Monica Roberts

Dan Savage, Chill With Your Race Baiting

Filed By Monica Roberts | September 03, 2009 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Dan Savage, GLBT, Monica Roberts, Prop 8, race, race relations

Dan Savage just won't give up pimping that thoroughly discredited meme about the Prop 8 loss in Ca-lee-forn-ia.

dan-savage.jpg"I do know this, though: I'm done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there--and they're out there, and I think they're scum--are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.

"This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever. Finally, I'm searching for some exit poll data from California. I'll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8."

Damn, just when we thought the drama over Prop 8 had subsided a bit, here comes Savage pouring gasoline on the smoldering embers..

Yo Dan, you want fries and A1 sauce to go with your roasted shorts?

black gay2.jpgFrom where I, other Black GLBT people, and our allies sit, you're part of the racist gay white male club. You definitely need to attend one of those anti-racism training sessions you trashed at the 2010 Creating Change Conference in Dallas February 3-7..

Get this through your thick head. African-Americans make up only 9% of the total population of California. We're significantly concentrated in just five counties, Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego. Prop 8 won by a half a million votes.

If we were as powerful a voting bloc as you claim, Gray Davis would have survived his 2003 recall vote, Tom Bradley would have been elected governor of California in 1982 and Ronald Reagan would have never set foot in the governor's mansion in Sacramento.

How do you explain Alameda County (Oakland) voting AGAINST Prop 8, especially since there are lots of chocolate flavored folks living there?

But I and the African-American GLBT community are more than a little sick of your race baiting attacks on our community. It's got our allies concerned and is pissing off our supporters in the African-American community as well..

I guess it escaped your attention that some of your major legislative supporters have been members of the Congressional Black Caucus such as the current chair of the CBC, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and civil rights icon Rep John Lewis (D-GA).

alice huffman Cali NAACP president.jpgYou've also had consistent support from Julian Bond, the late Coretta Scott King, California NAACP chair Alice Huffman and other African-American leaders who see this - just as I do - as a civil rights issue.

We have our knuckleheads such as Bishop Harry Jackson and his sellout minister friends who are doing the dirty work of the Traditional Values Coalition as card carrying members of the Forces of Intolerance. Black GLBT people and bloggers have just as forcefully called them out as I'm doing to your soon-to-be-shorts-eating behind right now.

But as many of us continue to point out, the righteous anger you have needs to be focused on the people who were responsible for Prop 8's crafting, collecting the signatures to get it on the California ballot, financing the campaign, and who voted for it.

And those people disproportionately share your ethnic heritage.

nbjc_logo.gifAnd hello, did it not occur to your vanilla-flavored privileged behind that there are Black GLBT people in groups such as the National Black Justice Coalition who are busting their behinds to get marriage equality passed?.

The GL community has failed at intersectionality, cultivating and being good allies and cracking down on the racism within the GLBT family that causes discourse. It has also failed at crafting a pro marriage equality message that resonates in my community because of the lack of melanin in the GL community leadership ranks.

While I have seen some slight improvements recently on those fronts, we still have a long way to go.

In addition, the constant pushing of the 'we're just like you' message and holding out affluent white gay men as the standard bearers for the community is a factor leading into why there's so much right wing pushback against GLBT rights besides the yuck factor and faith based homophobia.

The 'we're just like you' message, especially when being articulated by white gay males is interpreted by Black people in the context of our historic centuries-old animosity rooted in slavery.

And I can't and won't forget as a transperson fighting for my community's civil rights that some of the people opposed to trans inclusion in the GL community, the movement we helped start, ENDA, hate crimes and other civil rights legislation over the last 40 years have been white gay males.

So when Savage's HBO television show cranks up, my television will be tuned to another channel since it's obvious he has no regard or respect for my African-American community or his Black GLBT/SGL allies.

But seriously Dan, chill with the race baiting. It's so 20th century.


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What do you mean he's doing it again? The quote you posted was from his November 5, 2008 column, the day after the election. The doesn't change its terrible race-baiting nature, but it doesn't seem fair to accuse him of STILL doing it by quoting him from 10 months ago.

Link: http://slog.thestranger.com/2008/11/black_homophobia

You know, you do a lot of talking about how you're going to prove Dan wrong and make him eat his shorts, but you never actually get around to answering his questions.

So how many gay people voted for McCain and how many African-American's voted for Prop 8?

Just interested.

Who's race-baiting here?

"And hello, did it not occur to your vanilla-flavored privileged behind that there are Black GLBT people in groups such as the National Black Justice Coalition who are busting their behinds to get marriage equality passed?."

Vanilla-flavored privileged behind? Disgusting.

I think today is the last day I'm reading Bilerico. I can't take these double standards that constantly treat white gay men as if we're some kind of demons. It disgusts me that you think it's OK to treat all white people as one block while crying about white gays stereotyping you.

Have fun in-fighting. I'll be over here getting things done.

Chuck,
Click on the words 'thoroughly discredited meme'
I'm talking strictly about that 70% of Blacks voted for Pro 8 meme.

It's not up to me to do Dan Savage's homework for him. He made the statement about McCain, so he needs to produce the data to back his statement up.

I'll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8."

I'm also bringing this back up in light of the fact that Dan Savage is getting a new HBO show.

The quote, even though it's ten months old, still is indicative of why the Black GLBT community can't stand his behind.

It's just now getting my attention, so now I'm commenting on it.

Monica, an interesting post, but your comment raises a question:
If the Dan Savage quote is ten months old, why do you say

"Damn, just when we thought the drama over Prop 8 had subsided a bit, here comes Savage pouring gasoline on the smoldering embers.."

"It's not up to me to do Dan Savage's homework for him. He made the statement about McCain, so he needs to produce the data to back his statement up."

No, he made a speculation and a hunch and would said he would eat his shorts if proven wrong. You said, "Yo Dan, you want fries and A1 sauce to go with your roasted shorts?" This was clearly implying that had contrary data. (and by the way, from what others posted, looks like Dan was right)

In short, you went on one of your "white privilege" rants yet again, but since you've run out of new topics, you have to recycle old ones. You've been called on it, and now are you are backpedaling by claiming to have just read about it, when in fact you've been bitching about it for months.

The lack of honesty in your writing is catching up with you. You are the one who needs to take off your blinders and get a dose of reality.

According to a Sacramento Bee article from 11-8-09, 70% of African American voters in California voted in favor of Prop 8.

http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/1382695.html?storylink=pd

I understand that this figure was challenged later. I've also seen figures of 27% or 1.3 million gay voters of all races voted for McCain in 2008. Bear in mind that all of these figures come from exit polling, which frankly IMO is inaccurate as heck. Nobody really knows what the true numbers are for either.

I believe that Savage is probably right that there is a serious problem in the African American community concerning gay rights. There obviously is among whites and others as well. I would argue that for the most part this is more an issue of religious beliefs, ignorance and fear of what change would bring. Add to this that gay activism sometimes can be VERY counter-productive and voila! Yet the shots by Savage and the retort by the author here both are clearly not helpful. The great anger and disappointment from last November should have transformed into constructive action by now instead of making things worse.

Tony,
At the time I wrote the post, I had the impression this was a fresh Savage quote on the Prop 8 issues. It had already been posted to the Project by the time I discovered otherwise.

Still doesn't change what I wrote in the post and I still stand by what I said in it.

It doesn't change the balance of this post or the points I was making in it. Dan Savage race baited in the wake of the Prop 8 loss.

Me calling Savage out on it isn't 'whining' or 'being racist'.

Some Whites have an exasperatingly annoying habit of labeling any critique of other whites uttered or written by a person of color as 'racist'.

Racism=prejudice plus power. That's Sociology 101

Monica, though I do question framing that old quote like that (i'd just explain what happened with a short 'update' at the top, and you should be fine) I completely agree that Dan was WAY OFF BASE in the days after the election, and definitely caused deep divisions in our community.

Sorry, y'all, but its true: there are TONS of irrational, racist gay men out there, and calling them out is NOT inappropriate. I wrote a guest post some time ago called "Why are White Gay Men so Racist; Why Are Straight Black Men so Homophobic" and I got a lot of flak for my claims, but let me tell you why I did it.

