I wrote this piece as a freelance reporter for a black magazine six years ago. It was in response to homophobia in the black community and the reaction of the black church. Although this article was aimed at a particular audience, I believe what I found can be applied to any group or ethnicity. I wrote this article in 2008 and much has changed since then, but not that much. Since this is a 14-part series, I will post a section every other day. The sections are not long, but reading it all as once piece might be a bit tedious.
Talking About Homosexuality
I chose to take on this controversial assignment as an educational project for myself. They say confession is good for the soul, so, I confess to using ’homosexual’ as a title to draw attention to this article and for that, I apologize to my gay friends and associates. It is a trite trick, but one I deemed necessary to make a point. Because of the length, this article will appear in 14 different sections--one every other day.
In many ways, it is sad to use a word just to bring awareness but it is a term that bears discussion especially for the people that wear the label and those who insist on making general statements about a group they know nothing about. I am writing portions of this piece in the first person to make it clear that I am speaking for myself, about my feelings and my understandings.
Along the way, I will define terms such as homosexual, homophobia, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. Other terms like evangelical, homophobic, orientation and religionist will appear in context. Research for this article comes from a larger project concerning the viability of religion in a technological world in which sexual orientation is but a small piece.
I will start with a definition of homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, demonstrable by a primary attraction to members of the same sex. That is simple and to the point. Homophobia is the hatred or fear of homosexuals. Definitions of these two terms set the stage to discuss an issue that is as divisive as it is misunderstood.
Let’s Get Personal
To start this piece, I am going to state that my interest in this entire issue is educational, humane and personal from the standpoint that as a person who grew up during the Civil Rights Era, I saw the "Whites Only" signs, escaped from "sundown towns" and read the Emitt Till story in real-time. In other words, I know the pains of discrimination personally and it bothers me to see anyone suffer the slings and arrows of ignorance.
I am not homophobic and never have been. Over the years, people of every persuasion passed through my life including bisexual men and women, as well homosexual males and females. I’ve been "hit on" by gay men just as I unknowingly "ran game" on lesbian women, as few males or females advertised their sexual orientation in those days.
I think I had sex with at least two lesbian or bisexual women. I don’t know for sure because during my 20’s gay women hadn’t stepped out of the closet and sometimes hid their sexuality by having sex with a heterosexual. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties I realized that more than likely I pursued some lesbian women and probably took their lack of interest as a sign that they didn’t like me. Not once did it occur to me that my sexual orientation might not match with theirs.
When I became aware of what I might be doing, I started asking. Some women appreciated it and some got pissed off, especially heterosexual women who acted as if I denigrated them by bringing up the question. Years ago, I’d say a pretty woman is a pretty woman, but since then I stumbled upon some character. Today, I am less interested in women as just females; but I am highly interested in them as people.
Because of my early life as a musician and a newspaper reporter, the people I met and worked with comprised a kaleidoscope of characters, personalities and minds. Although I am a typical heterosexual male, that didn’t preclude developing friends in the "not yet" openly gay community. My point in revealing this is simple. I remain heterosexual to this day despite my gay contacts.
The day after tomorrow, I'll look at "who’s who" in the United States. You’ll might be surprised who makes the list of famous LGBTs.