Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gay Rights Ain't Civil

Gay Rights Ain't Civil:
You've Got Your Troubles...

Paul Scott

Back before I was born, a group called the Fortunes had a hot hit with "You've Got Your Troubles I've Got Mine." Although the song, has now been relegated to late night infomercials, it could still be used, today, as the theme song for African American and Gay community relations.

Since the passing of Proposition 8 on the West Coast, a lot of people have been comparing the struggles of the homosexual community with the historical trials and tribulations that torment the souls of black folks.

To me that's like comparing an apple to an orange. (Or in this case a Big Mac to quiche.)

To compare the African Holocaust (Trans Atlantic Slave Trade) to the Same Sex Marriage Rights Movement is an insult to the millions of my African ancestors whose bones are resting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Can anyone say with a straight face that there is any similarity between being stolen from your homeland to work in the sweltering heat on a Georgia Plantation and the right to open a gay bar in Houston?

I don't recall reading about any slave ships being docked outside of San Francisco waiting for the next round up of homosexuals.

Some have even gone as far as to compare the Gay Rights Movement with the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's. How many pictures have you seen of racist Alabama sheriff, Bull Connor sicing German Shepherds on Gay Rights demonstrators? How many Gay Rights activists have been shot down in their driveways ,like Medgar Evers, as their families watched in horror ?

Homosexuals are not the first to hijack the black struggle for equality. Our tactics have been either used or stolen by any advocacy group that came along from the women's rights groups to the animal rights organizations. The gays and others have used these tactics with greater success than those who shed their blood, sweat and tears to implement them. The reason being that while gay unity has been accepted at least by homosexuals, black unity has often been frowned upon by many blacks whose philosophy has been that African Americans have to shed their blackness and blend in with the white majority in order to achieve social and economic equality. While gay people were being encouraged to come out of the closet, we were being told to put our blackness back in the closet. Also, if the tactics that are used by other ethnic groups had been used by blacks they would have been quickly denounced as evidence of "racism in reverse."

From the perspective of many blacks, homosexuality is more readily accepted in this country than racial issues. The homosexual white male who contracts HIV is looked upon with greater sympathy than the heterosexual African American male who contracts HIV from intravenous drug use or unprotected sex. Yet they both contracted the disease by lifestyle choices. On the world scene, concern over the AIDS epidemic of white males in America has trumped the concern over AIDS in Africa.

While some may view the gay rights argument in strictly theological or moral terms, this is not the case here. What is good or evil depends on which religious text you are reading and your interpretation or misinterpretation of it. While my own religious point of reference does not condone homosexuality, this would be relevant only if we were living under a Theocracy. While a Theocracy contains certain dogmas that demand strict adherence, the mantra of a Democracy is "If it feels good do it, just don't hurt anybody." Especially in America.

That does not mean, however, that one has to be pressured into condoning another person's embrace of an alternative lifestyle.

Just because I choose to blast my old school Run DMC album at 3am every morning does not mean that my 90 year old neighbor should be forced to share my taste in music.

The attitude of most black folks is "live and let live." We don't have the time nor energy to devote to gay bashing. In case you haven't been watching the news, we have our own problems to deal with.

Therefore, the idea of "black homophobia" that is tossed around every time black folks don't run to the front of the line at Gay Pride Parades is over exaggerated. I don't see too many black men ducking for cover when "Dancing Queen" blasts over the intercom system at the mall. For most, homosexuality is met with indifference. (For years, I thought Liberace was just a snazzy dresser who liked to play the piano.)

Although Hip Hop has had homophobia lumped in with its multitude of moral transgressions that does not reflect the reality of the nature of the subculture.

With songs like like "My Girl's Got a Girlfriend" and the embrace of Lesbianism in some Hip Hop videos and magazines, one can charge exploitation but not homophobia. Also, most rap artists are slow to offend a large segment of their fan base and financial backers for economic reasons, if not moral.

There is, however, a concern that the Black Empowerment Movement will be co-opted by the Gay Rights Movement. There is a real fear that one day someone will interject the line "when little gay boys and gay girls will join hands with straight boys and girls" into Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream Speech."

So the issue for black folks is not the rights of gays to marry or anything else but the way those rights infringe upon the movement for African American equality. If you think that it's hard being gay, you should try being black for a day.

To borrow from that oft repeated line of prose:

"I once complained about my pink paisley tie then I saw a man with a noose around his neck."

Paul Scott, the Hip Hop TRUTH Minista's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283