My sexuality has long been among a grocery list of judgment-heavy words like speculation, discussion, debate, horror, fear, damnation and prayer. Perhaps yours as much as mine.
As such there are people who even think my sexuality invalidates my intellect; that it backspaces me to the child's table. Some people say I don't speak for Negroes or anyone else.
Why, they're absolutely right. I didn't sign up to be spokeswoman for anyone but myself. Nothing about me gets co-opted. Still, it's fodder.
"Eck! She's a dyke," they whisper. "Nobody's listening to her."
Most of these homophobic naysayers connecting the incorrect dots are Negroes. Many in that number are Christians. They've forgotten that we collectively and individually have so much work to do that fretting over who's in my bed is not only counterproductive but silly and dangerous. It shows a real lack of focus.
So. Homophobia (or whatever we're meant to be calling it, since it's not a real phobia) in the black community.
You expect it from the ignorant, the backwards, reactionary, the Republicans and Libertarians, but it's more that a little disturbing to see among progressives:
Black civil rights leaders in the 1950s and 1960s stiff-armed James Baldwin back in the day. Forget that Baldwin was a pied piper for racial and social equality whose pen wielded significant influence. He was an ugly black faggot.
That's Kathy again. Moving beyond progressive and looping back towards reactionary, Clara B. Jones and Robert A. Dickerson write in Are Black Males Homophobic?---A Note:
In 1968, Eldridge Cleaver stated, Homosexuality is a sickness, just as are baby-rape or wanting to become head of General Motors. To be a healthy male, then, is to be homophobic, afraid of and opposed to homosexuality. It may be no accident that Cleaver was a Black male, spokesman for a generation asserting their rights to power and authority in a hostile environment. Power and authority were not only political and economic, but also sexual. The Black male, according to Cleaver, should reject social pathologies in the forms of capitalism and homosexuality. More recently, homophobia by Black males was also reinforced by Louis Farrakhan who equated homosexuality with prostitution and drug addiction in his 1995 State of America address.
(I've long since given up trying to figure out how Farrakhan or the Nation feel about a particular issue. Between their own inflammatory rhetoric, and the just-as-bad counterattacks from the mainstream, there's no point. But I digress.)
[. . .] In a 1989 essay, the Black feminist bell hooks addressed Homophobia in Black Communities. She argued that homophobia is less likely where poverty enforces a context in which structures of dependence were important for everyday survival. Hooks views are similar to those of the social scientists Charles Zastrow and Karen Kirst-Ashman who state that, nonwhite gay men may see their racial and ethnic communities as safe havens from the oppressive white majority culture. Hooks also suggested that homophobia may be less common among southern Blacks who may be more openly expressive of their sexual preference and whose communities may be more tolerant of diversity. Hooks raises the interesting possibility that Blacks may be perceived as homophobic because they are more likely to express anti-gay opinions. Cleaver and Farrakhan may not be more homophobic than their white counterparts, then, they may simply be more predisposed to express their homophobic beliefs and attitudes.
Wondered where I'd ripped that last idea off from.
Then again, Marlon Riggs covered all this a long time ago, and no one cared then, either.