But White People Do It Too

By OckyDub | Posted Nov 20 2014 | 30 Comments  

DearWPWe do know that homophobia and intolerance exist in the black community right?…right. However I feel that whenever there is media coverage or a high trafficked article pertaining to this topic, the knee jerk response from many black people is “but white people do it too.” Specifically speaking in the context of gay men, many times it seems like the benchmark for gauging an issue is to determine if white people do it too or if straight people (primarily straight men) do it too. HIV/AIDS rates are disproportionately high in gay and transgendered communities of color due to unprotected sex. Yet we still see responses of “so what, straight people have raw sex too” but the difference is heterosexuals HIV/AIDS rates are still lower then rates in SGL and transgender people of color.

Making an obvious statement about what straights do doesn’t add to the conversation or address the issue. What makes white people and straight people the litmus test on what is proper or improper behavior? Two situations presented themselves recently concerning the black community and anti (black) gay sentiments.

The first came about during viewings of Dear White People, which has a black gay character played by Tyler James Williams (Walking Dead, Everybody Hates Chris). I read two articles about how the primarily black audience members reacted adversely to certain gay scenes and in one case (concerning the Morehouse football team) acted extremely loud and obnoxious again during certain scenes involving the black gay character in the film. In the initial article a viewing was had for college students at USC followed by a Q&A session with the director who happens to be a black gay man. During the film, with the director in attendance, audience members allegedly groaned loudly and expressed discomfort when the gay scenes appeared on screen.

In the comments section from both articles and from comments across social media many straight and gay blacks had similar comments of “but white people are homophobic too. I’m tired of hearing about black homophobia. What about racism?” Yes whites can be and are homophobic and racism is alive and well but what does this have to do with homophobia in the black community?

The second occurrence that was a lot more incendiary and volatile took place at the 107th Holy Convocation of COGIC (church of god in christ). The reason you may not have seen or heard about it is because it was overshadowed by the spectacle of the I Aint Gay No More viral video. Apparently superintendent Earl Carter and his son (“a 6’1 ft football player”, his words) had concerns about the large number of homosexuals walking around and attending the event. This quandary manifested itself into the below anti-homosexual sermon.

This sermon by Earl Carter set the stage for the now viral “I Aint Gay No More, I’ve Been DeliveredT” video by Andrew Caldwell. A part from the numerous commentary videos, jokes, parodies and media attention this video received, there were the comments from blacks who said, “well this happens in white churches too.” This is correct and on an almost daily basis, white conservative republican politicians, televangelist Bryan Fischer, Pat Robertson and Russian diplomats will make anti-LGBT comments and they are extensively discussed and talked about in media. This does negate that we shouldn’t address or discuss the homophobia within religious organizations and communities of color.

Ironically Tyler James Williams who plays the black gay character in Dear White People expressed his concerns and observations about black homophobia directly in an interview. He stated;

“Whether we like to address it or not, the African American community is notoriously homophobic,” he said. “We have been coming up on this rough side of the mountain, as far as civil rights issues go, but we haven’t necessarily addressed the fact that there is a whole other side to that civil rights coin, which are gay rights.”

“I feel like the new stereotypical character[s] are gay characters, where you can’t just have a regular everyday guy who just happens to be gay, just like many people that I know,” he said. “You don’t automatically need to see and know that [the character is] gay just by his mannerisms. That’s not everybody.”

He also stated that since he has played a gay character some fans have said they will no longer support him (paraphrasing) .

Like clockwork, sure enough, some comments under the interview and also on social media bemoaned “homophobia exists in the white community too.”

I’m very sensitive to images of African Americans and maybe a little hyper-sensitive when it concerns images of black men and black gays in media. When viewing many gay websites and publications that have a predominately white face, it’s annoying that these outlets and publications rarely have images of men of color. Additionally it’s very frustrating that the few times you do see men of color, it’s the face of Africans who discriminate against gays or references to HIV/AIDs as if this is all that Africa and African Americans have to offer. So I do get it.

In the context of homophobia can we just stop saying “but white people do it too” or at least use the phrase wisely? This phrase doesn’t add any valuable content to the overall discussion. By repeating this statement, we are in a way absolving ourselves from accountability and responsibility. We can’t expect change by ignoring or giving a pass to the issue. If homophobia is to be addressed or any type of healing and additional progression is to be had, the issue should be acknowledged head-on without circumventions.



About the Author

Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.

