Friday, October 14, 2005

Black and Gay: Some Questions

Shay, over at Booker Rising, has an interesting response to a post I made one Tuesday about how straight Republicans need to speak out more against the anti-gay right. In that post I said this:

The reason the GOP started was on the cause of equality for African Americans. It is a shame that 150 years later, this party is making a name for itself by supporting discrimination for another group.

That quote brought this reaction from Shay:

While I support gay rights, to equate the black quest for civil rights with the gay quest is highly problematic. Race is generally quite visible, sexual orientation generally is not. Race is genetic, while sexual orientation is at least partly out of choice. Such leeching off black history also turns off potential black supporters.

Now, I wasn't intentionally trying to link the two together. What I was trying to say is the Republican party was founded on the premise that African Americans were people and should be treated as equals. That has been the heritage of this party. Now, it is being known for discrimination against another group. To me, that seems odd.

Some African Americans get a little peeved when white gay leaders try to tie the two movements for equality. I can understand to a point, because there are some differences. Foremost is the fact that blacks can't hide who they are while gays can.

However, one would be remiss to not see the similarities. Both groups have not been treated as equals by the larger society. Both have been prevented from doing things such as marrying.

Also, I think it's a little hypocritical for African Americans to get all in a huff about gays "leeching" on black history, when we have done the same thing in regards to Jews. How long did we see ourselves like the Israelites slaves of old seeking to be let loose from the shackles of Pharoah? I haven't seen any Jews saying we should stop linking the two.

I also think there is a bit of homophobia involved. This is the dirty, little secret in the black community. Whenever there is a stink about something relating to gays, the race card is used. You will hear a lot about white gay leaders as if black gays like myself don't exist. There are black gays like me, who can see the links. My not being able to marry is similar to my Dad not being able to eat a restaurant or sleep in hotel. They are not the same, but they are similar. I think many blacks still see homosexuality as some kind of evil plan by whites to kill of blacks.

Shay talks about how linking black and gay rights might turn off black folk. But, how are they going to get involved in working for justice if they don't have something to relate to? In my view, those who don't like the linking of gay rights to the struggle for African American rights, are dealing more with their own homophobia. If you think being gay is sinful and dirty, then you don't want to talk about the similarities between the two civil rights movements.

I'm not saying there is no racism in the gay community. It's full of humans and there are a lot of white gays so, yeah, there is some racism. But please, some black people need get over themselves and check yo'self. Gays, no matter their race or color, want to be left alone and not have the government trying to bar them from living their lives. Black folk should get the chips off their shoulders and work with gays for equality or else be honest and say they don't like gay people. But stop this don't-link-black-history-with-gay-rights-talk. This has less to do with the sensitivties of blacks than with some people's homophobia.


At 10:04 AM, Blogger Mathew said...

Great post, and I commend you for having the guts to tackle a touchy issue... I have a serious problem with the kind of politics that says we should soften our point of view in one area to please another constituency, and I don't mean to insinuate that is what Shay meant.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Excellent post. The black civil rights campaign wasn't based upon the fact that people were born black; it was based upon the fact that they were American citizens and deserved to be treated as such. Remember the Memphis garbage picketers carrying signs that read, "I am a man." Well, gays are men (and women) too. It's that simple.

The invocation of the Jews is quite appropriate. Being Jewish is as much a "choice" as being gay. If homophobia is ok because being gay is not visible, then so is anti-Semitism.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger GreenSmile said...

Shay oughta sashay over to P-town or the Castro disctict in S.F. The reason at least some gays are not visibly distinct in the way skin color forces distinction is just that the omnipresent censure of a biased culture forces self-censure on gays . That is not an option with skin color. I would ask Shay to think a bit more deeply about this.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 14 05

What are you talking about? Gays can self censure, but Blacks never could do that to skin colour. I work in SF and have kicked it in the Castro on and off throughout the years. Racism is alive and well there and frankly the comparisons btw Blacks and gays bother me for that reasonSome of the absolute WORST racism I have ever faced has been from White gay males and a couple of White lesbian women. These comparisons don't even help their case because of that. Furthermore, we often talk about the White male patriarchal hegemony and the White male gay culture certainly isn't marginalized the way Blacks have been. Frankly when I review history and look at things like Plessy vs. Fergusen and Dredd Scott, I oft wonder what the gay analogies of these precedents is. Truthfully there is none. At this juncture, gays can have domestic partnerships in CA, VT and MA which is a far cry greater in terms of civil liberties, be it that the GAY pride movement is a fairly recent thing (what maybe largely due to the riots in the 60s?). Please note that it took Blacks being imported here for over two hundred years before slavery was abolished and THEN we had JIM CROW. It has only been forty years since we were alloted privilages that the gay White male hegemony has always had. I think this is the source of offense for so many. I think that gays NOR ANYONE ELSE should ever be discriminated against. But the gay population as a culture has history that it should focus on and stop the comparisons. I think if the plight of gays was placed in a more compassionate framework, the greater society might be more amenable. However all I hear is how they need civil rights like Blacks and they have suffered like Blacks and .....A rhetorical change is needed here. Good post and thx for reading my comment.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 14 05

I think the antisodomy laws are somewhat analagous to Plessy vs. Fergusen in a historical sense. But a deeper look reveals one thing; that a White could ride on the front car of the train REGARDLESS of sexual orientation,but a Black ALWAYS had to ride in the back traincar. Also, I wonder how many gays owned slaves back in the day?

