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Homosexuality in the black community

Different?

Homosexuality in the black community

March 17, 2011 |  by

Homosexual African Americans (I covered the Asian homosexuality also) possess a long history, from humble church choir directors to luminaries like Bayard Rustin, Lorraine Hansberry, and Ralph Bunche. However it seems toleration has often hinged on keeping sexuality under cover, even if that meant marrying and leading a secret gay life on the side.

Being released publicly isn't allowed and may even be frowned upon as a white practice. Open African American gays and lesbians have formulated a vibrant rich subculture in a multitude of locations, including in the conservative South, yet they often find it difficult to find acceptance within the larger black community. The end result could be social schizophrenia and denial.

Gays and lesbians of color also face the dilemma of competing loyalties, the question: which are you first-black or gay? The relative significance of race versus sexual orientation to some person's identity may be associated with the stigma he or she suffers due to either factor. Although race is usually more conspicuous than sexuality, it is not always so.

Greater social stigma, moreover, doesn't necessarily result in greater self identification, particularly when one's identifying features could be hidden. It might in fact drive an individual who can "pass" toward denial and repression.

Racist and homophobic oppressions will vary, yet linked. Both are driven by an appropriation of power to demean and control. Although which are you first? can lead to a fascinating social and psychological case history, now you ask , in the end unfair to put to anyone.

Do black lesbians have an easier time?

All black women face strong pressure to have families. Although demeaned, lesbians continue to be expected to marry, but without the same sexual freedoms owned by gay and bisexual men. Less income allows even fewer options. Their invisibility might be a much better burden. Denied prominence in cultural and intellectual affairs, black lesbians are also nearly invisible in the popular media. Still, the hate crime murder of fifteen-year-old black lesbian, Sakia Gunn, in Newark in 2003 sparked a public display of grief and pride among her African American lesbian senior high school peers that is evidence of new attitudes and a promising emergence.

Can black gays and lesbians find safety in the gay community?

In the larger gay community, gay and lesbian African Americans face racism, tokenism, and sexual objectification. Outright racism could be the easiest to combat. Most have good role models, strategies, and ready allies for fighting racism. Liberal tokenism is also being effectively challenged.

Avoiding being a fetish is perhaps more complicated. Of course, not everyone who finds excitement in the body of the "other" is exploitive, yet the potential for objectification is real. It takes honest communication to tease the power issues when partners of color are exoticized in interracial relationships. Since the anti racism struggle is familiar to them, it may be more comfortable for homosexual black people to fight racism in the gay community rather than seek affirmation in a homophobic black community.

Still, many gay and lesbian African Americans have called on their peers to return the place to find engage proudly in that effort.

Related posts:

  1. Gays and lesbians divorce, too!
  2. Can people integrate their homosexuality to their other minority identities?

1 Comment


  1. This thing with Brothers on the Down Low it needs to stop
    Its a destructive force in our communities, its causing the rise
    Of AIDS and other STD's in our community, its destroying families,
    Its confusing children, and most of all GOD is against it. The
    Father will never prosper that, and for all you Gay and Lesbian
    Brothers and Sisters I say this; Your rebellion against God is getting
    You Death.

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