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30 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. acessential
    acessential | November 20th, 2014

    The problem with the narrative that “black people are so homophobic” is due to the fact that the only time race is explicitly tied to homophobia is when black people are involved. You very rarely see articles with quotes and headlines saying “Why are white people so homophobic?” or “Homophobia is a huge problem in the white community.” This is because when white people are being homophobic, their race isn’t addressed. It’s their religion, their political affiliation, something to make it less about race. For black homophobes, race is automatically brought up. This is despite the fact that anti-gay legislation has been proposed, drafted, and implemented predominately by white people. Anyone ever been to the upper Great Plains? Very few black people there, but until recently a lot of anti-gay legislation. Homophobia and acceptance exist in all racial communities, so to always place black people as a monolith and white people as a group with diverse opinions is wrong. Homophobia should definitely be addressed in the black community, but we have to look at the overall framing of it.

    • Ocky Williams | November 20th, 2014

      Great points and context and I agree.

      In my opinion what you described is media bias and racism which is different from homophobia in communities of color (Black, Asian, Latino). An example would be a post we did about how white murders and black murders are described in media headlines (link below).


      In my mind the framing of how blacks are negatively portrayed in media (which doesn’t begin nor end with homophobia) and homophobia in the black community are two separate things. We can and should be able to talk about both independent of one another when needed.

      • acessential
        acessential | November 20th, 2014

        @ocky But, these issues aren’t happening in isolation. Racism and homophobia are intersecting. I’m addressing the critique that black people shouldn’t deflect issues of homophobia by stating, “but white people do it too.” In my view, black people say this because homophobia and race is constantly mentioned when you’re black, but not when you’re white. Media bias is a reflection of societal perceptions. So, when people say that black people are so homophobic, they’re really saying that homophobia is a black problem, not a societal problem that includes all racial groups. I’m not excusing the deflection of homophobia within the community, I’m just explaining why it happens. If people talked about homophobia as a societal problem instead of solely as a black problem, I think black people would be more likely to discuss it.

    • ControlledXaos | November 20th, 2014

      Black people become very conservative when it comes to gay issues. I think that’s the only time you’ll fine a lot of black people siding with Republican ideals. Religion is the one binder between a significant amount of black people and Republicans. So when Social Issues like gay marriage and abortion come up at election time, people vote with their morals.

      What black people seem to do is equate “Civil Rights” with “Black Rights”. Martin didn’t walk for this. Rosa didn’t sit for that.

      Well neither of them are here to say that or voice their opinions on these issues today. If you accept the fact that “race” is something we can’t change and shouldn’t be discriminated against, then why can’t you accept that “sexuality” is something we can’t change and should be discriminated against either? Oh. Because people choose to be gay.

      Squeaky wheels get the grease and that’s true when it comes to the outlandish ways people try to deflect attention away from them and that’s how I feel when gay issues come up and people get on Facebook or other sites and voice their opinions. You can learn a lot by reading the comment section on local newspaper and television stations because the same type or stories always pull up the same commentators.

      Why are you always opening your mouth or typing when a Michael Sam article comes up? Now everybody on your friend’s list sees you talking about Michael Sam. So you must like what he’s doing because you keep putting him in your mouth. (heh)

      And just because ‘white folks do it’ doesn’t mean anything. That’s the same justification some of them use when they say “nigga”

      We can’t use white people’s actions as a benchmark for what we do.

      • Christopher | November 20th, 2014

        I wonder why black folks are so outraged when it comes to gays and our issues, but when it comes to out of wedlock births, unemployment, education, economics, etc very few of us speak out, or just outright don’t care? I mean are we so desperate to hold on to “most coveted minority status” that some of us are willing to ignore the serious issues are brothers and sisters who happen to gay are dealing with on a daily basis?

        This is one time we need to stop being like the “white folks” and lead when it comes to acceptance of gays and lesbians in our community.

        • ControlledXaos | November 20th, 2014

          Once people stopped being ‘ashamed’ of being unwed teen moms, people stopped caring and valuing that kind of stuff. We don’t try to ‘rise up and better ourselves’. We don’t feel we have to ‘impress’ white people anymore. While that’s all good, we have become so lax when it comes to caring about goals and doing better than the generation before us.

          Since ‘we came up’ we don’t worry about other people and their issues. Even if that’s native American’s, Asians, or etc. As long as ‘we got ours’ we don’t worry about the problems of the other minorities. Racism against one minority affects us all. Black people’s fight for civil rights, helped every racial minority in this country because we were, at the time, the largest minority in the country.

