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WATCH: Doc Explores “The Black Vote For Gay Marriage” In Maryland

With Maryland’s landmark same-sex marriage referendum on the ballot in a matter of days, filmmaker Yoruba Richen shared this “Op-Doc,” The Black Vote for Gay Marriage, with The New York Times.

While the fight for marriage equality is a civil rights issue, many in the black community, particularly the black religious community, consider it a matter of faith.

Richen hopes to explore the disconnect between the black civil rights and gay civil rights movements:

I realized that the issue of gay rights in the black community is in many ways a fight over the African-American family, which has been a contested space since the time of slavery. So marriage is not just about marriage for black people — it’s also about how blacks have become accepted as legitimate participants in American society…the gay marriage question in the black community has forced a conversation, which is taking place in the pulpits and the pews, the hair salons and barbershops — and ultimately at the ballot box.

Recent polls suggest that opposition from black churches has caused support for gay marriage to wane, despite endorsements from President Obama, the NAACP and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Richen, a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, adapted this piece from a longer documentary she has been working on for the past three years, The New Black, scheduled to be released in early 2013.

By:           Les Fabian Brathwaite
On:           Nov 2, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

  • 10 Comments
    • Ronbo
      Ronbo

      The take-away is…

      Religion fosters biotry and ignorance.

      Readless of color, creed or minority suffering.

      Nov 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel Philippe
      Daniel Philippe

      I vote for gay marriage in every part of the world.

      Nov 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • USC Trojans Fan
      USC Trojans Fan

      I don’t think it’s ignorant to note how the most oppressed group in our society is often at the forefront in these ballot measures in denying the most oppressed group today (gays) their basic civil rights. We’re not even the ones noting it. Black journalists, blogs, thousands of newspapers, and even black coalitions speak constantly about the general disdain for gay marriage in the black community. I don’t believe gay people reacting to that (in rational ways) makes gay people ignorant or off base. For far too long, gay people have been told to not address black homophobia, and as a result, we couldn’t help change and create a mental shift in the black community as it pertains to gay rights. We were told to make our message general and that just creates the element of more ignorance being fueled.
      I will say with confidence that had the gay community been so resistent in granting black community equal rights, and we had many gay organizations vocally fighting against black civil rights, and we voted in large numbers to eliminate equality for the black community, we’d never hear the end of it. The entire gay community would be held accountable. We’d have a lot to answer for. And I highly doubt black gay members of our community wouldn’t make the distinction between a straight racist and a gay r acist. They’d rightfully express that as a disenfranchized community, we LGBT should know better than to deny another group their rights. To even suggest there wouldn’t be mounting tension and the gay community wouldn’t be held increasingly responsible is an outright lie and calculating. But as it turns, when the roles are reversed, we’re told as gay people to overlook the irony of black people historically voting against our rights, and not dare bring it up. To me, that says homophobia is an accepted form of societal element, but r acism is not. I think both homophobia and r acism are cut from the same cloth.

      Nov 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • USC Trojans Fan
      USC Trojans Fan

      I don’t think it’s ignorant to note how the most oppressed group in our society is often at the forefront in these ballot measures in denying the most oppressed group today (gays) their basic civil rights. We’re not even the ones noting it. Black journalists, blogs, thousands of newspapers, and even black coalitions speak constantly about the general disdain for gay marriage in the black community. I don’t believe gay people reacting to that (in rational ways) makes gay people ignorant or off base. For far too long, gay people have been told to not address black homophobia, and as a result, we couldn’t help change and create a mental shift in the black community as it pertains to gay rights. We were told to make our message general and that just creates the element of more ignorance being fueled.
      I will say with confidence that had the gay community been so resistent in granting black community equal rights, and we had many gay organizations vocally fighting against black civil rights, and we voted in large numbers to eliminate equality for the black community, we’d never hear the end of it. The entire gay community would be held accountable. We’d have a lot to answer for. And I highly doubt black gay members of our community wouldn’t make the distinction between a straight r acist and a gay r acist. They’d rightfully express that as a disenfranchized community, we LGBT should know better than to deny another group their rights. To even suggest there wouldn’t be mounting tension and the gay community wouldn’t be held increasingly responsible is an outright lie and calculating. But as it turns, when the roles are reversed, we’re told as gay people to overlook the irony of black people historically voting against our rights, and not dare bring it up. To me, that says homophobia is an accepted form of societal element, but r acism is not. I think both homophobia and r acism are cut from the same cloth

