Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hate is Hate

Today on CNN.com there is an article called "Gay is not the new black" written by LZ Granderson (a columnist for ESPN) and of course it caught my attention and I've been fuming about it all afternoon and decided to channel my fumes into a blog post. Please read the article yourself, but I briefly summarize it before presenting my response. 

Basically, Granderson is annoyed that gays are getting on TV and saying they are disappointed by Obama and how he has not done what he promised the gay community. More importantly he is annoyed that WHITE gays are doing this. He goes on to discuss without much support that there is a huge racial divide in the gay community between white gays and black gays (he cites the fact that there are Black Gay Pride events as support). While I might not fully agree with these statements these are valid opinions, but should have been supported better. There are racial issues in the gay community just like there are in the wider community, but Granderson doesn't stop here. He goes on to make comments about how people shouldn't compare the Gay Rights Movement to the Civil Rights Movement and that 40 years is nothing compared to the 400 years of discrimination faced by black people in this country. He uses 40 because of the recent 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. He goes even further to say that the N-word is much worse than the F-word. 

By the end of the article it is hard not to be offended but I'm also left confused. Confused why this man has won GLAAD awards, confused why CNN would published such a poorly supported and researched article (ok maybe not), and confused why anyone would think this is a productive way to discuss these issues. 

I'm all about discussing race in the gay community. I think it is a valid issue and one that is vital to winning the fight for equality. White gays and black gays need to work together. I understand that many black gay people feel left out of the wider gay community, but Granderson doesn't give any insight into why. He also uses poor examples and if you didn't know better you might assume from reading this that all gay clubs are segregated. I've been to my fair share of gay clubs and I've never found this to be true. I've seen very mixed crowds and I've personally hooked-up with black men. The issue of race is often still tied to location. The other issue here is that Granderson seems to blame white gays for these problems and I don't think it is that clear cut. It is well known that the black community is more strongly homophobic (much has been written about this and why) and thus many black gay people live in the closet or on the down-low. The question needs to be asked why is there so much homophobia in the black community? Why don't black gays feel part of the gay community? Why aren't they taking a more active role to change this? And what part do white gays have in this? Granderson would also have you believe that gay people have to have separate PRIDE events. As if normal PRIDE events have signs stating: white people only. It is not just one group's issue or problem. Race issues got both ways. I would have liked Granderson to have gone deeper into this and not just wash over it and distort the facts.

For example the other day I heard an amazing commentary on NPR that suggested that homophobia in the black community is related to the rejection of the over sexualized african male. This was interesting and intriguing and made me think. Maybe I'll write more on this later.

But back to Granderson. It is also fine that he does not think Obama should be criticized or that it is not productive or helpful, but he seems to simply blame this on race. As if the white gays are going after Obama because he is black and therefore homophobic. I don't think Obama is homophobic but I do think Obama is walking that same line other democrats do where they get gay votes but do very little for the gay community. Race does play a bit of a factor but not in the way Granderson describes. The reason I am more disappointed in Obama is because he is black. He knows what it's like to be a member of a discriminated group. I also find it harder to swallow a black man telling me he supports civil unions but not gay marriage (that is separate but equal, which I think we already discovered doesn't work). So race is important in my opinion of Obama but not in the way Granderson claims. Plus  I'm still waiting and seeing what happens and hoping for the best. 

What I don't think is acceptable in this article  is implying that the gay community hasn't had it as hard as the black community. How is this helpful? Why should we compare who has been more victimized? There is no value to this. I'm also offended that he uses the idea of 40 years. This implies somehow gay people just popped up in 1969. No, we've been here since the beginning of time and have for most of that time not been treated fairly. Stonewall marks the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement in this country, but it does not mark the beginning of gay people or the beginning of the gay struggle. Learn your history Mr. Granderson before you write articles on events you clearly don't understand. He also implies that the 40 years ago gays just had to worry about police raiding bars but blacks were still worried about being killed by the police. I'm confused what books he's been reading, but gay people weren't just worried about their bars. They were being beaten, killed, losing their jobs, their families, etc. To downplay the fight gay people have gone through and continue to go through is offensive. I will not say the gays have it worse than the blacks, because there is no point in that. The two can't be compared in the same way. What I will say is that the fight for equality is the same, which is why people do compare the two. The Civil Rights Movement and the Gay Rights Movement are both about equal rights for all people. I'm also tired of people ignoring the fact that the King family greatly supported Gay Rights and that many gay people were very much involved in the Civil Rights movement. Granderson also has no business making comments about the N-word being more offensive than the F-word. Why all the comparisons? What is offensive is very personal. But both words have hate behind them. And hate is hate.

Granderson needed to do more research, give more support, and actually open a dialogue about race in the gay community. What he did instead was  make assumptions, attack white gays, and say blacks have had it worse. When it comes to hate what does it matter? Are we seriously going to count our wounds? Tally up the slurs? Count the bodies? According to this commentary the gays need a few more years of hate before they can be equal. Granderson should know better.  

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