Pickaninny Papers Search
Powered by Squarespace
Gender & Sexuality Archive

Roundtable: Michelle O, Beauty, and the Strong Arm of the Media

Karima: Roland Martin hosted a very interesting conversation with four black female actors from TV and film, about the negative criticism Lady Obama receives on her style and body type. The discussion progressed ultimately to black

Read more...

Roundtable: 8-Year-Olds in Padded Bras and Thongs, Really?! 

Nichole: Ladies, what do you think of Abercrombie & Fitch's decision to sell push up bikini tops to little girls? Other than, this is ridiculous. I read the recent New York Times profile of Miranda Cosgrove, which in describing tween girl stars'

Read more...

Roundtable: Shaken By Sexual Violence

Lucinda: An 11-year-old girl is gang raped by a group of men and boys. It’s captured on cell phones. The authorities begin an investigation just after Thanksgiving, because one of the girl’s classmates tells a teacher about the video.

Read more...

Gender & Sexuality

 

 

Entries in sexual orientation (2)

Wednesday
Jun012011

Calling Foul on Homophobia in Black America

By Karima E. Rustin

During the second weekend of May, I read two articles in The New York Times in which two men, both highly visible and successful in their respective careers, made public that they are gay. There are very few commonalities between these two men, yet after reading both articles, I began feeling annoyed, not about their decision to openly discuss their sexual orientation (I commend them for that), but about the inevitable issue of homophobia in the black community.

Don Lemon, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and prime-time anchor on CNN, has written a memoir entitled Transparent. He initially wanted the book to be about his professional life but felt compelled to divulge details about his childhood and ultimately discuss his sexual orientation. Mr. Lemon believes that the black community would have a more adverse reaction to him revealing his sexual orientation than the general population. In his New York Times interview, Lemon states “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine..."


Rick Welts, the President and CEO of the basketball team the Phoenix Suns who has spent the majority of his adult life ensconced in basketball culture, decided that instead of waiting for his industry to be comfortable with his sexual orientation, he would make it public and encourage others to address the issue that envelops the court and boardroom—homophobia. Within 24 hours of Welts’ meeting with David Stern (commissioner for the National Basketball Association) to discuss his decision to go public, Kobe Bryant, the iconic guard of the Los Angeles Lakers and a black male, belligerently objected to a referee’s verdict of a technical foul by calling him a derogatory gay term. (Bryant later apologized after being fined $100,000.)

I was saddened to read about Lemon’s fear of being emasculated by his own race and fed up with hearing about a black athlete demonstrating blatant homophobia. Sports is where many young black males of limited economic means see their opportunity to achieve greatness, a chance to change their current economic circumstances and attain individual recognition.

The majority of the players in the NBA are people of color, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I believe there is a black cultural myth that the totality of your masculinity is made up from your sexual orientation, and being gay doesn’t equate with the current virile image of the professional basketball player. I worry about the young black gay kid who aspires to play ball and watches Bryant and other basketball players express an unwillingness to embrace a fellow teammate who happens to be gay. Four years ago former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway let it be known that he hates gay people and would not want a gay man on his team.

Why black people struggle with homophobia baffles me. What are we so afraid of? Why does acknowledging differences in sexual orientation make so many of us uncomfortable? We must debunk this idea that to be a man means you can only be heterosexual. I would like to see more black people supporting men like Lemon who choose to come out publicly and condemning the use of gay slurs. Men like Lemon and Welts might need to make us uncomfortable in order for us to start addressing our unwillingness to accept people of different sexual orientations.

Saturday
Apr162011

I Don’t Really Care Who Malcolm X Had Sex With

By Lucinda Holt

I just checked out Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Sexuality of Malcolm X.” I was curious about what he had to say regarding the revelation that Malcolm X had sexual experiences with men in Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Ta-Nehisi makes the point that so many people reject the idea of Malcolm X having sex with men because they “think it’s antithetical to masculinity.” Ta-Nehisi comes out and calls this “wrong,” and I’m coming out and saying we’ve got to stop stuffing men into a “man box” that only allows them to be heterosexual, tough, aggressive and free of any emotion except anger. We’ve got to  broaden our definition of masculinity to include a variety of ways of being a man, including being gay or a nurturer or kind. Those qualities are just as masculine as being assertive, bold, and all of those other things we lump with masculinity. 

I would love to see us get to the point where discussions of sexual orientation are not value laden—where one is “good” and everything else 
is “bad.” This is such a simplistic way of thinking about something as complicated as sexual orientation. Why can’t sexual orientation—wherever you fall on theKinsey scale—be an attribute, like hair or eye color?

We aren’t only rigid and downright homophobic when it comes to sexual orientation either. We’re equally fearful and hateful toward people who don’t fit into the “right” gender box. Just look at the responses to the Vibe article “The Mean Girls of Morehouse.” People were very angry that there are some current and former Morehouse men who choose to express themselves in traditionally feminine ways. And just recently, El’Jai Devoureau, who was born female but has always identified as male, was fired for not being male enough.

Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are often much more fluid than the rigid categories we are so attached to. Few of us fit neatly into these categories, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Malcolm X may have had sex with men. I don’t think spending a lot of time speculating about his sexual orientation does us much good. He’s not here to tell us if he would have identified as bisexual or gay or if he was just a heterosexual guy who happened to have had sexual experiences with men. 

But when it really comes down to it, I don’t really care who Malcolm X had sex with. I care that he was an inspiring and thoughtful leader who was willing to have his ideas evolve, change, and grow.