Why Your Black A– Should Celebrate Pride by Chris Thompson
I hate homophobia. Besides the system of denigrating and dehumanizing 5-10% of the population through terror and policy, the tag lines are so tired:
- “Why can’t I be proud to be straight?”
- “It’s everywhere now!”
- “They’re ramming it down our throats!”
- “They’re a threat to the black family!”
That last one…What I hate more than homophobia is homophobia in the Black community. Just…why? We have too much to deal with; we really have no time worrying about who likes who and why. Some queer folks are our kinfolk. Disparaging someone because of the way they were born is hypocritical, given that the US Constitution did exactly that to us, and then when it was amended, states and the federal government regularly made our lives harder, based on how we were born. We are all dealing with the repercussions and collective ignorance of what this nation has done. LGBTQ Pride is not infringing on us or our autonomy, so why fight to infringe on theirs? In fact, if anything, out of respect for all the queer writers, activists, and revolutionaries of color in the Civil Rights Movement, we all should be supporting Pride. If not out there for Pride, then we should do what I implore cis-gender heterosexual men (including me) do in the month of June: Shut the hell up.
“What I hate more than homophobia is homophobia in the Black community”
In the beginning of June, An individual named Mark Sahady announced that he petitioned the city of Boston for a permit to hold a “Straight Pride Parade”. The Internet had a field day with this. “Straight Pride? Isn’t that just the Old Navy checkout line?” Yes, as is traffic, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Park Ave Fest, and traffic. There is no “straight pride”, because there was never a time when straight people were oppressed. Pride was originally an uprising after frustration with police brutality and abuse. No straight bar was raided for indecency or other ridiculous ordinance. No straight couple was denied a marriage license because of “natural law”. No straight child was kicked out of their house because they were caught with their opposite sex partner, leaving them susceptible to drug dependency or sex trafficking. No straight person was ever pulled out of their own car and beaten within an inch of their life by a bunch of anti-cishet transgender folks who couldn’t stand the sight of them. If ever you need proof that “straight pride” is not necessary, I could have taken the adjective “straight” out of all of those situations, and your brain would have likely defaulted to thinking “straight”.
Nevertheless, I see a lot of black folks parroting the “straight pride” rhetoric, which sounds eerily familiar to the “white pride” rhetoric to which they bristle, and the fact that you can’t see the irony in that is disturbing. One black man told me that we need to “keep that straight energy” to go against the “gay agenda”. Another claimed that the queer community “stole” the Civil Rights Movement from black folks, and that some of them are racist, so why fend for them? Here’s a good reason to fend for queer folks: the organizer of the Boston “straight pride” march is a violent white supremacist. Sahady has been to Charlottesville and had been filmed grabbing and assaulting people with whom he disagrees. The grand marshal of the parade is Milo Yonopolous, a rabid white supremacist. Falling in line with a “straight pride” movement is falling in line with neo-nazis, especially when ACTUAL armed neo-nazis got a POLICE ESCORT to disrupt a Pride celebration in Ohio.
“Straight Pride” in itself is another tendril of white supremacy anyway, as is homophobia. I am not saying that other groups of people weren’t homophobic before European colonization, but Africa had a queer community hundreds of years before the Transatlantic slave trade. Uganda had a gay king, Kabaka Mwanga II. The Ashante had a female chief, Yaa Asantewaa, who had a harem of men who she had dress like women. There are cave drawings of men performing acts on each other in Central Africa. Throughout the continent queer communities existed. It wasn’t until a weaponized form of Christianity that railed against what it deemed “unnatural” that homosexuality was considered “un-African”. That hateful energy was foisted on enslaved people who were shipped to the Americas, and it sadly thrives today. Later, in the 20th and 21st Century, “peaceful” missionaries came to the African continent to further spread that hate and intolerance, and to convince post-colonial nations to make being queer an offense punishable by death. So queer folks aren’t infiltrating the black community. They are not destroying lives. They are not tearing apart black families. You’re thinking of the Dutch, and later the Americans.
There is a myth that queer folks “co-opted” the Civil Rights Movement from black folks to push their cause. This point of view denigrates both movements. The Civil Rights Movement did not start in the 1950s and 1960s. It started the second someone openly objected to darker skinned folks being treated differently. Our nation’s birth spawned the Civil Rights Movement, and it has changed and evolved with the time. The LGBTQIA Rights Movement has been around as long as they have been persecuted as well. Speaking of persecution, Black folks are not the only group to have been subjected to atrocities in America. While we were shipped here and forced into labor, women had no agency to even own their own property, and they were subjected to as much sexual violence as we did. While the KKK was spawning and terrorizing newly freed Black farmers and merchants, white mobs stormed a Los Angeles Chinatown and razed it, murdering hundreds. While the federal government was mandating red lines for real estate to keep neighborhoods as segregated as possible, they were cultivating drug laws based on fear of Latinx folks. Our pain is not in a bubble.
Disavowing Pride as a person of color is disrespectful to both movements, because people of color ignited the fire of the movement. Despite Hollywood’s misportrayal of the events of Stonewall, a Black trans woman, a Puerto Rican Trans woman, and a Black drag king were pivotal in the real Stonewall’s uprising. After the dust settled, they all worked in their own ways to open shelters for queer youth, make the community safer, and overturn the bigoted laws that made what happened in Stonewall inevitable. LGBTQIA Pride and Black Pride converge with acts like this, and it was the efforts of Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Langston Hughes, Pauli Murray, Lorraine Hansberry, and a myriad of other gay and lesbian black activists that helped move Our movement forward.
About Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog , he currently writes the Chronicles of Nonsense segment for the Almost Tuesday show on WAYO-FM 104.3, and regularly posts and writes on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon.Additionally , Chris is a Food Writer for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com