November 4, 2008.
A day that I'll tell my younger cousins, nieces or nephews ('cause I'm not havin' no kids, but that's a separate post) about. The day that a black man officially entered 1600 Pennslyvania Ave, a.k.a. the White House. The day when it seemed like America finally acknowledged its own diversity and sought move beyond divisive racial issues. As a black man, I couldn't be prouder.
But as a gay man, my joy is tempered with a hint of sadness. While the numbers haven't been fully calculated, it's more than likely that California voters will choose to eliminate the rights of their LGBT citizens by approving Proposition 8, which will define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Amendments have also been approved in Arizona and Florida, while gay couples' adoption rights have also been stripped in Arkansas.
To add insult to injury black voters voting overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8, with 70 percent of black voters saying yes.
I'm sure the mainstream organizations will be quick to blame the measure's passage on black homophobia, which is partly true. However blacks only make up about 6 percent of California's population, so even if 100 percent voted no, it would still have a good chance of passing.
I think the problem is two-fold.
One: We as black gays are invisible in many of our communities. We live in silence, afraid to come out to our friends and families, staying quiet as church mice when preachers blast us and blame us for AIDS and the barbershop council dismisses us. If we want things to change, we have to come out and declare ourselves worthy of respect and dignity. The best defense is an offense. People's hearts and minds change once they personally know someone who is gay. They are forced to confront their fears, their prejudices, and their own conscience.
Two: Mainstream (i.e. mostly white) gay organizations have to make more of an effort to reach out to the black community. Regular inclusion of black gays would be a nice start. Working with the National Black Justice Coalition, a black gay organization, would've also been good. Hell, recruiting Michael Eric Dyson to speak would have earned some cool points. I mean it's hard to educate blacks on why they should support your cause if the face of gay rights almost always looks like this:
The lack of black faces in gay rights groups only fuels the myth that gay=white. As long as the look of LGBT leadership remains lily white and black LGBTs remain invisible, the conservative segment of the black community can still sail along on the sea of denial that gays don't exist.
Translation: We need to get our sh*t together.
With all that said, I love Will & Grace, so no shade against Will with that pic LOL!