April 17, 2004
Donald of anziblog responds to Oprah's irresponsible behavior of late with:
Fighting Hell and Misrepresentation
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.
I haven't watched the show, so I can't respond with any coherence. If I can, and I'm going to try, I will write to Oprah. I doubt I'd ever receive a reply, but I'll writer nonetheless.
Posted by ronn at April 17, 2004 09:39 AM
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» Black, Christian, and Gay from The Republic of T.
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 [Read More]
Tracked on April 18, 2004 08:54 AM
We will not move forward until we, as a community, remove the terrible stain of being black and gay from our world. Until we can talk about our sexuality then it will not get better and people will continue to hide in shame and fear.
Piggybacking on what James said, and sort of in response to Donald's disappointment, I think that yesterday's show was a watershed moment for Oprah and her audience.
Oprah has no truck with the gay men who are living their lives responsibly, honestly, and openly. She said several times that "I see gay men as MEN", and she seemed adamant in her belief that she did not share J.L. King's rather limited perception of what makes a man a man.
Oprah's issue isn't with the black gay men who love women, who are their friends, uncles, brothers, teachers, cousins, etc. Her issue was with the black men who do not consider themselves gay or bisexual
, and as a result of their dishonesty, duplicity, and denial, are endangering the lives of women who have no idea that their husbands/lovers are living this double life. Her issue wasn't the sexual practice so much as it was the dishonesty. I don't get the sense that she was reinforcing homophobic stereotypes; rather, she was alerting women to be aware, to take care, and to be RESPONSIBLE for your own sexuality and health.
I have to admit, black men who have sex with men—and back in the day I have a few of them in my bed, talkin' 'bout "I like women, etc."—but don't consider themselves gay or bisexual confuse the hell out of me. It occured to me back then to ask the men in my bed if the women in their lives knew they were coming to me on the side. I didn't ask, but I my guess is probably not.
I think the issue here is honesty. As a black gay man, I've never pretended to be anything else. I've never gotten involved with a woman because I knew it would be dishonest to myself and the woman involved. Being honest about who I am, in the long run, is much, much easier.
I quit messing around with men on the "DL." It got tiresome. Besides, I didn't want to be a part of their deception. To be honest, I just don't get it. Maybe someday someone can explain it to me in a way that I'll understand, but for now, the whole "DL" scene just doesn't make sense to me.
I'm of two minds about the issue. On one hand, I feel it's extremely dishonest and dangerous for these DL men to continue with their ways. For them, the other men in their lives and the women who are unsuspecting. The latter refers to those women who are MARRIED or in what they consider DEDICATED/MONOGAMOUS relationships.
On the other hand, women must take control of their lives: ask your man the tough, hard, and sometimes intrusive questions. Your life and health are at risk. You can't blame anyone else for your lack of concern. I'm in a monogamous relationship. Have been for nearly four years. Yet I still use condoms and other protective measures and ask questions when necessary. 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 hope to have more to say in the very near future.
Indeed, women must take control of their lives, and that's why I think the show was so important. It brought into glaring relief just how important it is to ask these questions of your partners, even at the risk of alienating them. And even if you ask those questions, you can't be totally sure that the answers are honest, so take steps to protect yourself. I heard that message over and over again.
Perhaps it's because I'm not a gay black man that I can't see how this show does a disservice to BGM/SGL communities, especially since the brothers who are on the DL adamantly deny any connection to/affinity with those communities. They're not gay men. They're men who engage in homosexual behavior
, and King was clear when he said that for him, it wasn't about an orientation. It was sexual, plain and simple. If we're going to play the game of "If you sleep with X then you are X", doesn't that undermine all of the work queer communities have been done for years toward not being defined by our sexual habits (alone)?
C: For me I think the problem is the issue of representation. We've (BGM/MSM) been seen as either Oprah's fashion people or (now) DL punks. And that's what they are, because they can have sex with other men and not identify as gay/bisexual. If they're truly into women on any level, they should be honest about sex with other men and/or take the necessary precautions. And far too many women are not asking the necessary questions. That's one of the reasons why STDs in Black communities are on the rise; of course everyone focuses on HIV/AIDS. Well, at least when it comes to actual infection.