Just before PRIDE, my first guest post went up. I was extremely critical of him in that post. Pride weekend--the weekend Michael Jackson died--I planned on meeting for the first time a friend from a web-fitness group I belong to. As soon as he started talking to him I realized we were going to have problems:

"I read your blog and I'm so glad you said that stuff about Obama. If you ask me, the wrong black guy died."

See? I think its a huge problem when gay men think its socially acceptable to begin a conversation in this manner with what ammounts to a total stranger. If he thinks its ok to be so openly racist with me, the precedent must have been set elsewhere. Don't tell me this is isolated.

Sorry, posted it before I was done with the story. Anyway, it continued. He went on and on about how the 'black thugs' have moved into the Northalstead neighborhood and have ruined it, and have turned it violent, and everyone is getting mugged, and its all "The Center's" fault because they LET them in.

I totally threw up.

Don't tell me this is isolated. Here's a choice quote from a (now former) friend sitting in the passenger seat of my car last year when a black person crossed the road in front of us:

"Why is it you only see black people crossing in front of moving cars, jay-walking."

"Uh, well, I live in a college town, and so do you, so actually I DON'T only see black people doing it. Perhaps you ignore it when anyone white does it, and then just make a big deal when a black person does it, because you're racist."

And that was the end of our friendship.

White gay men talk more about "parts of town" more than ANYONE else I know. White gay men are horrendous about that 'nudge-nudge-wink-wink' racist language code. And this is freaking Illinois. If its like that here, I'd like to bank that its like that most places. I'm from Detroit, it was no different there.

Dan Savage was one of the REASONS I BECAME an activist, but after November, I was ashamed of him. I'm sorry, Joe, but if you have a problem with the truth, maybe you don't belong here anyway. I'm sure Matt Drudge would LOVE to have you.

Still waiting for citations on these unsubstantiated claims of yours you keep pushing by virtue of mere anecdotes.

Perhaps you and your ex-friend are not so unlike each other; each of you only notices and emphasizes what he wants to see and believe.

Lucrece. I'm sorry I haven't yet conducted an extensive empirical scientific study to determine whether or not racism does, in fact, exist in the gay community. I'll get right on that and send you a copy of SCIENCE with my piece in it when I do get published. Sound good?

Clearly giving real concrete examples of real racist comments by random gay white men in my life is just talking out of my ass.

Do you know WHY there will never be data on that? Because the organizations that would conduct such research are run by middle class gay white men, who--like yoursel--don't want to face the truth about racism in the gay community? They don't want to know just how big the problem is. So good luck finding anything but TRUTHFUL anecdotes floating around out there--the research ain't gonna happen... unless we get loud enough about it. And we gay white men FACE the damn FACTS!

I'll gladly wait for your truth-shedding study along with the astrology confirmed as science study, the government invented traditional medicine to poison Vegans studies; and, my most expected one, the Chinese will take over the world study.

In the mean time, keep the talking out of your ass for the mirror. Racism in any community? No shit, Sherlock.

Middle-class white gay male male? My curly hair, my tan skin of racial mix (yes, racial mixes exist, unfortunately for your race divide talking points), and my very thick accent say otherwise, honey. Don't project onto me your self-flagellating identity.

If there's anything to be addressed, it's your living up to the stereotype of middle class white gay men: Too much time on their hands.

Phil: Thank you for speaking up about this. Actually, I remember it now. It was your post that I reposted on my blog SoCal Voice that I got a lot of flak from and it was the impetus that gave me the courage to write that article A Perfect Storm that was reposted on Queerty.com. Again, thank you for being a gay white male that is speaking up about racism in the gay community. The others that think otherwise are the racist ones that are incapable of owning up to their shit and admit that they're racist. News flash! We're all racist to a certain extent but it is extreme with some gay white males. Oh Phile, and the reason why I sent out that press release recanting my grassroots organization the Gays United Network's support of the 2010 Campaign and aligning with a 2012 Campaign is because of the lack of access us LGBT people of color feel as it relates to the gay white males being in control of key positions and censoring us minorities. So, I have you to thank for giving me the courage.

With love,
-Nakhone Keodara
Founder
Gays United Network/SoCal Voice.net

Phil: Thank you for speaking up about this. Actually, I remember it now. It was your post that I reposted on my blog SoCal Voice that I got a lot of flak from and it was the impetus that gave me the courage to write that article A Perfect Storm that was reposted on Queerty.com. Again, thank you for being a gay white male that is speaking up about racism in the gay community. The others that think otherwise are the racist ones that are incapable of owning up to their shit and admit that they're racist. News flash! We're all racist to a certain extent but it is extreme with some gay white males. Oh Phile, and the reason why I sent out that press release recanting my grassroots organization the Gays United Network's support of the 2010 Campaign and aligning with a 2012 Campaign is because of the lack of access us LGBT people of color feel as it relates to the gay white males being in control of key positions and censoring us minorities. So, I have you to thank for giving me the courage.

With love,
-Nakhone Keodara
Founder
Gays United Network/SoCal Voice.net

Phil I find many gay men from every walk of life to be very critical of not only the heterosexual community but the GLBT community as well. I came out 5 years ago and during this time I have heard more derogatory terms used then in my entire life: he's so girly, fat, old, skinny, macho, butch, dresses like (fill in the blank), your not into me because of my race (again fill in the blank), etc. I know this article is about race, but what I see is deep routed prejudice overall.

It's very disconcerting.

Warren, VERY AMAZING AND TRUE observation. You're absolutely right, and I don't even know what the solution is.

Let me tell you a story.

Last night was a big gay bar crawl in town here--about 4 or 5 dozen gays and lesbians (and some straight people too, let's give it up for our allies!) went out donning pink "Thursgays" shirts and hopped from bar to bar. Every bar welcomed us. No straight bar patrons bothered us. The worse we got was an ocasional confused look, but otherwise, nadda problems. I even got a guy come up to me and thank me, and say he's in the closet but he thinks its awesome we're so out. Lots of straight girls that wanted to pack us up in their purses and take us home.

So someone shoved me from behind and said "Of course there's faggots everywhere, why wouldn't there be." in an angry way and then ran off. Was it a straight man? No. Its a gay man we all know who fancies himself more "masculine" than the rest of us, and takes every chance he can to make a statement about it. He's called EVERY SINGLE gay man I know a 'sissy faggot' at one state of inebriation or another. All of them.

He's insecure about himself, of course. If racism is rooted in slavery, this self-loathing/projected hatred we have is certainly a reflection of the way society has treated us for our whole lives. Doesn't make it right, but certainly explains it. But that's why we've got to rise above. We've got to be better than our problems. We've got to own it and tame it!

I couldn't agree more that we need to rise to the challenge. Regardless of how we are treated what I think is more important is how we respond to that treatment. I'll add that our response to both positive and negative treatment are equally important.

Phil,
You are so right about there being some frighteningly racist gay men out there.I don't know any in New York City, but I've met a number of them in Fort Lauderdale. When they make racist comments, I am so shocked that I am usually at a loss for words. I try to understand how the South produced such a strong strain of racism but I can never get to the point of accepting it. A gay man should know better.
Sometimes, when we talk about prejudice, we say that one or two generations from now, it will disappear, but if that racism is still alive in gay men in 2009....

Having said this, I still am not ready to condemn Savage who is an intelligent man, but I'll be watching him carefully.

Father Tony, this bait is too good! Let me rephrase this.

"I am so shocked that I am usually at a loss for words. I try to understand how the black community produced such a strong strain of homophobia but I can never get to the point of accepting it. A black person should know better."

That's honestly how I feel.

I can't remember who said this, but it was something to the effect that I was (and am) prepared for racism from white folks, be they gay or straight. I wasn't prepared for some of the virulent homophobia that I've received from the black community. And that included a gay bashing had a strong racist element to it. And that took place in Tallahassee, Florida, in a "black community."

So...gay white men are still white and occassionally think and act accordingly. Black straight folks are still straight and occasionally think and act accordingly. Same difference.

@Monica: "Some Whites have an exasperatingly annoying habit of labeling any critique of other whites uttered or written by a person of color as 'racist'."

Trudat! I concur with you 100%. You bettah work sister. And, don't forget that they like to turn it around and pretend that they're the ones that are the victim of racism. Puhleeeeze! It just irks me to no end. I'm glad it's coming from a transwoman who happens to be a person of color.

Just a few days after the article you quoted, Savage changed his story on Colbert Report:

http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=210299

Oh, but not before the 11/5/08 "Black Homophobia" column disappeared off of Slog right before he went on Colbert and talked about how he had been held down by a few black men in his time.