          However, I don’t think it’s hit a lot of black people that we are not the major minority anymore because we are so visible to each other. But ride up to South Dakota and Montana and you’ll see….it ain’t too many specks of brown around. We may want to start being more accepting of other people’s struggles.

          • Christopher | November 20th, 2014

            The president has proven tonight with his action on immigration that blacks are not the most important minority anymore. Its realm been true for awhile, but most of our fellow blacks have yet to realize this. Yet we are wasting so much time and energy trying to out hate the conservative whites when it comes to gays. So I guess, some of us are still trying to be like the white folks in a bad way.

    • IJS | November 20th, 2014

      I agree with Ocky and his analysis of your comment. In addition, when it comes to homophobia, race has been added to the conversation because black gay men are suffering way more than other races. There are proven correlations between several significant life threatening social issues in the black gay community and homophobia in the greater black community. Everyone else, but us, seem to realize that the help that’s needed to avert these issues must come from the inside of the community.

    • Sage
      Sage | November 21st, 2014

      I agree with your analysis accessential. The thing that I would add is that this idea of Black folks being more homophobic serves to drive a wedge between LGBTQ and Black folks. Creating animosity between members of these two communities serves to disempower these folks and maintain the status quo. Religion does drive some of the social conservatism among Black folks and it seems that will lessen once the backlash subsides.

  2. Earth Bender | November 20th, 2014

    I think the reason people make a big deal about black people being homophobic is simply because this was and in some instances still is an oppressed group and they turn their noses up at another minority that has struggles. I can’t tell you how many Pro Black Facebook groups I’ve had to argue in because the ignorance of “my people” was disgusting.

  3. Rod Turpin
    Rod! | November 21st, 2014

    So I believe in revealing potential sources of bias around issues like this, so I’ll get this out of the way: I’ve been a victim of homophobia by my black brothers substantially more than any other group, ranging from the standard name calling to at least 20 fist/weapon fights I got in (4 of which required medical intervention). Having said that, I’ll try to be objective about this topic.

    Homophobia in the black community has been a deep seated issue for a very long time, and while whites do it too, they don’t do it with the same frequency. I’m sure some factors it ties into are the intense fundamentalism that exists in so many black churches, the hypermasculinity (often manifested as this glorification of a “thug lifestyle”) that exists disproportionately among black men, and the unfortunate wedge that is constantly driven between blacks and gays (often by the media and politicians), which outright ignores or actively antagonizes black gays. So while some of these factors are being propagated from within our community, some are external factors that at least facilitate more homophobia. Though the way race is reported with homophobia and hate crimes may skew things, underneath all that there’s still an issue within our community that needs to be addressed.

    In any event, too many people fail to see (or fail to admit) that the black community has a genuine issue with increased homophobia, and in denying its existence the community allows it to continue. As was mentioned in the article, there were these massive negative reactions to gay scenes at black colleges that at least would not have been so blatant among whites. I think at its core that’s the real issue, whites may think homophobic things but they know not to open their mouth too much about it. In the overall black community it seems like homophobia is just much more normalized. When I read comments on gay issues on other black male websites, even the ones who are “accepting” still often pepper their statements with homophobic remarks. Its like the standards are unfortunately different within our community.

  4. R.E.W.II | November 21st, 2014

    When are black people going to realize that being homophobic is like being racist to someone who is different than them. They are literally taking a modern version of racism and just spewing bias and hate and prejudice towards someone who is not the same as them. And to make it worst, it’s their own kind. Back then we had to band together and fight for our rights making us one. Showing how we are human just like the everyone else. People died trying to do the right thing and spread love and not hate. Now gays are going through the same things and our own kind won’t even help.

    Most Black gay men don’t make it better by the things we do behind close doors and in public. For some reason, we are always seen as “Faggots”,”Sissy”,”Over the top”,”Female acting”,”D*ck in the booty ass n*ggaz” and more. Will we ever be seen as intelligent, open minded, ambitious, college graduating, normal, and successful human beings? Why do we have to be seen as sex crazed animals, spreading diseases all over the world? We are so much more than that and we seriously don’t realize that.

    And for the COGIC……..God don’t like ugly.
    That pastor seriously needs to educate himself that all gays are not the same. To generalize gay people as purse holding weave having heels wearing guys who act and want to be like women is just wrong. I am so sick of the church spewing hatred for all gay men. I’m pretty sure God did not put us on this earth to belittle each other.
    Why can’t they realize that we do not stop straight people from living? We don’t bring the economy down, we don’t stop your bills getting paid, we do nothing to straight to people.

