Saturday, November 8, 2008
As a straight black woman who has always had a variety of friends from different cultures and lifestyles, I was saddened and embarrassed for my people after learning that on the day Barack Obama won a landslide victory, 70% of black California voters chose Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in their state.
How fucking ironic and hypocritical that nearly that many heterosexual blacks have never even had the courage to speak the words "I do," yet had the nerve to deny marriage to gays and lesbians who want it.
We can fault homophobia on the influence of the black Church, where pastors preach the evils and sins of homosexuality knowing damn well that a bunch of the brothas in the choir are gay.
It's also not like the majority of unmarried black people are intentionally living a life of abstinence:
- About 70% of black children are born to unmarried mothers.
- While heart disease remains the #1 killer of black women and AIDS isn't even in the top 10 according to the latest 2004 CDC report, stats from other sources in 2006 show that 66% of young black women who were infected with HIV acquired the disease through heterosexual contact. Per 100,000 people in the population, 55.7 black women were infected compared to 14.4 Latino women and 3.8 white women.
- The abortion rate for black women is nearly five times that of white women.
Yeah, we have our problems, and this includes talking two sides out of the mouth, i.e., faking at the voting both that you're so Christian and living quite differently; and voting Yes We Can, but at the same time, pulling the No You Can't lever to another disenfranchised group.
What went down was the height of religious-based hypocrisy, and blacks weren't the only group who did this. I still don't understand how Proposition 8 made the ballot, since "the California Supreme Court agreed in a 4 to 3 ruling in May, essentially asserting that civil unions were the equivalent of "separate but equal."
En masse, enough of us, along with our white and Latino counterparts, and especially the Mormon Church, helped rob gays & lesbians of the freedom to love each other within the framework of marriage the way we can, when we choose to do so.
Thousands of gays did yesterday what we have done in the past to overcome discrimination: protest. Frederick Douglass said in 1857, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
From a legal standpoint, marriage is a civil union and legal contract of commitment. From a traditional Christian, Jewish, and Islamic standpoint, it's a promise to God for a man and a woman to stick by one another 'till do us part with no adultery in between.
And there lies the challenge: to dare to allow others who cannot be heterosexual for whatever reason, to create their own tradition and enjoy the benefits and pain that comes with a lifetime commitment.
One prevailing belief is that gay marriage would threaten the institution of marriage.
Over of my one my favorite blogs, Big Man addressed this with a profound response: "...if I've learned one thing, it's that the biggest threats to my marriage are me and my wife."
I couldn't agree more. Marriage is deeply personal. It requires courage, sacrifice, and commitment. It takes only one to person in the couple to destroy it, but it takes both to make it work, and work well.
Then there's the argument that it would be a bad influence on children. Pfft. The majority of gay people had straight parents. I have also worked with a number of teens who had a gay parent. All but one were straight.
Then there's the conversation of homosexuality being a choice rather than a natural attraction to the same sex. I think this reflects a lack of interaction beyond the superficial with gays or a dismissive attitude of their experiences. For example, you know how many of us straights feel a sense of revulsion at the idea of out having sex with someone of the same sex?
This is how they react to having sex with the opposite sex. It was shocking the first time I saw this gut reaction in a gay guy when I was in my early 20s. I couldn't believe it. I had been trying to talk him out of his gayness because I thought he was hot and his 'problem' could be corrected.
I said, "Try to imagine the lower body parts of a beautiful woman. Imagine how soft and wonderful she would feel to you."
He visibly looked like he was gonna puke.
"Oh God," he said, "I think I'm gonna be ill."
Then he said, "You don't have a dick, so try imagine going down on the prettiest girl you know. Go ahead, imagine it."
I felt a wave of revulsion, and suddenly, I understood.
"What made you like this?", I demanded. "Were you molested?"
"No. I have no idea why I'm gay. I gave up long ago trying to figure out why. I just know I've always had girlish ways. I honestly tried to have a relationship with girl at 17, but it didn't work out. I was too attracted to guys. I gave up. I am what I am."
I felt sad for him. This was ignorance on my part. I've since learned to feel sad for those who fail to understand that we are all different, in appearance, temperament, intellectual and creative abilities, in right or left handedness, and gender orientation.
It is the mystery of life that makes us all as unique as snowflakes. Despite this, some of us are mean toward those who are little 'too unique'. History is full of the cruel acts by the majority in power, from genocide, slavery, witch hunts, lynchings, and right up to modern day, routine ostracism, bullying and discrimination. It especially happens in many families of gay persons.
In response to bigotry, some gays have tried to become straight. The few who claim success are paraded around as examples for others, the same way that pathetic black man 'begging' McCain at a rally was wildly applauded like a mascot, and how Fox News shows off their few well paid, token Negroes who are too confused to know they are aiding and abetting racism.
I have a middle aged relative who was 'saved' in the Church at age 16. I'll call him Dennis. He's hardly ever misses showing up to church on Sunday. Does Bible studies from time to time, and is obsessed with going to Jesus when he dies. As I see it, he hides behind his idea of what God wants. He's keeps his sex drive under tight wrap, and clings to the idea that he's straight - yet in his 40s, he's still a virgin. He'll die a virgin, because he cannot come to grips with his underlying homosexuality.
How do I know he's not straight? Dennis has feminine ways, and I've seen the excitement in his eyes and heard it in voice when he gets around a man he's attracted to. One of my gay friends met him once. I asked him later what he thought.
He snapped his fingers. "He's a fat queen if ever I saw one. I don't even know why he tries to hide it."
I've confronted Dennis with this. He throws on a fake smile and denies it and then starts talking about God. Everyone in the family assumes he's in the closet; even his father told him if he is gay, it's okay because he wants to see his son get more out of life. More denial. Why? His mother.
His mother's brother, I'll call him Maurice, hid his homosexuality until around the age of 30. They had been raised in the Church. Of the five kids, she was closest to him. Maurice is a funny guy and fun to be with. When he broke the news to the family, back in the late 70s that he's gay, she rejected him, totally and completely. She stopped seeing him or speaking to him. She said she was devastated by the news and couldn't get over it.
Her son, then around 12, was old enough to understand what was going on. One of the most painful things that can happen to a person is to be rejected by a parent, particularly their mother. She instilled a deep fear of loss of love in him, and he's never been able to cut that umbilical cord. Is it no wonder he's still a virgin in his 40s? And how tragic to be so old and never enjoyed the affection and touch of another human being. He's a kind but odd person, and it's a wonder he's not insane.
I am not 'pro-gay'. I am pro-humanity. Like racism, this denial of our own hypocrisy and denying others of the right to live happily ever after - or suffer in a miserable marriage the way everyone else can - is reprehensible and inexcusable.
I have to struggle to not be too self-righteous on this issue, and to remind myself that progress comes in baby steps. As a nation, we proved on Election Day that we've come a long way in joining hands together to make this a happier, more inclusive world... while at the same time, shooting our gay brethren in the foot.
We still have miles to go.
Posted by Kit (Keep It Trill) at 12:10 PM