A workshop targeting homophobia and heterosexism in the black community Thursday at the Kent Student Center, branched into a discussion of how white gays discriminate against black gays.
An hour and a half into the workshop, “Homophobia in the Black Community,” a gay black student entered his own perception of the gay and black communities.
He said although people in the black community have shunned him for being gay, he’s never felt included by the gay community either. He added the gay community is disproportionally dominated by whites gays, focusing on matters that affect them only.
He’s tried to engage gay and straight members at the Akron Pride Center and PRIDE! Kent, he said, but felt un-welcomed because of his skin color.
“There needs to be a discussion about racism in the white LGBT community,” he said.
Olivia Ryan, the programming chair for Black United Students, one of the two student organizations (along with PRIDE! Kent) sponsoring the workshop, agreed that it is harder for gay blacks to be accepted. She said the problem isn’t so much to do with the discrimination on the gay community’s part but from the gay black person’s own circle of family and friends.
She said it’s hard for black families to accept their son, daughter or sibling entering into something that’s going to cause him or her more discrimination.
“It takes a real big torn,” the sophomore fashion design major said.
Earlier in the workshop, Kent State professor Dr. Amoaba Gooden, the leader in the discussion, asked everyone to offer up gay slurs and homophobic phrases.
Some of the answers included: “Bati Man” — a Jamaican term for a flamboyant, high-pitched gay man who’s famous for “dropping the soap;” “no homo” — a term used by singers in the hip hop industry to clarify no homosexual innuendos; and a phrase that one person got from his cousin, “old dick in the booty a– n—–.”
A few students said although they were taken back by the language at times they haven’t done enough to counter the use of such slurs. One openly gay student said he has grown desensitized by peers and strangers using the phrase “That’s so gay.”
Gooden said the gay community can’t be the only one’s trying to fight homophobia, straight people need to join the cause as well.
“Heterosexual people should be having this conversation with heterosexuals,” she said.
– Simon Husted