Friday, November 7, 2008

While We Were Celebrating

Black people have a strange relationship with homosexuality.

For those of you who may have missed it, residents of California recently approved a ban on gay marriage. African Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of that ban. It was a huge blow to the civil rights of gay people, and there are plans to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

I've read several stories in recent days about how exactly this ban was passed (The Mormon Church played a huge role. Imagine that, blacks and Mormons working together!). What stood out to me was how supporters of the ban preyed on heterosexual people's fear that allowing gay marriage would somehow threaten marriage between straight folks.

I've been married for almost three years now, and if I've learned one thing, it's that the biggest threats to my marriage are me and my wife. I just find it laughable that people are really afraid that if they allow gay people to get married it will make it harder for them to stay married.

What's ironic is how easily this line of thinking gained traction in the black community. Honestly, we should be the last people attracted to the idea that granting a minority group rights will threaten the majority, but that wasn't the case.

Which brings me back to my original comment about the strange relationship between blacks and homosexuality.

Throughout my life, raised as a pretty traditional Christian, I've been taught two things about being gay: it's a sin and it's none of my business.

That seems to be the attitude for many black church folks. We readily acknowledge that homosexuality is wrong according to the Bible, but we typically consider what people do behind closed doors none of our concern.

How else do you explain the way black preachers can unabashedly lampoon "sissies" from the pulpit while at the same time employing obviously gay men as the musical directors of their choirs? How about the one lesbian sister who comes to church dressed exactly like a man and who is hugged and kissed by the same folks who refer to gay men as faggots?

Black people have mastered the art of ignoring homosexuality, while at the same time fearing it.

It's not a particularly hard situation to understand. The black family and black manhood have always been under attack in America. Combined with black people's overwhelming support of traditional Christianity, it's not surprise that many black people are uncomfortable with homosexuality. In fact, if you consider the fact that many black people also have experienced racism at the hands of white homosexuals, and that gay activists love to tie their movement to the civil rights movement, well it was damn near inevitable that the two groups clash.

Since so many black people are already worried about the decline in successful heterosexual marriages in the black community, they are much more willing to believe lies about the cause of this problem. It's the same reason so many white Americans are willing to believe the lies about black criminality. When people feel threatened, they look for targets to lash out at, and they are not circumspect when it comes to assigning blame.

However, despite black people's poor choices on this issue, I am bothered by the response from some prominent gay white people, like Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan, and their supporters. They have decided to lay the blame for the Proposition 8's passage solely at the feet of black voters ignoring the fact that whites were pretty split on the measure and that the Mormon Church spent millions to get the proposition passed.

There has always been a weird tension between gay people and black people. Many gay people seem shocked that a group that has been oppressed as much as black people could participate in oppression. It's as if gay people have never actually taken the time to understand the complicated history of African Americans.

Black people oppress each other. During the civil rights and black power movements, black men oppressed women. We've oppressed Asian, Mexicans and any other group that we view as a threat. We've even oppressed white people when given the chance. Just because black people have been victims of oppressions does not bestow upon us any special sort of nobility or even empathy. We are still human beings that behave like most other human beings.

Personally, I believe that the solution to reducing tension between black people and gays is a cessation of comparisons between the two experiences in America and an honest dialogue between the two groups about their needs and concerns. Instead, we all seem determined to spend our time sniping at each other and playing the blame game.

That's not going to get things done.






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36 comments:

MCBias said...

The attempt by gay rights advocates to make their situation comparable with the black civil rights movement angers me. See, people can hide their sexual identity, and people can suppress it and yes, overcome it. (I'm not saying everyone can do it easily, mind you, I'm just saying it can be done). But there's no such opportunity for black people to disguise their skin tone or change it. It's no surprise that blacks don't look kindly on the attempt to make sexual behavior equivalent with race so that homosexuals can get the benefits that racial minorities enjoy.

MCBias said...

Ha, and yes, someone will no doubt jump on that last line and say "What do you mean, "ENJOY"?!" I just mean things like anti-discrimination law, affirmative action, etc.

LondonDiva said...