The problem I had with this is that I thought that Savage had said something new that was race-baiting. Framing it with that 11/5/08 quote kinda threw me off.

As far as North Halsted and the issues that you cite is concerned, Phil, I am seeing the beginning of what borders on (if not crosses) police harrassment of black and Latino gay men brought on, of course, by that infamous code of "the kids that hang around the Center."

And I won't even go into the number of times white gay men have said "you're different from most black men" or even "you're not REALLY black" comments that I've received over the years. As if that's supposed to be a compliment.

ZOMG, Chitown Kev, I hate to make it look like I favor you because you're totally backing up my previous statements, but... I'm human, and I don't care who judges me for liking you for agreeing with me!

MY little anecdotes AREN'T just appearing out of a vacuum, see! Other people notice it too, Lucrece. People I don't even know! Its not like we conspired to make all this shit up--these were separate, independent observations made my different individuals, and; viola: same damn conclusion.

Not ALL gay white men are racist, but we HAVE to own up to this and deal with this, or else we're just a joke.

Lucrece: To add other anecdotes that I personally, as a gay Asian male, have experience at the hands of gay white male. I was living with my then 2nd boyfriend, who was white, in Qeens, New York, and he told me on more than one occasions that I'm the first Asian person he's dated because he normally doesn't "find Asians attractive and that I was the exception." That crushed me. No, it's not a compliment to us people of color to have our boyfriends tell us that. There, I know it's not SCIENCE and it prolly won't be published in any studies, but it was and is still my experience til today. Hope that helps shed a little bit of light for ya.

Addressing this post in general: Talk about stirring up dormant crap.

You admit you went and wrote some angry blog post over something that happened some time ago, while at the same time accusing the guy, whose old statements you quoted, of reviving race friction. Sprinkling it with asinine and tired racist language ("vanilla flavored"; what's next, "banana flavored" for Asians?).

Angry rant upon angry rant, your posts keep polluting the Project.

Trying to shift moral blame out of the voters unto the craftsmen is laughable. In the end, it was not the craftsmen who made it law; it was the people who voted for it.

Using Nate Silver's correction does not block out the obvious: In all subsequent polls, blacks perform considerably worse than any other ethnicity. Hispanics are an equally religious demographic, and yet they consistently score better. Sometimes even better than whites, though never as good as the idyllic demographic that are Asians.

Black media is a quagmire of imposed closet. State of The Black Union this year completely omitted any mention of LGBTs, even when touching on AIDS, where closeted gay black men rank extremely high. You brag about Julian Bond, but the CEO of the NAACP clearly stated the NAACP would not take any national stance of support for fear of having a schism (read: the churches will tear his ass apart and cut off any donations to the NAACP).

Mainstream hip hop remains in "no homo/anti-faggot rule" territory, as do black entertainment venues.

You talk about race segregation leading to separate black gay clubs, conveniently forgetting that said black gay club also segregate themselves from their straight black communities.

But I guess it hurts less to point fingers at some outsiders who you haven't grown up with (white gay men) instead of coming to terms with the fact that the community you were born to and raised in remains a hostile place, where houses of worship will not deal with you outside of performing exorcisms on you.

Latinos voted for Prop 8 at a rate almost equivalent to blacks.

Well, this went downhill fast.

I just registered so I wonder how long this will take to post (my previous post when I hadn't registered has not been posted yet).

As soon as I do this test, I'll post what I think about all of this.

OK, that was fast...

1) The headline is really, really, misleading, Monica. I thought that Dan Savage had said something new. But this is that same ol' 11/5/08 column that has been hashed and rehashed to death.

Now if you want to debate whether Savage should actually have a HBO show using that column, then that's another story. If you want Savage to apologize for that column, then that is another story. Many LGBT's (black and white) have rebuked Savage for those ugly words that were said after the passage of Prop 8 and the reliance on the exit polls.

2) Savage's rage wasn't limited to the AA community, if I recall correctly, but also the Mormons and even Equality California (didn't he imply that there was a forged picture, or something of that sort?).

3) HRC did actually do a study of racism in the gay community. pages 23 and 24 of the report outlines what they found. Now what will be done about, that remains to be seen.

http://www.hrc.org/documents/HRC_Equality_Forward_2009.pdf

Lucrece, it's more than merely ancedotes, although I would say that class as well as race is a factor.

Good Lord, Chitown Kev! You're my hero tonight! You banged out some really amazingly efficient responses to the comments there, and backed it up! Jawesome!

I asked for a robust, thorough study, not some survey (surveys are actually pretty terrible in terms of providing factual backing) with sample sizes no larger than 800 people.

Your link is appreciated, but it does in no way support Reese's "The Sky is Falling" rhetoric on racism in the gay community. It did little to prove that racism is accentuated in the gay community over mainstream culture. When Reese gets tired of his hand-wringing melodrama, maybe he can support the implications that the gay community has some unique manifestation of racism not found in similar or greater proportion in mainstream communities.

Translation: I'm never going to believe in ANY facts unless THEY agree with MY point of view!

How thorough and studious of you!

First they would have to be facts.

Kind of hard to take your pontificating seriously when you wait up on others to support your claims.

Just how do you define "facts", Lucrece?! The several cited studies of LGBT racism other people have provided you aren't enough proof for you? How about this...if you want proof of white gay male racism, look at your own bigoted statements in this discussion. Isn't that enough proof for you that white gay men can be racist?

Megan, to be fair to Lucrece...

I don't think that Lucrece is disputing whether racism exists in the gay community or whether some white gay men (or lesbians for that matter) are racist? What he is questioning is whether racism in the gay community is more acute than in society at large.

My suspicion is that, like black homophobia, "gay racism" has less to do with whatever the statistics or studies would say and more to do with culturally specific forms that it takes on.

Now the idea of whether gay men are more inclined to have generally ingrained prejudices than straight people or even lesbians is interesting. That may be a case of gay men simply being more inclined to speak of their ingrained prejudices.

Chitown Kev: First off, welcome to Bilerico.com. I'm glad you made it here at long last. I've been a huge fan of yours. With that said, I would to read an article from you because you make so much sense because you seem to have a grasp of these difficult concepts that most of us are struggling with. So when are you going to submit a post to Bilerico? Patiently anticipating!

I agree, Lucrece, that racism seems no worse in the gay community than in the straight community to me. (But then again, that's me.) But, much like "black homophobia," racism might take on some very specific forms unique to the gay community (I rarely see straight M4F or F4M ads, for example, that seek or exclude another race).

And do note that I said "gay racism" and not "white gay racism."

Like Phil, I've cutoff gay black friends that have made outrageously racist comments against Latinos.

Having dabbled in the porn industry and internet dating through both professional interaction and social circles, straight porn and dating ads pretty much mimick gay behavior, if not actually surpassing it.

I see interracial couples far more in gay media (films, magazines, internet ads) than I see them in straight porn. But that's the thing with anecdote; experiences and personal perception cannot give an accurate picture.

That said, interracial relationships still remain a subject that hasn't been broached on a public discourse level. Racial segregation in dating continues to be normalized in a nation with respectable racial variety.

It's all very curious to watch, especially if you've lived in countries like Venezuela and Brasil, when the actual majority of people are racial mixes.

There's something very tribal about American culture, and I'd attribute it to its affection for an adversarial approach to life.

For the record (mine) on Savage...

I understand that he wrote that post in anger. Hell, if I lived in California at the time, my rights would have been taken away too. And once those exit polls were announced...well, I was lashing out at the black community in California too. In my own head, that is, and to friends of mine.

Still, were I a journalist and the editor of a paper, I may have held on to a column like this for 24 (or even 12) hours or so fact checking and looking at what the exit polls and the election returns did say.

http://socialistworker.org/2008/11/11/myth-of-the-black-gay-divide
COMMENT: SHERRY WOLF
Myth of the Black-gay divide

Sherry Wolf, author of the forthcoming Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of Gay Liberation, looks at the debate about why Proposition 8 passed in California.

November 11, 2008 | Issue 685 [1]

IN THE wake of Barack Obama's historic victory, a false and reactionary narrative has emerged that blames Black voters for the gay marriage ban that passed by a 52 to 48 percent margin in California.

