While I appreciated Kerry Washington’s speech at this weekend’s GLAAD Awards — it focused mostly on “women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people” banding together to fight discrimination — I was taken aback by the Scandal actress’ comments about Black Homophobia.
I felt like she was implying that we are more homophobic than others and we just don’t get it. Then, the crowd’s response to that statement was also very telling. To me, their response was a co-sign that said, “Yes, Miss Kerry, Black folks are very homophobic and unaware.”
In her speech, Washington said:
In 1997, when Ellen (DeGeneres) made her famous declaration, it took place in an America where the Defense of Marriage Act had just passed months earlier and civil unions were not yet legal in any state. But also remember, just thirty years before that, the Supreme Court was deciding that the ban against interracial marriage was unconstitutional.
Up until then, heterosexual people of different races couldn’t marry who they wanted to either. So when black people today tell me that they don’t believe in gay marriage, (the GLAAD Awards’ mostly white audience begins applauding then delivering a standing ovation while Washington rolls her eyes and shakes her head), the first thing that I say is, “Please don’t let anybody try to get you to vote against your own best interests by feeding you messages of hate.”
And then I say, “You know, people used to say stuff like that about you and your love and if we let the government start to legislate love in our lifetime, who do you think is next?” We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each other’s existence and the truth of each other’s hearts.
Here’s the tea, we are not overly homophobic. In fact, if we were so homophobic, we would be leading these state and national charges to take rights away from us. Black folks are not leading the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Concerned Women of America, or Million Moms, and we’re not so drenched in hate that we can’t see.
So, again, Kerry… I feel you, but please give Black folks more credit than that.