Thursday, July 16, 2009

My answer to L.Z. Granderson - There should be no pride in comparing forms of oppression

This nonsense about "Is Black The New Gay," just reached another plateau of bullcrap today.

L.Z. Granderson, an award winning columnist and a gay man of color has written a piece that, while I agree with in some parts, is indicative of the division mentality that I find so mind-boggling:

Black is still black.

And if any group should know this, it's the gay community.

Bars such as The Prop House, or Bulldogs in Atlanta, Georgia, exist because a large number of gay blacks -- particularly those who date other blacks, and live in the black community -- do not feel a part of the larger gay movement. There are Gay Pride celebrations, and then there are Black Gay Prides.

There's a popular bar in the heart of the nation's capital that might as well rename itself Antebellum, because all of the white patrons tend to stay upstairs and the black patrons are on the first floor. Last year at the annual Human Rights Campaign national fundraiser in Washington, D.C. -- an event that lasted more than three hours -- the only black person to make it on stage was the entertainment.

When Proposition 8 passed in California, white gays were quick to blame the black community despite blacks making up less than 10 percent of total voters and whites being close to 60 percent. At protest rallies that followed, some gay blacks reported they were even hit with racial epithets by angry white participants. Not to split hairs, but for most blacks, the n-word trumps the f-word.

So while the white mouthpiece of the gay community shakes an angry finger at intolerance and bigotry in their blogs and on television, blacks and other minorities see the dirty laundry. They see the hypocrisy of publicly rallying in the name of unity but then privately living in segregated pockets. And then there is the history.

He does have a point about how the visibility of lgbts of color is minimized in gay community at large and the madness of some lgbts after the Proposition 8 vote.

But in all honesty, he splits hairs in an ugly fashion with that comment about the "n-word" and "f-word." I mean it's like saying if a gay black man is attacked by both a racist and a homophobe carrying baseball bats, he is going to run away from the racist quicker than he would from the homophobe. And that point about the "hypocrisy of publicly rallying in the name of unity but then privately living in segregated pockets" is also a good one to make.

But the hypocrisy of talking about unity but ignoring a segment of your population because of religious beliefs and ridiculous ideas of masculinity and femininity is an equally good point.

For me, the part that stuck out in Mr. Granderson's piece in a bad way is the following:

The 40th anniversary of Stonewall dominated Gay Pride celebrations around the country, and while that is certainly a significant moment that should be recognized, 40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country. There are stories some blacks lived through, stories others were told by their parents and stories that never had a chance to be told.

He would have a point except for one thing; as I understand it, some of those gays at Stonewall were black. That's yet another thing about lgbts of color you don't hear about during Black History Month.

The fact that he didn't mention the inclusion of black gays in Stonewall but rather contrasted it to black history (wouldn't Stonewall be considered a part, albeit a small part, of black history) emphasizes the basic emptiness of his piece.

Why is it so hard for folks to say that gay rights are African-American rights because lgbts of color are touched by both communities? Why is it so hard for folks to say that there are times in which the black and gay struggles intersect?

That is why I am so damned weary of this argument about "is gay the new black" or "can the gay rights movement compare itself to the civil rights movement."

For one thing, the argument is so self-defeating.

You generally don't end up with an intelligent discussion. What you end up with are folks who compare abuses like they are marks of honors. Getting your head busted open for being black or gay is not a trophy and should never be seen as such.

So blacks say that gays can't compare their struggle to the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s because they didn't face slavery and segregation. Big deal. If you wanted to be stupid about it, some can say blacks can't compare themselves to Jews. Remember this country kept blacks as slaves, but the Nazis tried to exterminate Jewish people.

I say we are losing touch. In the long run, the forms that oppression take is not as important as the harm it can do.

Or, if you want to be direct about it, did Mamie Till and Judy Shepard cry different tears when they learned about the deaths of their children?

Is the hurt of a black girl who has been told that she is ugly because she does not fit the European standard of beauty any different than that of a young white lesbian who has been bullied in her school because of her orientation?

Is my worth as a black man more important than my worth as a gay man?

Are we so damned wrapped up in talking about how we have been oppressed that we forget that all oppression must be stopped?

It's sad that Mr. Granderson did not ask these critical questions.

Yet another wasted opportunity.

