Share This

Oh, It’s Tuesday: Why Gay Isn’t the New Black (Yet)

So I’ve been going back and forth with myself about whether to write on the subject of what’s been happening  in the wake of Prop 8. On one hand I consider myself a diehard ally of the gay marriage movement. On the other hand, as a staight, I didn’t necessarily know if it was “my place” to speak on this in more complicated terms. I don’t often keep my general opinions to myself (I am, afterall, a blogger), but believe it or not I actually have a hard time sharing my political ones. So many people people have political opinions, and most of them are better stated than mine.

However, I’ve been thinking on this issue for seemingly every waking moment lately, and I feel now that I must say something if just because my mind has been composing away without my approval and I need to clear out some room for my next novel and other subjects that I might want to write about.

That all said, let’s talk about why Gay Isn’t the New Black (Yet). Though I’m going to put forth strong opinions in this article, this is first and foremost and invitation for discussion, so it’s actually more important than ever that you weigh in on the subject in the comments.

The Gay Marriage Movement needs to take The Black Civil Rights Movement (BCRM) Seriously. There has been a lot of discussion about how “blacks,” this singularly-thinking monolith according to the MSM, are insulted that the GMM would compare itself to the BCRM, because blacks suffered through hundreds of years of slavery and decades of Jim Crow Laws. Well, I’m of the opinion that a civil right is a civil right and every one deserves them, no matter their history, race, creed, or sexual orientation. So if you have a group of people without a basic civil right, that’s got to change even if some of their ancestors weren’t slaves or killed in a holocaust.

HOWEVER, I do think the GMM needs to take the BCRM  seriously. It’s not enough to say that this is a civil rights movement. We must study the BCRM, analyze what they did right and what they did wrong and reorganize accordingly. More on this in the sections after the jump:

Don’t Harbor People Who Are Passing: I cannot speak to how hard is must be to come out, especially if you live in a hostile environment or have family and friends that would not be accepting of your true sexual orientation. However, I can speak to how difficult it is to be black. And I can say that while I understand why some light-skinned blacks have given into the temptation to pass as white, I would not tolerate it.

A lot of people gave Wanda Sykes props for recently coming out. But I am ashamed of her. How could she pass for so long when her fellow gay brothers and sisters needed her?

No doubt that gays have a visibility problem. The country is around 12% black, we know that. But we have no idea how many gays there are, mainly because so many are passing. I don’t think it will help anything to out all of these people who so desperately want to pass as straight. However, I would never, ever sleep or pursue a relationship with someone who I knew was passing as white. Ever. I don’t know any black women who would put up with this, so I wonder why the Wanda Sykes of the world have partners and why closeted gay men are able to satisfy their sexual needs for years without getting “caught.”

Like black people, there is little that out gays can do about gays who choose to remain in the closet. But if every out gay person made the decision now not to sleep with anyone else who to their knowledge is passing as straight, imagine what a dent that would make.

Don’t Get Angry at the Chickens: If I hear that “chickens have more rights than we do” line one more time, I’m going to scream. First of all, it’s not true. Those chickens are living under barely decent conditions before they are slaughtered and eaten. They do not have more rights than gay people do. Second of all, it’s petty. Chickens deserve to be able to move around while they’re still living AND gays deserve marriage rights. Resenting a chicken for its newfound rights makes you look both silly and short-sighted. Also, how would you feel if immigrants started complaining that “gays have more rights than we do?” C’mon…

Stop Blaming Black Women: Let’s do the math here. Blacks make up about 10% of the population in California. Let’s say that black women make up about half of that. So you’re angriest that 70% of 5% of the population voted against gay marriage? I mean I’m angry to, but I don’t understand why so many news cycle have been dedicated to this. A) It scapegoats one segment of the population, which is never good for a civilized cause; and even more importantly, B) it’s a waste of good sense and time. Distracted much from the real point?

Get Organized: Now this is my main beef with the gay marriage movement. It just doesn’t seem very organized. After giving a lot of money and time to Vote No on Prop 8, I’m barely hearing from the now. I think their last email was over three weeks ago. So now I’m all fired up, but what do I do? Who do I boycott? How do I direct my passion for this cause? I need some direction please! In fact here are some suggestions, taken directly from Black Civil Rights Movement:

Form a regional organization: The NAACP was great, but black people needed city-by-city efforts in order to pull off civil rights. Just like the South and the East Coast and the West Coast had different issues to tackle back then, so it is today. We need some kind of west coast alliance to focus directly on getting prop 8 overturned.

Get visible: For all I know there IS a west coast alliance focused directly on getting prop 8 overturned — I just don’t know about them. I have passion, but I don’t necessarily have the time to hunt down a suitable org to give my service and money to. Now this is where studying the BCRM really comes in handy, because there are an awful lot of things we could bring back in order to bring more visibility to the movement, including

An Official Boycott List: So I used to take a ton of business and friend meetings at El Coyote because I work very close to this restaurant. But their owner donated money to Yes on 8, so now that particular restaurant is dead to me. Many of my co-workers feel the same. I know that they are losing money because of this and I’d be shocked if that owner donated money again to the anti-gay marriage movement. Good. Boycotts work. But who else? We need an official organization with an official list.

Bring back peaceful sit-ins: So I know there’s a sort of gay flash mob in Los Angeles that used to converge on random straight bars every once in awhile and just buy drinks and socialize. I don’t see why this can’t be taken further. A protest outside a Mormon Church gets attention, but how about actually attending a Sunday service? If you hear that a black church organized and raised a bunch of money for Yes on Prop 8, organize a huge group of gay people and go to their Sunday service. Take in the word. Leave an offering and designate on the outside of the envelope that you would like it to go to overturn Prop 8 or Aids Ministry or any number of good causes that aren’t Yes on Prop 8. I’ve a deep suspicion that many of the people that voted Yes on Prop 8 don’t know any gay people or their vocal allies. This would be a great way to introduce ourselves. Let’s desegrate our churches.

Work the legal system: Listen, we could have organized against segregation until the cows came home, but without Thurgood Marshall and other black lawyers, we wouldn’t have seen much progress. Who are gay marriage’s Thurgood Marshalls? We need lawyers with a recognizable name and face and we need to SEE them working the legal system on behalf of gay marriage.

In fact, we need more faces in general. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Ghandi. Who will step up to lead this movement? Here’s the thing, both MLK and Malcolm X were groomed to be civil rights leaders. Who are we grooming to lead the fight for gay rights?

Seriously, I believe that gay marriage is both achievable and inevitable. But we’ve got to work harder on this. And we’ve got to get smarter. Otherwise gay marriage will happen later than sooner. 


Photo Credit: Thomas Combs