Blogger and friend to loldarian.com Son of Baldwin responds to the highly publicized coming out of CNN anchor Don Lemon and the bitter criticism of Lemon's coming out by activist Cleo Manago. I believe this is worth discussing.
From Son of Baldwin:
I have no evidence of this other than my own experiences, but I tend to believe that black gay men who either criticize or express apathy (or antipathy) toward other gay black men who "come out" are doing so out of one of two things: fear or shame. Or, perhaps, both.
I believe that the black men who aren't out to friends or family feel a kind of pressure to do so when other black gay men come out; they feel implicated and called out by the action of the black gay man who announces himself. In order to resist that force, they try to delegitimize the coming out experience by recasting it as something unnecessary or undesirable; as a sign of weakness or selfishness; as something reserved only for white gay men. They play up the benefits of a heterosexual facade and ridicule those who either cannot or will not maintain the facade.
By viewing "coming out" in this light, those who don't want to come out can feel undisturbed by their decision while simultaneously pretending that their position is the courageous one. But, in fact, it takes no courage at all to pretend to be straight or to completely hide your true sexuality for fear of judgment or violence; it may be convenient, but it isn't brave. It's easy to point at the fellow who comes out, who refuses to abide by fear or the shame inflicted upon him by others, and say, "So? What do you want, a medal?" (Or, in some cases, "Why does he have to draw attention to himself??" by which they mean, "Why does he have to draw attention to me??")
I don't think black gay men who come out want a medal. I think they want to be loved, accepted, and respected for who they are in the same way their heterosexual brothers who announce they're getting married to the woman of their dreams are. The opposition says, of course, that "Sex is a private matter!"
Someone should tell that to all the heterosexual couples who have had incredibly public weddings for the last 2000 years. Because isn't that what a wedding is, at its core: a public announcement of one's romantic and sexual commitments? Why then should only some members of society be entitled to that privilege?