Back in September of 2010, I wrote a piece for Beautifully Said online magazine, black run and owned, regarding “The Other Sexuality.” The piece is how I view LGBT relationships within the scope of the black American community, entangled with my spirituality and in correlation with interracial relationships. All the while, I had to be “cautious” with my words, for I knew the majority of readers identify themselves as Christians. Therefore, speaking in their tongues was highly exercised throughout my writing.
Writing for Daughters of Eve, I can express myself freely, to an extent, knowing that most, not all, of the readers do share similar sentiments (again, there is always an extent). Since 2010, there has been an explosion with the topic of LGBT and Interracial Marriages on the web. Many who are citing that these two, defined the marriages are not the same and should not be compared. Of course, there are many, like myself, who are striking back against those who desire to separate the two marriages. Being a black, pagan woman who also was raised with Christian ideology (maternal side), I would honestly say that within the US, predominately in Christian history, marriage was redefined. At the time, as a child, I was a “cafeteria Christian.” I picked what I liked and disregarded the rest. I believe many Christians do; the difference is, I can admit it. Every argument I heard against interracial coupling is similar to the argument against LGBT coupling-the worrying about the children being raised by such coupling, the fact that it’s against “nature” and “God” plans, it will affect society, and the “destruction” of family values (my head is echoing “blah, blah, blah, and blah”). The pagan half of me that was raised as a child (paternal side) told me that LGBT is as natural as being heterosexual. Being raised by my pagan father allowed me to be exposed to gods, goddesses, lwas, and spirits, who are LGBT and had many different marriages and unions that are acceptable. It wasn’t uncommon for lesbians to be married to Erzulie Dantor, a Vodou deity who is a known bisexual woman (I may touch upon spiritual marriages of deity in a later post): favoring women over men. She is the matron deity of lesbian women and bisexual (among other classification). Her sister/other aspect is Erzulie Freda (known for love and beauty) being the matron deity of gay and bisexual men. Both are matrons for transgender (if you wish to read up about Vodou acceptance of LGBT I recommend you to click here). I chose the Vodou and other ancient pagan lore’s of LGBT compassion and tolerance over the Christian doctrine long ago, for it made my heart “light” with love. I simply couldn’t get passed the discrimination of others. Things that caused me to feel indifference to my fellow man and women based on superficiality did not sit well with me. Seeing and hearing other Christians using the bible to speak on tolerance and acceptance warms my heart.
The warming of my heart comes from a place of empathy as a black woman who felt minor blows of being in an interracial relationship and blessed with two children as a byproduct of a beautiful relationship. As a black woman, I never could understand how many black, social conservative Christians use the bible to justify their opposition to same sex marriage-the very book that once was used to justify a reason for slavery, to continue slavery, to not acknowledge the marriage of a black man to a black woman. Later, it was used to justify continued segregation and discourage interracial marriages. I especially don’t understand how interracial couples who are Christian still use the same book to justify the opposition of same sex marriage. Interracial couples, of all people, know how it feels to be discriminated based on who they love and to have people refuse to marry them at one point and, still, to this day. After 44 years of Loving vs. The Commonwealth of Virginia that overturned the banning of state laws against interracial marriages, there are still people who don’t mind overturning such Supreme Court decisions.
Miscegenation Marriages is the prime example of how marriages have been redefined in the legal context of United States’ history. Yes, that includes by Christians in US history using the bible to justify both opposition and anti-opposition. I will not go into details regarding the “one woman and one man” debate, used by both anti-same sex marriage opponents now, and biblical references to it (it has something to do with the polygamy of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. The father of the 12 tribes of Judah and many other prominent figures in the bible who are married to more than one woman. Marriage redefined for polygamy is illegal against the “manmade” laws, but not biblical). Back to African Americans-if our black Diaspora ancestors can say, “I am married under the eyes of MY God, not your law or perception of God,” during a time that manmade laws did not recognize their marriage…why are we, the descendants, having trouble with the same strength, determination of will, the right to perceive deity and holy books a different way, and right to love as our ancestors? The same goes for the black LGBT community fighting for their right to be seen as legally married by manmade laws, fighting for the right to exercise their faith, and simply live in peace. As black, heterosexual marriage to “each other” (among black folks) and “outside each other” (among other ethnic groups) became our civil right, so, too, is it with LGBT black folks. As our ancestors did not ask opponents for recognition of their marriage to believe in their way or perception of god or marriage; they simply asked that it be respected. It is the same for LGBT and interracial couples, just respect it –you don’t have to understand it or agree with it. There was a time in US history, where black folks couldn’t walk into a “white” church and get married. The ancestors of that time had little issues with it, for the “black” church would marry them. The only issue they took was to have their marriage legally recognized by state to reap legal benefits. The same holds true with LGBT. There are churches that refuse to marry such couples and churches that would. The biggest issue is for the law to recognize such marriage for legal recognition and rights. Who are same sex marriage opponents to walk inside another’s church, temple, circle/ritual, mosque, and/or synagogue and tell others to not marry LGBT? My personal motto, “I will gladly stay out of your worship center, as I respect your right to not to partake in mine. Yet, later after our ‘services’ we can meet together for crumpets and tea.”