While Florida and Arizona also passed same-sex marriage bans, the vote for Prop 8 in the politically progressive state of California is widely attributed to the enormous surge of Black voters, 70 percent of whom approved the ban reversing the state's May 2008 Supreme Court decision allowing lesbians and gays to marry. The exit polls showed that 53 percent of Latinos voted for the ban, as well as around 49 percent of white voters.

The state's Black population is 6.2 percent, and it accounted for 10 percent of the overall vote. In other words, blaming African Americans for the referendum's passage ignores 90 percent of the vote.

It also ignores recent history. To judge from social research, had there been an unapologetically pro-civil rights campaign, there was the prospect of a different outcome.

The most comprehensive study of Black attitudes toward homosexuality, which combines 31 national surveys from 1973 to 2000, came to a fascinating conclusion. Georgia State University researchers found that "Blacks appear to be more likely than whites both to see homosexuality as wrong and to favor gay-rights laws."

African Americans' religiosity leads many to believe that homosexuality is a sin, while their own experience of oppression leads them to oppose discrimination. This was borne out in the 2004 elections, where, in the six states with substantial Black populations that had same-sex marriage bans on their ballots, Blacks were slightly less likely than whites to vote for them.

Nationally, 58 percent now oppose gay marriage bans, a dramatic shift from just a few years ago. If an explicit case in favor of gay marriage were made by activists, a multiracial majority could be won over in coming years.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE EXIT poll statistics from California don't explain the more important story of why so many of California's Black, Brown and white citizens--who voted overwhelmingly for the first African American president by a 56 to 37 percent margin--also supported striking down civil rights for lesbians and gays.

The most critical reason was the ineffective strategy used by pro-gay marriage forces that adhered closely to the Democratic Party--and Barack Obama's--equivocal position on the issue.

While formally opposing Prop 8, both Obama and his running mate Joe Biden were vocal throughout the campaign about their personal discomfort with and opposition to same-sex marriage.

Despite the unprecedented and astonishing sums of money raised to fight the referendum--the pro-equality side took in $43.6 million, compared with $29.8 million for the anti-gay marriage forces--the No on 8 side lost.

The statewide No on 8 Coalition didn't use the money for a grassroots organizing campaign. It didn't put out a call for activists to hit the phones, knock on doors and hold rallies and actions to publicly denounce the bigotry of the measure--though in a few cases, activists took the initiative to do so on their own.

Adhering to the false notion that the Democrats lost the 2004 presidential election due to the assertiveness of gay marriage activists, the heads of the No on 8 campaign avoided even using words like "gay" or "bigoted." Instead, one TV ad opposing the measure featured a straight white couple, and only obliquely referenced gays at all when the camera panned over a bookshelf with a photo of two women and their children.

In the final days before the election, No on 8 ran an ad with a voiceover by Black actor Samuel L. Jackson denouncing past civil rights abuses like Japanese internment and anti-miscegenation laws, with a slideshow of gay and lesbian couples on the screen.

Some members of the California Teachers Association, to their credit, turned over the final week of pre-election phone banking to No on Prop 8 calls. Kathryn Lybarger, who married her partner a few weeks before the election, describes this and other efforts as "tragically last-minute stuff."

Blogger Rick Jacobs rightly challenged the campaign's tepid approach: "[C]an there be outrage when a movement becomes a corporation? When the largest LGBT organizations look like, are staffed by former executives of, and are funded by huge corporations and huge donors, where is the movement?"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BY COMPARISON, the anti-gay Yes on 8 campaign was aggressive, vocal and visible. They cynically used Obama's own words and image in TV ads to persuade Democratic voters to oppose gay marriage by voting for the ban.

Largely financed by right-wing institutions like the Mormon Church and the Blackwater mercenary security company, Yes on 8 sent anti-gay marriage activists to Black and white churches to drum up support. Their so-called robocalls, automatic telephone calls with mechanized messages, played Joe Biden's words from the vice presidential debate agreeing on opposition to gay marriage with vacuous bigot Sarah Palin.

Another element was exposed in a Los Angeles Times op-ed article titled "No-on-8's white bias," by Black lesbian Jasmyne A. Cannick. Cannick said she knocked on doors in working-class and poor Black neighborhoods of LA to register voters without ever raising the gay marriage issue.

"[T]he right to marry does nothing to address the problems faced by both Black gays and Black straights," Cannick wrote. "Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no health care, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?"

The answer is: Yes, indirectly, they do.

Thus, for example, the fight for HIV drugs and funding that erupted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when white gay men were the dominant group dying of AIDS, could have averted the catastrophe of AIDS in the Black community today if a multiracial, gay and straight alliance had formed from both sides of the racial divide.

As African American civil rights leader Julian Bond put it, "Our inability to talk about sex, and more specifically homosexuality, is the single greatest barrier to the prevention of HIV transmission in our community."

An injury to one truly is an injury to all. As a group that has endured the injustices of separate but equal amounting to second-class status, Blacks can certainly comprehend the stakes in this fight for equality--especially Black gays and lesbians who would directly benefit.

Besides, pitting one group of oppressed against another can only aid those in positions of wealth and power who benefit from divide-and-conquer tactics. For this reason, many prominent African American leaders, from Coretta Scott King to Al Sharpton, have taken an unequivocal stand in defense of gay marriage.

It is true that some Black churches and leaders are homophobic, and they should be challenged. But the enormous wealth of the white-dominated Catholic and Mormon churches, in stark contrast to the poverty of most Black churches, renders their culpability that much worse.

In challenging white LGBT people who justify not working alongside African Americans due to their supposed higher rates of homophobia, Black lesbian Barbara Smith argues:

Institutionalized homophobia in this society is definitely a white monopoly. And when we do see examples of homophobia in people-of-color contexts, what that should motivate people to do is to increase the level of solidarity with gay men and lesbians of color so that we can challenge homophobia wherever it appears.

The massive outpouring of protesters on the streets of California's cities since the ban shows the potential to organize a repeal of Prop 8 in coming months. But they will need to devise a strategy independent of the Democrats' equivocation and corporate-funded organizations wary of rocking the boat. LGBT activists in this budding movement should go directly to Black and Latino allies and develop a multiracial and collaborative challenge to the bigotry of anti-gay marriage forces of every race.

Included in the strategy should be a demand on the new Obama administration and Democratic-controlled Congress to carry forward with their party platform that opposes the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act. It's time to repeal that law and end federally sanctioned bigotry against gay marriage.

Thanks to Kathryn Lybarger in Berkeley for providing local insight on the Prop 8 campaign.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Oh dear, oh dear.

The People of Color GLBT community has much to do, this may be why marriage equality was rated less urgent than healthcare, affordable living and job security in HRC's new study of LGBT People of Color (http://www.hrc.org/issues/equalityforward.asp). Spend time reading the articles linked to in this post, the proof is in front of you so don't be as behind in your reading as Dan Savage!

Fear and anger, hurt and defensiveness. Everybody is feeling and experiencing it including Dan Savage and Monica Roberts. Dismissiveness works so well between two know it alls.

I'm reading everything here, and I have to say that I really don't think that we can talk about race effectively. Everything comes down to: I'm not like that! You're racist if you say that! Any statement about race is just as bad as any other!

Seriously, I don't see how we get over any of these problems if that language persists. Then again, that's probably the exact point, and there wouldn't be any racism in the world if it didn't benefit some people.

Alex, simply put, we can't have that discussion because people don't want to know that when they say things like "I'm not like that" that they live in a society where *everyone* is like that.

Those who point it out are not the problem. They see it.

Those who don't see it are the problem.

Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.
After reading and rereading these posts, it appears
that regardless of what white males do or say they
are labeled as racist. In my opinion, many whites male are fearful of saying anything. It is certainly a good bet, that in private in the ballot box, alot of these individuals because of this inability to express themselves regardless of sexual orientation will vote Republican.

Lucrece,
FYI, at 9 Black Pride events across the US in 2000 a survey was done with 2645 respondents. Two percent of those respondents were trans.

The results were published by the Task Force in the 'Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," Report which is available for download on their website.

In it 48% of the respondents agreed that racism is a problem for Black GLBT people when interacting with the white GLBT community, with one fifth of the respondenst STRONGLY agreeing with that statement.

The results were even highers with the trans respondents. 57% of the trans respondents agreed with that statement.

Two thirds agreed that homophobia in the black community is a problem.

