California | Gay Marriage | News | Proposition 8

Study Debunks Myth That Blacks Overwhelmingly Voted 'Yes on 8'

A study by by Patrick J. Egan, Ph.D., assistant professor of politics and public policy at New York University, and Kenneth Sherrill, Ph.D., professor of political science at Hunter College, CUNY, under the auspices of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute shows that exit polls, which showed Black voters supported Prop 8 in overwhelming and disproportionate numbers, were greatly exaggerated when compared with actual data.

DefendequalityFrom an NGLTF press release (which you can read AFTER THE JUMP): "...the study found that the level of support for Proposition 8 among African Americans was nowhere close to the NEP exit poll 70 percent figure. The study looked at pre- and post-election polls and conducted a sophisticated analysis of precinct-level voting data from five California counties with the highest African-American populations (Alameda (Oakland), Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco). Based on this, it concludes that the level of African-American support for Proposition 8 was in the range of 57-59 percent. Its precinct-level analysis also found that many precincts with few black voters supported Proposition 8 at levels just as high or higher than those with many black voters."

Read more on the study results in the NGLTF press release, AFTER THE JUMP...

The SF chronicle reports: "That support among blacks is still well above the 52 percent Prop. 8 received from all voters in the Nov. 4 election. Much of that can be attributed to the strong religious tradition in the black community, where 57 percent of African American voters attend church at least once a week, compared with 42 percent of Californians overall."

Said Egan: "Party identification, age, religiosity and political view had much bigger effects than race, gender or having gay and lesbian family and friends."

Andrea Shorter, director of And Marriage for All, responded to the report: "The study debunks the myth that African Americans overwhelmingly and disproportionately supported Proposition 8. But we clearly have work to do with, within and for African American communities, particularly the black church."

Jaime Grant, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute agreed, saying, "This is a wake-up call to the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. We must do a better job of organizing in the faith-based community, using LGBT people who are themselves part of that community."

Read more on the study results in the NGLTF press release, AFTER THE JUMP...


In other news, earlier this week we reported that longtime activist Robin Tyler had resigned from the planning committee for Equality California's upcoming Equality Summit because the group planned to limit media access. The story has been developing, and Queerty has more on the back-and-forth that's been going on. Not much has changed but things are a bit clearer at this point. Prop. 8 Study.1.6.08

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  1. i'm not sure that the "Study Debunks Myth That Blacks Overwhelmingly Voted 'Yes on 8'". no one, as far as i know, suggested that blacks by nature of being 'black' were anti-gay. that would be rank racism. clearly, there are many things that influence cultural attitudes toward politics, gender, gender equality, gender identification, homosexuality, and on.

    whether it was 58% or 70%, those blacks who voted against marriage equality, by necessity, represent the whole. for, there is no better way to measure political inclination (that is to say, how a certain group voted on any given referendum or amendment) than polling data -- in particular, exit polling data.

    the "study" merely suggests that religiosity is a major factor. the question, then, is why does religion impact more heavily on the black community than on the whites or the latinos or the asians? further, why does religion bear more heavily on blacks who totally accept the unfairness of bigotry, but dismiss the suffering of other minorities?

    i know that i will again be attacked as a racist by NOAH. playing the race card is, after all, the last refuge of the simpleton and the craven. nevertheless, i want to echo LANDON BRYCE's sentiment. the real bigots are those who find self-examination repellent. all of us have something to be ashamed of regarding our culture. to ignore that at the expense of others is counter-productive.

    Posted by: nic | Jan 7, 2009 2:15:05 PM

  2. Landon, the problem I have is that you are implying that being denied "marriage rights" is worse than racism as it exists today. From your last post, it seems as though you only see racism as a matter of formal, legal equality (according to you, gays haven't voted to take away "civil rights"--but since we don't have demographic information of where gays stood in the 1960s and early 70s, we can't really know). What we have known, even in the 1960s, is that racism is actually more insidious than what appears in laws.

