Obama and the homophobic black community: How we turned into sexuality rednecks

November 4, 2008. A historic date where a nation came together and broke a barrier that many felt they would never see in their lifetime. Barack Hussein Obama had defeated John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States on a manifesto of sweeping changes from the dark era of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

America had reached a milestone that made grown men weep in joy and disbelief.

November 5, 2008, was also a significant date, for it was the day Proposition 8 was passed by the state of California. Prop 8, of course, was the piece of legislation that eliminated same-sex couples’ right to marry. This was significant because an enormous percentage of the voters who helped this bill pass were black.

The irony of the fact that the same set of voters who campaigned for progress also voted for regression cannot be overstated. Furthermore, it demonstrates a problem not widely discussed in the American political landscape — the homophobia of black people.

First of all, homophobia is by no means an exclusively black issue, but it I found it a little more interesting given the historical context. On May 9, 2012, Obama explicitly backed the rights of homosexual couples to get married, fundamentally agreeing that same-sex couples should be offered the same legal protection of heterosexual couples.


This was historic and bold, not only because no sitting President has ever done so, but also due to the fact that it was black man who grew up in the church making such a proclamation. Indeed, it was the very institution to which Obama was most devoted — the black church — that offered the most vocal disagreement.

Bishop William Dwight McKissic claimed that Obama had “betrayed the Bible and the black church” and that his endorsement of same-sex marriage was an “assault on the Christian faith.”

The Bishop was not alone, but merely among a chorus of discontent among the black community. Even many of my own friends, people I normally consider intelligent, disapproved of his stance and with homosexuality as a whole.

This depressed me no end. To put things in perspective, Obama’s stance doesn’t mean much legally, as it is not a federal issue and it is the responsibility of the individual states to enact law on the subject (as North Carolina did recently by banning gay marriage).

In reality, it was never about the legality of the issue; it was about the morality of it.

Apparently, as a nation, America felt it was reprehensible that gay people be treated as equals. A lot of people still haven’t forgiven Obama for repealing “Dont Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy mandating that active military servicemen couldn’t be openly gay regardless of how brave they were. A sad state of affairs.

For me, the truly astonishing part of all this was that the black community used the Bible as a crutch to justify their prejudice. The very same crutch used throughout history to subjugate minorities. In the Jim Crow era and throughout the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, white religious leaders often cited scripture to push their agenda of segregation — and it worked. These are the very people with whom the black community is aligning and they don’t even realise it.

Using religious scripture to persecute people is nothing new and not exclusive to the Christian faith (just ask Shias in Sunni Muslim-dominated societies), but it’s seeing the formerly oppressed using this method. The church as an evolved institution, yet we still cherrypick scripture to justify hate. For example, Exodus 35:2 clearly states that working on the Sabbath is punishable by death, yet I don’t see many ministers pushing for that to be made law.

I was raised a Christian but can’t help but be ashamed of a congregation beseeched by hypocrisy. If a Christian can’t live by the simple principle set but Jesus to “love thy neighbour as thyself, then you should probably take a long hard look at yourself before you judge two people who simply want to be joined in matrimony.

Some black commentators have argued that the civil rights movement has been hijacked by the LGBT community to fight for their rights and are angry that it is not allowing them to push their own agendas. What’s interesting is that Martin Luther King’s entire mantra of non-violent, non-confrontational resistance was borrowed heavily from Gandhi. This was simply clutching at straws.

Opponents of gay civil rights are not students of history. If they were, they would realise that they are bound to be on the losing side. Once public attitude shifts on a social topic, the paradigm will inevitably shift. There was a time when people thought black people should not serve in the military because they would disrupt the military structure. When black people were allowed to serve, the previously all-white military structure was definitely disrupted. But guess what? The military got over it and some of the most decorated and senior servicemen are now black. There was a time when women couldn’t vote because people thought they would disrupt the democratic process — and, again, they did. Guess what? People got over it and the U.S. now has a female Secretary of State.

Perhaps the weakest argument is the one of morality. Somehow we believe that being naturally attracted to the same sex is immoral. I can’t begin to describe how ridiculous this is, so I simply will not engage in this fallacy. However, I will simply ask: How many serial killers, murderers, rapists, corrupt politicians and racists are gay? What percentage of the world’s known criminals were married to their same-sex partners?

Morality is not linked to sexuality and any argument to the contrary is simply bigoted. This feeling is clearly demonstrated in our popular culture. We are happy to accept a criminal or misogynistic artist, but a gay rapper? Never. Although, statiscally, there must be a few.

Obama was never the messiah everyone foolishly made him out to be. He is simply a politician, but one that resonated with me more than any candidate I’ve seen in a very long time. But for the black community to ignore his bad policies and point out only his more admirable standpoints is a sign of ignorance in my eyes. Of course, not all black people disagree with him on the gay marriage point, but the numbers are certainly disproportionate. We have far bigger fish to fry — like the ailing economy and class divide — and here we are debating whether Toby and Lance can throw a wedding. Incredible.

Whatever your views are on homosexuality, you simply can’t hope to legally deny your fellow citizens the same rights you enjoy. By doing so, you are implying that they are less of a human being than you are. Much like the KKK thought (and still thinks) of you. And if you are a religious person, the one universal message all religions have in common is compassion, and the anger surrounding the gay marriage issue doesn’t comply with that mantra.

Wake up and stop the bigotry. History has proven time and time again that every single large group that tries to oppress a minority ultimately loses. We have a lot of learning to do and it starts here.

I leave you with the wise words of a woman who knew a thing or two about civil rights struggle, Mrs. Coretta Scott King:

“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

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