Since yesterday was the one-year anniversary of this blog, I wanted to re-post my first political piece that ran last year on National Coming Out Day, October 11, “Pink Suit and Gators to Match.” (It was a Sunday last year, thus the last line.)
And once again, this year, I want to show my continuing support as a straight ally of the LBGT community, and let them know, I’ve got their back. I hope you will join me today in showing your support as well. Whatever your sexual orientation, please stand for the rights of others–on this day and all days. Because one day, you may need somebody to stand for you.
“Pink Suit and Gators to Match”
I was on Facebook yesterday, and my status was “repping” National Coming Out Day, a day that, among other things, should be about having conversations that lead to a better understanding of what it means to be an LGBT person. I’ve been aware of National Coming Out Day since graduate school, but this is the first time I’ve been involved—and I can’t really say changing my Facebook status is some act of sedition.
I mean, just how courageous is it for me to say I’m a “straight ally” of the LGBT community from the anonymous locale of my computer? I’m not the one exposing myself to the scrutiny of anyone. I could be sitting in my underwear typing (not that I’m doing that, of course!) and no one would know the difference.
Then, within minutes of my status change on Facebook, I received a comment from one of my family members, making fun of me because I was supporting this cause. I don’t know why he even started, because I am known in my clan for keeping a figurative switchblade in my pocket at all times. I tried to be nice, though, while letting him know I didn’t appreciate his ignorance and that he needed to get right.
And that’s when I realized, not only do you expose yourself to ridicule, at best, and physical attack, at worst, by living openly as a LGBT person, you expose yourself by even supporting the LGBT lifestyle.
Let me break this down even further: you better not be black, doing either one of the above.
Now, I love being a black person. I wouldn’t be anything else if you paid me ten million dollars. I mean that sincerely. I love the way we talk. I love the food we eat. I love the way black people, no matter how educated and well-off we get, know how to get buck-wild and dance and have a good time. (Ok, seriously, we don’t call a wine and cheese gathering a “party.” Somebody’s deodorant must stop working in order for a party to have taken place, and somebody else’s hair has to go back.) I love that we have survived the overwhelming historical odds against us, and many of us are even thriving, all reports to the contrary.
And I love the fact that, on Sunday mornings, you are liable to see five Negroes (men) in pink suits and gators to match, stepping into church. Two of them will have bowlers on in the same shade. At least one will have a head of freshly-done, relaxed fingerwaves.
Black folks can be sweet people some times, infuriating at other times, and homophobic at all times. Not all of us, mind you. But if a black person calls him or herself a Christian? Well, you can be sure he or she will be praying a gay person into Hell at least one Sunday a month. Martin Luther King said that 11AM on Sunday is the most segregated hour in America, and for Straight and Gay people in the black community, he certainly never lied.
Gay people are not tolerated in the African American church, and the pastors and congregation are open about that–and strangely proud about it. (Don’t get me started on my relatives!) Because a strong belief in God has brought black folks from that to this (to paraphrase the wonderful poet Lucille Clifton), this faith-driven hatred toward LGBT people of African descent has been very hurtful and even has ended in individual tragedy for many families.
This is only a blog; I don’t have any money to give and I’m not in charge of any policy making. But if you are reading this blog today, and you are a member of the African American community, or you are a multi- or bi-racial person with black relatives, please take today to spread this message of tolerance and love for LGBT people of African descent in particular, and to all LGBT people, of whatever ethnic background. Homophobia ain’t cute, y’all, and we need all the love we can get up in this piece.
It’s Sunday, so now, don’t let nobody step on your gators.