Tony, the reason that is a intractable problem in this community and America in general is because of America's original sin of slavery.

The truth is that the historical and current condition of you and yours is rooted in slavery, is shaped by it, is bound to it and is the reality against which all else must be judged

Johnnetta B. Cole

Alex,
The major stumbling block to talking about race effectively is the fact we are Two Americas.

Black Americans see racism as the SYSTEMIC act it is. White Americans confuse prejudice with racism.

Everybody can be prejudiced. Racism is taking that prejudice and adding power to it (political, economic, social, police or military, and using it to retard or roll back the progress of individual minorities or a minority group.

White Americans also keep tap dancing around the fact that former slave and former slaveowner are still affected 150 years later by the effects of slavery, and many of the ills and inequalities present in our society are a result of that.



Rick,
I've been involved in online discourse for over ten years now.

It never fails that when I or any Black person, be they gay or straight, post ANY commentary that critiques how whiteness insidiously operates in our communities, calls out a white person operating in a racist way, or points out that race relations aren't as 'post-racial' as people claim they are the usual predictable stuff happens.

*We're called 'angry','emotional' or whatever euphemism du jour is used to personally attack the writer.
*There is a demand for dissertation level evidence or statistics to back up whatever we said in our commentary.
*We have our commentary nitpicked for perceived 'flaws'
*Whatever we said in the post is dismissed, belittled or labeled 'anecdotal'

The point is, I have four decades of experience living on this planet. I've been exposed to racism and its effects, observed it and had long conversations on an almost daily basis with other African descended people from across the Diaspora about it.

You don't have that experience. So how can you tell me as an African-American or presume to have the authority to tell me what is and ISN'T racist?

Why is anger a legitimate emotion for white people in discourse, but not for people of color?

Why is any critique by a white writer not greeted with the same shifting goalposts of 'proof' that you require of us?

Why is it that whites can freely criticize my community, but Blacks are allowed to do the same without a hostile or angry reaction to it?

Explain that to me.

Boom! Monica, that last point says it ALL! Its OK to REPEATEDLY talk about homophobia in communities of color, but turn that around and talk about some of the issues, WE need to get straightened out, and BOOM--you've set off a bomb.

One thing you said is a little wrong, though. White gay men ARE jumped on--when they call out other homophobic white gay men (see my post--especially the comments on--"Why are white gay men so racist..." here on Bilerico).

The problem, though, is that while you're totally 100% right, these brick walls aren't worth talking to anymore. We're all going to start hyperventilating soon if we keep this comment section up!

Monica,

Things you already know:

White men talking about race relations (witness Tim Wise's pontificating) = sober and studious analysis, no matter how angrily they express themselves.
POCs talking about race relations (Eric Holder calling race in America for what it is) = ANGRY POCS! HIT THE DECKS! No matter how measured they might be in their analysis.

Comments here echo the racism and ethnocentrism of a society where the criticism of racism is only endured when it comes from white people. If you were a white woman, your analysis would be welcomed and considered refreshing. There would still be some disgruntlement expressed here, but nowhere near the knee-jerk responses that we've seen so far.

And I, for one, am fine with resurrecting Dan Savage's racist shite. The fact that he erased it from the archives says a lot about his politics and his inability to defend what he knows are indefensible statements around race. The point is not simply about the numbers having been proven wrong (and I'm not even a supporter of the marriage "cause") - the point is that Savage was perfectly comfortable articulating his view that racism among gay men matters less than homophobia among blacks. And in order to do that, he deliberately chose to minimise the one ("handful of racist gay white men" - really, what world does he live in?) and maximise the other ("huge numbers of homophobic African Americans" - with no substantial proof, at the time, or after, of his own).

Savage is a commentator with a national platform - he needs to do more than deliver these knee-jerk statements. And, when called out for the same, he needed to come out with an apology - not erase the evidence and then go on television pretending to be the opposite. And Monica's right - if he's going to have a national show, people need to understand what he brings to the table. I'm tired of straight people assuming that gay=progressive.

What bothers me here is not that the criticism of racism is coming from a POC but that the criticism is offensive in using prejudiced language.
I also am not opposed to resurrecting a past statement for discussion though I was initially under the impression that it was a new statement. But the antiquity of the statement now having been established it is still a valid discussion because there is a pervasive racism within our culture and there is pervasive prejudice within our culture.
These are topics which must be discussed but when we pull out the blades and attack members of the discussion there can be nothing gained or learned in a constructive direction IMO.
I'm not afraid of anyone getting upset, I even expect it from all directions. What I want is to be informed without feeling insulted or feeling that people involved in the discussion are being insulted.

Fuck Robert. You don't want to feel like you're being insulted. That's some shit ain't it? How do you think us POCs feel having experience racism coming from the white LGBT community? And, to top it off, you turn around and pretend to be the victim of racism and we're being called racist and labeled as angry and you demand that we produce evidence when we're screaming from the top of our lungs that NOT all your sisters are with you on the marriage equality battle if you muthafuckahs don't stop with yo shit and start acknowledging your white privilege and start changing it. Yasmin, great points. This is movement for equality for ALL of the US's correct? Then start acting like it.

There, how's that for an angry, race-baiting, foul-mouth gay Asian activist.

I express my opinion and I am subject to an unjustified attack.

I have continually heard how members of the LGBT community in public are called faggots by either Hindi from India or African-Americans and somehow
individuals feel this is acceptable.

Rick,

Who's subjected you to an "unjustified attack?"

What does that have to do with "I have continually heard how members of the LGBT community in public are called faggots by either Hindi from India or African-Americans and somehow
individuals feel this is acceptable?"

And, just for the record: Hindi is a language. Hindus are the people you're thinking of. And not all people from India are Hindus.

And since we're all wildly flailing around demanding proof for every single instance of racism, like, ever, in the U.S - can you be more specific? And can you explain how homophobic slurs on the part of, oh, say, for instance, white jocks in public and/or in the locker room are to be separated from these instances of LGBTs being called "faggots" in India or among African-Americans?

Rick, I'll repeat the point I made below - we're never going to have a decent discussion around race in the U.S if we just keep insisting that everything boils down to the personal. Let's try and think systemically, for a change.

It seems to me that people are determined to wallow in their privilege. How can one even debate whether or not racism exists within the GLBT community, when it is a microcosm of the larger culture. It is not as if GLBT people are raised on a special island; they are just as steeped in isms as everyone else.

Dan Savbage may have made these comments months ago but the fact that he has failed to apologize is a sign of the privilege with which he lives. He would like us to believe that he is singularly oppressed because of his sexuality, however; his race and his gender serve to privilege his existence. Let us also not forget, that Dan lives with a great amount of class privilege.

In the end this not about Savage but about the ways in which the GLBT community refuses to acknowledge its racism. Just because you are oppressed in one area, does not mean that you do not live with privilege in others. The GLBT community can barely even acknowledge that people live with multiple sites of oppression because it seeks to position discrimination because of sexual orientation as the worlds major evil.

The GLBT community not only regularly ignores race, it has blinders to class, gender, ageism and disability. How often do you see these intersections in daily discourse? Unless you are willing to take an intersectional approach the GLBT community will always privilege gay, cisgendered white males and this is why it is possible to say that it is nothing but a microcosm of the larger society.

On a final note, when you call a WOC angry you simply reaffirm everything Monica has had to say in this thread and certainly make playing bingo that much easier.

Phil you're abslutekly right about how white gay peeps who courageously stand up and criticize their community about the racism within the community are attacked.

I was strictly speaking from my viewpoint and my observations as an African descended person interacting with this community and others.

totally right. I'm so glad you wrote this Monica. This has been an EYE-OPENING COMMENTS DISCUSSION for me. I hope that its made a LOT of people think. I think you're an amazing ADDITION to this site, rather than a POLLUTION, as some other poster said. Your contributions are SO important and valuable! Keep it up!

It would seem that for all of the complaining about this article addressing race baiting it did itself race bait.
It may not be considered technically racism because the initial purveyor is not of the race in power but it is born of the some type of ethnocentricity. The fact is that the article made racially insulting statements, these were made intentionally. It does not contribute to discourse even if you are addressing a viable issue.
What a mess this has become, I would love to see a discussion of race issues in a general way focused on racially based problems and ethnocentricity. I would love to avoid talking about the technicallity of racism because when the sociological definition is used it limits the discussion drastically to only what one group does that is racially based and ethnically motivated.

