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FrogTown Diva

FrogTown Diva
Toledo, Ohio, USA
September 23
Editor/eBook Publisher
Observations From the Swamp Many folks think we live in the nether regions of the earth here in Toledo, Ohio. However, Toledo is the birthplace of jazz great, Art Tatum, not to mention many other distinguished and accomplished AfrAms (African-Americans) who often remain unheralded and unrecognized in their home town. This swamp is a petrie dish swarming with undiscovered talent that the world may never know because there are too many slimey creatures down here in the swamp pulling down anyone who tries to climb out and come out into the warmth of the sun. This diva climbed into the swamp with one purpose - to rid the world of slime!

MAY 12, 2012 9:53AM

Will Obama change Evangelical blacks' view of homosexuality?

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President Obama's support of "marriage equality," not gay marriage, may turn the tide of opinion regarding this issue among black Evangelicals. According to an article in the Daily Beast, negative attitudes towards gays among African-Amerians went from 67% negative in 2008 to 47% negative in just four years. Considering that 51% of Americans support the President's stance on marriage equality, that sounds about right.


There's some distance between "tolerating" gays and approving of them having the right to get married. That's a prickly issue in the African-American community where the memory of interracial marriages being banned just a few decades ago haunts us, along with the denial of legalized marriages among slaves a little more than a century ago. Marriage is a right that many in our community seem to feel gives us legitimacy in more ways than one, although you'd never know it by the way some of African-American men shirk marriage and any responsibility for the children they sire.

Let's go back to that "tolerance" of gays attitude most African-Americans now have. Tolerance doesn't mean acceptance or approval. Actually, many men in the African-American community seem to view homosexuality as the opposite of masculine and manliness. One of the reasons, I believe, so many men in our community are on the "down low" (married or involved with women, but having sex with men) is because they fear their manhood would be questioned if anyone knew they were gay.

Black men have fought hard to be men. No excuse for deceiving women and putting them in danger of getting infected with HIV/AIDS, which I address in my play about homosexuality and AIDS in the African-American community, B.R.AIDS (Black Response to AIDS). Think about it. The U.S. Constitution still has the statement in it relegating black to "three-fifths" of a man. That was a hard blow to  black manhood as was enslavement and denigration as subservients, treated like and called "boys."

Black men have fought in every war to prove their manhood and after emancipation, many worked hard and supported families (and still do) to prove they are men - not boys. One of the worst things anyone can do to a black man is to call him "boy." But it's not as bad, in the eyes of many black men, as being called "gay."

"I ain't no fag!" I hear this denouncement repeatedly, even when the subject is not gays. If a black man is chided for wearing a certain color, like pink or peach, you'll hear this. Or if he's teased because he's close friends with another man -  better not be a gay man! - this will likely be his retort.Why?

Why after over a century of freedom and having a black man in the White House, do black men still feel their manhood is at issue? Most likely it's because they still seem to be a threat to the likes of George Zimmerman and are more likely to be suspended from school, drop out altogether, go to prison, be unemployed, and be killed by the police or another black man.

Obviously, there are black men who overcome these statistics through their own determination and concerted efforts, but while they are more plentiful than the media would have you believe, those aren't the black men you see on the news night after night and on shows like "Cops," making the "gangstas heroes and more "manly" in the eyes of many undirected, young black men.

But even among well-educated, successful black men, there's a need to prove manhood and a perception that being gay is unmanly. Many black men on the down low are successful, often highly-paid atheletes and entertainers.

Why can't these men be openly gay? Well, many of them are respected and supported by the black community. They fear losing that respect if they come out of the closet. So, they marry often unsuspecting women, have families, and have risky sex with men. They often don't use condoms or take other precautions that would prevent them from contracting HIV or other STDs.

At one time, Toledo, Ohio, where I live and taught the public schools' first sex education class in two junior high schools due to our county having the highest rate of teen preganancy in the state, had the highest rate per capita of black women with HIV/AIDS. Why? Men on the down low.

A local black Baptist preacher who wanted to pastor a church was told he needed a wife in order to be a pastor. He'd never gotten married because he was secretly gay. But he did what he was told and eventually contracted HIV and gave it to his wife. He ended up living in a residential facility for PLWAs (People LIving with AIDS) and had to divulge the names of his sex partners.

Somehow "the list" circulated around the community and the names on it included some of the black community's top church leaders, all of whom were either married or had been married, except one. The pastor that was forced to get married spent the last year of his life ministering in a mostly white Episcopalian church because he was a pariah in the black community.

Remember Prop 8 in California? Black Evangelicals overwhelmingly voted against gay rights and their views were echoed in black communities across the country. However, as the statistics quoted in the Daily Beast indicate, the numbers of black people opposed to gay rights has definitely dwindled.

But I'm not sure the numbers opposed to gay marriage has. President Obama's announcement may change that. I certainly hope so. 









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It is time for Obama to also stick his neck out for unions. Unions would give workers needed lost bargaining power, better wages and benefits. Roosevelt saw this.
People can not eat or house themselves. This must be Obama's very top priortity.
I agree Kathy! Hopefully he will since the unions have supported him faithfully. I think that was why he made his historic statement supporting marriage equality. The LGTB community has backed him with their bucks. So have the unions. So have many blacks.
You've done an admirable job of describing the complexities of homosexuality in the black community. I do believe it is time the churches get real about what goes on. If they do, their members are likely to follow suit.

I agree Lezlie and describe it quite graphically in my play (excerpt in previous post). I'm hoping that in a few years we look back on all of this with disbelief and wonder what took us so long.
They lost prop 8 in CA because of the black vote and the sheer amount of money the Mormons sent in.
Some of my African American friends will not tolerate my views on gays and as I saw this week in NC. You will not see legality of gay marriage in my lifetime sad to say.
It;s a travesty.
Thank you for sharing this, Diva. That is a very hopeful and positive change of opinion over just four years.
Linda and rwnutjob you're right. The outlook is grim. Clay, I have this hope that if enough of us speak out, things will change. That's why I entered my play in the contest. It was in a drawer for over 20 years. I was just reminded of the power of pop culture when I saw a video of adults in the audience crying when Milking Minaj made a surprise visit on Ellen. If someone famous with a cult following starred in B.R.AIDS that would definitely make a difference with the younger generation.
Thanks for explaining this, Diva. I had heard this mentioned but never discussed as to the reasons and extent. Makes O's "hesitation evolution" all the more significant.
Right, Chicken. I'm sure he was concerned about losing the black church community's support. But we tend to not vote against our own interest.
What is the problem that "Blaaacks" are being accused of anti gay bias?

Look. How many Black families actually throw out a gay member? Black people are more accepting of gays than we are being given credit for. I refuse to let me people become a target on this issue.

After all, we have to be a lot more worried about our kids being murdered on the streets by White cops who want another notch on their guns.

We know what we are doing. There is a racial divide in the Gay community as there is in every other aspect of America's racist society. Black Gays will never get the perks that White gays want in society and are safer living on the down low.
Great post and R, by the way!
Thanks, Seer! I agree with you about religions, too!
I fear the power of the pulpit in all of this the most Diva.
For if the pulpit gets used as a platform for subliminal directions by the religious right, the division will just get bigger on this issue.
But, then, my current room mate is a fundamentalist Christian and she speaks her views often to me quite loudly.
This could get ugly. But maybe not.
My fear, too, Mission.
it's nice to see the president leading...the thing is that when he chooses to lead, he's generally quite good at it...

thanks for this post.
You're welcome! I just hope since African-Americans are so enraptured by President Obama they will follow his lead on this.