That purported gay/black antipathy thing

Arthur at AmeriNZ asked a question earlier in the month:

Here’s something that worries me…: Racism. The spokesperson for the leading radical rightwing religious-political anti-gay hate group seemed to go WAY out of his way to praise black Democratic legislators in Illinois for not supporting the freedom to marry. That same hate group, of course, famously said that one way to defeat marriage equality was to deliberately create divisions between the LGBT and Black communities. All too often, LGBT people buy the racist propaganda hook, line and sinker. And, it seems to me, some Blacks are too willing to buy the propaganda of mainly (or exclusively) white anti-gay groups.

So, I’m wondering two things. First, what do you think can be done to expose the racist lie of division for what it is, and second, how do you think we can persuade the two sides to ignore the (white) man behind the curtain who’s trying so hard to sow racial division?

One of the things that I’ve long believed is that “justice for all” ought not to be a meaningless slogan, but rather the reason people who don’t SEEM to be affected should support the rights of, for lack of a better phrase, the “other.” Whites should support black civil rights; men, women’s equality; straights, LGBTQ justice. (That’s one of the reasons I didn’t much like NYC mayor Ed Koch; he seemed to stir up hostility between blacks and Jews, when they had been traditional allies.)

Yet, in my freshman year at college, my next door neighbor was astonishingly hostile to me, from the get-go. He was gay, and I always wondered if he had heard what *I* had heard somewhere or other, that black people did not like gay people, and therefore dismissed me out of hand.

To the specific point, there DOES seem that there is a certain hostility by some black leaders towards what certain goofy people call “the gay agenda.” I think some of it clearly comes from the religious leadership. You saw this in the Prop 8 vote in California a few years back. All that so-called down-low behavior of some black men so closeted, they even hide it from themselves, comes from some cultural/religious disconnect.

I knew one openly gay black man – worked with him, actually – who was supposed to be coming home for Thanksgiving when he was about 21, but he felt his family wouldn’t understand his sexual orientation and would be unforgiving. They never knew where he was for decades. When they discovered that he died, 26 years later – from something I blogged about – they were devastated. Perhaps in the intervening years, their position on homosexuality had changed, and having been in contact with his sister after his death, I believe it had.

Mostly though, and the video you linked to after the Illinois defeat of marriage equality actually touches on this, it’s a bit of an oppression competition. The gay rights movement has appropriated some of the language of the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and later, rightly so, I believe, but some black folks of a certain age just don’t like it. I kid you not, it sounds a little like “hey, they can pass for straight, but I can’t pass for white; we were enslaved, they weren’t.” And so on. It’s less an antipathy towards gays per se, as much as it’s a “make them wait their turn, keep them in their place, until WE achieve full civil rights” thing. This is incredibly parochial, and dare I say, stupid; “a high tide raises all boats,” and all that.

That said, I also do believe other nefarious forces are at work, quite possibly poised to embarrass one person: Barack Obama. The President comes out for marriage equality a year ago, and it passes, in one form or another, in a half dozen states, including in the Midwest. Where does it fail? In the state from which he was elected, Illinois. Can this be a coincidence? (Cough – Koch Brothers – cough.) Maybe, but I’m too cynical to believe it.

What to do about it? Oh, probably nothing. Let them just die off.

But you know what random thought flashed through my mind? That ad you pointed to with this back-and-forth:

“[Attractive young man] clicks to buy [a Kindle Paperwhite] and suggests [he and attractive woman sitting next to him] celebrate with a drink.

“‘My husband’s bringing me a drink right now,’ chirps she.

“‘So is mine,'” smiles he as they turn and wave at their male loved ones sitting together at a tiki bar.”

I’ve since seen the ad on the TV show Modern Family. Now if any of the participants were BLACK, you KNOW that would give the thing a whole ‘nother spin.

2 thoughts on “That purported gay/black antipathy thing”

  1. It’s a big tangle for sure. Race is a dividing line running through every sector of American society, so of course it runs right through the gay rights issue. One could write a book just about the use of the word f—-t by both whites and blacks.

    Interesting that I’m the only commenter. Subject too uncomfortable for most people?

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  2. I didn’t comment because I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough. I know white (heterosexual) people who brush off backwards opinions among black people.

    But I don’t really know enough black people well enough to have a statistically significant picture of “is black antipathy towards homosexuals substantially different from white antipathy towards homosexuals.” And even really close friends can surprise you. A very close friend left me dumbfounded from his opinion on the Paula Deen thing.

    There are topics where black and white opinions differ radically (e.g. guns and gun control has a huge race divide.) However, recent polls suggest that the divide between whites and blacks on the issue of gay marriage might be trivial: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/us/justices-consider-same-sex-marriage-cases-for-docket.html?_r=0 So I don’t really have grounds for an opinion.

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