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7 comments | Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If anyone has ever doubted the ability of comedienne and actress Wanda Sykes to provoke prolonged laughter from an audience then you'll only need to watch her latest HBO special "I'ma Be Me" for confirmation. Sykes is getting rave reviews for her 90 minute performance that touched on everything from President Obama, to coming out last year as a lesbian, her interracial marriage to a french woman ("I like to say she's French because it sounds nicer than 'white.", according to Sykes), and being a new mother to two babies of a different race.

Sykes is hilarious and much of what she says is considered controversial in many circles, perhaps this is why her special is on a pay cable network and aired during a later time slot. But one of the most controversial and possibly honest statements that caught my attention was Sykes' comment on the difficulty of being black and gay in America. While I'm not ready to co-sign on Sykes' statement it's definitely interesting.

"It’s harder being gay than being black. There’s some things that I had to do as gay that I didn’t have to do as black. I didn’t have to come out black. I didn’t have to sit my parents down and tell them about my blackness.

Mom, dad I have to tell ya’ll something…I hope you still love me. Mom- dad I’m black, " she joked.

Sykes also ripped into the persistent chorus of people who insist being gay is a choice. "Being gay is not a choice. If you believe that it’s a choice then you’re saying straight people are straight because they chose not to be gay."

Sykes will make history in December when she becomes the first openly gay black woman to host her own late-night talk show when "The Wanda Sykes Show" debuts on FOX.

Get into the only available clips I could find online of Wanda Sykes from "I'ma Be Me" by clicking the links below. I'll update this post with the gay segment as soon as it becomes available.

Sykes on The Real Michelle Obama

Sykes on Halle Berry


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I don't agree that by the simple fact having to out yourself or annonce ones self as gay that it makes it easier or less difficult as being black. On the other hand the argument can be made that its easier to be gay because you don't infact have to come out.

Either way, I think both of these ideas are backwards and do little to advance the singular and the plural.

October 13, 2009 1:49 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

When it comes to what I call the Oppression Olympics, arguing about who has it worse, I look at what kinds of legal protections are on the books.

While racism still exists, the fact is that in terms of civil rights legislation, black people have pretty much everything they need. Discrimination against gay people is still written into law.

You can make the argument that gays would be fine if we just stayed in the closet, but I thought the goal was to allow people to live full, open, and honest lives.

And for people who point out "you can't hide being black," they always say with a hint of anger/sadness, as if they would "pass" if they could. Certainly many black people did back before the civil rights movement.

October 13, 2009 2:25 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I get what she is saying although I don't agree with what she is saying. Yes being gay makes you an outsider, one who does not occupy the power class in this nation. Just like being black makes or has historically made you a outsider and prevented you from occupying the power class from birth.

I think instead of arguing who has it worse, blacks, gays, women. Let's focus on the fact that what does it say of a nation where one's are discriminated because of their skin tone or who they choose to love. Oppression has no place in a democracy.

And she's not saying anything the great architect of the Civil Rights Movement Bayard Rustin said:

Gay is the most pressing civil rights issue of the day.

October 13, 2009 9:42 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Sykes ain't lying. ;-))

Being black AND gay is even harder. Double minority, double the oppression, ESPECIALLY when you are OUT and not hiding in a closet. Work, Sykes.

October 13, 2009 10:30 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Wanda Sykes is exactly right.

Currently, there are NO federal laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation. There are, however, federal laws that protect people against discrimination based on race.

In most states, it is perfectly legal to fire a person for being gay. On the other hand, it is against the law to fire a person based on a person's race.

Blacks can serve in the military. Because of DADT, however, gays cannot serve openly in the military.

As a black gay person, I hear straight people use the word "faggot" ALL the time. I can't remember the last time I've heard a white person use the word "nigger" IN MY PRESENCE (not to say they don't do it behind closed doors - I'm not stupid).

I think what Wanda meant, in part, is that expressing racial prejudice IN PUBLIC is not ok while expressing anti-gay prejudice in public (and everywhere else) IS ok.

October 14, 2009 4:08 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I LOVE the term, "Oppression Olympics", great analogy...(I gotta keep that one in the back of my mind)
It does seem that the African American community IMO is engaging in a civil rights “tug of war” with the Gay community as to who should be crowned “America’s Next Top Victim”.
However, when all is said and done, when it comes to race African Americans (as well as OTHER races in the U.S) have many legal rights and protections that allows them the freedom and the flexibility to live their lives freely and openly, and should any matter of discrimination comes their way, that have the means to fight it because the law is on their side. The Gay community simply does not have this. Reading some of the comments that are in disagreement with what Wanda was saying, I think to myself what is it about her statement that rings untrue?

I wonder if Black community is in denial about the gains we have made over the years in terms of civil rights and refuse to accept the fact that we in fact DO have their most basic freedoms (and then some) protected and out of harm’s way of being jeopardized?

I wonder if we as GLBT people of color have been beaten down mentally & emotionally into hating ourselves so deeply that the only way to gain any type of respect amongst our own Brothas & Sistas is to deny any and all part of our sexuality and adapt to “blending in” with mainstream Black ideology in order to so called; “keep the peace” in hopes to avoid risking inciting further backlash on us from our own people.

I wonder if we just have this underlying sense of “black entitlement” (never heard that term before, huh?) that civil rights is beholden to our community ONLY; and that anyone who attempts to pattern after our successes of obtaining equal rights will be met with ridicule and anger.

When you get right down to it, my opinion is that the people most responsible in reaching out to the African American community in terms of tolerance and/or acceptance of Gay Civil Rights is AFRICAN AMERICAN GLBT PEOPLE. WE are responsible for creating the atmosphere of dialogue to educate our Brothas and Sistas. WE are accountable for living our lives open and unashamed as examples that we can be Black AND Gay, Lesbian, or Transgender and still just as viable, positive, productive citizens within our community. WE are accountable for standing up for ourselves and demand that not only we are respected within our community, but on the SAME PLAYING FIELD as heterosexuals in terms of legal rights and protections.

The fight for equality starts at home. When will we step outside and fight?

October 14, 2009 11:31 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...



Whew! I need a minute to get myself together.

October 14, 2009 11:36 AM


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