It makes me laugh that some blacks somehow fear this will have an affect of hetrosexual marriages. Like you said it's between you and yours that can come between that. We as a people have a habit of looking at a situation outside of our own to take the heat off of our own damn selves. I hope the preachers are also talking about the amount of sex and baby making outside of marriage that we tend to be so fond of which is also a sin. A sin is a sin is a sin.

Anyway I maybe going off course or on another tangent, but we [as a people globally because we have similar black issues in the UK] really need to be more vocal in causes that affect our own and are having a crippling effect like HIV/AIDS, the family unit, those in prison, absent fathers, education. Right now homosexuals are the least of my worries and they don't bother me enough to care about whether they want to marry or not. When black kids are killing other black kids, our women are the highest cases of infected people with HIV/AIDS, school systems are failing our children that's something that really needs people's attention right about now.

Esquire said...

I disagree with the view that "black people did us in" as well. I've got some numbers I'll be throwing up on my site soon.

But I am still letdown by the number of black people that voted on this. I really don't think we understood the precedent we were setting. Deciding rights by majority vote always equals bad for minorities.

Also, I also sent you a couple of emails the other day Big Man.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

and u know them red states getting down

Big Man said...

London Diva

Very well said, particularly your last line.

MCBias

I agree with most of your comment. I actually gave up on writing this post initially because I was angered by the comparisions to the civil rights era, and the rush by certain prominent homosexuals to brand black people as a race of hypocritical, homophobic idiots.

But, I moved past that because I'm responsible for my life, and I have to answer to God for the commnets I make or don't make. So, I said my piece, and now I'm cool.

Esquire

I'll check out the site and check my email.

Torrance

I'm sure every red state is currently drawing up their own proposition or legislation as we speak.

Deacon Blue said...

It's interesting the opinion I got from a gay man that Mrs. Blue and I know. Actually, it's a gay couple with an adopted girl, but the other half of the relationship was home with the child with the one we were talking to was running the cafe.

He said that he actually understands that people get bent out of shape with these measures, because the word "marriage" is used and marriage is an institution that is tied heavily into religion.

As he puts it, the measures might have a better chance of passage if it stopped being about marriage and was a totally separate term.

I don't know that I agree, because the civil union concept has had a hard time catching on and sometimes has been afforded fewer marital perks becuase it isn't "marriage."

Going to be a tough nut to crack.

I've been on and off the fence on this issue a few times. I'm torn because in the historical sense, I've never seen marriage allowed between same genders, even in societies that didn't persecute homosexual sex. On the other hand, it's only in relatively recent history (compared to the whole of human civilization) that marriage has been about love and not about ensuring legacies and getting dowries and moving your girls out of the house because they weren't as "useful."

I'm personally not threatened by gays or lesbians marrying...just not sure what the best way is to go about giving everyone the rights they deserve vs. the comfort they need about the insitution of marriage.

Big Man said...

Deac

I explained how I feel about the use of the word marriage over at you spot a while back.

Basically, I think the word "marriage" means different things to different people and even given my religious beliefs, I'm not opposed to gay people using it.

This whole thing is silly. As folks have pointed out, black people should be very leery of allowing rights to be removed through a popular vote.

And gay people need to stop using the "shame on you" card with black people. That is not going to work with us because many black people do not see an equivalence between the struggle for gay rights and the struggle for civil rights. We really don't. We see similarities, but not an equivalence.

Darth Whitey said...

McBias, and Big Man who agreed with him/her, re:

"See, people can hide their sexual identity, and people can suppress it and yes, overcome it. "

Overcome it? Surely you jest. You think gay people should live their lives denying who they are and be miserable their whole lives, entering into sham relationships? That's like telling black folks they have to sit in the back of the bus and just deal with it, suppress. Homosexuality is not a choice. Suppression only leads to slip-ups, going "on the down-low" as it were, causing pain for everyone.

Live and let live.

Deacon Blue said...

Darth, I think the jury's still out to some degree on the "is it a choice or isn't it?"

Evidence pointing to genetic basis for homosexuality is still really hit or miss.