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Shay said...

And the invocation of the Israelites example doesn't fly with me, and I don't compare blacks with ancient Jews. We have our own history. And being Jewish and gay is a choice (the latter is at least in part rooted in choice). Virtually no black folks have a choice in being black.

Gay rights should be argued on its own merits, without (white) gay activists leeching on black history to attempt to prop up their moral persuasion. The limited government argument that Dennis puts in his piece (which is why I support gay marriage) is a good start. Continuing down the current path only reinforces many blacks' views that (white) gay activists are arrogant and have weak arguments to state their case.

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Thersites said...

None of the gay men I've known have had any choice in the matter either. That's no grounds to say that being gay is like being in its own ethnic group. But look at it this way: imagine being part of a straight minority in a world where most men are gay. Would you feel you had a choice?

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Kirkrrt said...

I read the comments to Shay's post and thought I was at the Free Republic site. What a bunch of ignorant homophobes!
At least Mr. Sanders has enough sense to know the earth is more than 6000 years old.
For anyone who doesn't read the newspapers,(Shay & company) homosexuality has been shown twice now to be controlled by genetics. You can hide your sexual orientation, but you don't choose it.
Every Mo I know only wants equal rights. There is no special rights they are demanding. The biggest one is the right to marry. When you are in a loving, committed relationship why shouldn't you get married? Why shouldn't you have the same rights as heterosexuals? It seems as though some people are anti-marriage. I think being married is a great way to raise children.
But don't overlook the research that was released last week showing kids with homosexual parent(s) are well adjusted and in some respects better adjusted than their peers.
There is no detrement to the child when raised by one or two Moes.
Sorry Mr. Dobson.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 17 05

Kirk is calling everyone ignorant homophobes, a misnomer of course. He hasn't really read the comments, otherwise he would understand the objections. No one yet has really mentioned that by CONSTRUCTION White gay males are part of the White male patriarchy! This can't really be disputed. Secondly Kirk you are so misguided; there has been no VIABLE AND CONCLUSIVE evidence that homosexuality is caused exclusively by genetics or that there is a genetic link at all. I go to the Natl Assoc for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality; you might try a look here is the link:

Before you cast aspersions on people's opinions' do the research to back up your own.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 17 05

I don't advocate for ANY LIVING HUMAN to be discriminated against. What I have said is that the gay lobby needs a rhetoric change.

At 1:14 AM, Blogger Kirkrrt said...

I apologise for my choice of words. Sometimes I need to take two deep breaths.
While I don't have the specific references in front of me I will point you to two articles.
June 1993 a study was published looking sexual orientation and geneology. It may have been in Nature. It was peer reviewed twice because of the subject matter. Found to be valid twice it showed a definate link between genetics and sexual orientation.
May 2005 the journal Cell. Sexual orientation was found to be controlled by a single gene. Granted this study was on fruit flies, but again, a peer reviewed article.
This information was released last week.

You are too sensitive in your response to a poorly written criticism. I know you did not imply that discrimination was acceptable. I did not name specific people for specific criticisms. I take offense with Mark La Roi implying that homosexuals have equal rights as heterosexuals. The rights related to relationships (specifically marriage) are not equally shared.
Finally, I would ask for equal time in that you visit

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Mitch/Mike said...

I have identical twin cousins. One of them is gay, the other isn't. Some people say one of them is fooling himself, but at the end of the day, we have the "choice" to be whatever we want to be in this country. Why don't we stop focusing on whether or not it's a choice and focus on the inalienable rights of all human beings, regardless of what they do in bed? That's one of the basic tenets of Republicanism, as Dennis mentioned in the original post. True Republicans will support gay rights based solely on this simple fact.

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 18 05

Hello Kirk:
Thx for the response. I have to admit I have been filled with vitriol lately and yes, have visited pfox as well as pflagg many times. I live in CA, and my sister in law has been in a lesbian "marriage" for twenty years. You say that your critisism was poorly written, don't self depricate. I simply felt that you were making a sweeping indictment on the rest of us. I have reveiwed the fruit fly study and we have to be able to extrapolate to humans. I think that is the point. And to be honest I do think that some are born gay (I have a maternal cousin that seems to have been for sure!) And you know what, so be it. I simply stated that the gay lobby needs to change the rhetoric. Most Blacks agree with me, although for different reasons. Yes, Mark is a nice guy but sometimes can be judgemental due to his faith. It is hard to have a fundamentalist belief in the Bible and be tolerant at times. For a discussion of these issues, take a visit to my blog; I discuss deconstructing gender roles and sex orientation roles in the context of the intersexed and transgendered community. YOu may very well like this article. Here are the links (I broke it up into two parts) Thx for your comment and sorry for being a jerk.

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Mitch/Mike said...

It is hard to have a fundamentalist belief in the Bible and be tolerant at times.
As a fundamentalist, I respectfully disagree. There is nothing in the bible that says that it is my (or anyone else's) job to set people straight. The bible certainly lays down some law, but it's God's law, not mine. It is important to me to be what God wants me to be, but your sins are between you and God. My job, as Jesus put it, is to love God with everyting in me, and to love my fellow man as much as I love myself. There's no room in that philosophy for "straightening" people out.

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Kirkrrt said...

I thought Christians were suppose to go forth and preach to everyone and spread the "good news" of the gospel.
Isn't there something in the new testiment that supports the sending forth of missionaries?


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