Tag Archives: Gay

Homosexuality doesn’t destroy families, homophobia does.

Homosexuality doesn’t destroy families, homophobia does.

People rest comfortably in the sentiment that they don’t ‘hate’ gay people. They simply feel that gay relationships are unnatural and that the people in them are confused. They don’t wish harm on gay people, just wish they’d stop being so burdensome on the psyche with their…presence.

“I don’t agree with your lifestyle, but that’s just my opinion,” they say, citing the usual suspects as reasons — religion, biology, zoology, and the always high-minded “eww” factor of gay sex. 

But you know what? I call bullshit.

Homophobia is a choice. And all the justifications for why you “disagree with that lifestyle” are rooted in an inability to imagine life outside of your own box. It would be different if homosexuality was linked to some degradation in society, much like violence and ignorance are. But it isn’t. It would be different if you had to be gay. But you don’t.

Gay people haven’t perverted marriage. Same-sex parents aren’t raising damaged children. On the contrary, people have been experts at ruining their own lives, and those around them, for centuries without help from the gays.

If you’re curious about what homophobia (and sexism) looks like, check this: Dr. Umar Johnson, “Educator, Psychologist, Political Scientist and Pan-Africanist,” according to his website, recently argued that overbearing Black single mothers are responsible for the existence of gay Black men. This is so dangerous.

And yet, so easily disproven. For example, I submit the [Magic] Johnson family. How does this happen, Dr. Johnson?

http://marcgordonshow.com/rich-kids-of-beverly-hills-star-ej-johnson-signs-with-wme-exclusive/

Fabulous son, E.J. Johnson, mama Cookie, daddy Magic. (Just so we’re clear: EJ flames, honey. He’s gay.)

Couldn’t be because people are, I don’t know…different? That even a father could be different from his son? The psychologist, scientist, and educator didn’t find this explanation in any of his life studies? Homophobia makes you blind to evidence that’s right before you.

Don’t let people with credentials consign your ignorance.

As National Coming Out Day approaches, I urge families to be better than their biases. Be better than your fears of the unknown. Be better than your disappointment about your expectations. I understand that you may never understand how a person could be into someone of the same gender. But consider this: It’s not about you.

I don’t understand how people can listen to Bob Dylan or consider Wiz Khalifa attractive, but that’s not my bag. I don’t have to understand it to respect it. To regard it. Homophobia is the opposite — because you don’t understand, you disrespect and disregard. There’s nothing noble about that, even if, in your rationalizing, you believe you’re doing the Lord’s work. One person’s salvation doesn’t depend on another’s, does it? I only went to Vacation Bible School for the snacks and the $20 my parents gave me, so I could be wrong.

Even if I am though, how do you know that my spiritual convictions aren’t just as strong as yours? Don’t assume faith has to look the same; don’t assume family has to look the same. Don’t assume life has to look the same. It does not.

Remember that few rational people would risk family shame, abandonment, and judgment by coming out if it wasn’t something they felt compelled to do.

If you find out this weekend that a loved one is gay, don’t let homophobia destroy your relationship. Be better than your fear of what you don’t know. Be better than your disappointment about your expectations.

Nobody’s going to talk to you about sex on the same day they come out. But if you find that that’s all you’re thinking about, then you’re dropping the ball. Snap out of it and get back to the person who just bore their soul to you. It’s about more than sex to them.

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You’re a Homophobe, Dude.

Check yourself.

Check yourself.

Last week, I ignored the comments made by San Francisco 49er, Chris Culliver, about how gays were unwelcome on his team, and unwelcome in his team’s locker room. I ignored them because, well, you just can’t fight every battle.  But then, a Facebook status popped up in my news feed, declaring that those who didn’t ignore Culliver’s comments were just sensitive to folks’ discomfort with homosexuality. There was a chorus of agreement with points like, “yeeees … enough with the political correctness,” and “I don’t hate gays…I just wish they’d go back into hiding….”

