Sunday, November 16, 2008
confessions of a homophobic black man
i've had a little while to sit with my last post and the responses i've had to it and conversations i've had since then. i believe that in the passing of proposition 8, not only has a deep wound been exposed, but a deep wound has also been deepened, and i want this wounding to end. in my last blog i focused on the pain and frustration of feeling the blame for proposition 8 being directed towards my people (not that all people aren't my people, but i'm speaking here of the people who share my racial identity). but as i'm sitting with this pain, i am also reminded of some of the feelings of my glbtq loved ones, who correctly point out that while the blame rests on no ONE, some of the accusations are in fact true. so i sat through church today, amongst gay couples wrestling with the fear that their marriages might at some point be anulled (please correct my terminology if it's wrong, i'm a minister not a lawyer) and i felt a conviction to speak to the place where the wounding has occured.
i cannot speak to all black communities, but in mine, gender and sexuality violence, both verbal and physical, was normalized. i suffered from it, and i perpetuated it. i repressed my own queerness, so as to be seen acceptable, and to distance myself from the "real" queers. i treated women and effeminite men (i really hate that word, if someone has a better please offer it) as less than, so to prove myself more worthy of the term masculine, even when i saw the faults in the ways that masculinity was being defined. i preached a gospel of homosexual condemnation, even when i did not believe that queer folk were less-than in the truth of my heart. i've laughed at homophobic remarks and jokes, and though i can't remember a time when i did, i'm sure i've made them myself. i've distanced myself from men, both straight and queer, so as not to seem queer myself. and worst of all, i have remained silent as my queer family was being brutalized in all sections of society.
my homophobic reactions need to be acknowledged, and taken responsibility for, but there also needs to be an acknowledgment that it did not begin with me, my family, my race, or any other race or religion. they begin with the believing of the lie that there is in fact an "other." one reason i love jesus so much is that he spent so much of his ministry trying to correct this misperception. when we react out of the fear of the other, we see why he focused so much energy there. i have believed the lies that i am in fact other and less than, and thus have not spoken out against homophobia because of this belief. i have believed that because of my other status, i had to create "lesser others" in order to be "more" human, even when i believed i could not be "fully human." others have told me that a black man's voice will be silenced, mentally or physically, before it can be heard. others have told me that even when i speak with my voice, it doesn't matter, because i'm just "different" and "real" black men aren't like me. others have told me that if i want to be worthy of human respect, i need to "walk like a man." others have told me that "real men just don't behave like that, just don't show vulnerability, just don't need the help of anyone else." and i've believed them. there is no group that my belief in these lies has not affected. please forgive me for all the lies that i've believed, and all the lies i have spread. in peace,