Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Obama, The Gays and Blacks

Read a story the other day about how black people are more "hostile" towards gay folks than any other racial group in America. That statement sort of surprised me.

The thesis was supported by statistics showing our resistance to gay marriage in larger numbers, and the fact that more of us go to church more often than any other group. That was the entirety of the proof provided for labeling black folks hostile to homosexuals. Seemed like a pretty flimsy connection to me, but it made me think.

Apparently,  in addition to be being hyper-sexual, violent beasts, black folks have now added "homophobic idiots" to their character traits according to Holy Bible of Public Opinion. The backlash against black folks has been harsh, just as it was in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and that's unfortunate. It's unfortunate because as the conversation has devolved into a rash of "nigger" and "faggot" spewing, a chance to learn something has been lost.

The truth is both sides have compelling, flawed arguments. Take the homosexual stance that likens the struggle for their rights to that of black folks. Many of them are understandably disgusted by one marginalized group turning so vehemently on another. While this makes sense on an intellectual level, if actually fails the smell test.

After all, isn't the history of America littered with stories of marginalized groups turning on each other despite common interests. Don't we call that "divide and conquer"? Why would black people be held to higher standard simply because they have suffered so much? Isn't that a sneaky way of introducing the Magical Negro trope into the discussion, and denying black folks their humanity in yet another way?

In addition, when what you perceive to be bigotry in others spurs you to bigotry of your own, no one holds the moral high ground. This may sound strange coming from a man who has tossed around "Crackers' with the best of them, but it's true. You cannot justify your bigotry by pointing to the actions of others, and when slurs and stereotypes fly from your lips whenever black folks thwart your plans, well you have a serious problem. You might want to address that on your own.

Yet, the anger that homosexuals feels is understandable. After all, there are parallels between the two struggles. There is no equality in them, but they are connected. And it is hurtful to have someone you assumed would be a supporter turn into an enemy. (Although there is some question as to why black folks were assumed to be supporters. Have we ever assumed that homosexuals would support black people in their struggle, and criticized them when they did not? No we haven't)

Gay marriage has little impact on the lives of others. It has no more impact than rampant adultery or fornication and no one is lining up to outlaw those two sexual sins also mentioned by God in his holy word. That is the hypocrisy that angers gay folks. Particularly when it comes from group with an out of wedlock birthrate of like 70 percent, and the highest homicide rate of any race. As the popular song once said "Sweep around your own front door before you sweep around mine."

Unfortunately, black folks, and many white folks, see homosexuality as a special sin. There is very little Biblical justification for this stance, but it persists. As a "special" sin there is a belief, which I have witnessed firsthand, that providing a stamp of approval for anything associated with this sin will have greater consequences. How black people can make this argument with the rampant homosexuality in many black churches is confusing, but it is true. Moreover, many homosexuals seem hellbent on driving home the point that if you do not agree that there is nothing wrong with who they sleep with you are a terrible human being.

Neither side is willing to concede that sometimes you just have to let people be who they are without judgment. You have to let gay people marry in services they create because ultimately it won't impact you. You have to let black folks think homosexuality is a sin before God because ultimately it won't impact you. That simple belief has limited power. It's only when beliefs shape actions that a problem occurs. And preventing that particular problem is easily accomplished by using the law.

It's not that difficult to find a consensus if everyone stops demanding they be recognized as completely right.

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3 comments:

spacemonkey said...

Hmm. I wanted to write a decent comment on your post, but I gave up (realising that I'm not 'qualified' in either personal experience or 'academic' understanding). I'll summarise, though: try asking a black gay person what they think of the report you read. I'd be willing to bet they'd characterise it as 'racist' more than 'anti-homophobic'.

In my experience, they tend to resist singling out any racial group as 'more homophobic/ heterosexist' than another, except occasionally in a very nuanced and carefully qualified way. And they (rightly) get very angry at white gay people speaking on behalf of all gay people.

Big Man said...

I've seen the same thing Space Monkey. Unfortunately, people of color are not the dominant voices in that community.

Anonymous said...

When white people who are gay start owning up to their OWN racism and bigotry. Or the way they step on people of color for their own interest THEN we can have a discussion on black 'homophobia'.

Raving Black Lunatic