It it made you uncomfortable Rob, ask yourself why.

Specifically what makes me uncomfortable in this is the use of prejudiced language and attacks on people because of their race. It is an ad hominem attack which moves discourse from examining the issue to examining individuals and attacking those individuals.
I'm not opposed to discussing racism even my own part in it but I am opposed to discussing it while prejudiced statements are being aimed at anyone. I have the same feeling about discussing homophobia or biphobia.
Education about racism is what we need throughout our society and we should also examine xenophobia and ethnocentrism. But when we exchange discourse with fallacies and personal attacks or attacks upon any given race or group we are not educating we are venting and getting even.
While I am certainly open to discourse and willing to listen and willing to contribute to the discussion I am not willing to see anyone held up as the whipping boy for another because it gains us nothing as a whole and actually hinders us.
There have been numerous blanket attacks thrown around in this discussion. Gay white males are being labeled as the problem (ok, I'm not gay but I am a white male) but labeling this group as the problem in a nasty way is certainly not going to bring about changes in that group. Failing to recognize that some people within that group have been making an effort to address the problem is also not productive.
There is an approach here which basically lays it out that gay white males are the problem but that they are not qualified to help with a solution. But they exist, they are here and if we want the problems of the primary leadership being gay white males to be addressed shouldn't we include that group in efforts to address the problem?
I'm not seeing much attempt to educate this group, or guide this group, or listen to this group and the primary way of engaging this group is by going after them.
If one will not show respect to others and one will not listen to others then one shouldn't expect respect and open ears.

Care to give any concrete examples of this language you find so offensive? Other than Monica's already-admitted-and-apologized-for mistake on exactly when Dan Savage's race baiting took place, what's so bad about this article?

Rob,

I think the problem here is with not drawing a distinction between any localised language one person may or may not have used and the more systemic, widespread use of racial discourse like the kind used by Savage and the wider gay community (and, as Megan points out, it would be useful if you'd point to the language in question). Yes, it's possible that people use language that's irksome to white folk. But why use that as a basis to move away from a discussion of the evidence of systemic racism in the gay community, for evidence of which you only have to look at the Advocate cover declaring that Black is the new Gay? Or the many, many accounts by POCs of gay men - and women - literally shouting racial slurs at them post Prop 8? And we could all go on here about the specific instances of racism in the mainstream gay community.

There isn't even a rough equivalence between what some POCs might have to say about white gay men and the more widespread use of racist rhetoric and plain racism by white people in general and, in this case, white gay men in particular.

As for: "But they exist, they are here and if we want the problems of the primary leadership being gay white males to be addressed shouldn't we include that group in efforts to address the problem?" I see where you're coming from but... why assume that white gay men need to stay in positions of power in the first place?

In addition: I think I can speak for a number of POCs who are tired of white gay people, period, complaining of not being educated by POCs. To echo Monica's earlier comment: "It's not up to me to do Dan Savage's homework for him;" it's not up to POCs to show white people how to get their act together.

At the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that conversations like these are going to be damned hard. But we also have to go into them with some sense of historic proportion. One person's comment about white folk does not equal the historic and systemic racism against POCs.

Frankly, I think the problem with race and racism in the U.S is that we are so hell bent on seeing these issues in entirely personalised terms. That, as dyssonance pointed out above, is the problem: "...simply put, we can't have that discussion because people don't want to know that when they say things like "I'm not like that" that they live in a society where *everyone* is like that. Those who point it out are not the problem. They see it. Those who don't see it are the problem."

And I won't even go into a discussion here about how the entire discourse on racism, as it's currently constructed, ends up neglecting issues of economic inequality.

Than you Yasmin, this makes sense and I would like to see the discussion taken along systemic lines.

Savage's clueless comment pissed me off big time. I'm a gay black male who donated to No on 8 and was very upset to see it pass as well as frustrated by the clumsy campaign to fight it.

I for one have felt very alienated over the years from the black community. And it's not just because I'm gay. It's because the way so many things (including being gay) are labeled "white" by ignorant-ass people.

So when I came out I hoped I could find a comfortable niche of gay men of all colors who shared my interests. And yeah there were some racists and a decent percentage of the population wasn't interested in dating me because of my race (like with straight people), but there were also open-minded people who took privilege and racial oppression seriously.

And then Prop 8 passed. And I read accounts of racial slurs at protest events as though people could only see someone's race and not who they were. Here in NC I wanted to protest, I wanted to get out there and be visible. But knowing how racist my own state can be, I honestly didn't want to feel the cold alienation of some jackass yelling "You people caused this!" as though my race made me guilty by default. So I stayed home, skipped the march, and didn't even go out to the local gay bar/club for the same reason. Because I honestly couldn't take that kind of rejection at a time when I needed to feel some solidarity with the gay community.

And Savage's comment which sounds as though gays did blacks a favor by voting for Barack just threw fuel on the fire. And then he got on TV and gave Obama an 'F' six months into his presidency for not passing any LGBT legislation, as though gays don't need jobs and access to affordable healthcare.

Uh, most of what That Guy said.

See, I'll be good goddamned if white gay people come up and tell me how homophobic the black community is based on little than a motherfucking exit poll that didn't even have a statistically significant sample of black males. I didn't disagree with the title of Savage's 11/5/08 post but for some strange reason I have the feeling that Savage doen't know a damn thing about "black homophobia" which (to me, anyway) means culturally specific in which homophobia manifests and is talked about in black communities.

And that gets to the heart of a part of That Guy's post. Having been raised in a black church, I am pretty sure that the Sunday before the Presidential election there was a sermon or 2 or 15 about gay marriage as the "white man's devilment" or something of that sort.

On the other hand, I'll be a monkey's uncle if one more straight churchified black person either online or in person-to-person conversation tells me how racist the gay community when said person knows little more about the gay community than Harvey Milk or the drag queens at the Pride Parade. That Guy calls folks like that "ignorant-ass people." As far as I'm concerned, he's being nice; I won't even type out some of the names I've used for people of that ilk.

The only other thing I have to say though as regards the emotion of anger, Monica, is that people say the same about gay people; anger seems to be a legitimate emotion only for straight people whereas gay folks will just throw "hissy fits" about any damn thing. I get pissed when a white person (gay or straight) or a straight black person attempts to denies my momentary right to be angry though I am responsible for expressing that anger accordingly.

My approach is that I'll be damed if anyone is going to come up and preach to me about how homophobic the black community is without some evidence that is useful and certainly not based on a flawed poll.
I also will be damned if anyone is going to come up to me and start telling me how racist, transphobic or biphobic the gay white male leadership is in the LGBT community without some supporting evidence.
And in all cases I'll be damned if I'll stand there and listen to it if it is just an attack and offers no constructive criticism.
I have run into this when people tell me how homophobic southerners are yet I grew up in an area of the South where people were not harassed for being gay, lesbian, bi or trans.
These broad categorizations are part of my problem with this type of discussion.

We're generally on the same page. It's the generalities of the arguments on both sides that gets to me.

For example, I have been going to gay bars ("white" and "black") on and off for 25 years or so (mostly in Chicago but also in Detroit, Florida, NYC, Portland, and Washington DC and I have never been asked to show more than one ID (frequently I haven't had to show ID).

I don't say that to discount the experiences of those who have been asked to show 2 or even 3 ID's based on race but I haven't seen any evidence that what happened at Badlands in San Francisco is evidence of an epidemic of racism in white gay bars nationwide.

Oh, I think the best study that I've seen on that topic of homophobia in the black community is the one that was taken over a 25 year period and showed that while blacks are slightly more homophobic than whites, blacks are also more inclined to support gay rights, with the exception of marriage equality.

And even then, I also point to the Proposal 2 vote in my home state of Michigan and Wayne County where a bare majority (52-54%, I believe) of a county that is 75-85% black supported the anti-gay marriage amendment. There were quite a few "white" counties in Michigan that were far more homophobic, if we were to go by those election returns.

25 year study? Cool, I'll have to look that one up and read it.
I find the differential between those who are homophobic and those who would support LGBT rights to be interesting. Is it perhaps that the idea of discomfiture on a personal level is one thing but that the idea of fair treatment for people is treated as another thing. Kind of in an "while I may not be comfortable with you, I recognize your rights to be who you are" manner?
Just very interesting.

