You'll have to forgive me for not being completely and utterly shocked at Tuesday's news that NOM actually went so far as to explicitly make plans to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and the black community. I wasn't shocked because, as a black gay man, this is a wedge that I've been aware of for quite some time.
While I'd been aware of an undercurrent of racial tension in the gay community for a while, it all became blindingly explicit with the double whammy of the 2008 election, which saw the election of Barack Obama and the passing of anti-gay Proposition 8 in California. For weeks and weeks afterwards we were treated to faulty analysis blaming the heightened black turnout on the passing of Prop 8, even though that theory has been debunked by those with cooler heads and a better mind for the mathematics of it all.
For some in the LGBT community, though, it didn't matter, and LGBT-specific blogs became (and still remain to this day) a place where a certain sect of them can spew racial animus toward blacks, justifying it by the perceived actions of the black community in California that fateful election day in 2008. It sometimes pops up in posts that have to do with Barack Obama's "evolution" on the subject of gay marriage, or especially in blog posts or news articles covering yet another homophobic rube who just happens to be black. You see, NOM didn't need to do anything special to drive the wedge between blacks and gays, as we've pretty much been doing it ourselves for quite some time.
The breathless moral outrage from some of the more prominent voices in the LGBT community over these findings seems to me to be a bit phony and more than a little self-serving. By loudly proclaiming our outrage and disgust that such a group would dare to engage in such blatant and divisive action, we let ourselves off the hook for the serious issues regarding race and racism that remain unaddressed within the LGBT community.
It is there, it is ugly, and as this week's revelations proved, it was only a matter of time before those who hate both groups saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. We look at people like NOM as the bad guys for daring to sow the seeds of a rift between the black community and the LGBT community, but we don't look inward at some of the reasons why such a rift would be so easily created and exploited in the first place.
We don't ask ourselves why most national LGBT organizations have executive boards that are nearly exclusively white. We don't ask ourselves why the media that are supposed to represent the diversity and complexity of our community rarely, if ever, showcase anything other than an upper-middle-class, white ideal. We don't ask ourselves why there are so very few voices and faces of color elevated to positions of prominence within the community to counteract the seemingly endless amount of black religious zealots who are ready to be trotted out onto television to represent their antiquated worldviews. We don't ask ourselves how it may be perceived when we trot out yet another white figurehead arguing for gay rights against a black religious leader arguing fervently against them. Furthermore, we don't ask the most obvious question of all, which is why the two groups are continually spoken of as two separate entities when there are plenty among us who operate in both. We're missing a major, major opportunity every time we engage in any kind of discussion while operating under the dated and ridiculous assumption that gays and blacks are two mutually exclusive groups.
What I've been seeing over the past 24 hours from our more prominent gay political voices makes me feel a bit queasy, and knowing what I know about our community's issues, it strikes me as more than a bit hypocritical. As a community, we pat ourselves on the back for making this discovery and ignore the true implications and dangers it has for us, at our own peril. Yes, we can gnash our teeth and point our fingers, but personally, I can't be surprised that NOM was making plans to build a wall between the two communities. Truth be told, a great deal of our own actions have been helping them slowly but surely, brick by brick.