I came across this article in my daily blog reading via Negrophile. I wanted to post it here, because it's not often that one sees black gay couples covered and portrayed in this manner in the media. So, maybe a few more people will see it who wouldn't have seen it otherwise.
Michael Belcher and Walter Houston stand in the cold outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit. Surrounded by strangers, they're in the midst of a gay marriage rally.
For months, Belcher, 33, and Houston, 43, have watched similar rallies on TV. They've seen the crowds of mostly white men and women holding picket signs, shouting for equal rights, lining up for marriage licenses.
That's fine for San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, they say.
But this is Detroit -- a city that's more than 80 percent African American, heavily soaked in a Christian tradition and chilly toward the gay community.
"We're gay and we're black and we're Christian," Houston says, back at the couple's first-floor flat in northwest Detroit. "God wants us to do this. This is something we prayed for." The couple couldn't let white activists fight alone.
"God bless them," Houston says. "I'm glad they're there. But they cannot represent our community."
In the gay marriage struggle, Belcher and Houston represent a segment rarely seen in the national debate, but one that is important, especially in Detroit.
Last year, the couple exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony in a small church in Ferndale. They're hopeful that their ceremony will be fortified by a marriage license. But Belcher and Houston have more to overcome than legal hurdles; they're also fighting culture. They are a minority within a minority.
The article also underscores the particular dilemma black gays, and specifically this couple, find themselves upon coming out.
The African-American community and Christian churches they grew up in don't accept them because they're gay, they say. And because of their race, they don't always feel comfortable in the gay community.
Coming out as gay or lesbian can be especially difficult for African Americans, says Beverly Greene, a psychologist at St. John's University in New York who specializes in counseling gays and lesbians of color.
"More is at stake," she says. "They don't have as many places to go in the gay and lesbian community." Black gays and lesbians often depend more heavily on their community than white people do, says Greene. And the mainstream African-American church has traditionally been a safe harbor, a key social institution, not just a place of worship.
It also provides a glimpse into the church the couple attends, one where they have managed to find acceptance; safe harbour, if you will.
It's worth reading, if only because it's a rare positive portrayal of black gay men in committed relationships. Check it out if you have time, and share it with someone else.
Be bold and present our lives more fully. We are your brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, teachers, bosses, assistants and your best friends. And some of us have taken the responsibility for raising the children that our communities tend to forget. Be bold and present the similarities of our lives. We love the women in our lives; we love you. Don't use us to regress back into a sensationalism that is beneath you - prove that you can see all of us, who we are wholly, our highs and our lows, our entire lives. True, it is up to us to tell our own stories, but we depend on you to tell the truth from your vantage point. Oprah, I beg you to do everything you are empowered to do to tell the whole truth.
And Ronn added,
Also, I think an old Roger Grimsby quote sums it all up when it comes to Oprah: "You can show as much bias with what you DON'T report." By focusing on such narrow parameters when it comes to BGM/SGL communities, Oprah does play into homophobic mindsets. I would love for a show focusing on positive role models from the same.
I think portrayals like the one of the couple in this article, which are rarely seen, might be what they have in mind. And if Belcher and Hudson were featured on Oprah, I'd tune in.