darian here, we do have a stake in this greater fight, and its about time we removed the log in our own collective eye before we chastise others for the twigs in theirs.

3. I think people, at times, are too concerned about not placing blame. I think that sometimes, particularly in this scenario, blame is very necessary -- how else do we locate the issues plaguing our movement and address them? Pointing the finger, yes, is a moot task that does little but give macabre validation for those seeking vindication. Still, how do we diagnose the disease if we ignore the symptoms?

If there is any concerted effort to ACT UP (speak their name, Darian!) and speak progress & equality to our liberty, sign me up! The lessons of President-Elect Obama's poignant and historic election still ring in my spirit: The fight is never over; the war is always worth waging. We may have lost this battle, but I have faith that with Obama at the helm (and people like Darian minding the mast), we will certainly not lose the war.

Echoing the words of the campaign that brought us change and, I know, will continue to do so for the people and OUR people:

"Yes We Can"

-- MJB

November 08, 2008 8:20 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Cadence: I read the diary you referenced. The diarist wants to try and put to rest the "idea that black people are to blame for the passing of Prop. 8 here in California".

I also read many of the 1,900 or so comments. The diarist responded to some of the comments. In one of her responses she made this statement: "I have not questioned the fact that black people voted disproportionately for Prop. 8".
My feelings exactly. I never said that blacks were SOLELY responsible for Prop. 8. My point was that blacks voted for Prop. 8 (70/30) in greater numbers than whites, Asians or even Latinos. Which is difficult for me to comprehend considering black's history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, lynching, etc., in this country.

You might want to read another diary on Daily Kos. This diary is by a black gay man who calls himself "Yalim". Yalim's diary is called "Daily Kos Hypocrisy: Prop. 8, Blacks, and Party Identity Politics". Yalim writes about "black homophobia" and what he describes as white liberal hypocrisy about it. There were hundreds of commenters to Yalim's diary. One of the commenters was someone called "Killer of Sacred Cows" who described himself as a teacher of statistical analysis. He says that the CNN exit poll showing blacks supported Prop. 8 by 70/30 was absolutely correct and that he intends to write a diary to prove it. Read Yalin's diary and the comments.

I believe the CNN exit poll about how blacks in California voted on Prop. 8 is accurate within the MOE (margin of error) because CNN does polls all the time and has millions of dollars to make sure they are done right.

Another bit of news: blacks voted 71/29 to ban same sex marriage in Florida.

MJB: I agree with you that we must assign blame in order to locate the problems, address them, heal (as they say) and move on.

November 10, 2008 12:03 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

There is so much crazyness about Prop 8 ridiculous. After reading shanikka's LONG blog on the Daily Kios, she confirmed with I already knew that CNN's percentage was distorted and that there wasn't enough of the blacks who DID vote to say that blacks were the major cause for Yes on Prop 8. Since all the dust has settled (in my mind)It's time to re-group and continue to fight.

November 13, 2008 3:20 PM


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