Every Monday morning, "Alex" and I met for breakfast at our favorite dive in Harvard Square. I would notice bruises and cuts on his face, arms, and legs, but I assumed that the black-and-blue marks were par for the course for a guy who played scrimmage football on the weekends.
The fury that Bay Windows editor Sue O'Connell's piece "Sharing our experience: White gay men and black men have more in common than they think" ignited raised this query: Can white LGBTQs suggest or give advice to communities of color from their own experiences of discrimination?
The massive party known as Pride is very much a space for the white, the cisgender, and the class-privileged. What about the rest of us? Pride is not a safe space for this othered other, a black queer man of trans experience deemed too queer by a community invested in their own recognition.
How do we reconcile the explicit messages we present to black gay men countering homophobia and HIV stigma with the messages we imply through our HIV closets? Where is the integrity in challenging gay men to relinquish their imbedded shame as we demonstrate and justify our own?
Stigma cannot be dislodged unless more HIV-positive people come out of our viral closets and break down the barricades of fear and silence. It is no secret that black gay men bear the highest HIV burden. Our condition demands that we unleash the radical.
Mainstream Prides have themes focused on marriage equality for the larger community, whereas Prides organized by and for LGBTQ people of African descent have focused not only on HIV/AIDS but also unemployment, housing, gang violence, and LGBTQ youth homelessness.
Jolly for you that you have a deep voice, a culturally acceptable walk and all that cisgender privilege, but let's be clear that some of us do not; some of us are feminine, and we switch, and we talk with a lisp, but that does not make us stereotypical.
Since I launched oursistacircle.com, my social networking site for lesbians of color, in 2009, I have witnessed many black-lesbian-owned businesses fail or struggle to survive because of the lack of support in our own community.
Maybe by seeing a gay black man in a relationship, other gay black men will see long-term relationships as something they can do, too, and perhaps, just perhaps, this can be the catalyst for driving down HIV rates among gay black men.
The assumption underlying NOM's divide-and-conquer strategy is that people of color are already homophobic, or can be easily pushed there. This fundamental misunderstanding of people of color and the failure to appreciate the diversity within the LGBT community are deeply troubling.
When my wife and I attended the Kwanzaa celebration with our son's classmates and their families in 1977, we were the only lesbian couple in the room. Yet we were welcomed into that room. This was a life-changing event for me.
While clearly the cost of operation was prohibitive, causing Gay Black Men News to cease publication, another reason, according to publisher and founder Ralph Emerson, was the lack of support from the LGBTQ communities of African descent.