My girlfriend thinks that I am homophobic. I don’t think that I am but today I am going to confront the possibility that I might be. This discussion is happening because of yesterday’s post about the movie, Brokeback Mountain. In that post I noted that I am not interested in seeing gay men in leading roles for certain character types. Now, she said that by replacing gay with black, I would notice that I am no different from a racist. I reject this, but to do so, I wanted to consider the fact that she might be correct.
To give this topic justice, I have to acknowledge a few things. First, the black community is notorious for being homophobic. I’ve seen this in the black church and in other social settings. It was certainly evident while I was in the military. Second, I support a lot of gay right issues because I am a firm believer in Civil Rights. However, that does not negate the fact that I could be homophobic. It is possible to have ones Civil Rights philosophy not align with ones personal philosophy. As is the case of many northern whites who fought for Civil Rights for blacks but moved out of the neighborhood when a black family moved next door.
But is it fair to equate my post with that of a racist? Well, lets first define a racist.
Racist: based on racial intolerance; "racist remarks" 2: discriminatory especially on the basis of race or religion [syn: antiblack, anti-Semitic, anti-Semite(a)] n : a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.This is a narrow definition of a racist. I would add a practice of oppression or denying human rights based on race. Prejudiced is mentioned, so we could expand the question to ask, am I prejudice against homosexuals. Lets look at the definition of prejudice.
1a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
1b. A preconceived preference or idea.
2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions. See Synonyms at predilection.
3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.
4. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived, unfavorable conviction of another or others.
This is an expansive definition and I think it is relevant to the discussion. Could it then be said that if a person exhibit any of these beliefs towards homosexuals, then that person is homophobic. I would say yes but lets check the definition of a homophobic before I make that conclusion.
1. Fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men.
2. Behavior based on such a feeling.
3. adj. prejudiced against homosexual people
It seems to me that all three definitions are connected in some sense. So, now I have to contrast my beliefs and what I wrote against the definitions.
Rather than rewrite my beliefs regarding Civil Rights for homosexuals, I’ll let you read them here. However, I can state that I am for the recognition of Gay Marriage and all that that stipulates. I don’t believe in creating any laws that would diminish the rights of gay people. But those are my political beliefs and as I stated before, political beliefs may not always coincide with social acceptance.
One aspect of the racist definition is the superiority belief. Do I believe heterosexuals are superior to homosexuals? No. I am of the belief that homosexuals are no different from anyone else. I don’t believe they can control their attraction to the same sex as I do not control my attraction to women. Would I endorse a homosexual lifestyle? Probably not, but then, who am I to endorse any lifestyle? Every man has a right to live as he pleases so long as he doesn’t harm or restrict the rights of another.
Could my comment yesterday that gays should not play certain characters be construed as saying straight men are superior becasue they are better suited to play what we perceive as masculine roles? I might come across that way if you wanted to read that into it. But lets step back from it for a moment and look at it like this.
Football is a form of entertainment. I love football and it is a brutal, violent and very physical game. Are there any gay players in the NFL? I would venture to so that more than likely there are. But because of the nature of the sport, those players keep it to themselves. Would I care if they came out? No. If they can play the game, I’m not caring about their sexuality.
Musicians. Do I really care about the sexual orientation of a musician? No. It was readily known that Luther Vandross was gay. He never came out and said anything, but we knew. Did it have any impact on his career? It didn’t. Had he acknowledged the fact that he was gay, would it have had an impact on his career? I can’t say for sure but for me it would not have made a difference.
With that said, is it then wrong for me to typecast the type of characters I like to see when I go to the movies? Would I react differently to a romantic comedy depicting a gay couple than I would a gangster movie depicting a gay man? That depends on the focal point. If the gangster is shooting and killing people the way I expect a gangster to do and he just “happens” to be gay. Then I may not think much of it. But if the focal point is about being gay and showing mobsters can be gay too, then it is not going to interest me. Does that make me homophobic?
In the definition of homophobic, fear and contempt are mentioned. I have neither toward gay people. What is there to fear? That the gayness will somehow rub off on me? If there is anyone that I have contempt for is rappers promoting a gangster lifestyle. Does that make me gangsterphobic? It probably does but it is a destructive lifestyle so I have every right to have contempt towards them. Now, I’m sure there is section of the population that thinks that homosexuality is a destructive lifestyle, but those are based on religious beliefs and I’m not going to discuss the religious aspects of this.
I think we are in an era where if we do not acknowledge, embrace and endorse the homosexual lifestyle, we are then labeled homophobic. But if in every part of my life I endorse the political, artistic and personal freedoms of homosexuals but choose not to engage the lifestyle by not seeing certain films or going to certain clubs, how is that homophobic?
The same thing that is happening with accusations of racism is happening with accusations of homophobia. The brush stroke is too broad and it takes away from legitimate concerns that gay people have when it comes to their Civil Rights.
Again, I have to acknowledge that homophobia is a major issue in the black community. I think there is a need to discuss the acceptance of gay men and women in our community, if not for righteous sake then for health sake. HIV/AIDS is a very serious issue in the black community. There are plenty of theories floating around as to the cause of AIDS cases. The Downlow phenomenon and drugs seem to be the main contributing factors. I am not sure of the numbers but I’m sure Cynthia’s Interest has some statistics on it. So, I admit that there is a need for frank and open discussion on this issue. So lets have it.
What are your feelings about homosexuality? No political correctness allowed. State your true feelings and why. What needs to take place in the black community to combat the downlow brothers? Is there even a real problem with brothers on the downlow?
OK. The floor is open.