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.