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Julian Bond: LGBT Rights Won’t Be Won Until Black Homophobia Is Diminished

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2009

Pam Spalding posted a lengthy discussion of LGBT advocacy in the African-American community. The entire post is well worth reading, along with this email she received from Julian Bond, Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He sees the critical element in that is for more Black people to come out of the closet:

I do not believe the battle for LGBT rights will ever be won until we can diminish the homophobia in black communities and until more in the black LGBT community join the battle openly.  …I’ve often wondered what would be the result of black LGBT church goers standing up in the churches they attend and saying “I’m gay – you know me – I’m like you. I am what God made me. Why do you treat me so badly?”

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Priya Lynn
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

I’m not so sure about that. I read that blacks only make up a small part of the population in the U.S., something like 15%. If that’s the case their impact on equal rights is relatively small.

gar
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

I love Julian Bond. He is one of my long time heroes.

Richard W. Fitch
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

“I read that blacks only make up a small part of the population in the U.S., something like 15%. If that’s the case their impact on equal rights is relatively small.”

If it is true that less than 10% of the US population is LGBT then how can we ever have any impact on the struggle for equality?
The part I think you are missing is that most African-American churches are conservative, evangelical in doctrine. They echo many of the sentiments in the white homophobic fundamentalist sects. Many A-A groups contend that the fight for gay rights is not the same as the Civil Rights movement exemplified by MLK and others of the 60′s. There is also the issue of ‘machismo’ which prevents many males of that community from coming out. In the long-run it’s not initial %% that count so much as passion, commitment and factual presentation of issues that matters. When LGBT forces fight against each other, it’s an uphill battle. Negotiation and compromise will aid in unification and then the ability to convince mainstream America that we have a just and moral cause.

Priya Lynn
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

Richard, LGBTs can’t have any impact on the struggle for equality by themselves, and if the numbers I quoted are correct, neither can blacks. This will be decided almost entirely by straight white people.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t attempt to change attitudes in the black community, I just don’t think they are the insurmountable wall that Julian Bond is suggesting. Take California for example, what is it, a 2% loss there for marriage equality? The battle will be won there even if no black person changes their mind there.

Chris McCoy
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

Richard W. Fitch said:

Many A-A groups contend that the fight for gay rights is not the same as the Civil Rights movement exemplified by MLK and others of the 60’s.

I believe that this stance, taken by many African-Americans and other conservative groups, is based on the belief that homosexuality is a choice, whereas being black isn’t.

Until we can prove that homosexuality is or is not a choice, I don’t think we’ll make any significant head-way in that department.

Our smartest option until then is to counter the belief that “choosing” to be gay is somehow a “bad choice.”

Burr
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

Nonsense. Even if being gay is a choice, it’s still about the right to make that choice.

We still have passionate defenses against religious discrimination, even though that is most certainly a choice.

There’s no need to convince people of that uniformly in order for them to understand it’s just plain wrong to discriminate against people for doing something that harms no one.

Priya Lynn
September 4th, 2009 | LINK

Well said Burr.

----
September 5th, 2009 | LINK

I am wondering: if we somehow make blacks dissociate themselves from abrahamic religions (by pointing out how many verses of the Bible and Quran are racist and pro-slavery), do you think they would change their minds regarding LGBT issues?

Penguinsaur
September 5th, 2009 | LINK

Pointing out the verses in the bible that were proudly used to deny blacks and women rights? You’ve actually met a christian who will admit those exist? All I ever get is some crap about how everyone for the last 2000 years or so ‘misinterpreted’ and the current interpretation of the bible *which conveniently allows everything americans approve of and bans whatever they hate* they’ve been using for the past 30-40 years is perfect. Just like in 50 years they’ll be denying any ‘true christian’ opposed gays and that it was just a ‘vocal minority’ twisting scripture.

David
September 7th, 2009 | LINK

Perhaps we should point out that we could withhold our support from African American (and other ‘of color’) candidates until GLBTQ people have the same level of civil equality that people of color have now. No more advances for racial equality, until we catch up.

Support is a two-way street.

Trey
September 8th, 2009 | LINK

@David
And what do you think us GLBTQ people of color candidates would think about this moratorium on racial equality? or did you just forget that there are GLBTQ people of color?

seriously, can we quit speaking as if black and gay are mutually exclusive?

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