Can one man’s self-acceptance help the fight against black homophobia? YouTube’s socio-political vlogger Animaine weighs in.
Earlier this week, R&B artist and Odd Future member Frank Ocean became the latest in a string of celebs to come out of the closet in a short period of time. Just to get the facts straight, he didn’t officially announce his sexuality, but he did reveal in a Tumblr post that his first love was a man, leading people to conclude that he is gay or at the very least bisexual. To most sane people, this tidbit of news is inconsequential, or at least it should be. An entertainer’s sexual orientation should have no bearing on said entertainer being accepted by his fan base and society at large. But this is America; land of the ignorant, home of the bigoted.
The cross section of the Black American community and the LGBT community represent quite a conundrum; on one hand, both minority groups have suffered great injustices in this country. And yet, the black community continues to be one of the most homophobic and anti-gay groups in America (66% of black Americans oppose same sex marriage as of a 2009 Pew Forum Survey). This makes black LGBT people an oppressed minority within an oppressed minority, a phenomenon that isn’t all that uncommon. The exact reasons for this is anyone’s guess, but I think it has something to do with the prominence of traditional and religious upbringing that many black people have. When you have it drilled into your head at a young age that being gay is a slap in the Almighty’s face, it’s more than a little hard to divorce yourself from those beliefs when you reach the “age of reason”.
Add to that the hyper-masculinity that is rampant in the hip-hop world (and the black community in general), and you have a recipe for social suicide for an openly gay black artist.
Despite the strong disapproval of homosexuality in the black community, the general public reaction has been, for the most part, in support of Ocean. Fans of all ethnic backgrounds along with other entertainers (fellow Odd Future member Tyler the Creator and R&B singer Solange to name a few) are letting their voices of approval be heard. The sentiment echoed in their collective voices is one not only of tolerance, but of acceptance. Of being proud that Ocean is real and open about who he is. Of being true to self, and that his musical talent should be all that matters.
Unfortunately, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a culture shocked backlash from fans that wouldn’t be too happy with the singer’s latest romantic revelation.
“What?! My favorite artist loves men?! I can’t believe it! Even though who he sleeps with has no impact on me in any way, and even though he’s an adult that has romantic and sexual encounters with other consenting adults, I feel personally offended! I’ll never listen to him the same again!”
And no anti-gay backlash would be complete without a shouting of a tidal wave of Bible verses that call for the physical and/or spiritual destruction of anyone who dares to be attracted to members of the same sex (Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:25-26 come to mind).
In a culture where it’s still acceptable to demean people simply by implying that they are homosexual, where it’s still ok to vent unabashed hatred to anyone who even resembles “gayness”, it takes a lot of balls to come out. To be open and unashamed of who you are. To put it in another way: In a world
where it’s a crime to exist if you are LGBT, simply proclaiming your sexual orientation without apology or shame is an act protest against the status quo. This humble nobody on the internet would like to tip his hat to Frank Ocean for striking another blow to the gay-shame machine in his own way.