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Ex-gay lies, the blacklisting of lgbt groups, hate crimes legislation, and other news briefs

Stop drinking. Get help for traumas. Heck, stop having gay sex. But stop linking these disconnected elements! - This piece illustrates why I have little respect for the supposed "ex-gays." They all seem to either have the same story or confuse bad behaviors with being lgbt. Having promiscuous sex or engaging in drug and alcohol abuse is not a hallmark of being an lgbt anymore than it is of being a heterosexual. If some of these supposed ex-gays took some responsibility and owned their bad behavior, they wouldn't have time to blame us for it.

Anti-Gay Maine Campaign’s Lack of Grassroots Funding - The anti-gay marriage side is bussing in monetary support just like they did in California. Why am I not surprised?

Bush's Justice Dept. blacklisted LGBT groups - I continue to be impressed with the Washington Blade's digging on stories. Keep it up cause I've got a few for ya! Call a brother!

Lawmakers raise concerns about locker rooms at trans rights hearing - The religious right lie about "predators in the bathroom" is striking again.

I received the following email from People for the American Way. Keep the calls coming. And just in case you get discouraged, remember that I have both Lindsay Graham and Jim DeMint as my senators and I am still making a call:

Later today, the Senate is expected to vote on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 909) -- as the Leahy/Collins/Kennedy/Snowe amendment to the defense authorization bill. Our coalition partners have set up a call-in number for activists to call their senators toll-free to make sure they are hearing Americans' support for this bill.

Please call YOUR senators right now, toll-free at 866-659-9641 and make sure they hear your support at this critical time. Tell them: Vote YES on the Leahy/Collins/Kennedy/Snowe amendment!

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The black community is phony and hypocritical when it comes to lgbt issues

A columnist by the name of Wendi C. Thomas wrote an absolutely stunning piece on how the black church treats lgbts of color.

There are so many things about it that I like. But the main thing is how she exposes a fact that is well-known in African-American circles:

The hypocrisy is that the black church has always been home to gay men and women. Yet while largely ignoring sexuality in all its other forms, the church often delivers messages of shame to gay people, who endure it while they sit in the pews and sing in the choirs.

The secrecy demands that in a traditional black church, gay people must hide. The rumors of prominent black Christians who are gay are rampant, but only one -- singer Donnie McClurkin -- acknowledges having had sex with men.

"It's not so much that the black church doesn't want gay men, they don't want openly gay men," said Devon Berry, who is black and gay.

"They don't want you in there being proud of who you are."

Thomas is right. Lgbts of color attend non-affirming black churches. And it's not as if all of us are deep in the closet. Some of our mannerisms have made us the butt of whispering campaigns by proper church ladies and gentlemen; the same folks who would give us holy hell if we came out and openly declared ourselves so as to relieve their doubts and answer their questions.

That part of Thomas's piece touches on something that is not really focused on when it comes to lgbts in the black community in general. African-Americans know that lgbts of color exist. Many heterosexual blacks consider themselves as good friends of lgbts of color. And they claim to have no problem with us . . . as long as we know our place.

Heterosexual African-Americans can criticize lgbts. Pastors in their pulpits can raise holy hell about lgbts. But if we lgbts of color wanted to start a discussion about our lives, then look out! It has the same effect of a bomb going off.

It reminds me of a statement from an acquaintence of mine: "If you are going to be gay, then be gay. Just don't get in my face about it."

Well I'm not going to tell you my rebuttal to her (it was so good that I smoked two cigarettes after speaking my peace), but unfortunately her comments are indicative of how lgbts of color are seen.

If you are an open lgbt of color, you are not supposed to be a leader in the black community.

You are not supposed to demand that organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League look to you as a legitimate segment of the black community.

You are not supposed to be able to talk about your partner/boyfriend when speaking to some of your black friends.

Generally you are not supposed to do or say anything that demands that you be treated like a human being and have your orientation acknowledged or respected in the black community.

Here is what you are supposed to do:

You are supposed to say nothing when you hear whispering about your sexual orientation. To openly say that you are gay ruins "good gossip."

You are supposed to be weak-livered and sexually promiscuous because as an lgbt, you have no concept of morality. Now if you were straight and sexually promiscuous, you would be given an exemption because "it's in your nature to cheat."

You are supposed to laugh or say nothing when you see images of lgbts disrespected on black-oriented networks and television shows.

Basically you are to watch yourself get disrespected and minimize and say nothing because to acknowledge your humanity is really hurting the African-American community.

Does this remind you of the inferiority that white racists placed on black people?

I know some folks may give me hell for what I wrote but I don't care. I am proud of my heritage as a BLACK man and a GAY man.

But damn, my fellow African-Americans can be a real drag.

The rest of Wendi Thomas's piece is here. It should be required reading for many in the black community.

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