Here's the title and the journal: Google is my friend!

Lewis, G. B. (2003). Black-White Differences in Attitudes toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights. Public Opinion Quarterly, 67, 59-78. Retrieved Dec. 10, 2008, from Oxford University Press Journals

Thanks, tracked it down and have gone through the abstract.

Another displaced Michigander in Illinois! No shit! :)

I've always liked Savage * preparing to get smeared or ignored here * and although I didn't find what he wrote to be big a deal, I can understand how others were offended. But since I'm white, I know my opinion won't worth much in this forum. Dan was angry. He unholstered his gun, took poor aim, and impulsively fired off a few rounds. People were hurt.

What are Dan's views now? At this moment? Are any of you planning to reach out to him? Or just keep heaping scorn. I'm really curious.


Max,

Reach out to him... in what way? He's not the ambassador of Gayland and we're not here to negotiate a peace treaty with him. He's a grown man, and he knew well enough to take down and attempt to hide his own words, and then go on national TV pretending to be other than what his words represented. And, to repeat, he's already made his views on race apparent, and they've shown no signs of change:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/07/16/gay-white-people-arent-allowed-to-be-upset-with-barack-obama

Judging from your phrasing ("But since I'm white, I know my opinion won't worth much in this forum."), I have to imagine that you're referring to the POCs/allies in this thread when you write "any of you." For more on why it's really not the responsibility of POCs/allies to educate white people on their racist shite, see various comments above.

I like Savage's columns well enough, and I think he needs to stick to sex advice. His politics are pretty terrible on almost every other count. Most of us have forgotten, for instance, that he supported the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and was one of the most bloodthirsty advocates for war. The fact that he later decided that Bush was the problem doesn't indicate any change in his politics on war, it just means that he changed with the tides and chose the most popular opinion. The problems with Savage's politics are numerous and could constitute an entire blog post.

Which gives me thought...

Anyway, this particular thread is turning into one giant mass of petulance on the part of a lot of white folk who insist on personalising the issue at the cost of any systemic analysis. Good night, all.

Yasmin I was with you until the very end when you made a statement about "a lot of white folk" and you lost me.
I think that I have been trying to understand and participate but if that attempt at understandiong and participation is going to be dismissed simply because of my race then there isn't much that I can do about it.
I for one would like to be engaged in a discussion of the topic which would include the whole interlaced set up of hetronormativity, homophobia, racism, sexism, prejudice, economic disparity, and classism. Because I see a whole system which maintains itself through these means and which needs to be attacked at all levels.
But I can't be involved in this discussion if my involvement is dismissed because I am a bi white male or any one of those. But if I cannot engage in the discussion then nothing is gained for me and the temptation is there to just ride the wave for my own benefit.
But I have four sons, who are to become white men, one is gay/bi and three are straight. So if I am not to be engaged in the discussion and am to be dismissed out of hand because of my race then what should I teach my sons right now? How can I critique the situation for my own sons if I am to be ignored? Why would I critique the status quo for my sons if they are to grow up and be demonized and ignored?

Rob,

1) If you can find a copy of Mab Seagrest's "Race Traitor" get it. Most of it is a series of personal essays of a white lesbian woman who organized against the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina with the black community. That same Klan violence also resulted in attacks on gays.

In the last two essays, though, Seagrest charts the interconnectedness of racism, sexism, and homophobia quite well. The essays are also footnoted for additional research.

2) I don't know. Maybe I missed that "American tribalism" gene that Lucrece referred to. I was upset by what Savage said but not THAT upset. Maybe it also has to do with my own experiences in the black community that That Guy referred too; after all, I haven't exactly felt a part of it for some time. I have honestly mulled over whether I would have written something like this at that time.

As far as Savage's piece on Granderson's essay, well...it had it's points here and there but I preferred this response to Granderson's essay a lot more.

http://holybulliesandheadlessmonsters.blogspot.com/2009/07/note-to-everyone-there-should-be-no.html

Rob,

You've consistently been one of the few people who are actually willing to stick it out for a nuanced discussion, which is why I'm taking the time to respond to you again.

Let me start with this: So, if I'd left out "white," you'd have been okay with my points? Why is it that pointing out the race of someone/people is not okay in this instance, but it's okay for you to declare yourself white? Furthermore, why do you see yourself as part of the "lot" who have, clearly, been resorting to petulant cries of reverse racism? What is it about your self-identification that makes you want to identify with the people who clearly are not on the same page as you? I think it's worth asking yourself some questions about your investment in the category of whiteness, even in a forum where you clearly don't agree with everyone else who's white.

Second: You write: "But I have four sons, who are to become white men..." I don't know if this is simply an unfortunate turn of phrase, but while they might be about to become *men,* they're not about to become white. They are already white, and the whole point of white privilege is that it is an unmarked but ever-present point of privilege for those who are born white and have never had their whiteness or white privilege questioned. Most white people are fundamentally clueless about the privilege they occupy because of the colour of their skin. Calling you out as "white people" is not racist - it's simply pointing out a fact: that some people are white, and that they occupy a category that comes with the kind of privileges they've never been asked to examine.

Now, that leaves out the more complicated issue of what happens class privilege does not coincide with white privilege, but that's another discussion.

I see you trying to enter into and sustain an honest discussion about race and privilege. But, to repeat, I think it's worth considering what whiteness means for you in particular.

The conversation on race in the U.S is not going to be easy (and it has barely started) and I, for one, don't think it's going to take on much substance as long as we're not willing to interrogate our investments in categories and, more importantly, our refusal to consider what the real history of race has been in this country. I also don't think it's going to go anywhere as long as people of any colour refuse to look at critiques of "their" races/ethnicities without personalising those critiques. Part of the problem here, of course, is that whitenes has been naturalised to the extent that it's not even considered a race - I think that accounts for the hostility expressed when people are simply referred to as "white;" "white" is not considered a race - it's simply assumed to the be dominant category and it's only "other" races that are classified as such.

Frankly, I blame this lack of a productive discussion on the whole warped history of identity politics and "cultural identity" in the name of "celebrating diversity." We're now at a point where we (supposedly) celebrate difference, but we have no idea how to negotiate the really sticky conversations that might result from those many, many moments when we need to go beyond tokenistic celebration. I don't think we've even developed a language to talk about race or racism. And it doesn't help that the majority of schools do nothing to teach the real history of race/racism, and instead feed students sugar-coated versions of the same. On that, we could go on for hours. But I'll end here.

Thank you, and even when we disagree I have found that you are willing to engage and explain while listening and hearing.
Yes, I would have been more comfortable with your points in that case..... I was uncomfortable with it being directed at "white folk" ..... because I was, just as others were doing, identifying where my background is in this discussion which I believe helps to clue everyone in to what experiences and roles are informing my views.
I don't see myself as part of the lot crying reverse racism (which is a claim that conceptually makes no sense to me since my understanding is that prejudice can push in all directions but racism invariably attempts to push down upon)but I am white and when part of the statement aimed at those people points out that they are white I feel that I am being categorically included because I am white.
My own view of racism is that I have seen POC who have participated in it (today I was watching a reporter on an event for this years report by the Urban League and one of the speakers spoke to this very issue pointing out the argument that one you have an executive officer in place many companies and agencies decide that the problem is solved and no other efforts need to be made and they are post racism)so it is not just white people who are perpetuating racism.
But Yasmin, part of my identity is white and when people are being targeted as white in the discussion I do feel aimed at and dismissed just like a person would feel dismissed if told that he or she is just angry because he or she is black. White is part of my identity because it is what looks back at me in the mirror (though I tend to ethnically identify as Gaelic and Polish rather than generically white)And when people look at me they will not see my African ancestors just like when people look at Ali they don't see his Irish ancestors. How much that figures in, I can't say really since I would like to think that I would feel this way no matter what but I would be asinine to claim that my personal awareness of African ancestry does not inform my feelings in some way.
Second as you point out they are already white but I was thinking and talking to the "white men" concept but you are right it is already there has been since they were born. I make sure that my kids know that they have a racial mixture that is not obvious to the casual observer. And I do feel that there is more of an onus on myself to deal with racism and I teach my children that also. But again when I am starting to feel set upon because I am white (and while I recognize that I have African heritage the world treats me as white and I have that position as I go through my day so I'm not going to BS anyone about how white I am because my self awareness does not change the way a Boston cop will look at me when I ask for directions or the way a security guard will look at my son in the mall)I want to keep them from feeling set upon simply because they are white.
Then ask people to examine those privileges, because I'm trying to and others are trying to. It does make people feel targeted and attacked even if it shouldn't or it isn't the intention. Part of it is that it is such a charged subject and many of us are sensitive to it. I do feel that if we can keep the volume down and not point fingers in a way that feels threatening we can have more people participate in the discourse in a constructive way.
The critique of a flawed system needs to come from all sides and action needs to come from all sides. But if people are made to feel threatened they are going to be more likely to cling to the comfort of that familiar system. And it is comfortable, and I know how to use it and navigate it and I know that it is there and I know what it does for me. If I am to hammer at the wall from this side I'm going to stop if I just think that the wall is going to be knocked down on or at me.
And class priv vs race priv will be a fun one when we get to it.
Your last paragraph I have to agree with especially the part about not even having a language in place for it. And the history of racism in this country definitely is whitewashed. We need to look at it from the earliest colonial periods forward when various ethnicities that are now called white were subject to it and how that lowest rung of the ladder just kept getting transfered down ethnically, racially and economically.

