By: Nevaeh Richardson
We hear the words “objective,” “non-bias,” and “acceptance,” but how many of us are really living the truths we speak? We preach and protest for freedom of speech and freedom to love, but how many of us truly – deep down inside – support others’ lifestyles and opinions? How many of us say we accept certain choices of another person — as long as it does not affect our own homes or family members? You may have many gay friends and co-workers and outwardly support them, but how would you really feel if your child came and said the words to you, “Mom and Dad, I’m gay.”
Gay Pride is not just a “month” of recognition, it is every day and in this era of social justice, it is not just about race. The rights of gay people are also front and center. In order to move forward in this country, we have to open up and be honest with ourselves and take a look at the man in the mirror. Ask yourself, “are YOU the person who is really in the closet?”
In today’s culture, there is no greater fear than to be labeled. We’re not referring to just any kind of label, we’re talking about labels that end careers and warrant a collective shun from today’s “progressive” culture. Terms such as homophobe, racist, misogynist, ableist, etc. can often make people feel as though they are not able to express their thoughts and opinions. Phrases and questions can be taken out of context and turned into something completely different from its original intentions.
On one hand, while this era of political correctness can seem overbearing, it is the result of people and communities wanting to be respected, recognized, and emancipated from the oppressive forces that have kept these marginalized communities silent, or “in the closet.”
On the other hand, the era of political correctness has served as a tool for self-righteousness and herd mentality, which is a mentality that influences peers to adopt certain perspectives based on an emotional, rather than rational, basis.
Political correctness has greatly impacted the Black community, and depending on who you ask, the impact has either been good or bad. For the Black LGBTQ+ community, PC, representation in media, and an overall greater recognition and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ has been a source of liberation for many who are afraid of living their truth. For some other Black people, the acceptance and display of LGBTQ+ lifestyles are seen as an “agenda” against Black masculinity, Black children, and the Black community as a whole.
NBA superstar Dwayne Wade and wife Gabrielle Union have received backlash for their decision to publicize their support of Wade’s biological teen daughter (born male), who has come out as transgender. Many feel the Wades should have kept their family business private, or “in the closet,” where many people are hiding their inner biases.
“Remember, your black queer children are an extension of you. When you hurt them, you hurt yourself. When you hate them, you hate yourself. And when you honor them, you honor yourself,” said Kaleb Elijah, Black Trans activist and owner of Lake and Prosper. “So, let us not remain impartial in our revolution for equality as a race. You can’t include us because we are Black yet exclude us because we are queer.”
A most recent example of how displays of gay affections have sparked debate and controversy in the Black community is the BET awards that aired last weekend.
Artist Lil Nas X performed a steamy routine that ended with him kissing another man. Many felt it was pushing hypersexuality and a “gay agenda” on Black viewers, however, the overtly sexual performance of rapper DaBaby’s female dancer barely drew any criticism. Is it because DaBaby is heterosexual? Absolutely.
Bias can lead us to do, say, and think in hypocritical ways. What should have been a conversation about hypersexuality in today’s culture became criticism specifically targeted at a gay performer that did nothing more than any other performer at the BET Awards.
“We are often made to believe that perception is everything, however, the experiences and narrative of Black LGBTQ+ folks in Texas are far removed from the “gay agenda” many see created by media. Bias plays a huge role in the many disparities Black queer individuals face daily throughout media, school, health care systems, and community. It really comes down to the lack of representation,” said Verniss McFarland III, Executive Director/Founder, The Mahogany Project Inc.
McFarland stresses we have bigger issues for which we should be advocating.
“If there was a ‘gay agenda’ our main goal would not include Lil Nas X kissing another male on the BET Awards,” McFarland said. “Our focus would be to increase the life expectancy of Black women of transgender experience beyond 25 years of age here in Texas, decrease HIV contact among Black gay men from the projected 1 in every 2 people ratio, and working to end gay and trans panic defense which is still on the books in 44 states.”
Bias and ignorance are leading our Black LGBTQ+ youth to be abused. Just last week, a 12-year-old Black queer boy from Atlanta was in a viral video that contained him being hit and verbally humiliated, with his attackers etching the word “GAY” into his hair.
These labels are taking a toll on our psyches. Fear of being perceived as “gay” prevents Black men from creating the mental and emotional support systems they need. The stigma that crying, expressing emotions and trauma, etc. are feminine and “gay behavior” is the reason why suicide rates and unhealthy relationships within Black men is so prevalent.
When the Black community promotes being secure in, not only your sexuality, but in anything you have the right to do, all of our people can shed the stigmas and traumas that have been holding us back for generations.
McFarland says Black LGBTQ+ people are reclaiming the spaces they have been removed and erased from, preserving the narratives of trailblazers like Barbara Jordan, Baynard Rustin, Charles Law, and Marsha P. Johnson.
Let’s continue to educate others that being gay is not some virus that spreads from person to person, and everyone has the right to live their authentic selves.
And another point, when spouting Bible verses and telling gay people they are going to hell, make sure you do the same to that husband that’s committing adultery, or those with big pockets and stingy hearts, or to anyone. Give grace to others, even when you do not agree with their lifestyles and life choices, because God gives grace to you.