Black Folks and Gay “Civil” Rights

(Guest blogger – Staci)

I’ve heard many anecdotes regarding the reluctance of the Black community to get behind the LGBT people and their fight for rights.  Generally, these supposed reasons are assumed to be based in religion and adherence to the scripture.  We’ve been chastised, ridiculed and even endured attempts at shame – to motivate movement towards their belief that gay rights equates to civil rights.  Here is the issue for me and many that I know.  To compare the challenges that gay people endure to the atrocities that Black people experienced, borders on insult.  Any possible compassion flies right out the window when someone is attempting to convince us that these are two concepts with a common basis.  How can they possibly be on the same plane? People who are gay have not experienced the systematic challenges that the black community faced for hundreds of years. How can one use the same argument when you self identify as gay, but one glance identifies ethnicity?  At what point in time was it punitive to teach a gay person to read or have that same person recognized as 3/5th of a person and in fact, to be referred to as cattle and/or property and sold as such?  How many families have been broken up and sold apart because of sexual identification?

I fully understand that there are some asshole folks out there that get their “fun” antagonizing people strictly due to sexual orientation, but generally, there is no risk of loss of life.  Conversely, there was a time in history where this same “fun” ended the life of a black person and instilled enough fear to make entire families pack up and move under the cloak of darkness.

To my friends in the gay community that are trying to change minds and hearts – maybe think about changing your methods.  Most people understand fair vs. unfair and can get behind it.  To say that not having the right to marry somebody of the same sex is the same as the rights to equal and fair housing, education or the rights to be treated as a human being, will only continue to alienate the support that may be gained with a different argument.


16 thoughts on “Black Folks and Gay “Civil” Rights

  1. Wow, how cool to post a comment at Staci instead of the other way around.

    Great post, Staci. It has me thinking. One thing that just popped to mind is the tendency by a lot of groups, the gay community in this example, to exaggerate or dramatize their problems or issues to draw attention to them. I’m working on a post about Glenn Beck and the religious community and in reading some of his crap, he takes everything to the extreme. Extreme…where did I get that from. If you look at cable news, they go freakin nuts with certain stories, it’s very much like an obsessive/compulsive disorder. The day that the Shirley Sherrod story broke and for a few days after that, it was like there was no other news. I heard Ted Koppel on NPR make this point about that affair. He said something like, was that really the most important story that happened that day? Of course not, the president signed the most comprehensive financial regulatory system overhaul since the Great Depression, but if you blinked, you missed that story.

    So when gay rights activists equate their fight for equal rights with those of black Americans, it’s quite a bit over-the-top in my opinion.

  2. Staci…..really excellent piece!

    In 2008 when Prop 8 came to my attention, I supported the LGBT community on my [old]blogs.

    Last year when the LGBT community showed visible annoyance, and began attacking Obama, I have to say, I was a little put off. Nevertheless, I posted in their favor on Huffpost until the day they began comparing their situation to the plight of the black slaves. I responded as kindly as I could, with much the same points as are in your post, and holy sky fairy, I got slammed by fifty people. A couple of them even attacked me in totally unrelated threads weeks later.

    I still care, but I gotta admit, I am put completely put off by this particular argument, and by their need to blame Obama.

    Anyhoo, thanks for listening. :)

  3. Jim: Many thanks for letting me have a say on your space. I’ve been out all day (maybe purposely), and this is my first chance to take a look. I was fully expecting to get smashed, so it’s not so bad as I had imagined. :-)

    Nicole: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Staci: Give them time, they will find it. It comes in waves sometimes. I’m anxious for your next post. I have a post I’ve been holding back so yours can stay at the top.

  5. I really have to disagree with this one staci. I’m sorry but gays actually have had to go through worse things than black people and have had no protections considering that jobs can still freely fire them at will with a high percentage of the time being no repercussions. Also I’ve heard statements like black people have had to go through the worse of any other culture, etc. Simply not true at all and to say that is an insult in many ways to other cultures.

    For example the Native American’s too have have faced massive oppression hell their was a blog here that showed that many of their women were getting raped by non-natives and had to deal with the pain of not being prosecuted. Gays for the longest time would get beaten down, murdered, etc and the authorities would do virtually nothing about it and when they did it wouldn’t be prosecuted as a hate crime. If a white man or otherwise did the same thing to a black man or woman many occasion it would most certainly be prosecuted as a hate crime.

    So to say that gays never had to put up with nearly the same things as African American’s… Well thats pretty ignorant considering that many neighborhoods would openly show that gays are not welcome, some wouldn’t even allow them to buy houses in their area. They also would move as you say in the cover of darkness.