Right. Because that’s all we’re doing when we oppose discrimination, being politically correct. Moreover, prefacing statements with “I don’t hate gays…” and then going on to say some hateful shit is really a waste of energy.  Just say you do hate gays.  That way, you can at least be consistent in your logic.   You don’t have to reconcile how it is that one could not hate an individual, but merely wish that he or she remained in the margins of life -unprotected and invalidated, and unseen.  It wasn’t Chris Culliver’s brazen display of ignorance and immaturity that bothered me, it was the people who agreed, and tried to defend him that wouldn’t allow me to remain idle. Here’s what Culliver said:

“I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that …. Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.” Asked to reiterate his thoughts during the interview, Culliver dug deeper, stating that he wouldn’t welcome a gay teammate, no matter how talented. “Nah. Can’t be … in the locker room, nah,” he said. “You’ve gotta come out 10 years later after that.”

The reason what you’ve just read is stupid (which is an academic term, in my opinion) is because it’s based on an irrational fear – the urban legend of the gay man hemming up some unsuspecting hetero, and forcing him into submission. This is irrational because it’s heterosexual men who are responsible for most sexual advances – wanted and unwanted. Allow me to add some perspective by pointing out that I have several gay male friends, and only one of them has ever hit on a straight man. On the contrary, almost all of them have been propositioned at least once by a so-called straight man…

See, homophobia isn’t the fear of gay men and women, per se. In my view, it is a fear of how homosexuality challenges our traditional norms and conceptions of masculinity and femininity. I love the hypocrisy, for instance, when guys balk at the assertion that “all men” are the same of anything, but trot out their “man laws” in the very next breath — ascribing for all men an arbitrary litmus test of masculinity.

The problem with Chris Culliver’s comments, and homophobia in general, I guess, is that they assume so much that has no basis in fact. Culliver’s first assumption is that he’s never had a gay teammate before (folks, gay men play football too) and that he’s never been in close proximity (in a non-sexual way) with a gay man.  Secondly, he assumes that because a gay man is attracted to men, then he’s attracted to all men and is therefore a threat to heterosexual men.  By the same logic then, heterosexual men are a threat to all women. If you find this analogy acceptable, then it’s not gay men who should bear the brunt of your ire. It’s men. Generally speaking.  I maintain that this homophobia folks display so proudly says more about the wearer than the intended target.  Pardon me, but your ignorance is showing.

Additionally, I’m told I can’t be mad at a man for stating what he believes. It’s “his opinion,” they tell me.  Say what now!? I can’t judge an individual based on what he thinks and says? Only when you’ve allowed your biases to corrupt your good sense is this a viable argument. Cats gotta be responsible, at the very least, for what they say.   I agree that everyone is entitled to think and say what she or he feels.  However, once it’s out, the peanut gallery gets to respond. There’s that proverb that goes:  it is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt. In other words, I can think the world is flat all day long if I want to. It’s not though, no matter how assured I am in my opinion.

The reality is, friends, that gay people are gonna be gay whether you like it, believe in it, support it, or are comfortable with it. Like it or not, we live among you.  We are your neighbors, your teachers, your doctors, your trash people, your hair stylists, your choir directors, your classmates, your brothers, cousins, sisters, moms, dads, and daughters.  In a secular society like the one in which we live, there is no rationalization for homophobia.  Gay people want the same things heterosexual people want – peace, security, happiness, love, opportunity, and respect.  Thus, in this society wherein homos and homophobes seek to find common ground, I submit most sincerely to the latter:  check yourself.  It’s not us, it’s you. Grow up.

P.S. I won’t say Culliver’s poor performance in the biggest game of his life is karma being that bitch again. But prolly.


Ocean of Emotion

Ocean of Emotion

I don’t think Frank Ocean’s recent revelation about his first love is the ‘coming out’ story we’ve tried to make it.  I’ve maintained since the first time a woman’s love pulled at my own heartstrings, that sexuality is more fluid than fixed.

