Black Homophobia (cont.)
By Thomas Romney
In a recent interview comedian Richard Pryor said, "Straight black people often have a hard time dealing with gays. All my life I've seen that macho shit in the black neighborhoods, where you try to eliminate someone mentally, to get out of dealing with them by saying, 'Oh, you're a faggot, you don't know from nothing .'" In a recent article John Soares wrote, "Too many believe that (the street sissy) is the only gay role available to them because it is the only one they are full aware of."
A large percentage of Black males see homosexuality as a threat to their masculinity. According to gay men, straight males are very insecure in their masculinity and assume that being gay automatically makes them less of a man and detracts from their maleness.
On the other hand homosexuality need not affect one's sense of masculinity. Sexual preference is but one characteristic constituting the total person. Soares writes, "Perhaps too many reject being gay as a real option because their cultural screen prevents them from seeing that 'gay' is defined by sexual preferences only, and not any particular lifestyle."
It seems the very concept of what constitutes "masculinity" is on very shaky ground. Adherence to sexual stereotyping and rigid sex roles is partially responsible for the fear of homosexuality.
Third is the issue concerning the affect of homosexuality on the structure of the Black family. The family holds an important role in the community.
Among members of the Black community there is the contention that homosexuality is detrimental to family life. The idea of procreation is very important in the Black family.
Black gay activist Billy Jones said, "Many Blacks see the whole Gay movement as a means of destroying the Black family. When they talk about Gay men they see it as unmanly, weak. They don't think of Gays as being family people, as having children."
Within the community homosexuals are seen as degrading. Many Blacks not only cannot see them as having children but also as providing negative role models for Black youth.
However, when one investigates individual families a different picture emerges. In direct contrast to the larger community, the family is more accepting of family members that announce their sexual orientation.
On an individual basis "Black families tend to be very accepting of family members who identify themselves as sexual minorities. They really make an effort to try to understand them and the love stays there," said Jones. Although in middle-class families there is a certain amount of difficulty in the acceptance of gay family members, for the majority of working-class Black people, gay lovers and steadies are accepted by, or even into, the family with a lack of flag-waving and statement making.
When confronted with homosexuality in their own families Blacks are far more understanding and accepting than on the larger scale of the Community. And the homophobia subsides as individual families begin to understand the unknown.
Whether we like it or not, right or wrong Black homosexuality is not going to disappear across the horizon. As Black people continue to struggle for their basic human rights they cannot afford to ignore the basic rights of a group within their own ranks for sexual preference. Divesting themselves of the irrational fears and ignorance on the issue of homosexuality, they will discover there are far fewer differences in their brothers and sisters apart from a failure to mirror the larger community's sexual preferences.
From Blacklight Vol.1, No.4