    I think that what pissed blacks off the most was the arrogance gays displayed around Prop 8. There were claims that gays had "NEVER" done anything comparable to taking marriage rights away. I strongly disagree. Gentrification? Uncritical support of corporations, the police and the military? Reinscription of negative images of black men (and other minorities, especially Asians) in gay media and pornography? Invisibility? Lack of access to power in the major institutions of the LGBT community? Allocation of funds for things like HIV/AIDS? I mean, even Prop 8 itself, with its lily-white till the last minute advertising strategy demonstrates the absurdity of the argument (but, of course, simply making people of color "invisible" and reinforcing their marginalization in broader society, can't possibly be as bad as taking away "marriage rights"--or thus saith Landon Bryce).

    And so, having declared that invisibility and lack of access is not as bad as taking away marriage, we also have to hear other gays howl in protest when someone suggests that blacks who face bread and butter issues due to this country's racist legacy might have it worse than gays. After having to hear that racism is not AS BAD AS taking away "marriage rights," they are oh-so-quick to remind us that there is "no hierarchy of oppression."

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 7, 2009 2:44:19 PM

  3. NIC: please take a look at page 12 of the chart of the NGLTF report. The chart breaks down support for Prop 8 based upon frequency of church attendance. According to the chart, support for Prop 8 was as follows among those that attended church more than twice a week: White (70%), AA (66%) Latino (74%), Asian (68%). Support for those who attend church less than weekly was as follows: White (36%), AA (48%), Latino (46%), Asian (33%).

    You asked: "why does religion impact more heavily on the black community than on white, latinos, or asians?" That's not what the data shows. If actually demonstrates that church going African Americans in California were LESS SUPPORTIVE of PROP 8 than church going Californian Whites, Latinos, and Asians. And, among those that didn't go to church African Americans and Latinos were almost identically likely to be against Prop 8 (48% to 46%).

    Additionally,57% of African Americans attended church at least weekly. That's the ONLY group that was over 50%.

    I also must take issue with your point that exit polling represents the best source of data. Polls are only useful if they are accurate.

    Lastly, I agree that self-examination is important. I just wish that those who claim to want African Americans to be critical and call out anti-gay prejudice by African Americans apply that critical eye to themselves when engaging in discussion. Too often on Towleroad and other places, that doesn't happen.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 2:51:31 PM

  4. 1) People need to stop making the claim that "blacks should support X because of what they went through for their rights." It displays an ignorance to historical precedence which only serves to further alienate blacks who still struggle with racial inequality and the often white male leadership of gay rights groups. The struggle for black rights is similar to that of women, other people of color, and gays -- but each movement bears unique differences which deserves respect as a building block for healthy coalitions.

    2) Race as speciation does not exist, but race as power construct and social policy does -- and no amount of mentioning "race isn't real" negates thousands of years of human history regarding ethnicity and klines (the scientific term for "race"). Furthermore, hatred is not a genetic trait like skin color -- it is a learned behavior and any argument about homophobia must start from sociology, not eugenics.

    3) No black person in their right mind would deny that homophobia is present in the (non-monolithic, diverse) community, but to argue that it is more homophobic when compared to white communities with the same socio-economic and religious background does not bear fruit. From my own personal experience, only whites physically attack a person for being gay -- but that certainly isn't the big picture, is it? When discussions start with the premise that blacks are markedly pathological without acknowledging the social structures in play, it is the same argument made by the eugenics movement (which got a healthy head start in the US before being co-opted by the Nazis). Please note: I am not calling anyone a Nazi or racial separatist, just pointing out how such discussions deviate from social constructs, which are certainly more easily changeable than genetics.

    4) Out of the three major racial groups in California, blacks are the smallest. That this "racial" discussion of Prop 8 -- largely focusing on less than 6-7% of the voters -- continues to persist despite that fact, and the fact that California is quite racially balkanized (the reason LA has a gang problem was because it originally had a Klan problem), is a mystery to me. Whose purpose does it serve to belabor the meme that "blacks are socially conservative (or hypocrites just like the rest of the population) and don't like homosexuals (even though the black gay-straight percentages appears to be consistent with the white populace)?" The black gay kid having unsafe sex because they think they have no one to turn to, or Fox News channel who doesn't have anything good to say about blacks unless they're neo-cons too?

    Posted by: Foochy | Jan 7, 2009 3:41:47 PM

  5. Brandon, where did I say that ALL blacks were homophobic? Obviously, I would not consider the blacks who voted against Prop. 8 to be homophobic.

    I am not going to "defend" straight black people against the charge that they are more homophobic than other racial/ethnic groups EVEN IF the charge is not true.

    I will defend/protect straight black people ONLY IF they defend/protect me. It's called reciprocity. To do anything else is a form of self-hatred.

    Posted by: elg | Jan 7, 2009 4:00:42 PM

  6. ELG: in response to comments challenging the presumption of black homophobia you cited other statistics that appear to suggest that black people are homophobes. My point was to try to get us out of the business of using "race" as an unqualified criterion with respect to this discussion and to get us to use criteria that, according to the studies, appear to be more predictive of voting behavior on gay marriage. I did not mean to suggest that you considered all black people homophobic.

    As for the assertion that you are only going to defend straight black people if they defend you, I hope that you'll THINK about that statement for a second. In the prior paragraph, you wrote that you "would not consider the blacks that voted against Prop 8 to be homophobic." Given that most black people are straight and even in the "bad" poll 30% of African Americans voted against Prop 8, it seems like there are a lot of black people that did try to "defend/protect" you.

    So, at what point will you speak up for black people? When at least 50% speak up for you? And what constitutes speaking up? Of course, I also have to ask why you're even talking about you defending other black people. Black people are individuals and I'm unaware of any special responsibility you, or any other black person, truly owes another black person. But assuming that you did have this responsibility, wouldn't you want to speak up for yourself because you are black? Surely there are issues that affect both straight and gay black people.

    I'm not in the business of "defending" black people. I am not in the business of being responsible for what other black people do. I am in the business of being accurate, applying the same measuring stick to groups, and addressing the bias behind comments that people want to ignore.

    My guess from your comments is that you've have encountered African Americans that were anti-gay. I'm sorry about that. My sense is that our personal experiences have been very different. I just hope you don't let that experience taint your interactions with all black folks.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 4:30:36 PM

  7. Lodestar,

    How "pro-gay" Wright is is certainly open to argument. Yes, Wright's denomination is gay-affirming. Wright's congregation, however, has followed his leadership and avoided becoming explicitly welcoming to gays. Wright's demonination treats gay relationships with greater respect than he does. Please check the facts on that before you continue to claim that Wright is "pro-gay."

    Derrick, I guess I should have been more clear in my comments that I was referring to the present. In fact, one of the reasons that the leading role African Americans have taken in the culture war against gays is so painful is that it is a betrayal of a leftist coalition of gays, Jews, and blacks that really did exist. Pretending that white gays were not Freedom Riders is really insulting and completely unworthy of both your intelligence and your knowledge of history.


    Apart from historical considerations, I think there is a huge moral difference between gentrification and campaigning to make sure that others are your legal inferiors. If you don't, I couldn't care less about your opinions.


    You remind me of George Bush on global warming two years ago-- the evidence is irrefutable that blacks are more anti-gay than blacks, so you are open to the possibility that the the truth might be true. It's more than a possibility to be open to. It's a fact to accept and to do something about.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 4:45:41 PM

  8. does anyone here live or vote in CA? when i went to vote, here in LA, i stood behind two black men and two black women who whispered and laughed about "no such thing as "adam and steve." now...this is merely an anecdote and you can't pin a lot on it, but you can't pin much on exit polling either, which is also anecdotal. when someone exits a polling site they can say that they voted in any way they wish. i could easily say i voted no on every prop and democrat down the board, neither of which is true. this "study" proves NOTHING. it's laughable.

