Monday, October 31, 2011

African American and our attitudes towards homosexuality (Gay, bisexual, and lesbians persons)

“I’d rather have a pedophile teach my child than a homosexual. Something about it is just wrong.”

-A former classmate at Bethune Cookman Univeristy

One of my most influential professors held open class discussions about whatever taboo topics he found would purposely spark controversy. At my small and tight nit University those topics could be anything from defining gender duties, to homosexuality. Because we had all been forewarned about the topic and to come to class prepared to discuss it some students purposely missed class (Some of whom had never missed class prior).

I remember sitting eagerly up front in class looking up from my textbook when the quoted comment above was said. My right eye began to involuntarily twitch. Did this young man understand the gravity of what he was saying? Did he understand that he was perpetuating ignorance? What I had heard must have been a mistake. Furthermore my eyes were surely deceiving me as my classmate slapped high fives with his neighbors in class. I waited until his ignorant tirade justifying his words ended and I laid into him like a brick worker lays down brick. However, at the end of the day I knew my words were not enough to get him to want to enlighten himself, nor were they enough to challenge these ignorant notions that our people (As well as numerous others) seem to want to embrace.

Particia Hill Collins stated there is an assumption that “All Black people are heterosexual and that all LBGT [Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgendered] persons are white” (2004). And I’ve heard numerous times over and over again how homosexuality is a “White disease” from the far reaches of the pulpit to the everyday talks at coffee shops and around campuses nationwide. I wondered was this a Southern thing? Did the progressive North view homosexuality as negative as the South did among our people?

My fury ignited when I realized that only subcultures within our culture exist to embrace homosexuality. (Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, certain sections of Atlanta, California are a few meccas to speak of that embrace homosexuality openly as cities.) After all, these are our people and any form of oppression is an issue we should not tolerate. There are very few venues where our sexuality can be discussed openly without bias or just plain ignorance overshadowing our knowledge (Even on the collegiate level). We cannot tolerate homophobia if we are to move forward in any progressive manner as a people.

While homosexuality has been ignorantly dubbed the new “Black,” Blacks within the homosexual community are more often than not shunned for their sexual orientation. In February at the 2011 National Religious broadcasters convention Pastor Voddie Bauchman (Who is Black) said “I am insulted that people equate not just a sinful behavior but a behavior that’s a special category of sin called an abomination with the level of melanin in my skin.” He went on to say (among other things) that gay marriage is not a civil rights issue.

My question is what the hell is it then? And when it pertains to our people is it just not something to be discussed because it is such an “abomination”? Clearly the shunning of Black homosexuals can come from numerous outlets such as churches/religious life, academia, and the ostracizing from family and friends (Outlets in which attempt to “convert” or “heal” the individual from their sins). While support groups exist for those who are having difficulty coming to terms with homosexuality or living with it, how many of those support groups acknowledge the double and often times triple minority? Is the struggle the same for a white lesbian in contrast to a Black lesbian? Do people ever take into account the racial and cultural differences? HELL NO!

I’ve had friends who have been literally in tears because of their parents notions that they will be condemned to a hell there’s no coming back from. I’ve had friends who have been sent to camps to “degayify” them with an almost comical undertone that states “If your kid isn’t cured by the time we return them to you, you get a money back guarentee”. I’ve seen subcultures (Gay, Lebsian, Bisexual and Transgendered African Americans) operate almost in under ground fashion in places that aren’t as upscale and welcoming as the cultural meccas I mentioned earlier. I’ve seen people date the opposite sex in all their unhappiness just so no one would suspect who they were really attracted to. And me, I’ve experienced the supposed unconditional love of family members turn quite conditional whenever the subject is brought up or I chose to bring someone home to meet them.

What does this entire discussion mean though? This means our culture has bought into patriarchal ideals of what a society is supposed to be. We have begun to mimic the dominant culture, which has oppressed us in the same manner in which we chose to oppress ourselves. We’ve chosen to embrace theories of Black masculinity as well as Black femininity in which the theories in and of themselves are downright offensive. Our religionist fervor, our bias, and our own ignorance continue to make it difficult for persons within our community to openly talk about, identify as or even live as homosexual persons. Is it not enough of that they have to face racism? I guess not because it seems like if you’re homosexual and Black you are screwed in every avenue, especially from our own people.

References

Collins, P. (2004). Prisons for our bodies, closets for our minds. Black sexual politics: African Americans, gender, and the new racism (pp. 87-119). New York: Routledge.

Phan, K. T. (n.d.). Christian Broadcasters Urged to Fight 'Gay is the New Black'
Agenda, Christian News. Christian News, The Christian Post. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-broadcasters-urged-to-fight-gay-is-the-new-black-agenda-49196/

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