North Texas Daily

Homophobia’s dark presence in the Black community

Homophobia’s dark presence in the Black community

Homophobia’s dark presence in the Black community
October 29
12:00 2020

For centuries, the Black community has faced marginalization, discrimination and blatant hatred as the result of the deep systemic racism that runs rampant in society. Despite this, the Black community is collectively strong and has remained resilient through 200-plus years of enslavement, years of discrimination following emancipation, the racist turmoils of the American prison system and police brutality. While the community has mainly progressive views as a collective, homophobia is still impeding further progress.

Judging an entire group of people based on something they cannot change is paradoxical. The blatant homophobia within the Black community is contradictory given the fact we ourselves are oppressed in society. Black individuals who are in the LGBTQ+ community are plagued with neglect from their community. Battles with identity crises are heavy and the quest for a safe space has become a long and hard journey.

Many Black LGBTQ+ individuals are oftentimes forced to choose between identifying with either their blackness or their sexual orientation. The failure to recognize intersectionality warrants an individual to exist freely and wholly within both their race and sexual orientation by some members of the Black community is harmful, and it unfairly rejects an entire sector of the community.

Religion has played a massive role in homophobia still having a part in the Black diaspora. The theologically-driven anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in white churches is also heavy in the Black church. Significant portions of the Black diaspora hold the Black church as a central part of their community no matter where their place in the world.

The church has a heavy influence over the community worldwide, so it naturally follows their teachings even if some of them may be problematic. It has served as the spiritual vessel that socially and psychologically empowered Black Americans during and after American chattel slavery. They found solace in the literal interpretation of the Bible to defend homophobia. Additionally, no matter their socioeconomic background, the Black church has precedent in most Black families. Thus, it has a heavy influence on the Black community.

Black scholars have found that homophobia in the Black community stems from a psycho-cultural fear of sexuality as a response to the history of exploitation of black sexuality during slavery by their white masters. Forms of the stereotypes such as the jezebel, the mammy and the hypersexual black man developed during slavery are still alive in modern society.

In fear of confirming these stereotypes in the eyes of white society, addressing sexuality has become widely taboo and in doing so, homosexuality is oftentimes viewed as a “phase” in one’s life by older generations.

Additionally, hypermasculinity plays an integral part in why homophobia is still significant. The Black man not only enforced by his community to be strictly masculine, but to also feel the need to constantly display masculinity. Black men are not allowed to show human qualities that may illustrate them as anything but masculine. Simple things such as showing emotions like a normal human being can bring an array of homophobic sentiments.

Historically black colleges and universities, an intrinsic aspect of Black culture, have also played a role in the homophobia that plagues the community. HBCUs were established after the Civil War to serve African Americans because they didn’t have access to white institutions. In 2011, Robert Champion, a gay Black student, was beaten to death during a hazing incident at Flordia A & M University. His lawyer believed that his sexuality was partly why he was abused. Most HBCUs have LGBT centuries and also offer history courses about Black queerness. However, there is still a fight that leaves Black queer students feeling neglected.

Just as being Black is not something one can escape, being a part of the LGBTQ+ is not something one can escape either. Being both Black and a member of the LGBTQ+ community is a difficult journey many Black individuals go through. Intersectionality is not recognized and, as a result, queer Black people suffer from identity issues and struggle to find their place in the Black community.

The Black diaspora is not collectively homophobic or transphobic. However, as a community, we must address and tend to the needs of Black LGBTQ+ individuals in order to progress as a people.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Michelle Monari

Michelle Monari

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