    Posted by: just sayin | Jan 7, 2009 4:52:21 PM

  9. "Apart from historical considerations, I think there is a huge moral difference between gentrification and campaigning to make sure that others are your legal inferiors. If you don't, I couldn't care less about your opinions."

    I think I mentioned more than gentrification. But it is good to know that you think some forms of discrimination and disenfranchisement are better than others. With that attitude, don't whine when others don't take your cries of oppression seriously.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 7, 2009 4:59:51 PM

  10. Brandon,

    As a black, openly gay member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright is not only "pro-gay", he affirms us at every turn. There are openly gay and lesbians involved on every level of church membership, from pew to pulpit.

    Before you say, "But he does not perform gay marraiges!", I say, "you are correct." However, a majority of mainline Christian congregations do not either. And because that should be a civil issue as opposed to a religious one, Proposition 8 should be just that. If the voters of California want to deny gay and lesbian citizens the right to legally partner and receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts, then so be it. However, that sets up second class citizenship, and that in itself is unconsititional.

    Posted by: Jay | Jan 7, 2009 5:17:29 PM

  11. Brian,

    What you basically said was that gay people are guilty of selfishness. And that is true. Most people don't look seriously at the political consequences of their economic actions, and I see no evidence that gay people are not MORE conscious of those issues than most other cultural groups. Failing to act with adequate care for the well-being of others is bad, but it is inevitably human. Saying "How dare that awful person compare himself with wonderful me" is an evil of a totally different kind and, yes, degree. To vote to deny someone else rights is unforgivable in a way that failing to invest in universal health care is not. As someone who has been downsized and has no health insurance, I want you to know that gay white people can also face bread and butter issues. I don't know what I'm going to do when my meds run out.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 5:25:21 PM

  12. Landon,

    As the more you type, the more you sound like a queer klan member. Instead of a white cone its a cream colored one.


    I couldn't care less how most white gays treat straight black folks well I kind of do, but its how most of you treat gay blacks. A lot of you don't understand that we go through this with our straight counterparts also (not nearly as much but we do). Last time I checked white straight folks hate white gays just as much (probably more) as black straight folks hating black gays. You would think we had something in common and we should stick together, but history tells us thats not the case.

    Just like the white gays of the 50's and 60's supporting civil rights for blacks lol, there are black straight people of today that support equal rights for gays.

    Just sayin you made absolutely no sense, so I'm over you.

    Posted by: CAJIVA | Jan 7, 2009 5:31:32 PM

  13. Landon: At this point you're really starting to make me laugh. Yeah, I am, as you wrote, "open that the truth might be true." However, I am still waiting to see the "irrefutable" proof that black people are more anti-gay than white people. I've cited two polls by HRC and referenced the study that prompted this discussion which don't appear to support your view. What you appear to have is a bias, probably based in your personal experience, that has convinced you that (a) you are correct and worse that (b) other people will agree with you. When you provide a rational, supportable argument with evidence for your theory, I'll be happy to entertain it. Until then, it's probably not useful to have a dialogue. I've usually found it helpful to keep an open mind on issues. It's a pity that someone that clearly wants to debate ideas and seems to care about the gay community is willing to be so conclusory and refuse to even examine the accuracy of his viewpoint.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 5:37:58 PM

  14. It's always somebody else's fault, isn't it?

    Posted by: Yeek | Jan 7, 2009 5:40:00 PM

  15. Brandon:

    This is why I brought up Bush and global warming. Yes, there are a few studies that are mentioned all the time because they support the view that is more desirable but less true. I provided no evidence because I am tired of having it ignored or explained away. I assume you have seen the overview creepy Andrew Sullivan did here:

    And I think that is wrong-headed to ignore the National Black Justice Coalition's April 2008 report "At the Crossroads." There is no legitimate reason to leave opposition to same sex marriage out of the bigotry equation. And there is no legitimate reason to find comparisons between racism and homophobia offensive. None. Suggesting that they are is more than adequate evidence of both racism and internalized homophobia.

