Aug 16, 2010 @ 7:27 am | By TheFeministGriote | 5 Comments
In 1993 the military introduced a policy called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” This policy prohibits the military from inquiring about the sexual orientation of servicemen and women. Gay servicemen and women can serve as long as they did not disclose their homosexuality and if they were not outed by another person. In 1993 the country was still very conservative. America did not deny that gays and lesbians existed they just did not want gays and lesbians to exist too loudly. Fast forward to 2010 where we are on the cusp of great political change, America has become a bit more tolerant and accepting of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. On May 27, 2010 the House passed a bill to repeal DADT. The bill would allow the defense department the ability to end the ban of DADT the ban can be lifted only 60 days after when military leaders received the reports that would reveal how service men and women feel about gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. It is safe to say that DADT will be a thing of the past hopefully, sooner than later. On August 4, 2010 a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the ban against same sex marriage in California should be overturned. The ban has been ordered to be lifted on 8/18/2010. Ultimately, this case will be heard before the Supreme Court. Therefore, same sex marriage will probably become law in all 50 states. There will be great opposition every step of the way, but with America becoming more liberal and tolerant its impossible to continue to rob gays and lesbians of their rights.
It appears with all this change that is at the American front door that this means that America as a whole is very loving and accepting of all its citizens. In a Utopian society we could say that, but we 21st century citizens of this United States know that is a farce. We do not live in a post-racial society. Gender still matters, orientation still matters, and classicism rules supreme. My ultimate question is what role does sexuality play within the Black community and will Blacks embrace the paradigm shift? Sexuality within the Black community is still a very taboo subject for us no matter the orientation. Marriage is the sacred calf within the Black community. So many books, articles, forums, and blogs have been dedicated to why Black women are not yet married, but in all this sensationalized public conversation never once is the gay Black man or woman ever discussed. Its as if they do not exist and therefore do not qualify to be interjected within the conversation.
White gays and lesbians are very well represented within mass media. Whites do not have to look far to find a character in which to identify with. There was Will and Grace, The L-Word, Queer as Folk, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Also, there are numerous out and proud white actors, actresses, and musicians. The one Black gay show that was devoted to Black gays was Noah’s Ark, which was mainly targeted to Black gay males. The show perpetuated negative stereotypes that heterosexuals have of Black gay men. Stereotypes such as all Black gay men are promiscuous, feminine acting, and all gay men are fashion elites. Although, I found the show comical it did more harm than good it did not seek to educate Black heterosexuals on the issue of Black homosexuality. Most of our gay entertainers are rumored to be gay and have not ever come out. The only time we find out about the sexualities of our Black entertainers is when they die e.g. Zora Neale Hurston,but being outed posthumously is problematic because it is all speculator information and it invades the persons right to privacy that they worked so hard to preserve in life. Our most famous rumored lesbians are: Missy Elliot, Da Brat, Nikki Minaj, and the infamous Queen Latifah. Although, while she was hosting the BET music awards this summer Queen Latifah did open the closet door a little bit and flirt with us in a tongue-and cheek way in regards to her sexuality, but she never truly opened the closet door completely. This past week pictures of Queen Latifah and her rumored partner have surfaced, but once again no real definitive yes or no has ever come out the mouth of Queen Latifah. I for one respect her privacy and I don’t believe that its always necessary to make a public spectacle of your private life no matter the subject. I also understand that some gays and lesbians may never come out the closet, but I don’t think it makes them less proud of who they are. In thinking about Queen Latifah, I can’t help but to wonder would Latifah be this reluctant of coming out if the Black community was more accepting.
Queen Latifah is part of the pioneers of hip-hop and hip-hop is far from being gay friendly. Hip-Hop barely respects its female listeners and female MC’s in the game. I can understand the reluctance of Queen Latifah to remain silent on her sexuality. In no way am I trying to say that Blacks are far more homophobic than any other group, but we cannot ignore the collective silence on the gay and lesbian issue within the Black community. We go to church every Sunday where homosexuality is openly preached against and demonized, but you look into the choir and see that the backbone of the music ministry is usually queer. There are gay and lesbian couples who come to the church pay their tithe regularly, but must exist in the shadows of our righteousness. Then there is the HBCU campus where you find young gays and lesbians passing for straight in order to pledge and be part of the illustrious “Black greekdom”.
Homosexuality is tolerated within the Black community, but its not truly respected. Black gay men and women are treated like caricatures then like real people with needs, wants, and expectations. The fault lies on both gays and lesbians. Gays and lesbians should not easily fall into heterosexual stereotypes and then it would force heterosexuals to see gays and lesbians as individuals and not demonize them as a group. It may be time for Blacks to redefine what it means to be a Black man and Black woman and start to make allotments for gays and lesbians. An institution that is not founded in patriarchy or heterosexuality does not make it less important or a threat to “traditional relationships.” As minorities we must not divide ourselves because if “they” come for us “they’re” coming for all of us who are not white, male, and privileged!
Categories: Mind Over Chatter