Frank Ocean’s is the first voice you hear on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch the Throne’ album.  He’s a rising star.  So when I read his tumblr post yesterday morning, I knew right away it would shake things up in the hip hop world.  Folks talked themselves in circles and worked themselves into a fury trying to define Ocean:  oh, so that n*gga gay now; he’s bi; he’s on the down low.  I don’t know if he is any of those things, but either way, I don’t think that was the point of the post.

Frank’s  “thank you’s” speaks to the complexity of human emotion.  His letter was a love story, not one of homosexual discovery.  That the object of Frank’s affection was a man isn’t inconsequential, I can admit that.  I understand how difficult it is socially and culturally for a young Black man in the hip hop world to admit feelings that his contemporaries would probably never admit to themselves, or find the courage to share with the world.  Frank took a tremendous leap to let a piece of his truth live.

The intimacy shared between Frank Ocean and his male friend is more layered than the one-dimensional identity public opinion is trying to force.  Frank’s letter offers a more interesting take on love, namely that it isn’t picky about social variables.  It doesn’t take race, religion, income, gender, or political affiliation into consideration when it settles in.  When it hits you, it hits you.  And there’s nothing you can really do about the feeling, or that you felt it.  Frank said it beautifully:  “By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.”  Yep, that’s how it goes.

The implications of same-sex attraction are always the hurdle.  But the attraction itself usually happens naturally.  And if you’ve never had one before, then your opinion lacks credibility on what it is, or what it feels like.  No one gets to decide for all of us what is and isn’t “natural.”  You just don’t.

Frank Ocean’s personal testimony is powerful because it’s so basic, and so common to the human experience.  Cats fall in love.  And for whatever reason, sometimes the cats they fall for can’t handle the pressure.  Frank’s story didn’t have to be activist to resonate.  It was a love story.  It was just a dude exposing his truth with personal freedom being the ultimate end.  That’s what makes the story all the more engrossing and courageous.

Frank’s letter and the reactions to it, also expose a few blind spots in our perceptions about sexuality and intimacy.  Attraction, in my experience, hasn’t been just about gender.  I accept that for most folks it is.  But sometimes gender is merely a variable, like good skin or pretty eyes.  Sometimes you fall for the person first, and his or her gender is an afterthought – a bridge you’ll cross when you come to it, if you ever have a need to.  Sometimes the love is all that matters.

Frank fell for a person who couldn’t fully reciprocate.  For Adam and Eve, or Adam and Steve, rejection is hard to take.  But four summers later, Frank had grown strong enough to share his secret and strong enough to move through it.  He’d grown strong enough to show, through his experience, that people are just people.  We have emotions and feel things we don’t expect.  But whether we expect them or understand them, doesn’t change the fact that they are.  They just are.

The ocean of emotion is vast.  If you find love out here – if you find someone who makes you feel genuine love and affection – you don’t look the gift horse in the mouth.   I’m grateful to Frank Ocean for being an ambassador of this idea.  I’m proud of him and I love him for his honesty and vulnerability.  In telling his story, he gives voice to many people who’ve experienced the same, but never had an ally.  Now they know.  People are just people, and we feel what we feel.  We just do.

 


“sometimes you gotta walk away and let em grow.”

i hope y’all don’t mind if i get personal for a moment. and truthfully, i probably shouldn’t write this now because the feelings are so fresh. but alas, here we are. you’re stuck with me.

the title of this post was actually a tweet that found its way into my timeline yesterday. i’ve used it probably four or five times in the last 24 hours. most recently, i used it in reference to my parents – two people from whom i never imagined i’d have to walk away.

but alas, here we are.

all my life, my family has been a proud family of three — just me, my mom, and my dad. after graduating from college and before i left home for graduate school, i lived with my parents for about two years. in that time, i grew to cherish the relationship that we’d built. my mom and i had found common ground; my dad and i talked endlessly about politics – we loved it. it was our thing, and i began to see that my dad respected my perspective. but more than that, my parents and i grew close. we loved each other, and we enjoyed each other. we liked being around one another.

