Family: We Need to Leave the Homophobia Behind Us

January 20, 2012  |  

The holiday season brought with it a little bit of familial sadness for me.

My 22-year-old cousin is all but a non-closeted lesbian at this point. For years she has battled her mother, who is far too incensed by her own religious fervor to accept that her daughter is not just experimenting around with the same sex. She has a legitimate partner with whom she’s been for a period that defies most reasonable folks’ statute of limitations for experimentation.

It’s hard for me to negotiate loved ones who stand in opposition to an issue I’m so passionate about: the protection of gay rights. I’m diametrically opposed to any idea that suggests gays should not be left alone to do what they will. To me, there is no argument within reason that indicates otherwise. Sadly, the scenario of my aunt and her cousin exists out with black families all over the country – perhaps disproportionately so.

Given the large presence of evangelical Christianity in the black community, combined with our social mores regarding expectations of the black male masculinity, it’s still dangerously unacceptable for black folks to leave the closet. Even if things have improved in the past decade or so, it hasn’t been enough and there’s still very far to go.

Frankly, this is one of those issues in which black folks embarrass me. I realize that the rest of the world is woefully, shamefully behind in their religious-based myopia, but we especially got it bad.

The empiricism of genetic instances related to homosexuality aside, I think common sense should dictate to intelligent people that the lifestyle choice is more than a “lifestyle choice.” The idea that a person is just making a conscious choice to be gay goes out the door when you consider their dress, attitude, speech, their consistent persecution, abandonment from family and – perhaps most illuminating – the long-term monogamous union of two people who raise children and develop their own lives together. I can’t think of too many people who can stay in character for that long.

On a very simple level, however, adults should be allowed to make decisions regarding what they do with another adult, and young people should be allowed to develop their own sexuality in a fashion that is healthy and not stunted by one’s church or family’s own moral proclivities. Anything else is unhealthy for the individual. It really needn’t go any further than that.

I realize that I’m quite inconsequential in the grand scheme of thousands of years of faith, the Idiot Tome and socio-cultural ideas about things, but hopefully I can plant it in at least a handful of you to be done with the homophobia that plagues our community, once and for good.


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