At the same time, you're right that people sometimes make themselves miserable living "straight" lives. And yet there are others who succeed and thrive when they do.

I suspect that homosexuality has a gigantic environmental source in most cases. It is a choice, I think, for many (maybe most) but it is a choice based more on a heap of unconscious/subconscious triggers and drivers. As such, I suppose one could say it isn't a choice.

But then again, many thing in our environment as we grow and develop, both healthy and unhealthy (or neutral for that matter) we have limited or uneven control of, but we CAN control or change if we want to.

Whether gays/lesbians SHOULD want to, or whether that is desirable, well, that's open to very hot debate, and I don't have a very good answer for that.

Big Man said...

Darth

I think that many Christians believe that homosexuality is a choice and many homosexuals believe this is a farce.

I still haven't decided exactly where I stand.

Actually, I think that some gay people have had those feelings since childhood and it would extremely difficult for them to be anything but gay.

I also believe that some gay people chose to live a homosexual lifestyle for a variety of reasons.

Truthfully, I don't care. That's not my concern. No matter what, gay people should be able to get married.

notthatoften said...

Big Man,

Black folks didn't "do this." That's a cop out on the part of those angry about the outcome. The religious of all creeds and colors are the ones who struck this down. By and large people who like god don't like gay, and if we, as a society, want equal marital rights (and while we are at it, if we don't want creationism taught in our schools and we don't want sara palin as our next president) our next move as rational americans is to promote a faith tempered by reason (or better yet, no faith). It is my feeling that this is the next big fight in this country for moving out of the past and into a brighter and more egalitarian future.

Darth Whitey said...

I don't think you fellas understand how astonishing what you are saying is. It's like saying that your attraction to the opposite sex is a choice.

Gays insist they knew they were gay when they were as young as 6 years old. And of course at that age, it's not about sex. It's emotional. How comfortable you are around either sex, on an intimate level.

Think about it. Are you capable of having romantic feelings of tenderness and caring for members of your sex? I am not. And I am repulsed by their physique as well. Gays have the opposite reaction. Sexually, they are simply incapable of being aroused by a member of the opposite sex (if they're not bi-sexual.)

In my view, it is simply mother nature's evolutionary response to keeping the population at a reasonable level.

Deacon Blue said...

Darth, lots of things are fundamental and shaped by our upbringing and whom we admire and hang around when we're young.

Sex is one of them. How much we share. What kind of political leaning we will develop. What kind of person (exclusive of sex) that we will be attracted to. All of these things (and more) are shaped by our life experiences, and we have control over them, but at varying levels.

I'm not saying (nor is Big Man) that being gay is some easily changed behavior or that it is deviant from the norm. What I am saying is that it is not necessarily "hard wired."

I don't want to get into a back and forth on this. But saying it might have elements of choice in it is an acceptance of the role of environment and personal choices in life...it's not all written into our brains and it's not all genetic.

That's all I'm saying. And that's what I will continue to say unless and until they find a "gay gene."

Big Man said...

Darth

Read my comment again.

All gay people are not the same. Just like all black people. Some poeple have been attracted to the same sex since childhood, others have not.

Why do you insist on making this a discussion about whether homosexuality is a choice, when I have already said that has nothing to do with my decision to support gay marriage?

Sure, some people base their decision on that, but not me. I think gay marriage should be legal because I do not see it as a religious situation. I do not believe Christian beliefs should be forced on people and that's what happens when you make laws solely based on Christian beliefs. That's the crux of my support.

Big Man said...

Deac

Actually, using the genetic argument opens up a can of worms about whether homosexuality is deviance from the norm.

After all, all animals who are "normal" are hardwired to reproduce. It's the main function of sex. So, since homosexuality is at odds with that "natural" urge, what does that make it?

See, this discussion has so many holes in it. That's why my position is not based on whether or not homosexuality is normal or right. It's about what's wrong with denying people rights because they choose to live their lives differently from me in a way that in no way affects me.

That's the thing. Gay people getting married has no impact whatsoever on my life. It really doesn't. Two adults who want to get married is none of my business. NObody is being abused, nobody is being hurt.