i remember the day we gathered in my bedroom and watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on the tiny 13 inch tv my parents got me when I was, like, 9. that story was one i told for years. we had the works set up in the den – stereo surround sound, plasma screen mounted on the wall, a couch. yet, there we were. the three of us. smashed onto my childhood bed. watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on a 13 inch screen.

my mom has struggled for the last two years to wrap her mind around my life. and her struggle has manifest in some foul ways. to be sure, i’ve seen the face of ignorance and homophobia real close up. and it is ugly. aint nothing pretty or pleasing about it.

but i’d come to expect blowback from my mom. i know who she is. i know where she comes from. i know the people with whom she surrounds herself. i could handle her better because i understood that her sickness was about the limitations in her life experience. her perceptions of gay people and what gay life looks like were woefully flawed. but in her view, she was spot on. and not even close proximity to one whom she already knew as so many other things – in addition to gay – could penetrate that force field of ignorance. such is life. it sucked, but i could deal.

my dad though. his rejection. that rejection hurt. it hurt like i imagine it would have hurt if i was six and i’d watched him walk away, knowing he’d never come back. i idolized my father. he was the smartest, kindest, most wonderful man. but he had his deficiencies too.

my dad’s beef wasn’t that i like girls. he actually handled that news well, and with a remarkable degree of love, support, and grace. what he can’t seem to grasp, however, is that i refuse to permit disrespect and disregard for my happiness – no matter the source. lord knows i love my mama, but when she steps out of pocket, she’s not immune to being put back in place. he knows she’s wrong. knows how vitriolic her words can be. but insists unceasingly that “you gotta respect ya mama.” no, dad. no. respect is a two-way street. you don’t hold open the door the next time for the cat who spat in your face and stepped on your wingtips the last time.

unfortunately, my dad is the product of a different kind of ignorance. one which affords you the freedom to spread your wings, to explore, and go far – but not too far. it’s like he encouraged me, and gave me all the tools i’d need in order to be amazing. but wanted me to stop just short of being amazing. he wanted me to grow up and be an adult, but he wanted me to accept treatment not even befitting a child. he wanted me to accept treatment that was beneath the person he raised me to be. no, dad. no. i won’t do it.

and so here we are.

it took me 31 years to see my parents as people – as man and woman, and not only mama and daddy. that it took so long, i think, is a testament to the strength of our familial bond. but also, i suspect that i wasn’t yet strong enough to handle life without my rose-colored glasses. i needed time to grow a thicker skin.

i love my parents. i miss them. i live a great life, and, naturally, i want them to be part of it. but i won’t negotiate respect for love; my “lifestyle” for my parents. I shouldn’t have to choose. I should never have had to choose.

but sometimes you just gotta walk away and let ’em grow. because if you make me choose, then i choose me.


Coming Out: A Year Later

Folks came outta the woodwork with support. It meant the world to me. Thank you.

One year ago today I chose to endure whatever uncertainty lay ahead — whatever comforts I might lose, and the relationships that might be forever bruised so that I could live an authentic life.

My heart beat so fast, and determined as I was to say what I needed to say, the words felt stuck at every turn — in my chest, in my throat, on the tip of my tongue.  But I needed to say them.  I couldn’t go another second  in that closet.

And inauthenticity is that.  closet.  It’s stifling.  You can’t spread your wings in there.  You can’t blossom.

Telling my mom that I was “for all intents and purposes, gay” was the hardest conversation I’d ever had with anyone.  It was awkward.  And when she hung up on me, I knew that our relationship would never be the same.

But coming out to my parents was a necessary risk.  I’d grown exhausted with hiding parts of my life — significant parts and significant people, and the significant experiences we’d shared.  I’d built relationships that I was grateful for, and proud of.  But for years, I sacrificed celebrating the full joy of those relationships, fearful that my folks would find out.

