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Do African-Americans Have 'Special Responsibility' To Support Equality?

GayblackIn an opinion piece at the New York Daily News today, John McWhorter, author of the provocative book Losing The Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, argues that though African-Americans' opinions on gay rights are basically on par with the rest of the nation, they have a greater obligation to stand up for equality.

From that piece, called "Gay Really Is The New Black:"

The percentage of blacks who favor gay marriage is about the same now as the percentage of whites, according to a Pew poll taken during the last election season. "One of the striking results in the 2012 exit polls was the support for legalizing gay marriage among black voters," that poll noted.

However, rising support isn't enough — we must keep going. When Michael Richards spouted the N-word on stage, he was shamed by the nation for weeks. It won't do for Tracy Morgan to get a mere slap on the hand for crowing that he would stab his son if he turned out to be were gay.

As a consequence of its painful heritage, black America has a special responsibility: to be further ahead of the curve than whites on accepting gay people as full citizens.

The Bible cannot be used as an excuse to hold us back. We should remember that racists once also appealed to the Bible to justify segregation, slavery and all manners of hatred. Let's be progressive for real this time around.

McWhorter goes on to say the real test will come when a closeted black celebrity comes out, someone really A-list. "Wanda Sykes, Don Lemon and rapper Frank Ocean have been noble pioneers — but then again, none are megastars or play romantic parts," he writes.

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  1. FYI - MANY Gays and Lesbians Marched with Blacks for THEIR civil Rights before Gays/lesbians Rights were ever even Imagined!!!!

    Posted by: disgusted american | Jan 24, 2013 3:19:28 PM

  2. Silly to analogize trying to gain acceptance of homosexuality and male intimacy in society, which is essentially a CULTURAL battle.....with the civil rights movement, which was and is something very different.

    If we are successful, the end result will be a society in which men are perfectly free to pursue any kind of social, emotional, and sexual bond with each other without being stigmatized by other short, to liberate ourselves from any kind of dependence on women and to eliminate a culture that has created that artificial dependence by encouraging distance between men instead of closeness.

    In a very real sense, then, our battle is with ourselves and each other--"gay" is nothing but a construct that is ultimately meaningless since it suggests a hard and fast divide between "gay" and "straight" which is not an accurate description of reality.

    By contrast, "black" and "white" was and is very much a hard and fast divide and remains so in many ways, culturally, socially, and politically--and almost surely always will remain a issues involving race are more about negotiating the conflicts that arise between different groups of short it is about inter-relations, whereas our issue is about intra-relations.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 24, 2013 3:28:37 PM

  3. @"FYI - MANY Gays and Lesbians Marched with Blacks for THEIR civil Rights before Gays/lesbians Rights were ever even Imagined!!!!"

    Yes, but we don't know what percentage of White Gays supported the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and we'll never know.

    When I first met White Gays in the 1970s they were the ones who hung out in integrated settings, and they were friendly and supportive. I thought all White Gays were like them. My Black Gay friends told me, "Oh, no, Miss Thing". As the decades went by I found out my friends were right.

    Let's not start romanticizin' ourselves away from reality. There were White Gays who supported Dr King and the Movement. And there were those who did not.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 24, 2013 3:38:41 PM

  4. @Derrick The mistake you make is that, like most gay men, you define "friendliness" in another gay man as "is he physically attracted to me or not"?

    If you really want to face reality, most gay men are "friendly" to other gay men only if they are physically attracted to them, regardless of race or any other consideration. They tend to be pretty hostile towards other gay men they don't find physically attractive. Part of this is not "devious"--it is just a practical way of dealing with things--we all know that if you act "friendly" towards another gay guy, he is going to assume that you are attracted to him, so if you don't want a mis-understanding and a lot of unpleasantness that goes with such mis-understandings, it is better just to be "cold" from the outset so as not to lead the other guy on, At the same time, though, some of the unfriendliness is just a reflection of a gay male culture in which physical attractiveness is everything and the only thing that matters in the social pecking order.

    So how does this all relate to race and "friendliness"? The way it relates is that most white guys simply are not attracted to black guys in general, for whatever reason, so much of the "unfriendliness" you refer to is just a reflection of that, rather than racism, per se.

    But it is easier to just call it "racism" than it is to deal with the hurt the lack of attraction causes, isn't it?

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 24, 2013 3:59:00 PM

  5. David why should black people have special awareness?Why are there different rules for black people?Gay people down have special awareness about anything.What Andy wrote might not sound good but it's true.

    Posted by: James | Jan 24, 2013 4:01:09 PM

  6. Nobody take Rick's bait. He's just a troll, and not worth the time.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jan 24, 2013 4:10:46 PM

  7. I second Mateom. You'll save a lot of time in your life if you scan who posted a comment and ignore it accordingly.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 24, 2013 4:14:11 PM

  8. "@Derrick The mistake you make is that, like most gay men, you define "friendliness" in another gay man as "is he physically attracted to me or not"?"

    Say what? Oh, no, no, no. I couldn't even read the rest of your comment before responding to your first sentence.

    Miss Thaing, I was fortunate enough that the first White Gays I meant were members of that "Culture of Effeminacy" you're always yapping about. I enjoyed their company because of all those so-called stereotypical interest we had in know, like Barbra Streisand.

    During that time I only had sex with the guys off the streets of my neighborho...

