Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shut Up Sandra Rose, Men Loving Men is Beautiful

A large part of the reason I continue to work so hard to educate myself about the issues the LGBT community face, is because I strongly identify them as Black issues.  You see, you cannot claim to love Blackness, if you do not embrace every single way in which it manifests.  This means that when same gender loving people of colour are harassed, it is my damn business.  They didn't lose their status as Black people when they realized that they are gay.  In fact, being Black and gay means that they are facing multiple oppressions and therefore require the support of the Black community as well as the GLBT community.  This is something that I am very passionate about, despite the social meme that Blacks are uniquely homophobic. 

If you use twitter, you might be aware of the following twitpic making the rounds entitled, "#no excuse I don't give a fuck how sleepy you are."


When I saw this photo it made me smile.  Too often the face of young Black masculinity is violent or associated with drugs and prison.  Very rarely do we see Black men loving each other and showing concern for each other.  Think about how many gangsta movies have been made with the screen awash in Black blood.  Whatever the reason these two men found to show love to each other is enough for me.  In a world so overwhelmed with hate, I fail to see how loving anyone could possibly be considered a bad thing.  Love elevates us, it makes us more than the sum of our parts.

Unfortunately, Sandra Rose was unable to simply enjoy the love in the above photo.  I decided to write this post because her blog is a large Black gossip blog and therefore carries some weight within the online community.  From Bossip to Mediatakeout to SandraRose, homophobia seems to be a mainstay with the Black online gossip community, and it has to stop.  Commenters do speak out about the homophobic posts, but this has not stopped them from being published.  What kind of LGBT ally would I be if I didn't take the time to comment regarding the rampant homophobia often seen in these spaces.  This is not funny, or even remotely amusing, because homophobia often leads to violence and death.  I have had too many of my TLBG friends, tell me about the ways in which their lives have been touched with violence simply for exsisting to ignore this.  I don't ever want to attend the funeral of a friend due to someone else's ignorance and hate -- and so I am going to do my part and say stop the homophobia.  Stop it now.

Sandra has employed many of the devices that are commonly seen by heterosexual, cisgender, Black women to defend their homophobia:

Over the past 4 decades, black women have decided to go it alone with their kids rather than be subservient to black men like their mothers and aunts were back in the days when black men were the majority head of households.

It’s become nearly impossible to distinguish heterosexual men from down low thugs due to the proliferation of female-led households in the black community.

As more and more black women switch roles and responsibilities with men, more and more fatherless men are turning to other men for the strength and guidance they are missing in their lives.

Meanwhile, African Americans account for the highest rate of new HIV/AIDS
Tell me what the hell Black women choosing to parent alone has to do with gay men?  Gay men are not responsible for straight men walking out on their families and being deadbeat fathers.  Why are all the problems of the Black family supposedly the fault of the Black gay male?  It is a ridiculous leap that has no basis other than hate as far as I can see.   We may need to have a conversation about fatherhood in the Black community and patriarchy in straight relationships, but neither of these issues should give rise to homophobia.  Sandra Rose seems to forget that each Black gay male is the child of a Black family.

The point of fact is that society is not set up to help mothers.  Despite the social lie that we support motherhood, if one is poor and Black, one is seen as a breeder of surplus population.  The White supremacist state does not want more Black babies born and it is ridiculous to blame Black gay men for this.  They do not have the social power to effectively control how Black mothers are treated.  Targeting them is not only ineffective, it avoids place the blame where it belongs - the white supremacist patriarchal state. 

There is a lot of resentment about Black men living on the down low (read: in the closet), but perhaps if they did not face such rampant homophobia simply for living, this phenomenon would not exist.  It is straight society that has created the closet because of our intolerance -- and the fact that we can then turn around and blame people for conforming to the roles that we have created for them, is yet another example of heterosexual privilege. I have never heard a single gay person say that the closet is a joyful place. 

Finally, the meme that all gay people are diseased is not only wrong it is disgusting.  It is true that the rate of AIDS in the African American community is higher than the average, but then to say that this is because of gay people is to ignore the fact that AIDS is NOT a gay disease.  I don't know how many times this must be said for people to grasp the reality of this statement. Patient 0 may have been a gay man, but today we know that there are various ways in which people can get AIDS -- with unprotected sex being the most prominent way.  What we need is to talk about safe sex, free distribution of condoms and free AIDS tests.    Creating a group of people as diseased, is merely an attempt to maginalize and other them.  Anyone can get AIDS from having heterosexual sex and ignoring this amounts to signing a death warrant for millions of people.

I am probably preaching to the converted by writing this piece on my space however, I was absolutely compelled to write this post because this homophobic narrative has become commonplace on Black gossip blogs.  Womanist Musings could hardly be characterized as a gossip site; however, as someone who is determined to be an ally to the gay community, I felt that my silence in the face of these repeated homophobic attacks would have been read as condoning something I absolutely abhor.

When the White GLBT leaders talk about homophobia in the Black community, they are speaking about the Sandra Rose's of this world.  Both tactics are unnecessarily divisive and ignore that there are people working for change and the Blacks who are themselves same gender loving.  We don't win anything when we play the more oppressed than thou game, we only reaffirm the concept that people deserve to be "othered". We are hurting ourselves when we attack the same gender loving people in our community.  As a community we have struggled for centuries to have our humanity recognized and so to turn on our own in some failed attempt to achieve false power, signifies that many have decided that the master's tools are preferable to real and lasting freedom.