Are we going to outlaw fornication, divorce, lying? This whole issue is some bullshit, but it had nothing to do with whether homosexuality is a choice. That is a stupid argument trying to advance a much more aggressive point-of-view that is always going to be met with resistance by individuals who believe in a literal interpetation of certain scripture.

That is not going to solve the problem.

Darth Whitey said...

Fair enough, gentlemen. I would refrain from saying that homosexuality can be "overcome", though. I think you will find that people will not take the rest of your argument very seriously after they hear that :-)

Deacon Blue said...

Big Man, your comment on the genetic thing being a can of worms is right on target. With the mapping of the human genome, I've seen more people getting off the "I can't control who I am" thing b/c they realize IF a genetic link is found, the very real risk is that mainstream folks will, by and large, define it as deviant from the norm and look for ways to prevent their kids from having that gene (or that set of genes).

Not a pretty picture. Eugenics isn't my cup 'o tea.

And again, as you've pointed out, neither the sexual orientation nor gay marriage poses any real threat.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Good post, and matches my sentiments about the black/gay issue.

Why we refuse to discuss what's in front of us is a major reason why our communities are the most hurt and the most in denial.

We have to keep attempting these discussions, even if the old soldiers in the church don't want to hear it.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

When someone from the Christian community can show me how gays getting married will have direct impact on my life, maybe I'll sit up and pay attention.

I've already heard the "their taking good men/women available" bullshyt, and it doesn't wash for me because even if they deny their sexuality and sexual attraction, and marry a heterosexual, sooner or later, their true nature is going to surface and cause problems in the marriage, which leads to separation, divorce and becoming another statistic.

Christina Springer said...

I'm weighing in late. I do believe in the genetic pre-disposition towards homesexuality. I also understand that people have these ingrained genetic directectives - which combined with life experience - generate an certain predictable outcome...homosexuality. Some people are able to work through their issues and “pass” into a heterosexual lifestyle. Others, won’t, will not, nor should they be forced to be.

I have to say, as someone who used to be a proud Black lesbian mother in a multi-racial, multi-gender family, I am vastly disappointed by this turn of events. And while I will not lay the blame soley on the doorstep of the Black community, I will challenge them to remember what the old days were like. (Anyone need a moving fictional account, please re-read The Women Of Brewster Place.) Used to be it was so bad back then that “any other” could find some solace - turning of heads, feigned ignorance - in our community.

Then, we all got to talking about rights. Then rights started becoming a reality. And it became this pre-school farce of “Me first!” Or worse, “My oppression is worse than yours is.” The fact of the matter is that our oppressions intersect. And instead of finding our common ground - we flock like lemmings into the devisive twaddle we were trained by our oppressors to do.

I’m a lot different than the woman I was years ago. My blog reads like the happy, heterosexual, home educating housewife. In my own soul, I was able to embrace the fact that love and compatibility are precious. I came to understand that no matter the package - the quality of the soul is the most important thing in forging a relationship. I got lucky that the soul I found later in life just happened to be inside of a Black man’s body. But, I will never forget that there are other women and men making families, loving, caring and building a life together who have made the exact same choice that I have. And this choice is accepting that we must seize the opportunity to embrace the most compatible, loving, caring soul regardless of the form it takes in this lifetime.

Why should anyone care? Don’t we want stability? Don’t we want productive, committed, caring community members? LondonDiva summed it up pretty nicely. There are far worse challenges than love, concern and caring.

the uppity negro said...

Well, clearly, you know I'm a few steps away from saying "anything goes."

And as a member of the United Church of Christ, I'm all for gay marriages. I think its hypocritical for us to holler about equal rights for all, but then make stipulations. I mean, civil unions are not the same as marriages--if the name was the only different then okay.

I think it's a hawt mess if for no other reason than the fact that we can't legislate love. GOPers and Conservatives always are interesting when it comes to laws concerning sex. They holler less government, but when it comes to issues of the womans uterus and homosexuality they're ready to pull out a list of laws that need to be passed.

