Between the Black conservative preachers who organize against equal rights, otherwise respectable African-American pundits who tweet coded language, the perennial myth of the Black DL AIDS predator, and lyricists who have been so inventive with their invective (“pause”), the Black community can seem unanimous in its embrace of homophobia.
Leave it up to the first Black president of the United States to change the script. Since Barack Obama became the first sitting POTUS to endorse same sex marriage, a surprising set of characters have been chiming in and complicating the conventional wisdom.
Here, a brief look at unexpected Black interrupters—and a wildcard who spoke up way before He Who Flies in Air Force One spoke of his evolution on a divisive issue.
“I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage. I’m an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want.”
While critics have accused the Pretty Boy of using same-sex rights to one-up his enemy, it’s telling that he’d even consider gay marriage as a rhetorical tool of war.
He wasn’t talking about same-sex marriage in the United States, but in a May 14th pre-concert video about how his pockets have been flattened by homophobic lyrics, a formerly defensive Beenie Man shows growth. From a HuffPo transcription:
"Let me make this clear and straight. I have nothing against no one. I respect each and every human being, regardless of which race or creed, regardless of which religious belief you believe in, and regardless of which sexual preference you are, including gay and lesbian people. … I love each and every one and am just begging each and everyone to do the same…do not fight against me for a song that I sang 20 years ago…I was a kid. Now I know that people live in the world that live their life differently than the way I live my life. Just love the music and respect the music."
If you watch the throne, you know that nine times out of ten, Jay-Z embodies “Eff you, pay me.” But in a CNN interview posted on May 14th, the new dad went all human rights when asked if Obama would lose votes for his evolution on gay marriage:
“I think it’s the right thing to do so whether it costs him votes or not, again, it’s not about—it’s really not about votes. It’s about people. So whether it costs him votes or not, I think it’s the right thing to do, as a human being.”
In a May 16th Ad Age interview Ice Cube, a Coors spokesman once famous for “No Vaseline,” brought barbershop-worthy pragmatism to the debate:
“I’ve had people in my family, myself and a lot of my ancestors have been victims of discrimination. So I don’t want to discriminate on nobody. …And I’m not worried about what people do in their bedrooms. … “I’m cool with it. I’m already married, so I ain’t worried about too many other people, what they’re doing.”
“To speak honestly and being frank, I don’t care. I think that if a matter doesn’t affect your daily life, you shouldn’t take a hard stand on it. If it’s not something that directly affects you, if it doesn’t affect you then what difference does it make what other people are doing with their lives? So I think that you should be able to do whatever you want to do. I don’t see how it matters one way or another.”
Huey P. Newton via Davey D
On May 11th, activist and journalist Davey D reintroduced us to an August 15, 1970 speech by Huey P. Newton where the Black Panther Party co-founder essentially calls homophobia (and sexism) counterrevolutionary. A sample:
“Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say, “Whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with. We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people.”
Akiba Solomon is an NABJ-Award winning writer, freelance journalist, editor and essayist from West Philadelphia. She writes about the intersection between gender and race for Colorlines and is the co-editor of Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts.