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BLACKLINES: Homophobia and Heterosexism
An African American Perspective
by Sherri Jackson

This article shared 4112 times since Sat May 1, 2004
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'Sissies, Bulldagger, wannabe-man, faggot, punk, wannabe-white, light-skin, nigger,bitch!'

I recall all the derogatory names and bigotry growing up. I and other African Americans can share many stories on race issues. But few will share and discuss issues about homophobia, heterosexism, and sexuality. Maybe we are just too damn tired, rigid, complacent, angry, and scared.

After all, being African American is enough? I remember sitting in the pews as a child hearing the hatred, and separatism towards LBGTs, and women. The Minister would spurt out venom, hell, damnation, and how homosexuality was a sin. Back then we were sissies, and bulldaggers. What I didn't realize is that same (male) minister would impregnate women, preying on little girls and boys in the church. The females were sent away so as not to cause embarrassment to the church, family, and themselves. The individuals in the church were full of apparent hypocrisy and double standards.

I left home at 19 to discover myself, and with hopes of finding a church that embraced all of me. Embracing me as African American, female, and Same Gender Loving.

That came true 17 years later. Maybe it was around 10 those intense desires of liking my female friends and teachers sexually began. I was not attracted to boys or men the way my family and friends said it would be—and how. Maybe it was the curve of her lips, shape of the hips, and how I was in awe, and captivated more than just sexually with women. How can a community be so unwilling to re-evaluate its use of biblical, and biological authority? We know all the so-called facts about us. 'Homosexuality is a European thing, a threat to African American family, a threat to African American manhood, and a lesbian threat.'

Homosexuality is viewed as a threat to the continual existence of the heterosexual family because homosexual unions do not in and of themselves produce offspring. In this day and age that's a whole other debate. While we are our caregivers for family members and raising everyone else's children. African Americans are not monolithic! Some believe to embrace lesbianism is to embrace the death of our race! African American women will become lesbians. After all, who would not desire to be baited into the whole lesbian notion?

Some African American women can be so homophobic! The attraction is found repulsive. African American women are either silent or vocal homophobes! Maybe this is due to their own deep feelings for women and how to deal? I really am trying to get my sisters to hear me! Is this due to the quest for African American manhood?

Words like 'dyke, queen, queer' have different meaning with African Americans. It can be seen as isolating, as being less than, in the African American community. Some may see it as okay. We have to look at the generations, classes, and ages when one speaks these words. If my hetero sister speaks out against me and others, she really has to look within. On the flip side the closet, down low individuals can be perceived more dangerous and threatening. The African American community and church needs to promote sexual ethics for all of us!

So what does this mean for the African American community? Do we continue to look at the history of European sexual exploitation? Do we continue to stay in denial about HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, violence, and our own sexual hang-ups in the African American community?

Maybe we will remain silent as we accuse everyone else of their silence. 'I believe the enemy within is more threatening than the outer.' In the end what does sexuality have to do with biology and theology in the African American community? In the end, shouldn't we really be embracing each other lovingly as people and African Americans?

'I just want to be Free' — The Ohio Players.

sherriactup2@yahoo. com

This article shared 4112 times since Sat May 1, 2004
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