Black & GAY: Questions Straight Folks STILL Ask!

So I published this piece about Sakia Gunn a few weeks back (thanks to those of you who checked it out) and I have to say the number of responses that it's gotten was overwhelming; in a good and a bad way. I've read EVERY comment (all 230 of them - last I checked). The responses have been both refreshing and alarming. But it set off a light bulb...

So... I'm working on a project and I wanted to tap folks for their input.
What are random questions straight people ask you? [and straight folks out there if you have a burning question (that you aren't sure you should ask someone- for whatever reason) email it to me.]

I think addressing them might be helpful in debunking some painfully archaic myths and perhaps work on building s between us. At the end of they day we are STILL BLACK!

Here are a few examples I came up with:

1. Do you believe in God?
As if being gay necessarily means that a person can't be spiritually grounded. LOL

What boggles my mind is that EVERY time something gay comes up, homophobic black folks go running for a bible, a scripture, a cross, somethin'... to save them from the scary gays. It's ironic that on pages where they show pictures of scantily clad women, and post the lyrics of the men that debase them, we don't hear folks pullin out the good book and recite scripture the way we do for anything that has to to with being gay. A little ODD... Then ensues the diatribe about sin etc. but last I checked, we are ALL sinners and no sin is bigger, more weighted or important than another. It's the PEOPLE who give it more or less meaning in their lives, and those people don't want to admit that they simply have an ick factor when they think about the parts that really don't concern them...

2. Were you molested? Did that make you gay?
Touchy subject. Folks perpetuate this idea that people "turn" gay because they are a victim of sexual assault, as if there aren't any straight adults who have been subject to sexual assault. It comes with value judgments about the effects of sexual assault, that are problematic. Think before you ask, get educated about sexual assault.

3. Why are gay people so flamboyant?
Which sometimes translates to "Why are some gae boi's constantly Stuntin'?" LOL Truth be told, I ask myself this too, but all in fun cuz it aint as if straight folks don't be actin' up sometimes.

But this often also means "Why are we(gay folk) OUT, OPEN and publicly affectionate with our partners."

To which I would reply, "Why are STRAIGHT people so flamboyant? Because I can't go a day without seeing a couple hugged up and/or kissing in public. I can deal, you can too, boo boo!

4. Gay men and lesbians can't reproduce, why do they want children?
That's besides the point. There are straight people who can't produce for health reasons. It doesn't prevent them from wanting to raise a family with the person they love. What's more, even if there weren't alternatives for gay people to have children, there are many children out there, in the foster care system, on the streets or in abusive or unhealthy homes, that gay couples could and are willing to take in.

5. Why do gay people choose to live that lifestyle?
I chuckle at this one.

LIFESTYLE? First of all, you sound OLD!

Who uses lifestyle outside of magazine headers or on a website? LMAO... Let's get our terminology STRAIGHT (pun intended)

Making $2,000 a month but driving an Escalade in Los Angeles is a "lifestyle" choice, its called "living beyond your means..."

Having a couple baby-mommas and being at the club every weekend rather than at home with your kids is a "life-style" choice, its called "absent daddy" (or some other choice words that (unfortunately) I'm sure more than a few of my woman friends can come up with).

Both are poor lifestyle choices... And we hope for better for all those who choose them.... But being gay? LOL C'mon!!!

That's the other reason I chuckle... and someone addressed this myth that being gay is a CHOICE similar to picking which chucks buy at the store.
I mean REALLY?!? Do you REALLY think gay folks wake up in the morning and decide "Hmm, I think I'll welcome a life of being ostracized, experiencing discrimination and hatred into my life (for the REST of my life). Werd! That's HARD!"

Newsflash- It don't work that way, boo boo. A least not for those of a more SANE kind.

6. What's wrong with saying "NO HOMO"?

Plenty. LOL. First of all... It's disrespectful, hence the strike through.
Second, why do you have to make sure people know you're not gay, unless you're really trying to hide something or really scared someone would ACTUALLY THINK you are. DUH!

Got any other good ones? Give 'em up.