    But, like Bush's scientists, you'll ignore the preponderance of evidence because you don't like what it says.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 5:56:40 PM

  16. Thank you Landon for your clarification. Because I received your first comment as flippant and dismissive, something black gay men have come to expect.

    I completely agree that the LGBT community is no MORE likely to have these blinders on than others--but certain gays have put on airs about how advanced gay men are on the issue of race. Racism is a horrible, horrible problem that cannot simply be swept under the rug with saying that participating in it is "inevitably human." It seems as though that trivializes racism. Nor does this explain why when people of color raise these issues they are often dismissed and ignored, or excuses are offered.

    When you or the institutions of your community participate in something that has such a devastating effect on people, and this does not prompt the same level of outrage that same-sex marriage does, I have to stop and wonder. Some may see it as a minor issue, but then again, some people see access to the word "marriage" as a minor matter of semantics, rather than a human rights issue. We all have ways we can trivialize the oppression of others and create "degrees" of evil.

    It's funny that you should mention health care. I (and many others) believe health care is a "human right," but oddly, you seem to think that lack of access to it is not the same as "a vote to deny someone else's rights." Again, I have to disagree.

    I don't see it as a matter of individual selfishness, either but as an institutional matter. "LGBT" institutions perpetuate the same inequalities and problems we see in broader society and we are all complicit in it--hell, we offer excuses for it.

    I am sorry to hear about your particular situation, and one of the issues "LGBT" politics has blind-spots about is the issue of class. But we will not be able to even discuss these issues so long as people make excuses (on all sides, within all oppressed groups) for behaviors and practices among their own that discriminate.

    For me, it has never been up for debate whether or not much work needs to be done among blacks--and work is ALREADY being done. The issue is whether or not this was going to be one-directional temper tantrum from the gay community. I have no qualms about calling a one-sided conversation where gays lash out at blacks while patting themselves on the back illegitimate. Because we all have much work to do.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 7, 2009 6:05:53 PM

  17. Landon: (1) I wish you the best of luck on your personal situation; (2) you said that you "see no evidence that gay people are not more conscious of those issues than other groups." Do you have evidence that they are? If the Log Cabin Republicans are to be believed, lots of gays voted for Republicans. Of course, Republicans for the last 30 years have used a racist Southern strategy that even the former RNC chair denounced. If gays are more conscious, why did over a quarter of gays support a party that race baits? (3) You also said "failing to act with adequate care for the well-being of others is bad, but it is inevitably human." If that's the case, why are we even having this discussion. That sounds like an endorsement of homophobia-- and bunch of other evils. (4) I really do think you have a bias. I'm not talking about a racial bias although that could be present too. I ask that you read the The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. According to Stanford Prof Philip Zombardo "we attribute infrahumaness ("badness") to out-groups, as less than human, we are motivated to see ourselves as more human than others. We uniquely deny human traits and human nature to others relative to our own EGOCENTRIC standard." Here you've drawn an artificial distinction between one form of "failing to act with adequate care" versus another. Of course, it's those people that are evil in your eyes. It's a classic case of this sort of bias. Don't take my word for it. Read the book. It may change how you think about things. It's certainly changed my view of the world.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 6:06:22 PM

  18. Landon, you wrote: "There is no legitimate reason to leave opposition to same sex marriage out of the bigotry equation. And there is no legitimate reason to find comparisons between racism and homophobia offensive. None. Suggesting that they are is more than adequate evidence of both racism and internalized homophobia."

    Did you see ANYTHING in my posts that said suggested a hierarchy of oppression? Did I say I was offended by that comparison? Please stop using me as some sort of African American straw man and throwing up what you think I've said versus what I've actually said as legitimate argument.

