This is the final part of a multi-series blog post, concerning instances of violence against Gay men within the Black community, and different factors that feed into these incidents. In the first part, I discussed the murder of Giovanni Melton, a 14 year-old boy killed by his own father. The second part goes over the case of Gemmel Moore, murdered by an affluent white Gay man. In the third part, I went into ways that both WhiteGayze™ and Black cishet folks routinely fail the LGBTQ people in our community. And in this final piece, I’ll be expanding on Black cishets further.
No need for a fancy lead-in. Let’s just pick up where we left off from part 3.
Black cishet men, in particular, draw the most ire from me. Not only are they a primary source of direct violence towards Black LGBTQ people, but the so-called “woke allies” of that demographic refuse to step up and say anything. There’s no real social clout to be gained from affirming Black LGBTQ identities…and, in fact, there’s more to lose. As I’ve said in previous work, in this colonized idea of Black masculinity, “Gay” is considered the worst thing a man can be. Therefore, men are deathly afraid of any proximity to it. So, if cishet men were to stand up and affirm us (like their performative politic would clam that they do), then they stand to be deemed “Gay,” which leads to the risk of being ostracized. And since most cishet men are spineless trash and lack the fortitude required to actually stand up as an individual, they’re unwilling to risk the potential backlash that comes with centering Black Gay men, Trans women and other Black LGBTQ identities in their day-to-day work.
Now, cishet men are the absolute worst offenders, but I think we also have to be honest in acknowledging that some cishet Black Feminists/Womanists are also often terribly inadequate in putting their “intersectional” theory into actual practice. They’ll spout the theory all day (again, for retweets and follows…some of these folks depend on their “platforms,” as well), but will turn around and be as silent as their cishet male counterparts in the times when it really counts.
That awkward moment when your idea of “intersectionality” stops at (cishet) Black women.
And I’ll go on and throw a “not all” disclaimer on this—which I don’t normally do—because there are many cishet Black Feminists out here who are absolutely wonderful. But for those who aren’t, I think we’re due to call out the ways that they’ll use Black Gay men and other LGBTQ folks for “woke points” (don’t even get me started on all the appropriation), while not actually affirming us in ways that are truly useful. Especially when we consider that there’s plenty of disgustingly anti-LGBTQ Black women out here, who need to be checked. Even more so when many of these women will also weaponize gender as a way to shield themselves from critique…especially from Gay men. It’s not uncommon for some Black women (“Radical” Feminists, especially), to scream “misogyny” every time an attempt is made to hold them accountable for their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behavior. Let’s also uplift that many instances of violence against Black Gay men and Trans women, at the hands of cishet Black men, are enabled, if not directly and deliberately incited, by cis(het) Black women.
Given everything that’s currently happening to Black LGBTQ folks (as outlined in the previous parts), I’m just not interested in tip-toeing and being nice about this anymore…for anyone. All of y’all niggas gotta be dragged.
The holiday season is upon us, and we’re already seeing the typical, performative posts from Black cishets on social media, demanding that white “allies” put in the labor of checking their racist relatives. While I absolutely agree with that, I honestly find it laughable that some Black “activists” and social media figures continue to do all of this finger-wagging at colonizers (white people), while refusing to take on even half of that work within their own circles. Reality is, white people aren’t the only ones who have work to do. Black folks may not be at fault for building and maintaining these systems of oppression, but we are on the hook for doing right by our own people, and ensuring that we’re working towards something better—for everyone—when (not if) all of this shit inevitably crumbles.
And since my draggings are equal opportunity, I’m gonna have to turn the spotlight at my own, fellow Black LGBTQ folks for a second. Because, while we’re not at fault, we do have a role to play, too: My fellow Black Gay, cisgender men, in particular. While we’re (rightly) calling out Black cishets in all the ways that they fail us, we also have to be looking at the ways that we perpetuate similar mess within our own communities. We’re often guilty of shaming and policing other Black LGBTQ folks. It’s way too common that we dog out our own for being “too loud” or “too feminine” or “too slutty.”
And while we’re talking about the violence towards Gemmel Moore and these numerous Black Gay escorts/sex workers at the hands of a white Gay man, we need to also check how we jump at tearing down Black Gay sex workers every day. Maybe, instead of scolding sex workers by calling them whores and prostitutes, demanding they get a “real job,” try analyzing the socioeconomic conditions that would lead them to turn to sex work, in the first place. Not to mention that some people do sex work because they just want to, and that’s also valid. Reminder that ALL of us have to check our morals and standards at the door, in some way or another, in order to earn our coin. In a capitalist system, there’s NO exception to this.
Perhaps we can also consider advocating for the decriminalization—or, even better, abolition—so maybe we can finally see more ideal conditions around escorting and other forms of sex work.
Also, Gay folks need to check how we sometimes join with cishets in being dismissive towards Pan/Bisexual/Queer people. Or cis Gay and Queer folks towards Trans people. I promise you, no amount of shitting on our own will make these bigoted cishet assholes like or approve of us. No matter how much we perform self-hatred for cishets, we’ll still be seen as deviants who deserves every bad thing that happens to us.
And for that matter, I also want us to stop doing mental back flips to overlook and excuse bigotry towards us from other Black folks. We can certainly exhibit enough nuance to understand the structural and systemic issues that lie at the root of anti-LGBTQ antagonism, but that doesn’t mean we just continue taking abuse in silence. I want more of us to put our foot down and start demanding the respect and humanity that we deserve from “our” people. Know that we’re not obligated to make space for bigotry and violence.
Do the introspective work of unlearning the respectability and internalized hatred for your own community and realize that we’re all in this shit together. That also goes for all Black folks, honestly.
Everyone has important roles in fixing these conditions that lead to the deaths of Black Gay folks like Gemmel and Giovanni. That lead to Black LGBTQ youth being abused and battered by the very people who are supposed to keep them most safe. That lead to 2017 being the deadliest year, on record, for Black Trans people.
And finally, I think it also needs to be mentioned, and centered, that all of us also need to do better by Black folks who are marginalized in different ways, namely being disabled, undocumented, poor, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if my commentary in this, very post, has failed to consider disabled Black folks in some way or another.
Point being, we all got work to do.
Until the most marginalized among us are affirmed and free, none of us are. That’s not just a cute statement for likes and retweets, it’s reality. It’s way past time to put a true Pro-Black politic into practice. Unfortunately, it’s only growing more and more difficult to remain optimistic that this will, or can, actually happen. If I don’t see people speaking up on social media, then I can safely gather that it’s not happening offline (where far more fortitude is required).
I truly hope we’re not far gone enough that I can’t be proven wrong, though. I hope we can prove that “intersectionality” could ever be more than a nice theory that stops at able-bodied cishet Black folks.
If you got something out of this post or any of my other work, consider showing some monetary support!
Also, reminder that I can now be found @_hoemo on Twitter!