When I saw the video of the two black men getting married that sent the media into frenzy over the last couple of weeks, I was uneasy. I was uneasy and I couldn’t necessarily understand why. I sat and watched a video of two beautiful black men expressing their love for one another in a rather beautifully elaborate ceremony, but there was something that I just couldn’t get with. Then, I finally got it: this is a gay thing. Something, oddly enough, we are not.
In a personal analysis of the world we live in, it doesn’t really look good for black homosexuals. In fact, the whole idea of “gay” seems to be a construct that we as black men and women tend to not be subscribed for the sheer fact that it’s not necessarily designed for us. Take a look at the health factor in our community where there seems to be a lot more focus compared to our mainstream counterparts. Statistics show that we’re disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS at a rate nine times that of whites. Of course, HIV/AIDS awareness is important across the board, but there just seems to be less of a focus on the mainstream gay agenda; yet marriage equality is.
Marriage is one of those tricky things. We’re taught that when you grow up, you get married and you have kids. It’s always difficult for me to understand when we take antiquated heterosexual archetypes on love and accept them as our own. However, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has contributed $7.3 million to marriage equality initiatives during this campaign season. That’s a lot of money to shell out for a political fight for the option to marry. Clearly, we see that equality is politically and economically driven, and given our history, we haven’t had the greatest of luck in either of those realms. We’re still struggling since our alleged freedom was granted over 200 years ago. I’ve joked around in personal conversations and through social media that it saddens me to love a country that doesn’t necessarily love me back, but it’s true! We earn less on the dollar, are affected by the leading killers in regards to health, have the highest rates of incarceration… but we still continue to subscribe to a lifestyle in which we can’t and don’t fit.
Interestingly enough, black homosexuals make up the largest share of the LGBT community. However, “gay” still has a white face. In any facet of the media or political discussion, there seems to be a focus on the gay, white male who is seemingly affluent, flamboyant and poses a threat to the sanctity of whatever construct of society we’ve established ourselves upon because it’s out of the norm. We have no representation in any of those facets. In a previous article, I discussed how there’s no real outreach for mental health awareness in the black LGBT community. There’s also no real advocacy group (or if there is, there’s no national media attention or funding/support) for black homosexual rights and for what we believe in. There’s hardly any support groups for our men and women struggling with their sexuality. There’s far less, when there should be more, community centers for LGBT men and women of color like the MOCHA Project in western New York. In essence, we just don’t fit. Then, if not gay, what are we?
We’re same gender loving, at best. The idea of having sex or loving someone of the same gender is not a new concept. In fact, same gender loving and sex was quite the common practice until Christian imperialists came to colonize us and…well, you know what happened next. But, gay is new. The politics, face, and construct of gay was developed relatively recently by white homosexual men – a construct that was and is not designed to necessarily include us.
Being able to come out and say, “I’m gay,” in society denotes a privilege and access that we, honestly, just don’t have.
And we should be pissed about it.
I firmly believe that a lot of the issues in the black LGBT community could be solved once we remove this dark cloud of self-hate and stop imparting it to the younger generations. Once this happens, we’d be able to develop a strong sense of pride, knowledge, and sense of acceptance that we’ve been lacking and needing. It’s time we create our own construct.