    Oh and I read the Sullivan piece. That's interesting, but hardly dispositive.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 6:15:13 PM

  19. Brandon:

    Thanks for the good wishes. Our initial conversation began because you were offended that I compared the way that gays feel about Rick Warren's presence at the inauguration with how blacks would feel about the presence of a Klan member. That's what I was referring to, and and I'm not surprised that I was confusing there. My apologies. I do continue to find your attitude condescending in ways that you seem not to recognize. Your comments about outgroups, for example, apply much more to the way that African Americans treat gays than the reverse.

    Brian and Brandon, you both write as though there were no difference between life for blacks under Jim Crow laws and life today. As you know, gays live under Jim Crow laws that make sure that we are always aware of our second class status. Virtually no one in the United States today would vote for laws that discriminated on the basis on race. Certainly there are no gay people fighting for the return of laws that make life worse for blacks.

    And I am not aware of any gay person making the claim that their gayness gives them special claim to be bigoted against blacks. I have read dozens of editorials from black bigots, denouncing gays for comparing our struggle with THE civil rights movement, that have made the argument that homophobia is not really bigotry because they have suffered real bigotry and they hate the gays and no one has seen the sorrow they have seen. I read the comments after them, and I virtually never see black gay people going after them with the sort of vehemence that you guys come after me with.

    To some extent, Derrick is right,and everyone reacts when they get picked on, but no one seems to have an answer to this:

    Why is it more offensive to say that blacks are bigoted than it is to say that gays do not deserve any rgiths because they can change? Because you go after gays that say arguably racist things with a vehemence that I do not see anywhere when blacks say undeniably bigoted things about gays. Show me where you are engaging African American bigots with the same level of energy you have thrown at me (and I'm not nearly the racist you think I am).

    Anyone? Anyone?

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 7:03:11 PM

  20. Landon: I actually work for an organization that PROMOTES corporate diversity including full inclusion for GLBTQ's. We have a magazine that addresses these issues Recently, we had an issue addressing trans. people in the workplace. We've won awards from several gay organizations because of our stance on GLBTQ equality. I won't go into too much detail. I will simply say that in my professional life I actively engage on these issues with EVERY community: Asian, African American, Hispanic, etc. As for being condescending, that's not my intent and I apologize if it appears that way it. And I'm sorry if you think people are coming after you. I AM aggressively challenging your views.

    Respectfully though, I think you're refusing to see the points that I or Brian am making. (Although he can speak for himself.)

    I agree that African Americans can be bigots, but what I have asked is that we STOP make generalizations about an entire class of people based upon the actions of some people. If you want to take individual African American bigots to task, go ahead. I don't think I've ever written anything suggesting that we gloss over bigotry from African Americans.

    Landon, the fact that in your experience you don't see African Americans challenging anti-gay bias doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. As I said earlier, I think you are drawing a curve from the data points you have. I understand that to some extent, but what I am trying to get you to see is that there might be, can be, is often more data.

    If we use the "my experience is" test without pausing to acknowledge that we have a bias or that our experience may be incomplete, we can come to the wrong conclusion. I could tell you about the number of racist experiences that I've had. I've been the victim of attempted racial assaults by white people. Would it be true to say that a lot of white gay men have said and done some really jacked up stuff? Oh yeah. I could argue based on those experiences that most white people are racist. Could that be true? Maybe, but it would be foolish of me to draw a conclusion solely from my experiences AND to label all white people as racist without leaving open the possibility that I might be wrong.

    My mother, a Catholic, is supportive. Our relationship is the same as it was before I came out. My aunts are cool with my sexual orientation. My dad was cool. The black people with whom I've worked have been cool. My last boss was an African American minister who looked me up on the internet BEFORE he hired me and knew I was gay. Each African American female co-worker has been pro-gay. I worked at a company that was largely African American and there were openly gay people at the company with no issues. One actually was elevated to very senior position when I left. While some African Americans may have an issue with gay equality, there are plenty that don't. Just because you don't know them or see them does not mean they do not exist.

    This is at the heart of what really bothers me about your posts. It appears that you want to charge me (and other black people) for the actions of some black bigots and not treat us as individuals. You don't seem to see the incredibly problematical aspect of that world view.