I’m also tired of this imaginary “attack” on individual family. Especially within the black community regarding BOTH interracial marriages and same sex marriage:
Lawrence Otis Graham wrote, “interracial marriage undermines [African-Americans’] ability to introduce our children to black role models who accept their racial identity with pride,” as in those who marry interracially are “race traitors” and/or “self-haters” and that marrying interracially will cause us to have some mystical amnesia of our racial and ancestral, black history. In addition, that marrying beyond skin color halts individuals from fighting for equality (wage disparity, education, economic disfranchisement that is based on race and gender). As a woman who has been in interracial relationships, my relationships did not stop me from being discriminated against by being a black woman. Nor did it halt me from voicing my opinion on the discrimination of black folks in America (lower pay wages for being black and much lower for being a black woman). I never understood why whom I chose to love and procreate with had anything to do with the family down the street. Yes, you can walk and chew gum (being married interfaith, interracially and still fight for equality). Whom I chose to love and marry shouldn’t even be taken personally or as a reflection of others, on deep issues. It is likewise with LGBT marriages.
Christopher Arps, of the National Leadership Network of Conservative African American, wrote a piece titled, “Is Gay Marriage Another Blow to the Struggling African-American Family?” with statistics that are true regarding the AA community, lack of black women (and men) getting married, and adding the final touch with, “Why add same-sex marriage to the mix? With the black family in free-fall, why redefine and diminish the value of marriage?” He says this as if LGBT are not family or cannot “create” a family. As if we can’t walk and chew gum (promote healthy, heterosexual marriages and support same sex marriage, simultaneously). Again, how does same sex marriage diminish heterosexual marriage? How does interracial marriage diminish intra-racial marriage? How does black folks’ recognized marriages, of our ancestors, diminish the value of white folks’ marriages in that bygone era? I would love to hear the answer for this, without religious, ideological standpoints and holy book quotes within the black community. Trust me, I can use the same holy text to support my views and history.
Cord Jefferson made an excellent point that I share to address of Mr. Arps’ grievances, “Allowing gays and lesbians to get married has no impact whatsoever on the fact that Black women aren’t getting married. Not allowing gay men to get married doesn’t mean they’re all going to start marrying women instead; it means that Black women and gay Black men are going to continue not being married.”
One minute, the social conservative black community are wagging their finger of DL (gay and lesbians who are “closeted”, down low, and marrying heterosexuals to forge “security” and societal acceptance) for reckless sex practices (since safe sex practices are rarely talked about) that infects many AA, particularly women, with HIV/AIDS and then, the next, they want LGBT to deny who they are and “choose” and/or “practice” a heterosexual “lifestyle.” If that is not disassociation compounded with multiple personality disorder, then I don’t know what is. One minute, they want LGBT to “come out” and the next, they want them to “stay in.” It is likewise with marriage. One minute, they want society to endorse marriage as a “healthy” relationship and children “need” a two-parent home. The next, “Wait, the two-parent home must be the same race/religion/gender/class/creed.” Moreover, there is a list of “what is not.” Basically, there is a fine print at the end. This is similar to the housing crisis where individuals did not read the fine print, yet they were lured with the package (the pretty ribbons and wrapping paper) without realizing the “gift” had strings attached.
Lastly, LGBT marriage, like interracial marriage, is a civil rights issue. Black folks don’t own the term “civil rights.” Now, if you Google the civil rights MOVEMENT of the 1960s, the definition will state the equality of black folks (what is hidden in the definition is the quality of black folks, including their sexual orientation). The social black conservatives love to add that civil rights leaders were not interested in the equality of LGBT and that “white” folks watered down black history when they are equal compliances of watering down history. Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, once said, “Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union … [B]anning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages” One of the King’s closest confidents was the late Baynard Rustin, a former civil rights leader (during the time of the Civil Rights Movement and later, LGBT rights) and mentor to Martin Luther King who was openly gay. When black conservative history speaks of Zora Neale Hurston (folklorist) and Alice Walker, to name a few, they omit the fact that these two women also fought for LGBT equality (being LGBT themselves), along with black rights and black women’s rights. Alice Walker who, prior to her coming out, married interracially. She, and her former husband were the first interracial marriage/couple in Mississippi. She spoke openly of the death threats she experienced due to her union as she spoke of the inequality and mistreatment that she experiences as a lesbian/bisexual black woman. There were many black (and I am sure, of all races) of LGBT who fought for the equality of blacks beyond sexual orientation. Their stories are rarely told due to the social conservatives’ (beyond race) reinvention of history.
Black LGBT are hit by discrimination and forgotten “stories” the most. We know that, economically speaking, that blacks are low on the wage disparity of the proverbial totem pole-it’s lower for LGBT blacks. We know that in our current high unemployment rates, black folks (especially men) have the highest unemployment rates, and it’s even higher for LGBT blacks. If black history’s prominent figures’ stories are not told by “mainstream,” trust me, black LGBT “history” for equality is particularly non-existant.
I will end this piece with a video of David Wilson and his experience of being a black gay man who happened to love a man of another race. It is his personal experience of the “quadruple whammy” of being black, a man, gay, and who love beyond color. David Wilson set our current “ethical” debate on the rights of LGBT marriage. He set the stage to our current debate (another forgotten black person in black history due to his sexuality) by challenging Massachusetts laws to recognize same sex marriage back in 2004 (the first state to legalize same sex marriage. The state that sent ripples in the LGBT community and those who support LGBT rights to take on the civil rights to be recognized). David Wilson is my hero, even though I am heterosexual. He is my hero as a black man, a man who loved beyond the color lines, and who fought for his right to simply love and live in peace. When my children, who are multicultural, asked who started the “political and religious climate” of today’s LGBT marriage debate, it’s a great honor to state, “The man is black who loved interracially, as I loved your father; he just so happened to be gay.” Is it really just “apples and oranges” or is it our minds that refuse to see that both of them are beautiful, delicious, and healthy fruit…just from a different type of tree.
Man’s inhumanity to man is not only what it denies him….
But what it keeps him from even wanting ~ Leo Tolstoy