Gay pride is slowly gaining acceptance internationally; however, it’s still a major problem within the black community. It’s ironic that a group that’s still fighting for equal rights could be so prejudice against their own.
There are a few factors that help answer the question of why coming out is hard in black communities such as the black church and masculinity.
The church influences many persons lifestyles and determines some social norms. Being gay is considered going against church and immoral; however, it’s a problem that can be fixed through repenting and asking for forgiveness from God.
I remember going to my nephews christening a few years ago at a church at 400 and Finch. The pastor commented that being gay disrupts the circle of life and how the rise of the gay community will be the fall of black families. I’m pretty certain is rant continued beyond that but I ended up excusing myself and going for outside for an extended smoke break. To be honest I don’t think I have stepped inside of a church since, but I also don’t identify or follow the Christian faith either.
Being a gay man is certainly worst than being a lesbian in the black community and this is due to slavery. You see the thing that people have to understand about slavery is that there are psychological aspects that still affect us till this day – sexual orientation being one of them. Black men have been struggling to be recognized as real men and with gaining their image back. A black, gay man is considered less of a man and more like a weakling.
On the contrary, I feel as though black lesbians are only scrutinized by the church and true homophobics. The sight of 2 women together is appealing to the male eye and is often praised in rap and hip hop music today. I have told plenty of men that I am lesbian and they mistaken that for hoe or threesome. Sometimes I tell them I have a boyfriend because they tend to back off more easily.
On a positive note, there are more LGBTQ black entertainers coming out of the closet and lead gay roles in popular television shows then there were even 5 years ago. How they are depicted is a different story but that’s another blog post in itself.
I remember when I saw Set It Off for the first time back in the 90s and seeing Queen Latifah playing a lesbian role. I had never seen a black women who liked other woman before, and the idea that being gay was bad was already instilled in my mind through dancehall music and coming from a Jamaican family. I literally thought something was wrong with me. Seeing Cleo excited me and helped me realize I wasn’t the only black girl who liked girls. Black lesbian female roles failed to exist after that for me until I discovered Snoop from The Wire.
For those who don’t know me, I come from a Jamaican family and was raised as a Jamaican. Homosexuality is a serious problem in the Caribbean. Not many people come out in the Caribbean for fear of being disowned and/or being killed.
I came out as bi-sexual when I was nineteen, after I moved out of my mother’s house with my newborn daughter. I was already the black sheep in my family. Coming out as a lesbian would have been the icing on the cake. I lived on my own with my daughter and to me that meant the start of my life. I finally felt like I could be myself in my house which included being involved with girls. I didn’t have to worry about my mom kicking me out, or being cornered in the hall by someone wanting to scrutinize me. I was in control of my life and those who were in it, and I was ready to accept who was willing to stay or leave.
Being black, and coming from a Jamaican family, I was surprised at how many of my friends accepted my lifestyle. I guess it’s fair to say that I doubted their loyalty. There is no real telling how people will react to the news until you tell them. I was even surprised of how many of my friends were already in the community, some bi, some lesbian. That’s not to say that I didn’t lose some friends in the process. I did. And there were those who wrote it off as ‘a phase’ because of all of the bullshit I went through as child.
I stayed bi-sexual for about 3-4 years; however the amount of guys I was dating started declining and the amount of girls I dated started rising. I stopped being attracted to men and I stopped feeling the need to be with one. The last relationship I had with a guy was for a short few months in 2010. And, after our horrible breakup, I called it quits with guys for good. I have to point out that he wasn’t the reason why I became a lesbian. He was just last my boyfriend. I knew we were not going to last because I had told myself and others that I was done with men during relationship. Ironically, me and him are good, distant friends now. I still talk to him from time to time and he is a great supporter of my writing.
I didn’t really come out as a lesbian. I just stopped dating guys, changed my sexual orientation to gay and corrected anyone who referred to me as “bi”. A few months later, I met my girlfriend at Toronto Pride 2011. We were friends (with benefits) before we got serious for just over a year and here we are four years later in an awesome relationship.
Coming out to me is not about others accepting you. It’s about you accepting yourself. The minute you being accepting yourself as a lesbian (or gay, or transgender) you will begin gaining confidence. Being yourself will matter more than people accepting your sexual orientation. You can’t expect everyone to accept it, just like how I can’t expect everyone who reads my blog to enjoy it. We can only appreciate the ones who do.
Sexuality is a personal preference and we as black people are failing to realize that. When we stop associating it with lifestyle it will be easier to accept ones sexual orientation and more [black] people will come out of the closet.