      Nov 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Reality101
      Reality101

      @USC Trojans Fan: Wholeheartedly agree. I definitely think there is a double standard. After our great President came out in support of gay marriage, some of the reaction from the black community, many of the personal videos which can be found on you tube, were startling at best. For a community that knows first hand what it’s like to be denied based on inherent traits to then turn and deny based on other people’s inherent traits is of course upsetting and frustrating for the demographic effected by their actions. Noting the irony doesn’t make one a bigot. I believe waving the civil rights flag only for your demographic and denying it for others is what a bigot makes. What’s interesting is that the two groups could be a very effective working union. They have many of the same interests, goals and shared commonality to some degree.

      Nov 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CM79
      CM79

      Black people don’t owe the gay community its compliance or servitude. The bottom line is that just because we both know what it’s like to be kicked doesn’t make us friends, allies, or mutual supporters. When it comes to the supposed attitudes that the black community has about gays, I see a lot of arrogance on the end of the gay community. You don’t have a right to tell me how to feel, or to assume/presume what I should do. It’s incredibly naive and condescending when people spout that “you would think they, of all people, should know better…” Please. As I said earlier, just because two people are minorities doesn’t mean that they have any kind of kinship or find each other relatable. The experiences each face are still very unique and in a lot of ways foreign to the other side.

      Furthermore, with all the r-acism that exists in the gay community, I find it all the more ironic that so many expect people of color to come out in support of same sex marriage and to be gay-friendly, in general. Yeah, I’ll remember that the next time I see hordes of ‘No blacks’ on profiles at gay dating sites, or the next time I go to a gay bar and the doorman asks for multiple forms of I.D. before hesitantly letting me in. You treat people of color like less-desirables within the gay community, yet you dare take offense and get insulted when people of color don’t help you fight against propositions, measures and political assaults others bring against the gay community?

      WHO tends to be the driving force behind the struggles and speed bumps in equality for LGBT people, anyway? Sure, black folks may be more likely to vote against things like gay marriage — and may not be noticeable uncomfortable when it comes to homosexuality — but ask yourselves, who are the ones who even create these anti-gay propositions (and fund promotion of it) in the first place. Sure ain’t blacks. Last time I checked Catholicism, Mormonism and socially conservative “family” groups tended to be populated by an overwhelmingly white majority. Frankly, if every straight white person was FOR gay equality, you would have had it eons ago…even if every black person were against it. It’s your own conservative aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and co-workers who are out to “get” you, yet so much time is spent taking offense to the general casual black attitude when it comes to gays.

      That irony you speak of goes both ways.

      Nov 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • NotStr8Acting
      NotStr8Acting

      @CM79: Spoken like a black homophobe who feels he’s entitled to homophobia because you are black. I hope every member of the LGBT community is keeping their eyes opened over the fact that the most opposed group to our rights have been the black community; that includes black LGBT who consistently make excuses or outright defend homophobia. As politically incorrect as it may be, no other demographic is as self serving as the black community. And the gay community has realized that first hand.

      Nov 4, 2012 at 2:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Reality101
      Reality101

      @CM79:

      Oh man. So many contradictions and hypocrisy to highlight in your post, I don’t know where to begin. But I will say, you perfectly reaffirm and represent black homophobia that others speak of. You basically argue that the black community owes the gay community nothing and is entitled to be homophobic, while in the next sentence schooling the gay community on it’s r-acism? Hahaha. Talk about chip on your shoulder. And that right there is the bottom line that many gay individuals are experiencing in terms of double standards from the black community. You’re allowed, even entitled to be as homophobic as you wish, but God forbid any gay person be r-acist. Why? because you dictate homophobia is acceptable, which you in so many words perfectly spelled out, but r-acism is the worst humanely thing possible. Don’t get dramatic when other LGBT don’t adopt that slant.