Also...Check out this new spread on AOL Black Voices:
Famous Gay <Black FOLK>


Sketchin' In SaMo


Why Same-Sex Marriage Should Matter To People Of Color

From the Jordan Rustin Coalition:
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that restricting the word "marriage" to opposite-sex unions was discriminatory, unnecessary and unconstitutional. This decision also proclaimed that sexual orientation is as protected a class as race, gender and national origin and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
This ruling will undoubtedly affect the future of same gender loving (lesbian and gay) people in California, and by example, the nation. What we need to know as double minorities is that this ruling is not a political farce, a ploy or only applicable to a limited segment of the population. It is for anyone who ever dreamed of growing up to marry the one they love and formally securing the benefits that society confers on marriage for themselves, and their family. The State of California is willing to help you realize these dreams by providing same-sex married couples the same benefits available to heterosexual married couples.

For a variety of reasons, some LGBT people of color have regarded being gay or lesbian as something white; something strange; something too out and loud about what they do in their bedrooms and certainly not affiliated with the person they see in the mirror. This reasoning is reinforced by a community that threatens to ostracize you from your family, friends, church and social network if you present as anything but stereotypically heterosexual.

The State of California already provided registered domestic partnerships. Beginning in June 2008, marriage for same sex couples seeking legal protection will become a reality. Once entered into, both registered domestic partnerships and marriage tell the state that you are knowingly assuming the rights and responsibilities provided to committed couples. These rights, privileges and responsibilities are color-blind. If you choose not to take advantage of these rights, privileges and responsibilities, you do so at your own peril. The court will not have the authority to right a wrong where steps could have been taken to remedy that wrong. In other words, if a couple breaks up and they did not enter into a marriage or domestic partnership, the court will continue to treat them as roommates and the couple would not be able to take advantage of the marital laws regarding property division and alimony. This is certainly an incentive to know your rights!

Domestic partnerships and marriage certainly force us to communicate honestly with one's partner and loved ones by entrusting us with much responsibility. Both these institutions bind us to one person in the eyes of the law for as long as we choose to be bound. These institutions now allow same-sex couples to approach equality with our heterosexual counterparts.

We must fight to keep this victory. First, there may be a ballot initiative in November 2008 that would take away same sex marriage and it must be defeated! It is a losing strategy for us to sit on our hands idly and let others take away our hard-earned rights. Second, if you are in a relationship, do you value it enough to protect it? Then choose how you will do so. Please consider reviewing your options to determine if getting married and /or entering into a domestic partnership is something that best protects your family..[i]

[i] JOHN TEAL is a paralegal in Los Angeles, CA.


Coming of Age Amid Depression 2.0

I feel as though it would be redundant to say that “The world is a scary place to live in today,” because such has been the case for as long as I can remember. But it is in the context of those past periods of fear and insecurity, that I look at what is going on in the world today as being particularly frightening. Perhaps that has something to do with my full awareness of the world as it existed then, as compared to now.

I’ve heard people remark on the fearlessness of children (and youth as a whole). It seems that we adults have to develop that level of fear and uncertainty over time, it is something we necessarily learned. This was underscored earlier today as I watched Maury counsel single parent moms and their unruly teenage daughters. I was bothered by what are clearly bigger issues troubling these young women, but also awed by the sheer audacity that these young girls demonstrated – showing no care for the opinions of anyone but themselves, and convinced that reaching their teens was in some way indicative of them finally being “grown.” Ultimately, and with a degree of predictability, Maury offers these women an old school remedy of culture shock; sending the young women to be “scared straight” by women inmates at a nearby prison.

As much as I am a little tickled at the sight of felons screaming in the faces of their would be-teenage protégés, I’ve seen it time and time again(yawn…Sally Jesse Raphael, Montell, I’m sure they’ve all had a special). And I know there are alternative forms of rehabilitation. Perhaps a multi-step program? A mentor… something?

That is neither here nor there, the point is…while I was in no way an “unruly teen,” like those girls I was overwhelmingly consumed with the trivialities of my immediate life. And because I didn’t have to worry about finding a job that would adequately support me and allow me to functionally cover all of my expenses, I wasn’t totally aware of what was going on around me.

