I recently read a post about Frank Ocean’s father suing him for defamation about a derogatory slur used back when Ocean was younger. It was about Homophobia in the black community; and it got me to thinking. Thinking about my own life and growing up dealing with my own homophobia up until I “came out”.
In my experience, there’s always been this issue with black people, specifically black men, standing up for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Sure, they don’t mind that you’re LGBTQ, and they even hang out with you and meet your significant others, but in the back of their mind, they still have a problem with it. They might not admit it, because they might not even know they have a problem with it. But if you ask any of your friends that claim to be LGBTQ supporters how they view sex between two people of the same sex, what would their reaction be? (This can also be another topic because being Lesbian compared to being Gay is a crazy double-standard, but we’ll visit this next week, maybe).
I’ve seen where people who say they “don’t care” that people are LGBTQ, tend to have a problem with supporting the overall LGBTQ community. You know, going to PRIDE, hitting up a gay club, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race…you know, those types of things. I don’t know the ultimate reason why this is the case, but I’ve been personally told that there is this stigma that if you associate with a person who is LGBTQ, other people will automatically assume that they, themselves are LGBTQ as well. So I guess it’s just people trying to avoid being identified as gay or something because of their own insecurities.
And we don’t want that now, do we? Especially in the black community.
I’ve read plenty of articles about being gay in the black community. I experienced it first hand, it was the main reason why I didn’t really start to live my life truly until about 25, MAYBE 26. It was an issue…being black, growing up in a black church. Seeing some of the other boys being teased when I was younger and being made fun of because they “acted gay”. I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want it to be me because to be gay was to not be masculine. To not be cool. To like girly things. To basically lose your “man card”. To be thought of lesser than. I knew how parents reacted when they found out their child was gay. They were ashamed and I didn’t want to shame my family.
(And to the beautiful people who grew up going through this, I can’t imagine your struggle, but I know that you are one of the strongest groups of people I will ever know.)
This is what’s “taught” in the black community. No, not literally, but it IS learned. Be it through the media, through family, friends or whatever, it is learned. And sure, some people will say “well now things are different and we’ve come a long way”, and that may be true, but there’s still a problem with homophobia, especially around the straight, black community. And the first thing I think about when my mind is directed to this is that there’s this “issue” about the demasculinization of the (black) male. And I truly don’t even understand this train of thought (maybe I’ll pick up a book one of these days). This homophobia found in the black community fueled my own homophobia throughout my childhood even through most of my college years.
I went through college as a straight male. Had girlfriends, had sex with them, it was fun, sure. But when it came down to it, even during one of those relationships I was fighting something that was always there. And I knew it was always there. Juggling between both sides of the spectrum. But the little black boy from the small town where everyone knew him as a good christian boy couldn’t let that be seen. I’ve said some hateful things in the past about the LGBTQ community, knowing I was a part of it myself, only so that I could save my face and not be accused of being gay, when in actuality I was the whole time. I’ve hated myself to the point where I tried to “pray the gay away” multiple times. I went to church, listening to sermon after sermon thinking that something was wrong with me. I listened to family members, talk so much shit about LGBTQ people that it fueled this self hate.
I’ve suppressed it so much that I became somewhat of a “Pro” at being straight to the general audience. People I knew or hung around on a normal basis always knew or had somewhat of an idea, but generally speaking nobody really caught on. Again, because of the black community, I didn’t want to be ridiculed or shamed or whatever. And to this day, there is this “thing” within the gay community about being gay but not “looking” gay (another post for another time).
Even after coming out, I’ve had straight people tell me that they like hanging out with “gays like me”, because I’m “different”. Which translates to, “I don’t mind hanging out with you because you don’t look gay, therefore nobody will think I’m gay”. And I’m so tired of hearing this. Just because you’re “OK” with it isn’t enough.
I want you to show it. Truly, show it and be ok, out in public, loud and proud that we’re cool people. I want you to support me by going to events like PRIDE and to Drag Shows. I want to talk about my life with you in detail just like you talk about yours. I want you to go to a gay club and party it up! And no you don’t HAVE to go, but at least entertain the possibility. THAT’s when I know you’re actually OK with it. To tell someone you don’t mind that they are Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, or Queer, and then not support them afterwards is an empty statement. It means nothing and I will always assume that you will always have a problem with our community; And until you get your insecurities straightened out, I don’t want your half assed support.
This whole shit has built up so much resentment and regret in me. I resent the fact that the black culture had made me feel broken. I regret calling whomever I called a faggot that word growing up. I resent that the church made me feel dirty and unloved. I regret not standing up for what was right when I saw an LGBTQ person be ridiculed and judged for who they are. I resent the fact that I waited so long to be a part of a community who tries to do nothing but live life as they are.
And you can blame it on your beliefs, blame it on your personal preferences, blame it on whatever, who cares. We’re fighting right now for our spot in the the world and we’ll keep on fighting long after you’re forgotten about.