    I am not responsible for the actions of any other black person and I'm not holding you accountable for the actions of any other white person. Do you want me to put you in the same pot as the white guy that tried to attack me? Should I hold you accountable for that or ask you what you've done about racist violence? No.

    I ask that you think about whether you really want a world where we are part of a group versus being individuals.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 8:51:00 PM

  21. "Brian and Brandon, you both write as though there were no difference between life for blacks under Jim Crow laws and life today..."

    No, life is not as it was under Jim Crow. The problem is that you are still assuming that Jim Crow = only relevant or important manifestations of racism. There is de facto segregation going on in the US today in 2009 (though don't misunderstand me here--this is not the "LGBT community's" fault, though many of us participate in social practices that reinforce it).

    "...gays live under Jim Crow laws that make sure that we are always aware of our second class status."

    Yes gays are second-class citizens; they are living under a regime ANALOGOUS but not IDENTICAL to Jim Crow--but there has been progress on the sexuality front as well. And there are plenty of ways, I, as a black man am made aware of my second-class status. I am told on a regular basis that black lives are not as valuable as white ones. I wish people took that more seriously--and I do hear plenty of people, including gays, rationalizing (sometimes enthusiastically applauding) the practices that make this possible. In fact, for many blacks, homophobia and hyper-masculinity is a (sick) way for some black men to have some sense of humanity in a society that constantly degrades them. So, sadly, our illnesses reinforce each other.

    "Show me where you are engaging African American bigots with the same level of energy you have thrown at me (and I'm not nearly the racist you think I am).

    Anyone? Anyone?"

    I actually resent this question. Why? Most white gays have superficial knowledge of blacks and the black community, and yet feel the confidence to do these accusatory interrogations about what blacks have been doing ("show me this," "show me that"). At my university, I participated in the black worship service which was under the leadership of the pastor and myself an overtly queer-inclusive space. She and I confronted homophobia from the pulpit to the predominantly black parishioners. I confront black homophobes on message boards often. And you should know, I don't OWE you a response to that question.

    I will say that much of the work in the black community takes place behind the scenes without the benefit of large, multi-million dollar non-profits. You have to dig a little deeper than the mainstream media or the Advocate to know what's going on in the black community. Progress is slow, and I do critique some of the tactics of these organizations. But after only getting information on the black community from the mainstream outlets, who do many white gays and lesbians often take an arrogant, "omniscient" posture towards the black community about what is and is not happening?

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 7, 2009 9:47:31 PM

  22. But, Brandon, when the president behaves in ways which are predictable based on his culture and which are bigoted against me-- When he appoints no open gays or lesbians to his cabinet-- When he consistently makes me feel that he prefers people who are viciously homophobic to gay people who in way any "flaunt" their sexuality-- When it really matters that Leah Daughtry and Donna Brazile are not rewarded for their hostility toward equality for gays with greater decision making power-- When the new head of the DNC promises to be even worse on gay issues than Howard Dean-- And the only thing that people seem to care about is the purely symbolic Rick Warren thing-- And you do not address my basic contention that it is ridiculous to go after me rather than any genuine black homophobes--

    Let me answer the question I would ask me if I were you, "So what? What would it matter if African Americans were more bigoted against gays than whites? Other than racism, is there any reason to keep harping on this issue?"

    And I would say that there are a couple of reaons. One I think you will understand: the more powerful a group of people, the more dangerous their bigotry becomes. White people are the most dangerous bigots in the US not because white people are inherently more bigoted but because they have more power. African Americans are gaining more power. It is a legitimate interpretation that powerful homophobic forces are trying to use this increase of power to hold back the civil rights of blacks. The top African American leadership is largely impeccable on gay issues, but they are often ignored.

    Actually, I think white racism is what makes black homophobia so dangerous right now. White men need to someone engaging in masculine behavior that is more aggressive than we are allowed to enjoy. We make up for this by fetishizing this behavior in black men. White men want to be more violent than we are, so we talk about how violent black men are. White men wanted to be more blatantly misogynist than we were allowed to be, so we bought a lot of black rappers talking about pimps and hos. And they want to hold on to their homophobia.

