I’ve always lumped the challenges of racial equality in the same stack of injustices with gay inequality. Everyone just wants the same rights to live like everyone else, right?
My views today are a bit different than they were in the past.
They aren’t the same. While the goals are the same, the struggle is not.
Segregation most often forced black people into close proximity which strengthen our ties to each other. We lived in black neighborhoods, went to black churches, supported black businesses… While it’s great to believe that we did all of that to provide support to each other, the white people didn’t want us around anyway. We didn’t really have a choice.
We lived our life around each other. Only cautiously leaving our neighborhoods when we had to. When we decided to protest, when we decided it was time for a change, we had the support of those surrounding us because shared the common bond of brown skin. We didn’t have to search for support. It surrounded us.
Gay rights? *sigh
We can’t always identify who supports our struggle. I don’t see any rainbow flags or HRC stickers in my neighborhood. Our struggle is lonely. We can’t assume the support of our families. I can’t assume that the owner of the corner store would advocate my marriage to a woman.
I remember the comparison between the two movements came up a few years back when California’s Prop 8 was on the ballot. So many black people were mad at the comparison and couldn’t wrap their heads around the similarities.
They couldn’t because they didn’t want to.
The average black person doesn’t want to hear the word gay in regular conversation. Black people are homophobic. They’d rather believe we, black gays, didn’t exist.
So NOM’s idea “to drive a wedge between gays and blacks” was ingenius.