Acceptance in Retrospect
I am currently reading “STRANGERS, Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century” by Graham Robb and as I continue to read it I am increasingly intrigued by the book. To quote the back cover of the book; “He describes the lives of gay men and women: how they discovered their sexuality and accepted or disguised it; how they came out; how they made contact with like-minded people.” What I have found so interesting about this book is that even though homosexuality is considered such a “novice” reality for many, there is such a history of it. It just goes to show how the power of a majority can quiet a minority. In reading this book I am curious to discovery literature on the topic of the history of homosexuals in black culture. I know that there is literature written by black gay authors, but does there exist anything detailing the history of homosexuality within the black community? If there is, I think that it will be quite limited as that topic is the most taboo of topics within the black community.
My inspiration for this entry comes from the following passage that I read; “Few people came out in private without first negotiating the maze of self-deception. The early awareness described by most gay men and women was nearly always retrospective. It was only after falling in love or failing to satisfy a wife or a husband that they allowed themselves to interpret their childhood ‘abnormalities’ as symptoms of homosexuality.” As soon as I read this it was as if a balloon had burst, startling me from sleep. I’ve said to both myself and others that I didn’t’ admit to myself that I was gay until I fell in love with a man for the first time and that was at the age of 20. Before that happened, it had all just been sex, at least it was on my side of things. As I try to think back to when I was first attracted to another boy, I can’t pinpoint it. And as I look at my childhood and how I felt “different”, I don’t contribute that to me being gay. I felt more comfortable around girls because for the majority of my childhood I was always in the company of my mother and two sisters. I loved to dance and also Tae Kwon Do, so much so that I achieved my black belt. I don’t feel that any of these traits alone contribute to or are “signs” of me being gay.
I’ve always looked at my personal acceptance of being gay as a very grey area. It took me a very long time to find myself in the midst of all of the religious “teachings” I had learned as a child. I had so much shame and fear about myself and how others would see me that I was afraid to even admit to myself that I was gay for years. The word “gay” was a brand that I did not want scorched onto who I was as a person. I was afraid that I would be seen as weak, inferior, and less of a man. These are just some of the many beliefs that poison some of the heterosexual community, and they are magnified in the black community. Look at it this way, when history has made you it’s slave and forced you into a reality of oppression and every day seems like a fight to prove yourself, you couldn’t possibly add to that with the weakness of being gay, could you? I know that these fears are not unique to the black community, but I do believe that they are magnified in not only black, but also other minority cultures.
Most parents so often tell their children when they are young that they can be anything they want to be. I think it would be wonderful for them to hear that they can be anything and anyone they want to be. Parents mostly want the best for their children and why shouldn’t that start with wanting that child to be happy with who they are? The greatest and most appreciated achievements in my life came after I was happy with who I knew I was as a person. I’m still learning more and growing everyday and I’m confident in saying that if I were living a lie to myself, so much in my life would have suffered. Some of the greatest suffering I’ve known came during a time when I wasn’t comfortable being who I knew I was, because I was doing it for the good of someone else. Living my life for someone else didn’t bring me the peace and joy I wanted and they weren’t able to give it to me either. Others can either add or take away from whatever life we choose to live, and only we can make our lives how we want them to be.