    And for you to say that gays don’t have the risk of getting killed is ignorantly laughable. Yes they do and as a matter of fact have had it happen on many of occasion.

    Sorry I guess I’m going to have to vent some where else about this. I’m not gay but I understand that they’ve had to dealt with a lot of discrimination and hate. I also had friends that got beaten down for simply being gay.

  6. Jeff, I’m sure Staci will weigh in on this but I have to totally disagree with you. “gays have had to go through worse things than black people”….that is just crazy talk. Gay people for the most part have been in the closet for decades, centuries and sure, they had to suffer keeping their true feelings to themselves but they weren’t hung from trees, houses burned down and murdered as if animals. There is no comparison between the two.

    Native Americans did suffer slaughter and very similar things as blacks in America and one could make the claim that those two are similar.

    But I think Staci is right to say the two are not the same, if we just look at the numbers of gays killed versus the number of blacks killed……huge difference.

  7. You have got to be high to make such an asinine statement that “I’m sorry but gays actually have had to go through worse things than black people”. I’m flippin’ flabbergasted. Just some basic history – black people, by and large, were brought to this country in the bottom of slave ships, packed like sardines. Some didn’t even make it, some died of illness and disease and, in my opinion, the most unlucky of them actually survived the journey. They were beaten, sold, worked, raped, killed, terrorized all added to the suffering the decimation of their families at rates probably only experienced by the Jews. Are you fuckin’ kidding me? Gay people have had some ugly shit happen to them, but you should never display the ignorance stated above to another living human being.

  8. yeah and gays were burned and tortured, murdered and killed for what being gay? Are you serious!?!?! You made the asinine statement that gays just have to deal with a couple of assholes and btw many black civilizations held slaves aka Egypt so stop with the sob stories all rights? I’m not down grading what blacks had to go through in our nation it was a terrible thing and should never have happened.

    However YOU should never ever show the amount of ignorance by down playing what homosexuals as a whole had to go throughout history. A lot of gays were tortured beaten killed and everything else imaginable. Yet many seem to down play that and say oh well they made their choice what they went through is so much different than what blacks or latinos or natives had to go through because well they made a choice.

    However I’ve come to the realization that I’m pretty not sure if I’m going to come here much anymore for one simple reason. I don’t like to be abused for stating an opinion. Your entitled to think that blacks have had it rougher than any nationality or sexuality but I’m entitled to say that many blacks including whites, etc have beaten and treated gays in the worse possible way imaginable.

    Another thing to say that people don’t leave the neighborhood if they’re gay, actually they have as I said many can and are discriminated against and much of the law allowed it for a long time. I mean imagine if blacks or other races weren’t allowed to serve in the military? Well that still applies for gays and has for all of our history. Gee African American’s have been serving in our military for how long?

    Sorry if I wont bow and scrape for you staci but maybe you should open your eyes and realize that the world doesn’t owe you a favor. I made a mistake in stating that gays have always had it rougher than blacks, not true your right but you made the mistake in saying that all they have to deal with is a couple of jerks. Tell that to a friend of mine who was raped and murdered for the simple fact of being gay.

  9. I’m still looking for the place where I stated that gays only had to deal with a couple of jerks. If you’re going to engage, don’t lie.

    Let’s see the links from ALL the gays that have been burned and tortured in history. Just in the last 100 years, dude. I won’t even ask for data beyond that point. Without being facetious at all, show me the time in history where it was legal and accepted to not only mistreat gay people, but you could actively engage in terrorism, enslavement and murder and it was accepted by the government, the courts and general public. Show me where gay people have been denied education and housing and it was legal. Show me where gay people were actually put upon blocks for sale with their body parts being examined as if THEY WERE FUCKIN’ ANIMALS. Show me all of the gay people who have had their families broken apart and put up for sale. How about the ones that were raped and then forced to bear their rapist children – let’s see some links about them.

    You’re an old school idiot if you think this has anything to do with bowing and scraping to me or anybody else. It’s facts – pure and simple. I won’t even address your “point” about Egypt. Would it make you feel better if I stated that I know that many black people were sold into slavery by other black people? If so, there ya go, but that doesn’t have jackshit to do with the conversation at hand. Gay people are outed by other gay people all the time. Again, that doesn’t have jackshit to do with this conversation either.

    Okay, now you’re making shit up talking about neighborhoods. Again, point out to me where I made any statement even close to what you’re saying. Keep on with shit like that, and I’ll just think you’re a liar and ignore you. I don’t have to “imagine” black people not being able to serve in the military. Read a little history, honey. It will do the mind good. Then come back and talk to me about their service and the treatment received in this same military they were putting their lives on the line for. I can hear the DADT stuff right now, so no need to bring it up, okay. I’m guessing that will be your argument. You know, part of your problem is that you think this conversation is about what we’re entitled to say vs. what has already been documented to have happened. One is not entitled to facts, only opinions.

