Thursday, February 9, 2012

The 'Double-Whammy'

            LGBTQ community issues in this day and age are increasingly gaining higher levels of importance and attention. From people’s views and perspectives, attitudes, activism, and even constitutional laws (Prop 8 has been deemed unconstitutional YAY!!). We as a society have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time (although of course we are not where we should ideally be at because we still have a long ways to go). But it seems as if there is a demographic being overlooked in the LGBTQ community; ethnic minorities. I will be focusing on the African American ethnic LGBTQ minorities, centering on Special issues arise for Black LGBT, an article written by Eric Mayes.
            This article provides statistical analysis on the issues of the black homosexual minority, touching on what the underlying issues are that cause these disparities. Black homosexual couples make significantly less median income than homosexual white couples (over $20,000 more). Black lesbians have it even worse, making less than their black heterosexual counterparts. But the interesting fact that Mayes puts to the forefront is that black lesbians poverty rates come up to 21.1 percent while white lesbians experience only 4.3 percent. Black gay males experience 14.4 percent poverty rates. Black homosexual raising children are more likely to live in poverty.  Black transgender people also suffer significantly, experiencing 28 percent of unemployment, and while 1 in 5 white transgender Americans are denied a home/apartment based on discrimination, it doubles for black transgender Americans.
            What do these numbers say about being African American and identify with LGBTQ? They are clearly at a higher disadvantage than the Caucasian homosexual demographic. One of the reasons are obviously pretty clear; being black is already a disadvantage dating way back in time, and is still very prevalent in society today. Discrimination against African Americans can be quite crippling, and that also goes for the LGBTQ community. So not only are they a racial minority, they are also a sexual minority, which is like a ‘double-whammy’. And especially for black homosexual women; that’s a ‘triple-whammy’ because of prevalence of a ‘male-dominated’ society that undermines women.
            “Gay means gay white men with large discretionary income, period. Perceiving gay people in this way allows one to ignore that some of us are women and people of color and working class and poor and disabled and old.” as stated by Barbara Smith in her article Homophobia: Why Bring It Up (pg.101)? This is a central issue that many overlook. Partially because many people don’t truly understand the issues within the black community, therefore they may relate on sexuality bases, but cannot relate/understand issues that race plays into this dichotomy. Another issue that is also overlooked is the lack of support WITHIN the black community. A majority of black heterosexuals don’t approve/support the gay community. This has to do with many factors including how they were raised, the influence of the black Christian church ideals which condemns homosexuality as sinful, the lack of education on this issue, etc… So not only do they not have understanding and the right support from their sexual minority community, but they don’t really receive it from their racial minority.
            “A majority of informants, mostly immigrants, felt that Philippine society was relatively tolerant of homosexuality.” according to the research of Martin F. Manalansan in Searching for Community; Filipino Gay Men in New York City (pg.276). This raises the question of is their more or less discrimination and disadvantage within the wide umbrella of people of color? Are some races more accepting and supportive than others? This solidifies the point made above of the lack of support in the black community. But the factors that contribute to that are deeply embedded in the attitudes and perspectives of the black community and when it comes to figuring out how to reverse this is still up to debate.
             There is not a definite answer as to why black LGBTQ face a significantly higher amount of discrimination and struggle because there are many factors that contribute to it. Minorities in general all have their different sets of issues and struggles, and to deem them as unimportant and something that can be ‘dealt with later’ being overlooked is the wrong approach. It is just as important, and should be just as focused and supported as any other issue.  


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  3. Minorities can be defined as groups differing, especially in race, religion, ethnic background (and in this case, sexual tendency) from the majority of a population. And in their desire to be unlike the majority, these individuals and groups face unbelievable amounts of oppression. In this comment, I would like to cite the work of John Barnshaw and Lynn Letukas, further discussing how being both a racial and sexual minority can lead to societal discrimination and the reactions of these minorities to such oppression.

    The low down on the down low: Origins, risk identification and intervention addresses the issue of men having homosexual interactions with other men, yet still identifying as heterosexual. Often times, these men are in committed relationships with women, but still seek outside experiences within the LGBTQ community. In fact, the term ‘down low’ first “referred to Black infidelity in heterosexual relationships” (480). The reasons for this behavior are suspected to have stemmed from a desire for rebellion or some sort of financial gain from these homosexual acts, as suggested in the previous post.

    However, the troubling part of concepts like the ‘down low’ is that they divide the non-White from the White communities. In this way, races are being further separated and racial minorities are seen as “unrepentant villains.” And this discrimination extends to the Latino community because their “culture also has strong religious traditions that tend to view men’s sexual behavior with other men as ‘shameful’” (481). As a result of race and sexual preference, Black and Latino LGBTQ males are assumed to be at a higher risk of STIs and their actions were seen to have horrifying consequences. It is completely unjust that these men have been “singled out for reasons of moral and status subjugation” and “treated as over-sexualized beings relative to other racial groups,” but a vital step in obtaining acceptance within society is through education.

    Barnshaw, John and Lynn Letukas. “The down low: Origins, risk identification and intervention” from
    Health Sociology Review. Vol. 19, Issue 4, December 2010. eContent Management Pty Ltd.