Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Black Folks, Gays, and an Amazing Black Church

There are plenty of white gays running around that swallowed, hook line and sinker, the initial exit poll data from the 2008 election which alleged that 70%+ of black voters in California that voted for Obama also voted for Prop 8. Those same white gays, ahem HRC, ran around screaming and yelling about how Blacks are homophobic and Blacks cost us marriage and Blacks are religious fundamentalists. Their raging, ignorant rhetoric made instantly invisible the millions of Black queer folks in the U.S., including the hundreds of thousands living in California, and then, a few weeks later, in a teeny tiny article in the San Francisco Chronicle, said oops...Black support wasn't actually 70%, it was 58% (check out the great quotation by my friend and loved one Jaime Grant), but it was too late. It was cemented in the minds of white mainstream gays that the Blacks (and Latinos) were out to get the gays.

Of course, it turns out later that this strategy was actually spearheaded by the actually super fundamentalist right wing group the National Organization for Marriage and in 2012 a judge in Maine ordered documents released from the National Organization for Marriage detailing how they willfully and intentionally drew a wedge between the queer community and black folks and have attempted to replicate that work nationally. Of course, the racism so often present within our own queer community helped the spin on that story, which, of course, probably has folks at the National Organization for Marriage clapping and dancing...if, of course, they were allowed to dance.

While there is homophobia and heterosexism present in all communities without a doubt, Blacks and Latinos are no more (or less) homophobic than their white counterparts. The number of whites voting for Prop 8 was 54%, which, ladies and gentleman, is just shy of and just outside the marriage of error of those 58% of Blacks that voted for Prop 8. But it's the sensational stories that thrive on propping up our systems of oppression that get all the attention, no matter how egregiously wrong they are. The stories that give lie to those racist beliefs that we so desperately want to believe in are ignored, marginalized, or relegated to "exception to the rule" status.

I call bullshit. I say that the liberation of queer (and I incude trans in the word queer as was intended by the movement that brought queer back into use in the 90s) folks and the liberation of people of color (and the liberation of queer people of color) is tied up together AND WE ALL KNOW IT!

Let me tell you a story about a man named Rev. Oliver White, pastor of the Grace Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul, MN.  This straight black man stood up, in front of his congregation, and declared openly that HIS church would follow Christ's commandment to love thy neighbor as thine own. His church in a predominantly poor, people of color community in St. Paul, MN was made up largely of working class folks and elders, two categories that actually ARE correlated with higher incidences of resistance to queer liberation (and often for reasons appropriately related including lack of exposure and, frankly, coming from a significantly different time period). This amazing man, took on his own community and the heterosexism he did discover within it. His congregation shrank, and now his church is at risk of losing its building. This man marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he is marching with us.

We are so quick to condemn even the rumor of Black homophobia, but here now is a chance for us to rectify the rhetoric and create unity across communities. The Rev. Oliver White needs to raise $164,000 to save his church by June 9th. Already, the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas, which bills itself as the largest gay church in the US, has sent $15,000 to support Grace Community United Church. That is the type of bridge building we need to do. Let's show our allies what it means when they stand up to their own community, friends, and family and preach the REAL Gospel of Christ and the truth of liberation and fight for the right of all folks to be welcome, safe, and supported in community. Make a gift to Grace Community Church. Support our leaders that support us.


  1. NOM has done so much harm with their use of race as a wedge between allies. Louis Marinelli writes about this on his blog. Honestly, out of all the good that is going to come out of Obama's pro-marriage equality announcement, a big part of it is going to be the shattering of this stereotype.

  2. You should send this to JMG. I really think his readers would donate and help out. He has a large following as you know.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insights. And thank you for reading!