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3 comments | Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This post was originally published in May 2008 shortly after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this post in light of recent events and the continued ambivalence among some black gay men in regards to marriage equality.

Lately there has been a lively debate on this blog concerning the importance of marriage equality for black gays and lesbians and whether or not we're actually interested in legalizing our relationships. I have to point to a recent post by Jasmyne Cannick where she does an incredibly good job of explaining why she didn't write about the major Supreme Court ruling last week that granted marriage rights to same sex-couples and why she has refused to participate in the fight for marriage equality.

There is this belief that as a gay person of color if you're interested in benefiting from marriage equality or participating in an effort that is clearly spearheaded by white gay organizations then you're somehow out of touch with the black gay community and the "real issues".

I simply reject the idea that as black gay men and women we cannot be concerned or pour our efforts into more than one cause at a time or that gay marriage is simply of interest to only white people. Maybe my position on this issue is a little bias because I'm in a committed relationship and I look forward to the day when my relationship is recognized legally and my family is extended all of the legal protections that are afforded in marriage, versus all of the legal red tape most gay families have to go through in order to protect themselves that in many cases in the end are not enough.

Does the broader gay community have a lot of work to do when it comes to including black gays on important issues? Of course. Is it fair to say that we've felt "pimped out" by the mainstream gay community when they only come to us when they need black faces to support a cause they deem important? Maybe so.

Yet these problems shouldn't dissuade us from openly embracing a civil right that we've been denied for far too long or even participating in the fight for marriage rights despite the collective guilt that is spreading in our community for doing so.

There are hundreds or even thousands of black gay couples who will jump at the chance to be married and just because they're faces aren't seen on the nightly news doesn't mean they don't exist. How many black gay men do you know that are out and willing to say so in front of a camera? If we're ever going to be a driving force in the gay rights movement or change the worlds perception of how gays and lesbians look then we must come out. But that's another topic for another day.

So I'm not buying the idea that gay marriage is not important to the black gay community and I question the motives of anyone who would purport such. Contrary to the growing belief, there are black gay couples who are in committed relationships and who look forward to taking those relationships to the next level. I know because Trey and I are fortunate enough to be one of those couples.


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Marriage equality is probably just a theoretical idea to those gays who do not have long term partners, whether they support the concept or not. Marriage equality only takes on PERSONAL meaning when you have a partner to whom you could actually see yourself married to.

Do most black gay men have long term partners? Many of them SAY they want this, but actions speak louder than words.

I recently read somewhere (I don't recall where) that most black gay men under 30 have NEVER been in a long term same-sex relationship. How can marriage equality mean anything to someone who has never been in a long-term relationship with a man ("hook-ups" for casual/recreational sex don't count)?

May 27, 2009 1:33 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Forming families that are recognized BY LAW (marriage), with all the rights thereof, is a sure way to improve one's standard of living. It is regrettable that some black gays have so much animosity towards white gays that they can't or won't see it.

The rationale of some black gays is that I'm mad at white gays for being racist so I'm not going to work for marriage rights. White gays are not losing any sleep over it, I'm sure. They're pursuing their goals, while we watch from the sidelines with our mouths poked out. It's childish, not to mention self-destructive.

Other than accusing them of being racist, what goals do WE have? Do we have a movement? No.

Marriage rights for gays is GOING TO HAPPEN. The tide is turning. It's just a matter of how long it's going to take.

May 27, 2009 2:18 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I'm both black and same-gender-loving. And in the black community, most of my SGL friends are not interested, in the least bit, in gay marriage rights. Not only do they feel disconnected from and often discriminated against by the larger (and, as they see it, completely white and middle to upper class) gay community, but they also feel like they're facing other, more pressing social and economic issues that they've come to resent anyone (including me) that champions gay marriage.

In my view, it's a strange cocktail of self-hatred, religion, racism and an inability to see the forest for the trees that has formed this point of view and it's been very difficult for me to argue the cause of gay marriage to people who are worried about how they're going to pay their next month's rent or where their next meal is coming from. It's both valid and short-sighted and I'm at a loss at how to confront it.

However, historically, it was these same folks that couldn't care less about the work Malcolm and Martin and Rosa were doing because they, too, had more pressing issues on their minds.

May 27, 2009 2:19 PM


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