The Daily Gamecock

Debate discusses black community's views on homosexuality

Students discuss role of race, religion in views on gays

While blacks have had to fight for equality in the U.S. for decades, many say the black community as a whole has shown little support for the gay civil rights movement of today.

“The black race constantly says homosexuality is wrong and we should shun men who have feminine ways or tendencies,” said Dylan Hudson, president of the Brothers of Nubian Decent president.

The relationship between blacks and gays was the topic of a heated and, at times, uncomfortable panel debate, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” Tuesday evening in the Russell House theater. The event was put together by Hudson and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member James McCoy.

The room was full of mostly Christian blacks of all sexual orientations, many of whom expressed strong opinions on multiple topics surrounding homosexuality.

Panelist Kasim Ortiz said the black community is more susceptible to homophobia because of the strong influences of church and family.

“Normally, sexuality isn’t discussed in the family, and the church says if you have sex before marriage or if you are homosexual, you’re going to Hell,” Ortiz explained.

The majority of those who were willing to speak on the topic defended gay rights, but when the topic of Christianity condemning gays came up, things got touchy.

Sin is sin, one woman said. And homosexuality is a sin, according to parts of the Bible.

This claim was quickly disputed by Reverend LaDana Clark, who has been a minister more than 28 years. She is also an open lesbian.

“God loves all his people and I should not be denied the opportunity to bring the word of the Lord to the young people in our community because of my sexual orientation,” Clark said. “I have been delayed by American discrimination, but I have not and will not be denied.”

Homophobia among the black community cannot be solely attributed to religion, Ortiz said. He said one major factor in the response and treatment of gays is the intense emphasis on black men to exhibit extremely masculine and strong qualities.

“Masculinity is a huge part of African-American culture,” Ortiz said. “Men should be a certain way and play a certain role and we support this hyper-masculine culture through rap music and other venues.”  

The similarity between the black civil rights movement of the 1960s and the current gay rights struggle was discussed.

One woman deemed the gay rights movement as “unworthy” to be compared to the civil rights movement, bringing jeers from the audience. Hudson drew gasps from the crowd when he asked what made discriminatory gay terms different from the N-word.

“There’s no difference between saying ‘Lauren is a f--’ and ‘Lauren is a n-----’,” said USC NAACP President Lauren Talley.

Many agreed that gays are struggling through the same issues as blacks did during the 60s.

“Oppression is oppression. Whether it’s against race or sexuality, it’s the same,” Ortiz said.

It seemed the debate would have gone on all night if it had not been called to an end due to time restrictions.

“It was a very touchy and interesting topic, but it’s a shame it has to take place,” said Courtland Thomas, a first-year marketing and public relations student. “Why is it such a big issue for heterosexuals to get involved in the lives of homosexuals? Why can’t they just allow gay people to live?”