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9 comments | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When I came out to my mother at 16 I can remember one of her greatest fears was that I'd be subjected to the cruel and unfair treatment that gays and lesbians face in society. She was equally afraid that I would face employment discrimination as well as rejection from the church. I assured her at 16 that I was strong enough to deal with any curve ball that life threw my way as a result of my "choice". I would later find out the choice I made to tell the truth and walk with my head held high was not as easy for everyone else as it was for me. But it was that decision that filtered over into every area of my life that I believe shaped my character and eventually led me into activism.

Gay rights is a civil rights issue. No American should be denied the right to housing, employment, healthcare, or marriage based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. But allow me to take it a step further. No American should ever have to feel unsafe because they decide to walk down the street holding their partner's hand or face rejection from their family and church because they don't fit into the traditional roles. There should be a place at the table for all of us. I believe there can be- and if doors are being closed on us before we can pull out a seat at the table, then by all means we should kick the door down.

The problem I'm finding in the black gay community is that not everyone believes they're entitled to these rights and it's painfully obvious in many different ways. Now what I'm about to say will probably upset a lot of people and you may disagree and fire off a nasty comment or e-mail and that's fine. But this is the truth as I see it.

If I never had to read another online message board it would probably be a good thing. You see it's online where people really get to show who they truly are. They use their keyboards to spew the hatred that would likely get them into a lot of trouble if it were done in the real world. But what's appalling is the division and anti-gay sentiment that often comes from those within the community and not just from the opposition.

I have my issues with the broader(white)gay community, but when it comes to rallying together to fight for their civil rights or to be represented in the media they are on one accord. How I wish it was the same for us.

It seems many of us are so afraid to live openly that we wear the DL title like it's a badge of honor. We sit in churches and listen to religious dogma that's detrimental to our souls, refusing to leave, refusing to acknowledge who we really are and willingly participate in the bashing.

We run to black gay pride celebrations all over the country in droves but we fail to show up to events that will have a long lasting impact on our lives.

We divide ourselves by our outward characteristics. Fems, fats, queens, thugs, trade, or "straight-acting".

We slowly destroy the very small representation we have in the media with the power of our own tongue. It happened with Noah's Arc and it's beginning to happen with The DL Chronicles. While we should always expect quality material we should never expect these shows to be all things to all people.

We scoff at the idea that black gay relationships can and do work often becoming jaded and closed off.

We're not in a position to defend ourselves publicly from attacks because we're too afraid to come out. And we wonder why the black community is content with equating gays with whites even when they know better? Our community spokesperson that we could all count on to speak for us whether you agreed with his politics or not is retired. Who do we have now?

Our self esteem plummets as a result of internalized homophobia and it leads to all kinds of reckless behavior.

This is a problem. Forget about the homophobes in the world and the great white gay majority because somedays it seems we are our own worst enemy.


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

great post! you the next kieth boykin

May 14, 2008 11:28 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I totally agree with u. And black gay men especially tare each other down - because u have da thugs and straight acting bashing da fems - we are already oppressed enough y have it come from our own. I mean it's okay for u not to like their characteristics but I alot of them go to far with their statements. And on alot of online boars it is praised that the dude is DL, I was like WTH and very shocked that it was praised like it was. ANd they wonder y they CAN"t BE tRUly happy. HELLO, u r getting in your own way but not truly being u and authentic!

May 14, 2008 11:54 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I agree with everything in this post. By the way, I'm the guy who had the "debate" with bernie over whether same-sex marriage was important to black gay people.

It's unfortunate that we seem to have one "leader" at a time. Maybe Keith Boykin will pick up his old activist role again one day. The first step is identifying yourself as a black gay activist. You go boy!


May 14, 2008 11:54 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...


Respectfully, I have to disagree with most of what you said. The kinds of behaviors you mentioned in your post are unique to black people, not just those of us who identify as gay.

Black people have been divided since arriving to this country in 1607 and didn't actually become unified for a particular cause UNTIL the Civil Rights Era. Even then, there was dissension in the ranks, but not as apparent as it is now.

The reason black gay people are having such a time attempting to work as a collective isn't intrinsically linked to us being gay. We sit in churches that divide, go to schools that divide, join fraternal organizations that divide, and engage in many other actions that continue to divide.

I am not a believer in the idea of having a singular leader to be the voice of the collective. If people don't want to come together as a collective, then so be it. You speak for yourself and advoacte for yourself. Try to recruit 2 or 3 like-minded individuals to your cause and in turn, have them do the same. Before you know it, you will have started a movement, if that's what's needed.

To be frank, I have never been discriminated against because of my sexual orientation, but I have been targeted because of my race. My struggle is related to equitable treatment for marginalized communities. My commitment to that fight is based on my own experiences living as a black man in this country.

Homophobia is morally and legally wrong. You'll get no argument from me about that. But to expect black people to unify behind gay rights in 40 years (I'm going from the start of Stonewall riots), when it took us 400 years to demand that we were treated as equal citizens of this country is unrealistic and very draining for you emotionally.