    Lastly, let me tell you something, dude. You don’t know me. To state that I think anybody owes me anything is bullshit of monumental proportions. I have worked since I was 14-1/2 years old – 35 years for those that can’t do the math with very little time spent unemployed until now. I’ve raised two successful, productive members of society – one of which will be getting her Master’s next Saturday and the other holding two Bachelor Degrees, a Master Degree and was granted a full scholarship to law school based on a 169 out of 180 LSAT. I fuckin’ paid for a lot of that – me, NOT THE GOVERNMENT.

    Lastly, a bit late to acknowledge it, but you totally missed the entire point of the post. I’ll pass on that one because the arguments you’re putting up now, to me, are much more reflective of the mindset of middle America and you are the guys that are dangerous to any progressive movement in this country.

  10. I guess whenever people pit two groups against each other or try to make equivalences between the two, it’s bound to become polarized. I think the gay community crossed a line when they started comparing their plight with that of black Americans and civil rights, particularly when they talk about slavery. The major difference that I see is one of the points Staci made, “one glance identifies ethnicity”. It is true, one can’t keep the color of their skin in the closet.

    Staci’s original point and the reason for the post, I think, is that the gay community has been chastising blacks for not seeing their struggle as the same as the civil rights struggle, which offends black people. There are some similarities for sure, discrimination, violence, lack of access to certain services (hospital visitation which our awesome president changed) and all sorts of other similarities. And Nazi Germany did round up gay people and murder them and there are other examples of that. But really, if you look at the totality of what blacks have gone through over 300 years, which Staci clearly pointed out, I find it very hard to compare it to what gay Americans have gone through. For the hundred and fifty plus years that blacks were slaves, how many gay people lived in the big house on those plantations (probably in the closet), how many gays where actually slave masters during that time, how many gays lived peaceful, prosperous lives (probably in the closet) while those slaves were being whipped, beaten, raped and forced to work until their backs exploded? How many were in the big house looking out the window at these slaves? During those 150 years, how many times was a black person in the big house looking out at gays being beaten, whipped and working in chains while their mothers and daughters were being raped?

    I’ve always been taught and firmly believe that every individual, no matter what their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, disability, looks, or whatever…should be treated equally. We should all be fighting for every individual’s right…no matter the “group” they belong to. As soon as any group, whether black or gay starts comparing their plight to some other group, that’s when the individual disappears. False equivalencies cause people to recoil, become defensive and often revert to prejudices against whatever group is on the opposite side of the argument. That’s the rub….it should be about individuals rights, every person deserves to be treated equally.

    The last point I’ll make on this is that it is a Republican tactic to divide and conquer, Fox News and other right wingers have made a concerted effort to do just that with blacks and whites. Once they succeed in placing people in groups, categorizing them, generalizing about them, lying about them…that’s when the individual disappears and the stereotype takes over. It’s much easier to attack a stereotype than a person.

  11. My original point was that if the gay community wants more support from black people, their argument will have to change from ‘we have the same history so you guys should back us’. That’s it in a nutshell. The argument that is currently being used by the gay community is doing them more harm than good, and if they want to change minds they should understand the audience.

  12. well the sad fact is that its still legal in many areas to discriminate against gays while with african american’s, etc it isn’t.

    They also have gotten pretty heavily prosecuted by the african american, latino, community. I hate to say that but its true.

  13. Jeff: Are you aware that here in Chicago, the racism within the gay community has accelerated to the point that there are actually two separate Gay Pride parades? It seems that not only is the gay community being discriminated against, they do a fair amount of discriminating themselves. For sure, I don’t think gay people have been “prosecuted” by any ethnic group, but they have certainly been persecuted by the Christian Right and the Bible Belt. I’ve never argued that there are unfair practices in place that clearly go against the gay community, but your argument that they are somehow this downtrodden and suppressed group who have been mistreated more than ANY of the ethnic groups is flat out goofy.

  14. don’t live in Chicago… Its also true though I have more than a couple of black friends that also have agreed with me. It is goofy but it is actually true.

    As for discriminating themselves well a lot of groups do that. They are people too as some might forget.

  15. I don’t understand the segregation of human rights- you know, the rights humans have in this country. That would include marriage. Just because the level of discrimination is “not as bad,” doesn’t mean it does no harm. That’s like being raped “a little.”

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