Many of us are riddled with pain, an internal ache that only we can understand. It's continuously fed and nurtured by a society that refuses to acknowledge the open wounds that lie beneath our blackness. I've learned that confirmation will never come because there can't be concession from our counterparts without admission to contribution. It's through this understanding that births movements like "Black Lives Matter," which is our attempt at scabbing our own wounds. However, I have begun to wonder if my nuanced, gay black life is considered in these initiatives.
By now, many of us have heard of the alleged murder of Sandra Bland, a black woman found dead in her jail cell after what several consider an unlawful arrest. I was outraged. Once again, another black life has been taken, crumpled and tossed into the trash like the many before her. This narrative is exasperating. However, what was also problematic for me was a YouTube video that I later stumbled upon of Sandra Bland diminishing the LGBTQ struggle in favor of the Black Civil Rights unrest, as to suggest that both aren't real issues. As a man who is black and gay, I find this to be asinine, but not an uncommon position amongst many in the black heterosexual community. She says, "Being gay is a choice. Being black ain't... I feel that if a business chooses not to cater to that (homosexuality), that's their choice." She goes on to say, "People like me are discriminated against every day." It's so interesting to me that Sandra would have chosen to speak on these pseudo differences rather than to highlight the evident similarities. It wasn't that long ago that business owners could choose not to serve black people, yet she found nothing wrong with homosexuals being denied service. That's a pretty hypocritical and sophomoric position to take. Let's be clear, for the vast majority of people that identify as LGBTQ, there is NO choice. I would even argue that had there been a decision to make, it would have been very different.
A lot of anti-gay rhetoric has been dispensed from the church. Religion has an undeniable impact on our society. Aside from our judicial system, there is no other institution that I have felt more betrayed by. People often exclusively associate the term "DL" with closeted black gay men who continue to have relationships with women. Well, I believe that DL men are a symptom of the church. Yes, I said it. There is no where else in the world, aside from maybe Peachtree Street in ATL, that you will find more gay men than in the black church. If you were raised in a home informed by the church that gay people are nasty sinners on a one-way trip to hell in an ice bucket, why would anyone feel comfortable enough to be open and honest about it? The easiest and most condoned course of action would be to burry your true self under a stack of bibles, hope that your lies are strong enough to stand on, and find a suitable beard. I considered that option and I know several men that have opted for it. As a gay man who has come to know God for himself, I know better and I refuse to support churches that encourage the spread of lies, self-loathing, and hate, rather than love.
Hate is a driving force. Recently, I watched a video from a hip hop performer who said, "I ain't cool with none of you faggots who just sittin' here, looking like a bunch of queers. You wearin' a fuckin' little flame shirt motha-fucka then you better act like it bitch, or I'm a rip it off your fuckin' back." This is an obviously well articulated quote from your neighborhood douche bag, Travis Scott, a mediocre but surprisingly popular rapper, expressing his inner homophobe at his Houston concert earlier this year. He later released an equally eloquent statement, offering a half-assed, disingenuous apology much like any bigot, racist, or chauvinist with a vested interest in sustaining their careers would. We could brush this off as a one-off rant from a rapper that avoids showers, but he is the product of Hip Hop culture, which has muzzled the reality of the presence and contributions of the LGBTQ community. Once again, in favor of a mirage and bravado, societally, we encourage our men and women, who even admire Hip Hop culture, to hide and denounce who they really are.
Here is the video of Travis Scott using gay slurs:
Being black and gay is one of the most unique and undesired perspectives to have, but it's mine. I have a problem with a community that I belong to, love and support choosing not to fully embrace me because I was born just as gay as I was black. It's disheartening, but more than anything it's confusing. Rather than our struggles separating us, they should be a source of unification. Much like people who trivialize and disregard the struggles of black life, it's even more hurtful when your own can't empathize. I would ask my heterosexual black brothers and sisters out there to take into consideration the fact that we need each other. Ponder on the idea that you may be inflicting the same pain that our antagonists have subjected us to. Like they say, the oppressed will become the oppressor.
"At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won't be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black."
― George Clooney
Here's a dose of reality from the great Pastor Dewey Smith: