With Oscar season and Black History Month rolling around at the same time, it's gratifying to see Lee Daniels get recognition for being the first black gay man nominated in the category of Best Director.
However, some media reports got it wrong when they claimed that he is the first gay black man to receive an Oscar nomination. The late actor Paul Winfield receives that honor because of his 1972 Oscar nomination for Best Actor for Sounder.
This error is especially poignant to me because it illustrates just how difficult it is for members of the black gay community to receive any type of recognition for what we have contributed to society.
Usually we are ignored during Black History Month. Or worse yet, our achievements are noted but our orientation is stepped over as if its dog dirt on a freshly manicured lawn.
This could happen for a number of reasons, but I like to place a degree of blame on this ridiculous war that the black and gay communities find themselves manipulated into regarding who suffered the most. Regardless of the points made by either group, the one who receives the largest casualties in this battle for position is the gay community of color.
The richness of our lives and our contributions to America are diminished because we are seen as commodities in this tug-of-war.
But despite this, I take a degree of solace in something.
No matter how the spotlight of attention from the larger gay community eludes us, no matter how many black minister lackeys the (predominantly white) leadership of the religious right can dredge up to deny the connection between the gay and black communities, no matter how many times our lives are seemingly diminished or ignored by well-meaning gay and black leaders, certain facts about who we are don't change.
Barbara Jordan, who taught Americans a new love and respect for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution during the Nixon impeachment trials,
Lorraine Hansberry, who explored how racism can destroy the souls of black men and women through her monumental play, A Raisin in the Sun,
Bayard Rustin, who shook up the world by successfully planning and executing the 1963 March on Washington,
and Lee Daniels and Paul Winfield, who reached and continues to reach the top of their profession through skill and poise.
These five are only a small number of the thousands of same gender loving people of color who taught Americans to dance, sing, dress, and love each other and themselves a little more.
I refuse to accept any notion that the black gay community is simply a commodity in a useless war of position. Nor should any part of our identities be sacrificed for the sake of expediency.
So as we go through Black History Month 2010, I implore everyone to not forget about the black gay community.
Because we simply won't let you.