The catalyst for my coming out day was a question about why I didn’t own any dresses or skirts.  My mom was aggressive in her incredulity about what, then, did I wear to work?  What did I wear on special occasions?  ”I don’t wear dresses,” I said.  In that moment, that statement affirmed for me and about me so much more than a sartorial choice.  I wasn’t the woman my mom had expected me to be, and the time had come for me to say that.  Coming out was about telling the truth — my truth.  For me, “I don’t wear dresses” also meant, “Mama, I like girls.”  I was breaking the ice.

My double life jig was up.  My parents needed to know the truth and I needed to live in the light, like, all the time.  I needed to not need to change my phone’s wallpaper every time I went home.  I needed to not need to explain why I was at Her house again, or why She was always with me.  I needed to not have to worry about whether a picture I posted, or something I said seemed suspect.

Every time I switched pronouns or pretended lovers were only friends for the sake of maintaining comfortable conversations, I devalued the sincerity of my emotions.  I reinforced the notion that there was something about my feelings that was shameful, that what I’d shared with the women I’d dated was less special because we were two girls.  Hiding was a personal conflict I could no longer ignore.  Love feels too good to not share and show off a little.  But how real could it be if I wouldn’t risk a little consternation to tell the world, “Nah, that’s my lady.  She’s much, much more than just my friend.”

I determined in a moment that I couldn’t concern myself with what “they” might think.  It was a gut check;  I wasn’t fit to live the life I’d envisioned for myself if I punked out when the road got rough.  Greatness requires the guts to withstand trial long enough to reap the triumph.  If I wasn’t willing to stand up for who I am, and protect who I love, then I didn’t deserve to be great.

I still struggle with anger and resentment at my parents’ reactions.  Although my dad handled things better than my mom,  his worldview and mine clash too, sometimes.  So, to say it’s been “difficult” this last year would be a gross understatement, as all of my strength has been tested.  And while the best lesson my mama ever taught me had to be learned at her expense, I am grateful I got it.  I know without question that there is nothing “wrong” with me, or the way I think, or the way I feel.

I’m glad I came out.  In fact, if I had to do it all over again knowing how difficult it would be and how much pain it would cause, I’d make the same choice I did last year.  I am stronger emotionally and spiritually because of that choice.  I am free because of it.


So You Were Born This Way…

These lil cats do make a compelling case though...

It doesn’t make you special — no more special than anyone else who was born their “way”. I was born a baby, and that’s about all I can reasonably cop to.  I’m not splitting hairs or creating a distinction where there needn’t be one just cause I can. Instead, I’m scratching at the surface of sexuality here, imagining how basic attraction is sans its cultural and religious filters.

I was interviewed once in late December 2008 about my feelings surrounding then President-elect Obama tapping Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration. At the time, the Pastor’s views on homosexuality and his support of California’s Proposition 8, which effectively banned gay marriage, made him seem an uncomfortable compromise for such a highly public and political event. You might think all presidential elections are political, and they are, but not like this. The election of Barack Obama was a watershed moment, and the day he selected an anti gay rights evangelical to give his invocation, tempered it a bit. How did I feel, Cheers asked, about the simultaneous election of a Black president, and the passage of Proposition 8? Bittersweet like a mutha fucka, I answered.  A tish more eloquently though, of course.

I didn’t get how voters in California didn’t get what it meant that, as a nation, we’d elected a formerly maligned minority to the highest office in the world. While the American empire might be in decline, it is an empire nonetheless — and for the next four years, it would have a brotha at the helm, and there wasn’t shit you could do about it. Given the history of Black Americans in America, the election of Barack Hussein Obama was definitely cause for celebration. Likewise, the passage of Proposition 8 in Califorinia — presumably the bluest state in the country — spearheaded by minorities and religious officials was cause for the absolute opposite of celebration. It stung. In fact, it still stings.  You could expect that gay marriage would hang in the balance in certain states, but not in California.  Naw, not you, baby.