    So Mars and Nike make ads that use African American actors to mouth anti-gay messages

    And Fox News tries to get gays to blame blacks for Prop 8 (and some idiot gays listen!!!!!!!!!)

    And Barack Obama says something apparently contradictory: Rick Warren, who compares gays to pedophiles, is worthy of a place of honor at the American table (a place of honor much, much higher than Obama has shown any sign of considering giving to an actual gay person), but we are to "disagree without being disagreeable." Thousands of Americans have asked the question, "How is comparing gays to pedophiles not disagreeable?" We've been asking it for weeks. And he has made no response. No gay staffer has been delegated to draft a letter or make any overture to the gay community. I've gotten at least three emails asking that I contribute money to pay for the inauguration, but nothing that indicates that Obama has noticed that the election left gays emotionally battered. I know we don't matter very much, but maybe they should have kept Michelle as emissary to the gays and had her send us a vaguely supportive New Year's message instead of having her beg us to pay for a party that will be in part about how much a lot of people hate us.

    Anyway, even though we can blame the dominant culture for the extent to which antisocial elements were blown up in gangsta rap, it still became important to point out those antisocial elements and to combat them. Boys were being taught to treat girls worse, and it was important to beat misogyny further below the surface in hiphop.

    It's equally important now to beat homophobia further below the surface in African American political discourse.

    And that was genuinely condescending, I know it was, but you have invested so much in the dialogue that I want to be as honest as possible. So I apologize for my condescension, for my tendency toward hyperbole, and for my bigotry. AVENUE Q got "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" right, and one reason I engage in this dialogue is try to purge myself of thoughts which come much closer to racism than I am comfortable with.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 10:18:12 PM

  23. Landon, if most whites had posted something along the lines of what you just posted, we would be much further along in this dialogue. Thank you for you willingness to engage this subject.

    There are a myriad of problems among black Americans and in black consciousness--trust me, it's not just this issue. What I think black queer people are looking for is some sign that white queer people will not reinforce racism, racist imagery and racist stereotypes when they are talking about blacks and homophobia BECAUSE THIS HURTS US TOO. And being careful about your rhetoric is important because at the end of the day LGBTs will sabotage their own efforts if they are reinforcing racism.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 7, 2009 11:29:21 PM

  24. BRANDON,

    i think that you misperceived my point regarding "religiosity". i was using the term not to represent frequency of church attendance, but rather, as a measure of how religion impinges on secularism and civil rights. it can be argued that religiosity plays a large part in the doling out of human rights, here and elsewhere.

    however, internecine fighting bears only bad fruit. i am inclined to accept the conciliatory approach that LANDON BRYCE and BRIAN have adopted.

    please, please! queers of every stripe, we are not each others' enemies. there is much ground that we can share.

    Posted by: nic | Jan 8, 2009 1:29:21 AM

  25. This "study" may make people feel good but it just doesn't add up. I typed a long comment about this story yesterday talking about how glad I was that the exit poll had been debunked and the truth had come out. It made me feel good to think that the exit poll numbers had been exaggerated yet something that I couldn't explain kept me from posting my comment. Something just didn't feel right so I went to the "study" and looked at the "data" that they claimed to use to come to their conclusions and it became immediately and sadly clear that their methodology sucked and their conclusions were extremely suspect.

    This study was clearly done to back up a desired conclusion rather than to get to the truth. It was intended to smooth over the rift between the gay and black communities but I think it does more harm than good because it gives us false information and distracts us from the addressing issues that need to be addressed, both in the African-American community and in the gay community.

    Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin noticed the same irregularities and questionable conclusions in the "study" that I did and posted about it on his blog. It's worth taking a look at before taking this "study" at face value.

    Posted by: Doesn't add up! | Jan 8, 2009 12:56:14 PM

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