Is Being Black, Male + Gay Taboo?
Before I begin, let me state very CLEARLY that what you’re about to read need not be misconstrued or misinterpreted such that ANYONE extract from it an attitude associated with me expressing any personal NON-ACCEPTANCE of ANYONE choosing to practice a same-sex lifestyle.
I am an individual who chooses to be completely heterosexual, but if another human being chooses differently, it is not my place to ridicule, dissuade condemn or discriminate in any way that individual’s decision. IT’S THEIR LIFE, and I will accept them as a friend, co-worker, neighbor, pastor, etc….but I must give you some insight that may very well speak for MANY BLACK MEN!
Just as a gay person has rights, so do I…and based on the FREEDOM that has been afforded me and every person in this country, I have a RIGHT to live wherever I choose. With that said, before I was able to make decisions on my own, I had to concede to my parents’ decisions as to where we were going to reside…or could afford to. Because I grew up raised by my mom in a single-parent home, my mom did what she could and afforded us residence in the inner city of Rochester….and I mean THE INNER CITY…as DEEP INTO AS YOU COULD GET…between Genesee Street and Jefferson Avenue (for most of my childhood). The area had its challenges — violence, drugs and alcohol, pimps, prostitutes and gang activity (which was VERY PREVALENT at the time).
Violence and gang activity were not one in the same in “the ‘hood”. Violence was SEEN DAILY, with me or my peers fighting among ourselves (Sylvester and Harry Jacque, who are now some of my best friends, were MY ENEMIES!!!) Me and my friends would quickly get into it with our “rival residents” on Flint Street if they happened to be seen at OUR CORNER STORE…just because they lived on a different street.
Now, mind you, this was a 10-year-old BLACK BOY mentality…that which even my mom didn’t know and probably couldn’t relate to because she had, and has, never been a BLACK BOY IN THE INNER CITY (to this day she WILL be surprised when she reads what I’m writing)! That ROLE came with much pride, testosterone, accountability, MACHISMO, and ATHLETIC COMPETITIVENESS! That’s just how life was. It wasn’t rare at all for me to see NEIGHBORS…mothers (WOMEN!!!!) fighting one another in the middle of Hawley Street because their kids had a conflict with each other.
Gang activity was NOT VISIBLE…you only heard about it in the news…unless you were a part of a gang. The GANG stuff was EXTREME…stabbings, shootings, killings…which I could have been lured into…but my mom LOVED ME and gave me enough ATTENTION such that I didn’t need an OUTSIDE FAMILY to “show me love”. I had the REAL kind of love at home.
That short, abbreviated historical account of my childhood is VERY RELEVANT to the subject matter surrounding this blog. Based on the brief information shared…I contend that there is a difference in the African-American community regarding the acceptance of the CONCEPT of a man physically penetrating another man. I mean, come on…let’s keep it REAL here…that’s what being gay implies. Other cultures may see it as more of a “surface issues” in that its images are more social than private, depicted by one man being seen in public with another shopping at a grocery store or dancing together in a club or just walking hand in hand together…but these ARE NOT THE IMAGES THAT IMMEDIATELY IMPACT ME or other black men who choose to be heterosexual (my opinion, of course).
The images that impact me are those CONTRARY to seeing Super Fly, The Mack, Three The Hard Way, Shaft, Batman, Superman, The Hulk, The Thing, Mister T, my idol Deacon Jones and the Fearsome Foursome, Dick Butkus, Willie Lanier, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, etc. I grew up seeing MACHO BLACK MEN and TOUGHNESS!!!!. Anything opposite of that was considered TABOO!!!!! I can’t imagine what images or CULTURAL experiences my fellow peer male friends from my alma mater, Allendale-Columbia (99 percent Caucasian) were influenced by…but I doubt they witnessed neighborhood grown men leaving their homes with wigs, heels, a dress and purse, walking down the street with an OVER-PRONOUNCED twitch in their walk, as if on stage in some Broadway play. I saw this first hand…DAILY!!!!! At the time, the term was certainly not GAY. It was something demeaning and unacceptable by today’s standards.
The point of all of this is: There is a MARKED difference (in my opinion) in the way a BLACK MALE is culturally conditioned to view his manhood and LIFE, as opposed to other cultures. Even spanking is looked upon by some cultures outside of the African-American culture differently. There within lies a TIMEOUT versus GETTIN’ YOUR BUTT WHOOPED mentality divide. There are DIFFERENCES!!!!
So when a Black male basketball athlete “COMES OUT” it has a very different, ASTOUNDING IMPACT on the Black community than it does any other culture. Even aside from the cultural component, which I’ve revealed to you as a BLACK MALE, there is the other black cultural experience, which is QUITE DIFFERENT from that of other cultures — CHURCH, GOD and CHRISTIANITY!!!!
I could go on and on from a Christian perspective and different other perspectives with this, but my bottom line is this: I contend that within the Black community…especially among Black men…it’s less acceptable for a Black man to come out than it is acceptable for a man of another culture…because it’s TABOO!
In closing, I am not ANTI-GAY in the least. I accept everyone for who they choose to be…however, when considering the topic of Jason Collins “COMING OUT”…it’s not only a “First Major Athlete Coming Out” issue…it’s a cultural issue, as well, TO SOME African-Americans…are you one of them? Is being BLACK, MALE and GAY taboo TO YOU?
THESE VIDEOS PRESENT A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE AS TO HOW THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE HAS VIEWED AND BEEN CONDITIONED TO VIEW HOMOSEXUALITY.