The issues of sexuality, race, etc. are multilayered and multifaceted and need to be addressed on many fronts, in many different ways. Ever since the Black Civil Rights Movement for equality, we have witnessed the progress from segregation and Jim Crow Laws to Black culture having shaped American pride and identity. Yes, we still have much more work ahead, but progress began when we joined hands and made a commitment to be seen, heard, and respected. We challenged the status quo and changed history. The same goes for Black GLBT individuals. No one else can do it for us.
The reality of the entertainment industry is that it is mostly run and created by the artistry and brilliance of GLBT individuals. Pop culture is created and shaped by a silent gay influence. From fashion to music, these purveyors of art affect the very way the public sees itself, from social status to body image. This is proven true of history itself. Yet and still they remain trapped by fear and circumstance, many living in a glass closet, especially the African American celebrity.
As an African American, openly gay, once upon a time closeted entertainer (of small success and stature), I know that we are all desiring to come up, to supersede our sometimes meager and difficult backgrounds, to be a beacon of success for ourselves, families, and communities, but at what price? As a civilian, family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, whose happiness are we seeking first? Ours or theirs?
Will we continue to sit back in fear and watch our family, friends, and lovers be thrown under the bus as we cower in the false security of our success, left to be devoured by the hate and homophobia in our community? Is the success worth having in the end? There is no excuse for hate. There is no excuse for self-hate. Our glass closets do not protect us.
For the Black celebrities who have been recently outted, it is an unfortunate fact that their careers now hang in the balance, but it is a house of cards that we have all played a part in building. Save yourselves and allow the lies to be shed before they topple down on you. And to those who feel safe at this moment, release your bonds before they cause irreparable damage. Do it first for your personal well being, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
If you face your fears FIRST, there is no fear you can be threatened with – no ammunition. We must stand proud in the face of homophobia in our community, both straight and gay. There is no reason we should allow the shining lights of our people to be smothered or extinguished by hate and fear. When you live your life HONESTLY and freely, there is no weapon that can be drawn against you. Put your heart first and conquer the fear. Open the channels of CHANGE by simply shedding the lies that cover your TRUTH.
I would like to see us continue to support those "outted" individuals and encourage them to carry on in truth. We shouldn't be reveling in the scandal or downfall, as it only strengthens homophobia, and bites us all back in the ass. The talent and the experiences they brought us don’t change because they are attracted to the same sex. And no one is guilt free from having lived some lie(s) in their lives.
I would also like to see those individuals, and more, step OUT. I challenge you to be brave and I challenge everyone to love you just the same. I recommend that you align yourselves to a GLBT media organization such as GLAAD, as well as seek the support of Black leaders and celebrities who are vocal and are allies to the GLBT community such as the Rev. Al Sharpton or Russell Simmons, or out celebrities such as Sheryl Swoops, or Wanda Sykes, then be vocal. Use the media to get your truth across FIRST. There is power in numbers. You must take back the control of your lives and images. We can remove the threat by removing the power and remove the power by removing the fear, and most importantly, remove the fear by removing the hate.
Let's prove to ourselves and the world that the African American community can overcome homophobia. We are greater than hate. Sing on. Act on. Dance on.
Quincy LeNear is a Los Angeles based actor and filmmaker. He is the co-creator of the hit television series The DL Chronicles with his partner Deondray Gossett.