You will not change an entire population's mindset; you'll be much more successful engaging in the revolution of the individual.

May 14, 2008 3:11 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Not everyone wants to live the kind of life you have prescribed for them. You might wish to marry and live your life openly. Others might simply want to carve a quiet niche for themselves.

Blacks are not the only "community" where people must choose between their sexuality and the acceptance of their friends.
However, unlike the "black community", "lone rangers" in other communities can fit in elsewhere on the planet and so are quite happy to burn their bridges (think, Italians).

That would be virtual suicide for many blacks (particularly with some of their abysmal educational levels).

In all this, you never stopped to think about what you were saying: that there is room in your world for poorly-educated b-boys who happen to be same-sex attracted (and that's just one black constituency).

May 15, 2008 12:56 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

blkseagoat: What you're doing is offering an excuse for why black gays, in general, are missing in action. If a black gay man is discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, for example, he has to turn to the white gay community for help because black gays cannot be counted on to help. Which is something that my own experience tells me is true.

This may account, in part, for the fact that where I live most black gay men are single and "jaded". We KNOW we can't depend on or trust each other. The minority of black gay men I know who have long term partners usually (not always, but usually) have white partners. It is VERY difficult for black gay men who want to live and love openly to do so with other black gay men because being "out and open" is not valued by most black gay men the way it is with many white gays (especially the younger ones in their 20s and 30s).

It seems to me that most black gay bloggers got their inspiration to blog from Keith Boykin. But Keith was/is a man of substance trying to succeed in a world of foolishness (the world most black gay men live in). He probably got tired of the foolishness and "retired". I've discovered that most black gay bloggers are just killing time - their blogging has no real purpose other than to pass time. How unfortunate.

It seems to me that darian wants to be a black gay man of SUBSTANCE and you, blkseagoat, want to burst his bubble. Go back to your tired little blog, blkseagoat, and leave darian alone.

I love what you are trying to do, darian. If you can't get it done in Atlanta, the so-called black gay mecca, where can it be done? Believe that it can be done and give it your best. It's all you can do. Know that your "brothers" will stick pins in you (that hurts the most). But keep going as long as you can. A change is gonna come.

May 15, 2008 8:17 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

one difference between african americans and whites, that rolls over into the gay community as well.. is that when black folks get angry they march.... when white folks get angry they VOTE!

which method brings lasting change?

May 15, 2008 7:17 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...


Again, because you decided to run out and grab a white man and take up the gay pride flag as your cause, that's you.

I don't really care about what Darian wants to do. I merely gave him some reasons as to why BLACK PEOPLE, not just gay people don't come together.

I'll go where I damn well pleasde and comment as I like. You create a "tired little blog" and start advancing your own self-serving and black self-hating agenda.

As for me, I'll continue to provide an anti-thetical view to your desire for a black gay monolith. Sell out sooner rather than later though and tell that white man you're chasing I said hello.

May 16, 2008 9:11 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

blkseagoat: How can I want to "run out and grab a white man and take the gay pride flag as [my] cause" AND want a "black gay monolith" at the same time? There's a contradiction there, don't you think.

I am single and I do not have a white man. Although I'm certainly open to the idea. I was pointing out that in my midwestern Ohio city, most of the black gay men are single and "jaded" and that those relative few that do not fit in that category USUALLY (not always, but USUALLY) have white partners. Not to mention they're more likely to being "out and open" (they often participate in gay sports leagues like bowling and baseball, sing in the gay men's chorus, march in gay pride demonstrations, attend gay churches, etc.). That's a fact. These are not activities black gay men usually participate in UNLESS they are connected to the white gay community in some way. Maybe black gay men who participate in the activities offered by the white gay community have MORE self-esteem than the black gay men who participate in self-destructive/unhealthy activities like going to homophobic black churches where they are called "abominations" and listening/dancing to homophobic black rap/dance hall "murder music", being on the down-low, etc.

I feel that darian may be a visionary. When I read this particular thread it was like a breath of fresh air (a sort of manifesto for black gay men) to me. I sorta got fired up when I read it because he expressed a feeling I've long had about black gay men. And I was angry at you, blkseagoat, for offering excuses for why black gay men, seemingly, refuse to move forward. What's wrong with black gay men waving the gay pride flag. Why does that have to be a white thing?

I sleepishly admit that when I said your blog was "tired", I had not actually looked at it (to me, so many of the black gay blogs ARE tired). I have since looked at your blog and it is NOT tired. I apologize for that remark.

Black gay men of a certain age had this argument years ago over which comes first, being black or being gay? I thought black gay men in their 20s and 30s had gotten past that specious argument and were embracing all of who they are but that is apparently not the case. I don't put being gay over being black but I absolutely will not put being black over being gay. As a black gay man, waving a gay pride flag is just as important as waving a black pride flag, if we're talking about waving flags.

May 18, 2008 5:45 PM


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