Straight "Pride" Is Unnecessary and Homophobic

by Anna Gibson

After SCOTUS made marriage equality legal across all 50 states, conservatives, fundamentalists, and a variety of other bigots came out of the woodwork to spew hate and express their irrational viewpoints across a number of news outlets.

A large portion of the dissent could be found in the African American community, traditionally one of the most religious groups in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center:
“African-Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religion’s importance in life… 87 percent of black people are Christian.”
Luckily the tide is turning, with 41 percent of black people supporting gay marriage. While this is true, there are some unusual elements of the 59 percent that are hyper critical of gay marriage.

A recent movement called, quite literally, the Straight Black Pride Movement (SBPM) strives to promote what they call ‘traditional black love’ amongst ‘sane black people.’

A quick look at their Facebook page will show that they seek to “repair the damage done to the black family.” From the language found on their page, it’s clear that this involves denying the legitimacy of LGBTQIA relationships and individual rights.

To make matters worse, the group is gearing up for their 1st Annual Straight Black Pride International Convention in August. This is problematic on a number of levels.

First, the movement is unnecessary. Being straight doesn’t need to be celebrated. Straight people—no matter their ethnicity—have always been the privileged, dominant party in our society. For instance, the majority of straight couples are represented across numerous news outlets. We see straight people in commercials, ads, TV shows, and music videos. If you’re a straight, you don’t have to worry about looks of disgust or catcalls when walking down the street with your significant other.

You also don’t have to worry about being denied spousal rights in hospital visits, or the inability to have joint custody of children and the extra expenses you’ll accrue when trying to adopt. Straight people aren’t in the majority and don’t need to feel threatened.
Even worse, by dividing people within a movement as large as #BlackLivesMatter, you’re pitting one group against the other. If we’re going to fight white supremacy, we need everyone. To exclude someone on the basis of whom they sleep with or how they choose to show up in the world, especially when it has absolutely nothing to do with you, is the epitome of ignorance.

Being pro-black includes supporting all black people because all our struggles are interconnected. Race, class, gender, and sexuality are issues that affect the black experience as a whole, for better or for worse.

The language that SBPM uses can be directly paralleled with white supremacist rhetoric and the deep-seated fear white supremacist exhibit. In his compelling essay, What White People Fear Robert Jensen offers an explanation for white supremacy and white privilege, especially as it relates to decentralizing and dismantling black movements. He states:
“More reactionary whites are openly racist about the threat that non-white peoples pose to our way of life… Race is used by white elites today, just as it was in the nation’s formative years, to drive a wedge between people who would otherwise come together to challenge those elites. Divide-and-conquer strategies, it seems, never go out of style.”
Just like white supremacists, SBPM is also terrified that their “way of life” is being threatened by what they call ‘functional genocide.’ It’s clear they can’t see the big picture.

Not only does SBPM follow the same white supremacist logic, but it also ends up inadvertently fulfilling the needs of white people who would like to remain comfortable with their privilege.

White supremacy is threatened by black unity. When all black people band together and make our voices heard about the issues whose fundamental roots lie in structural racism, it would make it increasingly difficult for white people to sit comfortably in their privilege.

Breaking yourself away from an entire part of your community is also foolish because black people should understand the harmful effects of oppression better than anyone. After being considered 3/4ths of a human being for over 300 years, black people should be at a place where we ensure that doesn’t happen to anyone within our community.

To purposely sow division is to help perpetuate the very forces that allow racism to continue unchallenged, and slow down our fight for freedom as a whole. Separating us in the name of the traditional black family— a concept that really doesn’t exist anyway — even if couched in pseudo-spiritual language, is ridiculous and homophobic.

Hiding bigotry under the banner of black love is denying the work that LGBTQIA people have brought to the movement, and oppressing them in the same way we are oppressed by dominant society. In order for the phrase Black Lives Matter to mean something, we have to include all black lives or run the risk of damaging our communities and slowing the progress of our movements.

Defending people in the black community that identify as LGBTQIA isn’t an act of transgression against black love, but a sign of courage that demonstrates our resolve to protect those that need it most. We can’t say Black Lives Matter unless we’re willing to show love and empathy to our own.

Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock

Anna Gibson is a student at Wayne State University who seeks to create a space for the marginalized to tell their stories. If you want to reach her, you can do so on Twitter @TheRealSankofa or on Facebook where she’s totally not hiding under the name Anna Gibson.

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