Top 5 Things That Could’ve Ended Homophobia in the Black Community

I know I said “Top 10” earlier, but I can tell this is going to get sort of lengthy, so let’s stick to 5.  Don’t be upset, if this goes where I think it’ll go, you’ll be satisfied.  Great Talk.

So, let’s start off with a few realities:

– Everyone loves a scapegoat, especially if the new bully has been picked on in the past.
– As a generalization, Black people aren’t too fond on the idea of the gay lifestyle.
– “Aren’t too fond” in the previous bullet is a comically gross understatement.
– There are a lot of gay Black people.  Like, billions.

I remember during my sophomore year at Dear Old Dartmouth receiving an email asking if I wanted to be on a listserv for “Allies”.  Basically, the gay community was (and still is, I assume) in dire need of people in the community that weren’t gay, but supported them on campus.  I said “yes” without hesitation, but what I didn’t initially predict was how lonely it was (and still is) to be a straight Black male outwardly supporting gays, no matter what they look like or the extent to which they let the world know that they are out and proud.

The reasons for this pretty tenuous relationship between Blacks and homosexuality I believe is a mixture of upbringing, religion, fear of things not perceived as “normal”, and the inherent need to hate on something.  Although this is a sad reality of present-day (but will hopefully diminish as my generation becomes more relevant and those above us (except you, mom) are subsequently replaced and put in retirement homes), I strongly believe there are a few things that could have happened over the course of history that would have done wonders in making Blacks more tolerant and accepting to the gays.  “Ended homophobia” is perhaps too naive, but whatever, let’s go with it.

5. A Black Rapper – Black Athlete Gay Power Couple.

I laughed typing this out, simply because the thought of this happening would completely change the world.  Even though this has probably happened multiple times behind closed doors, if there was a Black gay power couple, going out to movie premiers and eventually being assigned one of those dumb “Brangelina” merger names, you can’t tell me that wouldn’t shake up everything.  Just for one second, imagine that you’ve opened up your gossip rag and the main story is about “Kobeye West” out on the town, munching on Sushi and sneaking into the back of a movie theatre to go see Black Swan.

Enough Black people are either diehard Kobe fans or diehard Kanye fans to the point that they would probably be like, “I mean… I guess this gay stuff is cool.”  In order for this to truly work, though, it can’t be a crab rapper and a washed up athlete.  If Soulja Boy and Stephon Marbury started dating and subsequently tried to get people to refer to them as “Soulbury”, gay people would probably become homophobic.

4. A More Supported Bayard Rustin

If you were to ask most people who organized the 1963 March on Washington, I’m guessing 90% say Martin Luther King, Jr.  While he was most certainly involved, the chief organizer was legendary (and often overlooked) Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin.  Although a chief architect of the Civil Rights Movement, he has yet to receive the credit that many of his peers (and subordinates) have (King, Abernathy, Bond, Evers, Jackson, Farmer, PARKS, Shuttlesworth, Williams, Wilkins…)  While he was in the background a great deal, one of the reasons I believe he is often lost in the shuffle is because he was gay and an outspoken gay rights activist.

Suspiscions of his homosexuality made him not only a target of racist Whites, but also by Black members of his own movement.  He was often distanced from the movement as to not undermine their goals.  Then chairman of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins, wanted to publicly deny Rustin’s involvement in chiefly organizing the March on Washington, because of his sexuality.  If Rustin had the full support of those leaders within the Civil Rights movement and was allowed to become a true public figure like those around him, I believe we would be living in a very different world and many Blacks would have different views about gays.

I mean, the guy was a superstar and truly ahead of his time.  He had the NERVE to make statements like this:

Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays. . . . It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. . . . The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.

Mirroring the traditional placement of MLK Drive in urban centers across America, what if there were a Bayard Rustin Boulevard in the Blackest, gayest street in every city.  I think that’d be wonderful.  (Here’s where it would be in Atlanta.)

3. A Gay-Advocate President of Morehouse College

“We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men” – Dr. William Bynum, VP of Student Services, Morehouse College.

Being gay and going to Morehouse sounds like the equivalent of me sleepwalking into a Klan exec boardmeeting… in 1935… in Mississippi. Although I didn’t go to Morehouse, I continue to have a lot of pride in the school, because of my family’s deep roots at the college.  I’m guessing a lot of gay guys were pressured to go to Morehouse by their Morehouse dad parents, hoping the student body and administration would scare the gay out of them.  That sounds crazy to the outside observer, but I genuinely think that’s a goal of the school these days.

If there were someone at the helm that truly wanted to mold all of the future Black male leaders, instead of the ones that look and behave in the manner that the alums and donors see appropriate, I think a positive snowball effect would occur throughout the school, Atlanta, Black colleges in general, and Black communities across the country.

2. Obama Admitting He’s 100% in Support of All Things Pro-Gay.

I don’t know if our great president has fooled any of you, but there isn’t one fiber of my being that believes Obama is on the fence about gay marriage.  During Obama’s 2nd term, I think the real Barack Obama that we saw during the campaign is going to come out and be the truly liberal president that we all know he can be.  I don’t know how he’s going to phrase it, but it’ll probably be something along the lines of “I’ve had a revelation.  I think gay people should be able to get married.  Sorry for taking so long, I just had to get elected again.  My B.”

Obama is not moderate.  Like me, he’s liberal/borderline hippie.  I love that about him.  I can’t wait for term 2, because I truly think an Obama with nothing to politically lose might be the best President in the history of this country.  I have the chills.

1. Luther Vandross Coming Out

The way post-Katrina New Orleans will eventually be a much better place than pre-Katrina New Orleans ever was, Luther Vandross coming out would have had a similar effect on Black people.  This admission by Mr. Vandross would have completely shaken Blacks to their very core, not knowing what was real or not, confusing up with down, night with day.  But, as time went on, the deep love that exists for Luther would eventually prevail. I struggle to identify many figures more loved and adored than Luther.  If Luther would have come out, people would have had to make this decision: Begin accepting gay people as equals in society, or continue my discriminatory ways and not play this song at their wedding reception:

and this song at Christmas:



Keep up the good flight, allies.  They need and deserve our help.

About Rembert Browne

NYC via ATL ////
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2 Responses to Top 5 Things That Could’ve Ended Homophobia in the Black Community

  1. Lamar says:

    I know this post is old, so nobody will see this comment, but I don’t get how somebody smuggled one of the single use cameras I used to take to summer camp into Kanye’s studio and then used it to take a picture of Ye and Kobe.

  2. Pingback: Top 11 Contributions to the Internet | 500 Days Asunder

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