As far as your last question: I honestly don't care. If the shoe fits... Simply identifying as DL says, IMMHO, that you're afraid of admitting you're gay and sleep with women to reinforce a false image, or that you're sexually attracted to men as well as women, yet don't want to self-label as bisexual. I know for some that that makes me a bad faggot, but I have yet to hear a single DL person that I can believe when he says "it's a sex thang." When it comes to the Queer community, I believe it's meant that we are whole persons, not sexual deviants and that sex is just a small part of a larger identity. The same can't be said of DL men. At least I've yet to see a convincing argument that it's more than that limited role.
Gentlepeople, I saw the show entitled Living on the DL, and I also just came from Oprah.com where the after show discussion is available. I have to disagree with you on the nature of the show. The show was centered around a book that IS coming out this summer, On The Down Low, by JL King, which is a first hand account of a brother who has lived that particular lifestyle. Oprah was specific in her questioning, making sure that the audience understood that this show was not about gay men. According to the author, these men who sleep with men consider themselves straight. So it is not about me, since I do not and have never participated in that set of choices.
In the after show, which is seen on Oxygen, and can be viewed on the website, Oprah says that the DL is ONE of the reasons HIV has become the number one killer of black/latino women between the ages of 21 and 31. This is valid subject matter. This behavior is happening and this book is coming. Fully expect to see it everywhere when it hits bookshelves this summer. When it does, I doubt the conversation will be as reasoned as it was on the show. Wendy Williams has already begun talking about it on her show and is scheduled to have Mr. King on when the book hits the stores in May, I believe.
Having been a regular watcher of Oprah forever, I get the sense that she does not realize that black gay men, and those that refuse to use that term, and use others like Same Gender Loving, or MSM or DL or whatever, have different lives from white gay men. We are all kind of lumped together in the same pot. Mr. King provided a look into the lives of a particular kind of black man who has sex with other men. It seems to me that we as a community could come up with a show concept that draws the distinctions, both between our community and the white, as well as the endless myriad of distinctions we have within our own black gay community. Lord knows there are enough of them.
I didn't get to see the Oprah show, but think it would be really interesting if she conducted the same discussion but with an audience made up of out Black gay men.
"Out Black Gay Men Confront DL Brothas" on the next Oprah. I'd watch.
Bernie: It's Oprah, not Maury.
Gordon: I get what you're saying. I didn't see the show. I think the reason this has become such an issue among black gay men extends beyond the Oprah Show. It comes from the self-hate certain black men have for themselves and their approach to sexuality, and how it affects the rest of us that are conscious of who/what we are. It also comes from a lot of us being sick of these DL men being used as a some way to connect HIV among gay people to HIV among straight people. Although I don't agree with their behavior, there's entirely too much finger-pointing going on. Another thing I'd like to point out is that Oprah is a very powerful woman, a lot of people listen to her. She inspires her audience. Anyone armed with that kind of celebrity has enormous clout. I can just hear the sistas talking on the Metro now: "Well, OPRAH said..."
Gordon: I strongly disagree. Again, by focusing on such a negative, minute of portion of BGM, Oprah is playing on the fears of the 'phobes and the ignorant. How many will see just a snippet, or hear "one of the reasons," ignore the Oxygen portion (if they even get that channel, I don't) and couldn't care about discussion boards. All they're gonna know is "Oprah said dem faggots spreading AIDS gurl!!"
Bernie: We've lost Oprah a long time ago. I don't expect to a full, diverse picture of who and what we are to ever be on her show.
NOva: Exactly! I almost forgot to support those "in the closet" for whatever reason who don't embody the DL lie as well. There are many more men who are "closeted" yet take the necessary precautions. Again, it's your responsibility to protect your own life. If you don't insist on protection, if you don't ask questions and if you ignore obvious warning signs, you have no one to blame but yourself. Our communities are can't even begin to talk about HIV/AIDS until honesty is put on the table.