Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blacks vs Gays?

I'm very excited to have run across this article online, "Crossing the Gay Color Lines." I don't know very many gay blacks, and most of them don't know I'm gay (or, at least, haven't indicated they know--they probably do). I have been extremely interested in knowing what other gay blacks think about these issues, and it feels good to know that I'm not alone in thinking some of these thoughts. I agree with the majority of what is expressed in the article, though certainly not all of it.

BTW, two thoughts: I know I use "gay" a lot, and it has come to my attention that some GLBT, etc, individuals don't like the use of "gay" as a blanket term for all non-heterosexuals. I use "gay" simply because I am fine with it, and because it's easier and more natural to me to use than GLBTQ and whatever else variation exists. I probably should switch to "queer," but, hey, this is my blog, and it's second nature for me to say "gay." Also, I noticed how this article focuses on men. Gays do that a lot, it seems. I would love to know what non-heterosexual black women think about the issues raised in the article, so please feel free to e-mail me.

In case the article ever goes offline and people want to read what was said, here are some of the parts that I most agreed with:

Tori Fixx, a music producer, hip-hop artist (Pick up the Mic) and DJ, points to one of the most glaring of those differences — one that doesn't have to do with history. "Gay men can conceal their identity to get ahead," Fixx said. "But black men … you wear that every day you leave the front door. It's there on display whether you want it to be there or not."

Polk, Fixx, McCullom and Daniels all feel that the challenges they face as African Americans in our culture are greater than those they face as gay men. "For me, it boils down to an issue of privilege," Polk explained. "White gay people are just as privileged as white straight people."
Daniels seems to understand this may not be a popular opinion among some white gay people. "It's not cool to call the race card," he said, "because it's politically incorrect to say that that's an issue anymore."

Taylor found the media coverage of the Washington affair two-dimensional; the media barely mentioned Washington's groundbreaking role as a gay character in Spike Lee's 1996 film Get on the Bus. Set during the Million Man March, the film took enormous heat from black religious leaders for its inclusion of a gay couple ( Washington played one of the partners). It was a courageous role for any actor at the time, and doubly so for an African American one.... including this part of Washington's body of work could have led to a more productive discussion after the Grey's Anatomy fiasco. Then "it becomes a dialogue," Taylor pointed out. "It becomes: How could you have been so sensitive a decade ago, and then this rolls out of your mouth in the new millennium?"

...At the end of the day, tight-ass Will Truman [Will & Grace] is just another rich white man.

The lack of diverse gay images is linked, Taylor believes, to why gays may be losing the marriage debate within the black community....the predominant image for quite some time was that of "the wonderfully suited white gay men," Taylor pointed out. "When the white man stood at the table and said, 'Oh let me have my basic rights,'” explained Taylor, “black people felt like, 'Mr. Privilege, you already have most of 'em — shut up!'"

"You're talking about African Americans being prejudiced," Daniels said. "I mean gay men are prejudiced against gay men [of color]." (with respect to the notion that homophobia is more rampant among blacks)

Ultimately, Polk believes, the comparisons that gays make between their struggle and the civil-rights movement ring hollow. "The truth of the matter is white gay people don't really care about racist and racial issues," Polk said. "They really don't. There's just as much racism within the gay community as anywhere else. You would think gay people would be less racist, but they're just as much."

Polk too, has had similar experiences at clubs. "If I go to a predominantly white gay club, the men just aren't really interested," he said. "I call it the invisible man syndrome." People try to explain their lack of interest by claiming it's "just a preference," but Polk pointed out, "it's not really a preference to exclude an entire group of people based on the color of their skin."

How can we begin to come together?
"I think the way it begins is right what you're doing here," Taylor said. "To be willing to ask questions that haven't been asked over a sense of discomfort. You cannot have a breakthrough without a breakdown. And we have not been willing, many of us, to have a breakdown in the truth of the conversation. The truth: Why don't you like me?"

I will eventually address comments made in the article that I don't agree with and why in another entry.