      “As I said earlier, just because two people are minorities doesn’t mean that they have any kind of kinship”

      Well then with that logic, the gay community owes YOU nothing either. Don’t complain that some people have their own physical preferences that they want to sleep with (oh! the horror!) or about other venues you seek to feel victimized. After all, just because we are minorities does not mean we have a servitude to you or your needs (as were your words). If that applies to us, that will certainly then apply to you too.

      And there’s not enough space on here for me and many others I know to list the many times we’ve walked into black clubs (yeah, they promoted it as a black club.) or black oriented establishments and were subject to constant homophobia. So you want to highlight every isolated experience of feeling victimized for your race by the gay community? For every one of those stories, there’s literally thousands gay people can list where we experienced nothing but homophobia when in the company of black people (ESPECIALLY straight black men). Watch you get heated and ready to pull the r-acist label. You can’t because nothing I did above in pointing out first hand observations is different than what you did. You just feel entitled to highlight negatives in the gay community based on your own homophobia. and because you are black.

      Nov 4, 2012 at 3:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • USC Trojans Fan
      USC Trojans Fan

      @CM79:
      Thank you for proving my point to the tee. You were the exact kind of self interest individual I was refering to in my original post. You know, for as much time black gay folks like you take in painting gays as r acist. What have you doen to combat homophobia in the black community? Based on your writing, you partake in it. And that’s really the narrative here. Many black LGBT have misdirected anger toward the gay community because they don’t feel accepted, wanted, or embraced by the greater black community at large. Instead of focusing their energy to challenge and change cultural elements of homophobia ingrained in parts of the black community, it’s so much easier to lash out at well adjusted gays. Or the gay community altogether. What that does is make you A.) isolate yourself from both groups. B.) Find yourself without a home as neither black community want to embrace you nor the gay community wants to take on your multitude of issues, misdirected anger, self hate and general disdain for our community. Just as you claim to owe us nothing; the feeling is mutual dear.
      You wrote: “Sure, black folks may be more likely to vote against things like gay marriage — and may not be noticeable uncomfortable when it comes to homosexuality…”
      well then if it’s good enough for the black community to be outwardly uncomfortable with our presence, then you should be accustomed to discomfort based on difference. Heck, what you wrote says “hey, sure there’s homophobia in the black community and disdain for gays” and you want gays to overlook that? accept that? not talk about it? encourage that? or pretend it doesn’t exist? or all the above? Why. Because you don’t want your personal feelings hurt as a black person. Guess what, that gay person who was made to feel unwelcomed by the noticeable discomfort by black people for simply being who he is got his feelings hurt, and that didn’t seem to upset you much. You’ll get over it. If not, practice what you preach and be willing to step outside your own needs for once instead of constantly saying “me! me! me! and until you love all of me and my people, no equality for you people” ….there’s a smart strategy for gay black peeps. That certainly won’t alienate the gay community from you. HAH.

      Signed,
      A non white hispanic and proud gay man

      Nov 4, 2012 at 3:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scott Johansen
      Scott Johansen

      @CM79: I’m biracial and that’s some straight up BS what you wrote, and you know it. Where there may be truth in some of what you said, a lot of it and the way you worded it was just hypocritical. Tto sum it up, you basically saying gays need to accept the fact that the black community can and will be homophobic and the gay struggle shouldn’t be compared to the black struggle and blacks owe nothing to gays. But then you preach about how gays need to be sensitive toward discrimination faced by our people and show blacks respect. I mean for real now. You really think you’re gonna win over any fans with that approach? any understanding? If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you’re a NOM plant. Actually, come to think of it….

      Nov 4, 2012 at 5:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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