Category Archives: A Light
I used to hate myself for liking boys. I cried and cried. Prayed. And cried some more. Feelings wouldn’t budge though. Long story short. I made it. Homophobia couldn’t hold me down. I rather be a real gay man than a fake straight one. Can I get an amen?
Homophobia made it hard for me to be in love with me, but I imagined me being free loving me totally. Aye!
Playboy: One of the most controversial issues of the past year, apart from civil rights, was the question of school prayer, which has been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court. Governor Wallace, among others, has denounced the decision. How do you feel about it?
King: I endorse it. I think it was correct. Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in God. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken, and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right. I am strongly opposed to the efforts that have been made to nullify the decision. They have been motivated, I think, by little more than the wish to embarrass the Supreme Court. When I saw Brother Wallace going up to Washington to testify against the decision at the Congressional hearings, it only strengthened my conviction that the decision was right.
In my mind there are many possibilities: if it were not so, I would have told you. I imagine ahead to prepare a place for you.
A tiger isn’t less of a cat because it’s not a lion.
It’s the same way with being a man.
We can be diverse men.
No need for hierarchy.
The tiger, leopard, panther, cheetah, and lion are all cats.
They just put their own spin on being a cat.
Put your own spin on being a man.
Nature is full of diversity.
Hundreds of different trees.
Hundreds of different plants.
Yet we want all men to be the same?
Even if most men are oaks,
Why can’t I be a redwood?
Even if most men are jaguars,
Why can’t I be a lynx?
Embrace the diversity of male being.
“I screamed to the heavens….loudly screamed….
Trying to change our nightmares into dreams…” – Maya Angelou
It’s unlikely that Maya Angelou had the struggles of gays and lesbians in mind when she wrote the poem “In & Out of Time,” but I feel the lines quoted above speak to the experiences of many gays and lesbians.
Much has been said about Lisa Lings latest documentary for the Oprah Winfrey Network titled “Pray The Gay Away?” which explored differing perspectives on whether or not one could be gay and Christian. I chose not to watch the documentary, and I probably won’t, because I have lived what it seeks to explore, but I have paid close attention to the conversations taking place because of the documentary.
I have heard people refer to the attempt to “pray the gay away” as sad, pitiful, and stupid. My own thinking tends to agree with those assessments, but I turn my comments towards the society and culture that makes someone feel they need to pray away their sexual orientation. Yes, heterosexism and homophobia are sad, pitiful, stupid, and a lot of other horrible words.
I believe that those who seek to “pray the gay away” are as the quote states, screaming to the heavens, loudly screaming, trying to change their nightmares into dreams. My own attempts to “pray the gay away,” were ultimately attempts to change my nightmare (homosexuality), into my dream (heterosexuality).
It’s important to understand that I, like many people who are told that they are inferior, less than, or abnormal because of who they are, had no choice in whether or not I saw homosexuality as a nightmare. I was raised to believe that being gay was a sin and everywhere I looked in society there were confirmations of this teaching. TV shows, movies, songs, and playground culture all reinforced the gay as nightmare message.
Like others who are told by society they are not “normal,” I searched for a way to be normal. How could I cleanse myself of the stigmas of being gay to become and benefit from the privilege of heterosexuality? As a gay teen I used the tools I had, and that involved turning to the god I had been raised to believe answered all prayers. I wanted to be what the dominant group said I should be, I wanted to be heterosexual like everyone else, and so I prayed, prayed and cried, prayed and cried.
I never became straight but I did learn to love myself unconditionally. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s one that I am proud of having walked. I have come to realize that the nightmare is not my sexuality; the nightmare is the homophobic society that I live in, and the rigid religious belief system I had been indoctrinated in. The dream for me, and perhaps for many others, lie in accepting myself, no longer internalizing homophobia, and no longer being a slave to mythical belief systems.
I have the utmost sympathy for the gays and lesbians who are trying to turn their nightmares into dreams. I hope and know that many of them will avoid trying fit snugly into the nightmare. I also know that many won’t, and will continue to miss out on the dream that is self acceptance and self love.
My advice to gays and lesbians, who are praying to become straight or anyone else struggling with self-hatred, is to remember that we have to be taught to hate ourselves. None of us emerge from the womb ashamed of who we are. We must remember that anything that is learned can be unlearned, and self-acceptance starts with unlearning the self-hate that we have been taught.
Active self love, not prayer, will help us change our nightmares into dreams.
This post comes via a young man who emailed me wanting to share his story as a black gay man with the world, but wishes to remain anonymous. His story is a powerful and heartfelt testimony from a young black gay man trying to make his way in the world.
The Role of the True Black homosexual Man! The struggles and the triumphs!
Being a black gay man in America is the most difficult challenge I have ever had to face! I can not begin to imagine the hardships that men before me had to deal with! Long ago I put my worries aside and focused on being myself! Just being happy! However I currently find myself in a state of being consumed with emotions and questions about being a homosexual male in America!
