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,

tai amri


Michelle Puckett said...

my dear heart,
thank u for all the bravery u move about the world with. thank u for ur devotion to the cause of compassion. and thank u for being willing to show ur own ass so others can learn from ur example. this is the new wave of leadership that is needed in this day and age. as obama said in his speech on racism, this is a conversation that is long over due. we have a lot of work ahead of us. the power machine will try to divide and conquer. yes, tai amri, confession is a bold, powerful, humbling, and generative response to that attempt. let us undertake to bare our asses together, in full remembrance of one another's full humanity. always ur sister--michelle

Emily Joye said...

Yo: Michelle is dope. And so are you, Mr. Spann Wilson. It's true, confession and bare ass vulnerability is exactly what we need. You call me to this. Christ calls me to this. Everyday. Thank you.

(As I mentioned to you earlier, my initial response to your post turned into a thread for my essay on white repentance.) All this to say: your call is on-going, or should I say on-calling me?? lol..much love.

Paul said...

You probably don’t know me. I am one of the few Quakers of Color of African Descent in the United States.I know your mom from Quaker circles.Your Father is doing good work at Friends School of Detroit.
Your parents are good people salt of the earth.

I can’t speak for all African Americans particularly of faith but I can share my own experience as African American Quaker.

A couple years ago the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent had our annual gathering at Morehouse College. This was just after a homophobic incident at the College. A student was beaten approximately six to seven times, about the face, head, shoulders, back and arms with a baseball bat.

The Fellowship was struggling how can it speak truth to power? In this case Morehouse College.

But I will never forget a Friend said, we must first speak truth to ourselves as Quakers of African Descent.

Out of the silent worship came this minute.We reaffirmed our support and nurture of our same-gender-loving brothers and sister, and join with them against homophobia and violent acts in all forms: In light of continuing and escalating violence and repression against the gay and lesbian communities, the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent feels it is timely to minute our support and affirmation of the same-gender-loving Brothers and Sisters who are among us. Their presence, insight and experience are precious gifts to our community as we unite to end the scourges of violence, gender oppression and homophobia in the world.

Not one voice of opposition came out of that deep spirit-led unity. I cried for days!

The one song that played over and over in my head God's unchanging hand.

"If I never see the harvest of my labor,If the ground I stand upon is shifting sand,If I only feel the least of all His favor,
I will still hold onto God's unchanging hand.
If the path I walk be filled with grief or sorrow,If my pain and suffering I don't understand,
If I do not know what waits for me tomorrow,I will still hold onto God's unchanging hand".

God's unchanging hand was over that meeting of Friends.
Blessing to you friend on your journey.