I'm interested to hear what you have to say about Arkansas ruling that gay couples can't adopt.

It seems to me that, yet again, those of a conservative mindset, be it socially or theologically, that they are quite selective about preserving life on this side of the birth.

Lolo said...

Christina,
Thank you for sharing your actual life experience on this. It most truly reflects my own, albeit through people I've loved and not my own personal journey.

I counsel my children that sexuality is far more fluid and mysterious than we as a society seem ready to acknowledge. That what might attract them in adolescence will likely change in early adulthood, mid-life, etc., depending on so many factors that to get hung up on a "label" is ultimately inhibiting, regardless of how safe it may feel at the time.

I would no more demand and even worse, legislate, the validity of two people joining their lives in terms of the gender of the participants, than I would codify career choice, religious choice, or the traditional marriage vows of "till death do us part". In that sense, at least, it is indeed a matter of civil rights for me. It boils down to equal rights under the law, The Consitution, and that document was founded partly on a lie but with the election of Obama it has indeed taken a big step towards becoming Truth in totality.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Big Man, your statement was profound: "...if I've learned one thing, it's that the biggest threats to my marriage are me and my wife."

Likewise, the rest of your post moved me. I began to write a comment here this morning, but it was so long that I wrote a post. I believe that the more of us questioning this hypocrisy, the better. Drop by when you get time and read what I wrote. I quoted you in it too.

When The Yes We Can Crowd Said No You Can't

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I'm glad you wrote this. It is strange how blacks don't see some of the similarities.

One time I was talking to a friend who is very homophobic. He was going of about how gays were ok but blah blah blah ( I always tune out buts when people are talking about civil rights, because really there are NO buts to civil rights.) He then finally got it he said wait do you know HOW MUCH I WOULD TRIP if I heard a white person aay the same about a black person.

I was like exactly. We as minorities can never forget our struggle. If we do we will never truly advance.

Prop 8 and the role our community played in it really saddens me. It is not the way I wanted to see the Obama ticket split in California.

Great Post.

-OG

Anonymous said...

If by 'strange relationship' you mean completely homophobic, totally predujiced and extremely hypocritical, then yes you're right, it is a strange relationship.

Infact, go fuck yourselves you fucking niggers.

From a proud homosexual.

LondonDiva said...

And that's probably from the same Anon that's been calling me a nigger on my own blog too.

Deacon Blue said...

So many Anons, it gets hard to keep track of 'em sometimes.

I mean, he couldn't have just given himself the handle "proud homosexual?" Oh, yeah, he was too busy blaming the blacks who voted against the measure instead of the many, many more white folks, Asian and Hispanics together who did.

Anonymous said...

You are a nigger though, londondiva.

Anonymous said...

MCBias, you have to be the dumbest fucking nigger I've ever come across in my life.

LondonDiva said...

Your racist comments like I told you will never make it onto my blog again. R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D [A term I'm sure you're familiar with] And posting on somebody elses blog isn't going to rile me or them either.

**spending all day on black based blogs**

WTF

You've been on mine since 13:00 to 17:30 GMT just saying the same damn word over and over.

LondonDiva's a Nigger...boo hoo *rolls eyes*

Big Man said...

I was trying to avoid saying this.

But, please do not feed the troll.

That only makes them larger.

If "proud homosexual" likes to throw around the word nigger on black blogs, so be it.

Doesn't really bother me, and y'all should let it bother you. If things get too bad, I'll go ahead and erase the comments, but I would prefer not to do that.

Also, MCBias is white.

Anonymous said...

Big man is a nigger, londondiva is a nigger and mcbias is a nigger wannabe.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hello there!

I really don't think that the Black Church is going to change its stance regarding homosexuality...but I still believe that condoning discrimination in ANY form is not Christian and must be addressed.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Deacon Blue said...

Yeah, Lisa. I think that's key myself. I mean, it's not like Jesus condoned prostitution, gambling, etc. yet those are the people he spent a lot of time with, and persecution definitely wasn't on his agenda

Anonymous said...

Niggers ain't shit, but hos and dicks.

Raving Black Lunatic