No one could overlook the shock, awe and fear produced by the September 11th attacks and subsequent anthrax scares. But I don’t think I fully grasped the magnitude to which it scared the adults in my life. Despite it all, I applied to do a semester in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, amid the intensified security, and while folks were still on the look out for suspicious mail. I opened the mail EVERY DAY.

That said, I realized that I’ve arrived at adulthood. I am scared about the economy, I can barely afford gas (among other necessities as a resident of California. I want to do something about the floods that hit New Orleans. That help is long overdue and our government has been absolutely NEGLIGENT about dealing with it. And I worry about the status of our nation as tornadoes hit middle America and scenes like those from New Orleans now plague more and more of our citizens. The sad part is, I fear that these new catastrophes will overshadow the plight of New Orlean-ians, and that the work that needs to get done, will continue to be delayed.

Depressing? Mmm… slightly, but it’s real.

My next step? ...Well... another lesson we learn as adults… avoidance. I am going to get back to thinking about the things my heart and mind can stomach pondering. On a less avoid-ant tip, I will focus on the things I can do to affect change, and knock those micro issues down until I can put my bid in for what we need to do on a macro level.

Two Parts Make a Whole: Married and Gay (read Happy!)

They wed under a chuppah, a traditional canopy that symbolizes the home that they will create in Jewish tradition, held by close family and friends, flanked by the media with Gloria Allred at their side. Robin Tyler and her partner (now her wife), Diane Olson said their vows, led by Rabbi Denise Eger, and beamed with joy. As they stepped on glass, a gesture of good luck in both Jewish and Colombian traditions, I felt Goosebumps rise on my forearms (in between the massive mosquito bites from my weekend’s venture back east to Massachussets – the only other state with legal same sex marriage). If all goes well I will be able to have my own marriage here in California, and it will be an equally emotional event.

But over an over again I go query myself and others, why is marriage for same sex couples even a debate?

  • Because our education system is sub-par.
  • Because there are an abundance of U.S. citizens who don’t quite conceive of the separation between church and state.
  • Because we give credence to Christian views over other religious traditions.
  • Because those who believe themselves to be the most faithful of Christians, base it on their belief in the literal word of the bible (despite their having never read it, or only read the parts that can actually be carried out in 2008 – i.e., stoning someone in a square, uhmm not acceptable by law –

I’d like those so-called Christians, who hate on gay couples to tell me where in the Bible does god prescribe how we should appropriately use the internet? Funny how that isn’t there right? Let’s really think about these literal readings again and try to find something that is consistent through the bible that can’t really be touched past present or future… LOVE. Exercise that!

Hate is like sitting on a couch, it doesn’t require a great deal of effort

But alas, if your church is disapproving of same sex relationships, so be it. Gay couples will go elsewhere to places of worship that do. But too many don’t understand that gay couples seek not to affect the relationships or perspectives of those who hide behind religious belief to justify bigoted views (ok that’s sort of a lie, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be bigots, but we’ll settle for co-existing with bigots, so long as our rights are acknowledged by law).

Those who argue that marriage is a religious word, meh… So you mean to tell me that in one breath folks are quick to say their religion is THE religion, and in the next will align themselves with other faith traditions in order to ensure that queer folks can’t get married?

Sounds like changing the rules to suit one’s purposes… I’m not buying it.

To all of the couples tying the knot in California, thank you for your courage, thank you and I wish you all the blessings I can muster up. Darian snagged a great quote from Laura Douglas-Brown when he wrote his marriage blog today, which reads:

"…within our own community, we also need to acknowledge that marriage is more than the sum of its parts. Not just a mere collection of individual rights, it’s a collective statement about whether our relationships, and thus we as gay people, are worthy of respect, equality and justice.

More than just saying ‘I do,’ marriage is about saying ‘we are.’"

Their union is symbolic of a step forward for our nation, even if we are short a miracle. As we move forward we’ll still be dragging behind us those who would oppose the loving relationship of two committed partners because they are of the same sex. But a step forward nonetheless.

To see more photos of Robin & Diane's wedding.


One Step Closer to Change...