Whenever the subject of gay rights comes up, supporters levy their most effective argument — I was born this way — against what, in essence, amounts to homophobia. But homophobia isn’t a tangible excuse for acting like an asshole, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing, for example, to “fear” from a gay person. Of course, “a gay” may harbor some fucked up traits, like everyone does. But it makes no sense that the mere quality of being gay should arouse “fear” like it does. Gays aren’t naturally given to shanking fools, or going upside heads.  I’d argue that, stripped of our various social and cultural/traditional indoctrinations, what we fear instead is that which is unknown or unfamiliar to us.

Which brings me closer to my point. So, during the course of the interview, Cheers asked why I shunned the “lesbian” label. I’ve had similar conversations with a few of my friends over the years, who seem insistent on placing sexuality, and me for that matter, into a neatly compartmentalized box. “So you like girls? Don’t that make you gay? So you must be bi then? Oh, you’re so ambiguous. Or you’re just greedy.” Nope, it’s simpler than that.  I like what I like.

In previous blogs, I don’t really address the ambivalence I feel about the term “gay.” I understand that people need something they can latch onto, so I use the label indiscriminately without much personal offense. However, eventually I like to bring folks a little closer to discomfort with what they think they “know.” In my own adventures, I take the Kinsey Scale approach to human sexuality, defining sexuality within a range of 0-6 — with 0 being exclusively “straight,” and 6 being exclusively “gay.” In my experience, I’ve found that more people than I would’ve suspected fall somewhere within that spectrum at various points in their lives. At the same time, I know that most folks would argue me to the death proclaiming their ZEE-ROH status. And I’d appreciate their position, but I’d definitely have my doubts.  I live this life, remember?  I know well how gay y’all are when you think no one’s looking.

Before you commence to protesting too much, insisting that you loooooove your opposite-gender-sex part-pejorative, understand that I’m not suggesting that you can’t love peen and punanny as much as you claim to. But that given a unique circumstance, and a unique individual, your human sexuality might be more fluid than fixed. You ever hold conversations with gay people? Or does what you “had heard about them” substitute for what you know about them? I suspect that if you found yourself engaged in a few gay fireside chats, you’d be made aware that many gay men weren’t actually born in a cloud of pixie dust, nor were the world’s great lezzies born wearing lil plaid diapers and sweater vests. In fact, for many, the taste of gay was an acquired one — which, upon further investigation, turned out to be just as natural as if you’d been tasting it since day one.

Was the pun too much? It’s ok. You’ll feel better about it soon enough.

So then gay rights aren’t “special” rights, per se, because being gay aint nothin special. No matter what “way” you or I was born, we were born human beings.  That alone is “special,” and guarantees us the right to be treated just like everyone else — no more, no less.  I also think it necessary to disabuse this notion of gay and straight, and how we arrived at our particular station.  There is no doubt that many a muhfukka don’t dabble in same-sex attractions, not even hypothetically.  In other cases, however, cats be mad straight until they aint — until they find themselves catching feelings they aint even supposed to be susceptible to.

I read or heard or saw something that said, “if everyone who was gay would just come out….” I don’t remember the rest because it doesn’t matter.  If cats just “came out” as whoever they were or are, then that which we don’t know becomes far less sinister, less scary, less odd, less “unnatural.”  If instead of beating yourself up about your biological process, you could embrace it.  You didn’t have to be “gay,” you could just follow your heart or your loins because there is no judgement here , then what would that look like?  For you personally?  For society at large?  Would it then matter how you were born?  If everybody who gets to be born has a shot at being someone or doing something remarkable, wouldn’t you rather be judged by what you did with the life you got?  Instead of being hamstrung for life before yours even began?

Either way, being born gay or straight is a ridiculous argument to attempt.  It allows room for lazy socialization and judgement.  People aren’t cardboard cutouts of each other; each of us brings something unique to the table.  Thus, the quality of being gay is no different from the quality of being left-handed.  In time, lefties got around the dumbed-down explanations of their anomaly, and started lobbying for scissors and desks and shit that fit them.  They didn’t whine that they were born this way; they insisted that the right-handed world make room for them, regardless of how they were born.  Or their degree of “queerness.”

See what I did there?