    See, you almost got me again. Got me talkin' about my sex life in ancient times. Something that no sane soul here could be interested in.

    You leave me the alone, Rick.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 24, 2013 4:14:16 PM

  9. Hey, David Hearn and Disgusted American:

    ...think Rick would've been a homo for Negroes' civil rights back then?

    See what I'm talking about?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 24, 2013 4:16:17 PM

  10. @Lil' C*UNT,

    Why do you think 'Irish' and 'Polish' are against Asians [Chinese ,Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and so-on], or 'Latinos'? That's a ridiculous thing to say as a base for an argument. And it's untrue.

    My best friend's 'Irish' [American] father growing up went out of his way to learn and master Spanish language so he could easily communicate and relate better to Spanish speaking people in the neighborhoods where he predominately serviced for UPS. I had and have 'Latino' and 'Asian' friends and had them growing up in my mixed neighborhood[s]. There was little to no problems as you suggest.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 24, 2013 4:44:52 PM

  11. This whole article it troll-bait. It cheapens the meaning of diversity by assuming that understanding racism means you should understand homophobia.

    Posted by: Charles | Jan 24, 2013 4:54:22 PM

  12. Oh, Ratbastard, please. Kiwi's talking about the HISTORY of immigrants coming to the US (probably elsewhere also) and the treatment they received from those that came before them.

    Bein' from Bean Town(a major immigrant destination) you knew that.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 24, 2013 4:55:55 PM

  13. Derrick- Do people have the right to freedom of association? I ask because I suspect that a good deal of what you regard as "racism" falls into the category of association.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Jan 24, 2013 5:03:17 PM

  14. "If gay people had been instrumental in furthering African American rights . . ."

    Bayard Rustin comes to mind, among others.

    Oddly though this same argument could be applied to the Mormon church.

    Posted by: melvin | Jan 24, 2013 5:07:29 PM

  15. James -

    "David why should black people have special awareness?"

    Because they have a great deal of experience in being discriminated against.

    "Why are there different rules for black people?"

    There aren't. Having expertise in a subject causes awareness. That's not a different set of rules, as I implied all decent people have an obligation to support equal rights under the law. Blacks, have a special awareness of the impact of not having those rights.

    "Gay people down have special awareness about anything."

    I think we do. I think that gay men in particular have a special awareness, a radar if you will, of being sized up as prey in the workplace, on the street, in school, or anywhere else we are outnumbered.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Jan 24, 2013 5:09:18 PM

  16. @ Melvin

    Exactly. Bayard Rustin.


    Posted by: Rowan | Jan 24, 2013 5:17:08 PM

  17. @Charles: Anyone who truly deeply understands or has understood racism (MLK and Coretta Scott King, Desmund Tutu, Mandela, Bayard Rustin, et al) certainly does understand that it is not inherently more special or less harmful than any other form of hatred or sense of superiority over others such as homophobia and sexism.
    The reverse is also true.
    There are people in any given group in the world whose concern over discrimination is about nothing more than selfishly getting more for themselves at the expense of others, but they are not bright people like the ones I named, and they do not have any more than a superficial understanding.

    Posted by: GregV | Jan 24, 2013 5:20:03 PM

  18. Melvin Bayard Rustin was a black man.He would have been apart of the civil rights movement if he was str8.

    Posted by: James | Jan 24, 2013 5:21:32 PM

  19. Ah, Rick, such myopia. Nothing about women in your statements about this subject, just men. Almost like women don't exist unless you are screeching about how we're their toys.

    If it wasn't so sad, it would be humorous.

    Posted by: johnny | Jan 24, 2013 5:37:21 PM

  20. The vast majority of black people that I encounter are so ignorant when it comes to gay issues and are incredibly prejudiced. Not only that, many have no problem being outspoken about hating gays. It's encouraged in hip hop culture and isn't going away anytime soon.

    Posted by: Sean | Jan 24, 2013 5:41:31 PM

  21. @David Hearne. Bulding on your your point about the right to freedom of association, and applying it to straight people, I guess that a lot of what gay people call "homophobia" falls into the category of association as well.

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 24, 2013 8:11:53 PM

  22. I can't wait to hear what Art Smith. Scott Johansen, Klein, Greg Cali, 2Dads, Dynex, Genuine Corel, YogabGaba, Artie, Good Carver, et al have to say on this topic. Do you think that they will be coming out tonight Little Kiwi???

    Posted by: andrew | Jan 24, 2013 8:41:50 PM

  23. @SEAN That says more about your limited experience with black people than anything else.
    @Rick Not all black gay men are snow queens chasing after white guys.I would just like to be a gay event and not be ask why am I there because there really not any of "my kind " here.

    Posted by: James | Jan 24, 2013 8:59:10 PM

  24. Lawd a mercy.

    FTR, I would say that they have a responsibility just like anyone else but the the minority/minority relationship (pick the minority on both sides of the slash) have acted more like "crabs in a barrel" than bosom political buddies and the historical and anthropological record shows that.

    I will say this, some straight black people are the best and most outspoken advocates for gay equality that the gays can have.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jan 24, 2013 9:44:30 PM

  25. I'll put it plainly. I used to fervently care about the plight of victims of racism. Later on, I had to deal with homophobia, largely from African American peers. After that, I gave much less of a damn what they had to deal with.

    Posted by: JJ | Jan 24, 2013 11:10:47 PM

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