Thursday, November 6, 2008

URGENT CALL TO STRAIGHT-IDENTIFIED BLACK MEN / STRAIGHT ALLIES

My brothers, we need to TALK.

I know that we are glowing from the beautiful and historical triumph of Barack Obama becoming President Elect. But with the passing of Prop 8, we have left so many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters behind.

With statistics that showed that 70% of black voters voted for prop 8, it becomes clear that there is urgent discussion and healing that needs to be done in our communities.

Now.

You don’t have to be a super activist or anything. Just a brotha with a conscience. I would love to hear from straight ally sistas too, but i really think at this is work that at least initially black men need to take on. If anyone wants to form a sister group, beautiful! Holla!! And for LGBTQ folks reading this (especially those of African descent), please feel free to let me know what your idea of a good straight ally is in this context, though you are not expected to educate me/us.

All who fit these criteria, please contact me at str8blackally@gmail.com or right here. And a way that everyone and anyone can help... start a dialogue here, and also please forward this on to others in the Bay Area (lets start local).

I can’t do this alone, and our LGBTQ family can’t wait. Humanity can’t wait. Let us harness the wave of change that is sweeping our nation. We need to act now. I look forward to hearing from you!

blessings,
richard
str8 black ally

ps to be CLEAR, black folks were NOT the majority of Yes On 8 voters. I believe we were like 6% of the vote. This is not about vilifying or targeting black people. It is an acknowledgment of deep work that has to be done in our communities, work that i strongly encourage others to do in their own communities as well.

pps i would ALSO like to emphasize that it should not be assumed that same-sex marriage is a priority in all LGBTQ lives. It is a choice. For some, there is a choice to invest energy in other issues where discrimination could actually be life threatening. Also, still others may see marriage as an archaic institution steeped in patriarchy and capitalism, a trope of heterosexual culture that some can do without. All very understandable. To me anyway. To be clear, I am allying with LGBTQ folks who are affected by Prop 8 passing. And i would like to see this heterosexual privilege topple. Blesss....

8 comments:

Daigan said...

richard,

As a queer white ally, I want to thank you, and also thank you for the motivation and encouragement to start a similar project in my own community. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Tony Hale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Hale said...

Richard,

You are absolutely right that this civil rights issue represents a major rift in our black community. On one side of the divide is the straight black community who voted for Prop 8; on the other side are its principles. After all, black people should be a natural ally and not a foe to equality. I am a straight black man who sees this latest outcome as a discouraging sign of myopia in our community: we will speak up for human rights only insofar as they pertain directly to us. When MLK said that "[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," he was appealing to the Christian leadership in the South who were urging MLK to slow down and stop his radical agitation. His direct audience was the ostensibly "liberal" white clergy, of course.

But now, we must make the same appeal to our own people using the fierce example of Martin Luther King who, in addition to throngs of others, fought relentlessly for "human rights" -- not just "black rights." As people claim that Obama's election represents King's dream realized, we must not lose sight of what the dream really means -- namely, justice for all.

-Tony Hale

richard said...

Daigan, thanks again for the love man. And i peeped your blog... beautiful. thank you. i look forward to both of us having movements that evolve with purpose!

Tony,Thanks for evoking MLK in this context. nuff respect! This is absolutely a civil rights issue, a human rights issue.

I urge my brothers and sisters in the black community to approach each other with love and understanding on this issue. I understand the disappointment and rage for those who are fighting for human rights, but we will not be able to reach people if we are pointing fingers. I am struggling myself to find language that i can speak that will not make people defensive, that honors culture, honors religion, and affirms our truly compassionate and loving nature. I also have empathy for us, because i believe that a lot of our brand of homophobia (i say our brand because we aren't the only ones who have homophobia in our culture) is influenced by a traumatic legacy of slavery, colonization, and enduring legacies of racism that emasculate, objectify and dehumanize us. So much has been projected onto our bodies. I say more about this on another post.

so i urge my fam to approach others with love. Much like MLK did.

richard said...

hey Tony, hit me up on str8blackally@gmail.com so we can break bread

Cecile Johns said...

thanks for this, it is encouraging.

i am wondering how to reach the women. im n experience, black women who wondered whether i was straight or not asked me about prop 8, told me they were voting 'yes' and gave some excuse, like "i'm afraid it will go to the supreme court" or "they will teach gay marriage in schools" or "they don't need to get married since they already have civil unions." personally i believe the real reason is fear of our own sexuality, but public cafeterias are rarely the place for such discussions.

and the question always becomes, in my experience, "are YOU a lesbian? is your son a fag? because *something* is clearly different/wrong about you....." and that's a discussion i don't want to have either, frankly. so it's tricky.

i guess I am just thinking/brainstorming out loud. thanks again for bringing it up.

rockmomnoff said...

I'm a gay women who has been with my partner for 19 years we have twin 6 year old girls and we all stood in the rain with our No On 8 Prop signs and my little girls wrote their own signs, one said simply NO on 8 and my other little girls sign said, "Don't Be Mean To My Family" she came up with it. It's just that simple to her! And should be to adults. I'm really at a loss to why this is happening! But I have cried and now I'm done crying and I will continue to wave my sign in the rain and continue to make myself heard. Thanks for your site!

richard said...

Cecile:
Thanks for your words. And yes, it is tricky stuff, trying to figure how to reach people's sense of empathy and speak their own language. And of course one's own investment in the cause can make one suspect. I am used to people wondering if i am gay, i don't think that's bothered me since i was in my late-teens/early twenties (i am in my late thirties), but taking on people's projections can feel icky.

In terms of reaching people and accessing their empathy, I am still working on a piece that does a switcheroo with church and marriage (This is for church going black folks, though can feasibly be used for any church going folks who are anti-marriage equality).

Here is the premise. Imagine that a powerful religious community thought that Christianity was fundamentally wrong. Imagine that they thought it was so wrong that they successfully campaigned to have black churches closed. Imagine how that would affect those now disenfranchized of their place of worship and community? Disenfranchized by other black people. By people at the workplace. By people in your family.
By Friends. By people who deprived you of something so precious because their religion did not understand them, did not approve. If they didn't understand Christians, why weren't they content to just let Christians be? Why actually expend energy to take rights away from people, while professing to be loving, God fearing people?

Still workin on it, will see how it develops... i can only think of pitting religious rationale (or non-rationale in some cases) against another to try and reach people. If this helps you get through to people, let me know! And thanks again for your post :)

Rockmomnoff!
Wow. I am so moved by that image. I think it will stay with me for a long long time. I don't think many people realize how this affects FAMILIES. That is another way to reach people. How can people say they are trying to protect children when some parents don't have legal access to kids when, God Forbid, they are in the hospital? Sigh... Its so wrong. I do however have faith, Change is in the air. Prop 8 is not going to stand. And Saturday, one of the largest protests in the US will make history in the legacy of movements for civil rights. I am ready to see history be made again!