July 15th, 2012
I don’t know much about urban music. Sure I know Beyonce’s music and can probably sing along to an Usher song or two, but beyond that I’m at a loss.
However I have, in a small way, been paying attention the way in which the attitudes of American black youth about sexuality are reflected in music and writing and I believe that I have been detecting a significant change.
In the Pre-8 world it seemed to me that black males loudly and proudly trumpeted their homophobia and black women either made the mildest of protests or offered excuses. That is no longer the case.
In the past four years we have witnessed a number of highly respected and influential black men – politicians, writers, sports legends, musicians, spiritual leaders, and even the President- have expressed their support for gay equality. The most established symbols of masculinity have made it clear that they do not see gay people as weak or inferior or less a part of the authentic black experience.
And it has impacted the community.
In the past, any suggestion that a rap artist might be gay put him outside the mainstream. If not totally ostracized, he was relegated to a niche and ignored (women have fared better, but only if they stayed semi-closeted). But when Frank Ocean released a statement revealing that his first love had been another man, the response has been noticeably different.
Writing for The Root, Helena Andrews says
“I could never make him love me,” Ocean sings on “Bad Religion,” the song about feeling alone in a non-relationship that first sparked the questions about his sexuality. Funny, listening to the track, one can hardly distinguish the anguish from the issue, or vice versa. Is he upset that he fell in love with a man or that he fell in love with someone who won’t love him back?
In the end, none of it really matters when your eyes are closed, eavesdropping on emotions that could easily be your own. And therein lies the strength of Ocean’s Channel Orange: You can choose to forget who he’s singing to or choose to unravel every allusion and turn of phrase. Either way, it’s good music.
Perhaps it is that he is skilled and talented. Perhaps it is the stark honesty within the poetry of his lyrics. Perhaps it was just the right moment. But the urban music world has coalesced around Ocean in a nearly universally supportive way.
And for what may be the first time in that genre, Ocean may have benefitted from his sexual honesty. His album is selling very well.
This is encouraging and a blessing in so many ways. Obviously, as a confirmation of the polls that show a shift in support for marriage equality among African American voters, this bodes well for future marriage votes – particularly in Maryland this November.
But even more importantly, this new attitude holds promise for those most impacted by HIV, young gay black men. Perhaps the single greatest factor in avoiding seroconversion are the voices in our heads, our perceptions of our own worth, and our sense of belonging. And for many young black men, acceptance of their own sexuality as being of equal value to heterosexuality comes too late.
I may be reading too much into this moment. Maybe I too desperately want it to be true. But I have hope that things have changed and I am celebrating the change I see.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.