Introducing the first black man (read African-American) to be the presumptive Presidential nominee of a major party and his equally awe-inspiring wife, Barack & Michelle Obama.

And they're still BLACK!

For the record it's not a "FIST BUMP" idiots, it's called a "DAP" also known as a "POUND." And to clarify, this is only ONE version! SHEESH! I know some people haven't interacted with a lot of black folks but c'mon people! You don't watch SPORTS?!


"When [T]olerance Breeds Murder" - On Gender & Sakia Gunn

AOL Black Voices Published My Piece on Sakia Gunn!!
You can read it in it's entirety here: When Intolerance Breeds Murder

May 11, 2008 marked the 5 year anniversary of the death of slain teen Sakia Gunn, whose story bore a very special relevance to my own life. Like Sakia, I am black, a woman and a lesbian in a world that has often been unkind to all of the above. What's more, like Sakia I am assumed to be "identifiably lesbian," as I am often more boyish in dress.

My Tomboi Swagg
I remember the first time I was referred to, by my then babysitter, as a "tomboy." I'm almost certain that my mother took offense at the moniker(just as a parent might be aghast to have their son called a sissy), no matter how true my gender performance was to the definition. I on the other hand, wore the label with a badge of pride. Not because I wanted to be a boy, but because I never felt restricted by any pre-concieved ideas about what being a girl or boy had to mean. Thanks to my mother, I have always been about being my best self; as good as the next person, boy, girl, woman, man or anyone else, if not better.

Sakia's young life was taken in 2003, only a month before I would graduate from high school. That year was especially poignant because I secretly went to prom with my then partner, in a tux. I was fortunate to go to a somewhat affirming high school. It also happened to be very elite and largely white. Unfortunately, my sexual orientation has long been a troublesome subject for my family; as has been the case for many of my peers.

The Gender Paradigm
Gender identity is too often misunderstood, misread and under analyzed within heterosexual constructs. It is assumed that "men" will be "masculine" and "women" will be "feminine" no matter how arbitrary it is to categorize people in such a way. However, as it pertains to those of us in the pan-queer (trans, bi, lesbian, gay) communities, it is almost absolutely the opposite.

I've often heard the un-assuming straight person ask their gay friend -- begrudgingly burdened with undue responsibility to educate her about same-sex relationships -- "So who's the man and who's the woman in the relationship?" As if, by default, such pairings NEED exist. Gender is a great deal more complex than most are able to comprehend. It doesn't fall into the somewhat neater lines of sex (male, female, intersex) - classified somewhat more objectively by the sexual organ a person possesses. It is instead judged on how well do (or do not) fit into roles assumed appropriate for the respective sex. It is for these reasons that it was newsworthy that Senator Clinton cried during the New Hampshire primary, or that night time talk show hosts get a rise out of their audiences by mentioning her "pant suits." None of her opponents were as closely watched for gender-specific and inconsequential happenings.

Remembering Sakia and Others
Last Monday (May 26), Sakia would have turned 21.

I am grateful to AOL Black Voices for running the piece and I am glad people have stumbled upon it and found a part of themselves in it. I am grateful that people who until now have been unaware will know her story. I hope they also know about some of the more recent victims of hate. Simmie Williams was murdered just a week after a teen from California was killed (Lawrence King) but did not get nearly the same amount of media attention because the murder hadn't been ruled a hate crime.

I hope this will plan a seed in the hearts of parents who are still struggling to accept, and/or affirm their gay children. I am especially hopeful to those parents who stumble on this issue because of perceived theological difference. Because no matter what you believe, there is never an excuse to act in violence against another person because of that difference in belief or worship.

Krys (urB'n skoLa)

A couple of folks reposted it!
BlackHairMedia.com (Loving the dialgue going on here)
Living Out Loud with Darian
Professor Kim's News Notes
Cranky Lesbian

For More Info On Sakia:
without grace: sakia and the Newark Lesbians case
Youth for Socialist Action
Keith Boykin.com
Democracy Now!
Professor Kim re: McCullough's Plea Bargain
Professor Kim on the 3 year Anniversary
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