Hi Rob,

Lots to think about, certainly. I think discussions like these are productive, however faltering they might be sometimes. And I also think it's best to engage only with those who want to actually have a discussion. These discussions sometimes get hijacked by those simply looking for a fight, and that's just the reality of online discussions; we, sadly, see enough evidence of that here too often. The real battles and conversations need to keep happening in real life.

Also, I think your kids are going to be just fine with a reflective father like you. I'd kill to be at *your* dinner table :-)

Chitown Kiev is right in his comment below: "All in all, just a hot mess of privilege and non-privilege, really."

And on the topic of class and race privilege, one of my favourite theorists and writers, Walter Benn Michaels, puts it best in a recent essay:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n16/mich02_.html

Enjoy!

Well the key may actually be to outlast the people who want a fight and keep a calm tone while they rail against the sea and when they are tired, we can get on with it.
Any time you are going to be in the Boston area you are welcome to come by and we will sit down at the table with family and friends.
I will read the essay.
I intermittently do a blog on LGBT history which mostly is aimed at LGBT youth and get cross posted to an LGBT youth site. Maybe some historical perspectives on race and LGBT history would be in order.

Because your white? Why is that important and why would you believe that it is going to get your opinion dismissed in a general way?

kim in portland | September 5, 2009 7:35 PM

Hey Chitown Kev,

Good day to you.

Thank you for the links. Just thought I'd let you know that Savage/Stranger hasn't hidden the column: http://slog.thestranger.com/2008/11/black_homophobia

Take care.

k

kim in portland | September 5, 2009 8:01 PM

Just so everyone is aware, neither Savage nor the Stranger has hidden or deleted his 11/5/08 column, http://slog.thestranger.com/2008/11/black_homophobia

It was the first thing that came up in the Stranger archives that fit it's description. I found it within 30 seconds of typing the title.

Kim and everyone else,

One of the worst features of the web is that people can remove evidence at will. One of the best features? That their removal of said evidence can also be documented.

Readers will, of course, note that this version of Savage's column comes with an "update." Savage did in fact pull his column and appears to only recently have re-installed it. Evidence of his attempt to hide his views can be found here:

http://queertwocents.blogspot.com/2008/11/dan-savage-pulls-racist-column-before.html

and here:

http://rodonline.typepad.com/rodonline/2008/11/dan-savage-pull.html

I don't think either of these sites would have reported on this if it hadn't been true.

Someone on Bilerico (Alex, was that you?) also wrote about Savage pulling his column. And, in fact, I checked the Stranger archives that week, when the Bilerico column was posted, and again at some point in later months - the column was nowhere to be found.

So, yes, it's been re-installed. But, I suspect, only because Savage needed to save face. The fact that he did yank it just before his TV appearance still stands as true, and it still speaks to his politics on race.

Plus, I'd love to know if he ever did eat his shorts.

Here’s the straight dope from a multi-racial lesbian:

Are there racist gays? Probably. Have I ever met any? No.
Have gays ever been violent towards blacks or any other minority for that matter? Not that I’ve ever heard of.
Are blacks ever violent against gays? Yes. Black gays and non-black gays alike.
Do gays ever engage in hurling racial slurs at blacks? Maybe, but none that I’ve ever heard of.
Do blacks ever engage in using homophobic slurs? You bet your ass they do.
Is there a fundamental root for racism within the LGBT community? No.
Is there a fundamental root for homophobia in the black community? Yes. Christianity.
Have gays ever given 70% of their votes to deny the rights of blacks, or any other racial minority? I think not.
Have blacks ever given 70% of their votes to deny rights to gays? Apparently yes.

Oh, dear....

"Do blacks ever engage in using homophobic slurs? You bet your ass they do."- Uh, and so do "whites." And "Latinos." And "Asians." And all the subgroups therin.

"Is there a fundamental root for homophobia in the black community? Yes. Christianity."- And that would be a fundamental root (though not the only one) in the "white community" as well, especially with the "white folks" that funded that have funded all of these ballot initiatives from day one (going back to the 1990's).

"Have blacks ever given 70% of their votes to deny rights to gays? Apparently yes."- I'm going to ignore for the moment that the particular poll that you are referring to was flawed and say that Californian blacks and Floridian blacks. And in Florida, over 60% of all other racial groups voted for Amendment 2.

And nice way to erase all the different subgroups of gay and counts all "gays" as a single race.

So let me suggest this. Why not just get a group of white folks together and make them tell the other white folks not to put this anti-gay shit on ballot initiatives and to fund the campaigns. That way you won't have to worry about the black people voting for (or against for that matter) at all.


Oh, and let's not forget that 89% of Mississippi whites voted to deny rights to gays, either. And 76% of Georgia whites. And 61% of Ohio and Michigan whites.

Is there a fundamental root for racism within the LGBT community? No.


LaTanga, there are fundamental roots for racism within the LGBT community.


They're called 'White privilege' and 'slavery'

Good day (now anyway!) to you, kim.

I am probably speaking to choir here, for the most part but it did take me awhile to learn that the loss (or lack of) of privilege in one area doesn't mean that all privilege is lost; sometimes privilege is exerted in the areas that it's claimed.

So I am a black gay male who doesn't have heterosexist or white privilege but I do still have male privilege and even cis privilege (which comes complete with a catalog of highly sexist comments that I've made over the years...I've gotten better with that!). For Savage, for example, sure he doesn't have heterosexist privilege but he still has both white privilege and male privilege.

Straight black people may be black but they still have straight privilege and, for many, religious privilege as well.

And yes, Yasmin, let's not even go there as far class privilege not coinciding with race privilege (though to an extent That Guy's "acting white" comment touched on it).

All in all, just a hot mess of privilege and non-privilege, really.

LaTanga,
You're sadly making the same mistake that most gays make in making the problematic statement that Christianity and by default the Black church is a font of homophobia.

It ignores the fact that there are Christians and church leaders who are fighting this perception.

Ever heard of Bishop Dr. Yvette Flunder? Rev Carlton Person?

Rev. Al Sharpton started an initiative two years ago to vigorously challenge homophobia in the Black Church.

It also ignores the fact that there are Black GLBT people who happen to be Christians as well


Thank you Nakhone! Although I am not sure exactly how much sense I make, even to myself at times lol.

As far as an article from me is concerned...that was already alluded to (I think) in another thread.

The only thing I will say in general is that since I don't much care to adhere to the "don't air the community's dirty laundry" factions of the gay community or the black community (and both communities really do strike me as remarkably similar) I am bound to piss people on all sides even more than I already do. At least that's what my fear is, to be frank about it.

Still, I do want to be much more active than I am and conditions are such that that is increasingly possible so...we'll see

kev

Thank you Nakhone! Although I am not sure exactly how much sense I make, even to myself at times lol.

As far as an article from me is concerned...that was already alluded to (I think) in another thread.

The only thing I will say in general is that since I don't much care to adhere to the "don't air the community's dirty laundry" factions of the gay community or the black community (and both communities really do strike me as remarkably similar) I am bound to piss people on all sides even more than I already do. At least that's what my fear is, to be frank about it.

Still, I do want to be much more active than I am and conditions are such that that is increasingly possible so...we'll see

kev