The double standards are insane! I find myself almost daily defending myself to people on what the bible says about homosexuality and how it is morally incorrect! Nine out of ten of those people have no clue what the bible says relating to homosexuality, their opinions are based solely upon their uncomfort and what they have been taught throughout life about the subject. I am a Christian and I would never say that the bible doesn’t speak against homosexuality! I will however say that the world is not a perfect place and is filled with imperfect people! The bible says whomever is without sin cast the first stone! The bible also speaks of God as being a host of love. So many people see sin and un-pureness when they think of homosexuality. No one seems to think of the love, companionship, and understanding people can find in homosexuality. Society often defines homosexuality as a choice. How could a sexual orientation be a choice? The choice is only in the companion, and who on earth would choose a companion that will only please the world and not ones self.
The world is full of sexual being who abuse sex, but is the abuse of sex morally correct for heterosexual individuals and only incorrect when persons of the same sex engage in it? The scariest part of homosexuality for me is the view that society will have on who I am! A strong minded, educated, stylish, responsible, God fearing black male… Is often reduced to a weak and feminine fag! I told some staff members at my job that I planned to be a father and they looked at me with surprise in there faces, as if i had just told them i had a vagina. It is as if all of the good qualities a person can contain are diminished when the persons sexuality is not what society sees as acceptable.
A homosexual male is considered to be less of a man within society. My mother told me that a man is defined by his character, how he handles his responsibilities, and his love for the Lord. The equation she gave me does not include sexual orientation. However
I often find myself hiding hurt feelings from immature males who find it hilarious to call me a faggot and throw things at me as I pass. Then there are women who believe that every gay man wants to be a woman, as if every gay man wants to put on a pair of pumps and be called by a female performers stage name. The ladies that do accept homosexuals openly fall into the trap of referring to their gay friends as their gay boyfriends and using him for fashion tips. His benefit to her life is often short changed because she often can’t see pass the stereotypes that surround his sexuality. The hardest pill to swallow is the disappointment on my mothers face as she learns I am in love with a man.
Not only does the fear of society dance in my dreams but the persecution of homosexuals themselves, often feels like daggers in my back! Men who believe they are better or more masculine because they are attracted to women STILL, or the fact that they are a ” ” TOPS! The men who take advantage of the fact that they appear as normal heterosexual males according to society. The bottoms who look to you as if you are less than dirt. Judging you only on what you are dressed in or how pretty you are. When you turn your back they will have their fingers rubbing the top of your mans head, convincing him that he’d be a better selection for him. I
often find myself angry to see how gay men respond to one another in reference to being a bottom. Making jokes about the sexual position, and pretending as if a majority of the community haven’t experimented in the position. Making it seem as if the weaker vessel should be a shameful role and not one that is praised for his strength. Our own homosexual community breaks one another down to just sexual positions. Looking completely pass that we are all people with minds, bodies, and souls, and forgetting that we all fight a battle again society daily.
The stereotypes that come along with being a black gay man are hurtful! They can make life difficult and slow down a mans pursuit of happiness and success! However, being a homosexual male has allowed an otherwise shy and meek young man, to be confident in who I am! The harsh stares and hateful words that are thrown at me have become the stepping stone for my empowerment! I have learned to love myself for my individuality! I have grown closer to God in my struggle! The misfortune I’ve had to face from society has allowed me to seek GOd and his love! Knowing that I was created in his image just like every other person walking this earth is relieving!
I hope this post inspires you to as it did me!
I spend a lot of my time thinking about homophobia. The poisonous effects it has on both the gay and straight community, the way its reinforced by those who suffer from it, and the many parallels between it and other forms of hatred.
Earlier today I was having a conversation about homophobia and someone brought up a really good point concerning it. They compared fighting conditioned hatred to learning how to swim and I think that comparison is very adept. Homophobia is a lot like drowning. Its a painful and slow death of the psychological self. The years of self loathing, self denial, and self hatred slowly eat away at ones authentic self until you are left in a state of insanity, unable to recognize who you are and what you are. So many gay men are drowning, drowning in the torturous waters of homophobia.
Like many drowning deaths can be prevented by knowing how to swim, homophobia can be challenged and changed by rejecting self hate. If gay men just had the courage to learn how to swim, to learn to love themselves unconditionally we wouldn’t have so many deaths from homophobia drowning as we do.
I understand it’s a lot easier said than done sometimes, but one must consider that it’s free to love yourself for who you are and know your worth as a gay man, but the price of internalized homophobia is very expensive and will leave you with an over drafted life.
There are many gay men like myself living our lives authentically and open who are willing to teach our fellow gay brothers how to swim as well as support them on their journey.
So, to my gay brothers grappling with internalized homophobia, learn how to swim! It might just save you frown drowning.