    I’m just sick and tired of this world ya’ll it’s not even funny.

    • Rhode
      Rhode | November 26th, 2014

      I hear what you are saying. A lot of straight people will never like Gays. If you walked on water and they knew you were gay they would still hate you. So it is a cross that gay men must bear. Even the gay men who have assimilated seamlessly into society,(the DLs) they are judged just as harshly as the flamboyant gay person. Everything gay is lumped into one basket. I grew up hearing this harsh rhetoric. It was very damaging and for what? It took a long time for me to quit giving a damn what these Ecclesiastical Hypocrites had to say. I just regret the wasted time I felt guilty for being something I had no control of. When I hear this sanctimonious garbage,I let it go out the other ear. One has to for survival and one’s mental health. Live and let live and keep it moving. These ranting homophobes often forget that the Bible says Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  5. Pascal | November 21st, 2014

    The comments on YT when that first proper trailer for DWP was released had to be seen to be believed. So many white tears!

    DWP is one of my most eagerly expected movies for the coming months. I’d really appreciate to read the Avenue’s take on it. Maybe you could do an interview with the director once you’ve seen it?

    Some people who have seem to have a problem with the mixed race couple’s arc. I’d like to read your take on that as well.

  6. hannibal
    Hannibal | November 21st, 2014

    I think its important to make the world know that black people do not own homophobia because 1. We dont and 2. Its a divide technique to keep two minority groups against each other and blavk gayvmen are further marginalized

  7. BlackguyExecutive | November 21st, 2014

    I always start with an examination of who controls the narrative. By in large, white people are at the helm of the narrative at least in the United States. White people control the narrative on both sides for the pro-gay and anti-gay sides…he who controls the messages has the power. Plain and simple. We all know that race is a social construct and there is no need traverse down that path but we can’t talk about race without also invoking class and gender and when we talk about gender we invoke sexuality.

    I don’t think that the black community is more homophobic than the white community in fact I see large parallels especially from the evangelical religious factions. Creating false dichotomies is a tool used to control the message which brings power. Pro-gay LGBT movement leaders will use black communities to perpetuate its message to gain power…on the other side white evangelical will use DL narrative to perpetuate their narrative of family destruction. Its all very circular…

    • Dre G | November 26th, 2014

      This is one of the best points raised in this discussion.

  8. RolandG
    Rolandgarros28 | November 21st, 2014

    After witnessing this, I’m sure anyone can understand why i no longer attend this church. Believe it or not, this was standard to hear on Sundays. Torture to have to sit through week after week as a confused young man. I’ve had to listen to my family discuss this clip and Andrew Caldwell ad nauseam since it went viral. Actually, a lot of my former church members think that gayness is a white phenomenon. As a person who has attended some predominantly white churches with friends, I’ve never heard anything remotely close to this disgusting diatribe. I agree with the overall point of the article though. Telling me that white people beat their kids doesn’t make me feel better by getting beat by my parents.

    BTW @ocky, It’s Church of God (in) Christ instead of (and) Christ. Small detail but i know you appreciate accuracy in your work….

    • alton
      NYCforEVER | November 21st, 2014

      I commend you for being able to stomach this as long as you did, Rolando.

      • RolandG
        Rolandgarros28 | November 21st, 2014

        It caused problems later on believe me. I heard the Adam and Steve jokes, you’re going to burn eternally in fire and brimstone, god don’t like sissies. All of that. It used to give me nightmares. The weird thing is, there would be other members who had multiple children without the benefit of marriage and I don’t recall them being called whores and such and mocked in full view of the congregation. If we’re comparing what whites and blacks do, again, I’ve heard teachings against homosexuality in white churches. It’s just done with more tact and from a place of not trying to embarrass or humiliate another person for the sake of a laugh. We tend to act like buffoons and this clip is completely humiliating to me. I wish i could say white people do this in their churches but the vast majority don’t from my experiences.

        • ControlledXaos | November 21st, 2014

          I think it goes back to ‘abomination’. Christians view homosexuality as the ‘worst’ sin. To me, all sins are equal. Sin is sin is sin. There are no degrees. So don’t try to make your out of wedlock sex sin, any worse than someone else’s sin.

          I really do think that people HATE that gays can have all the sex they want and don’t have to worry about any children as a result. Even though we have the same diseases and infections to worry about, we never have to worry about a mini me showing up 9 months later.

          Plus, people always think of ‘dick in the booty’ sex when they think of gays. That is their problem if they only think of the physical act between two men or women.

          No one pulls the “Abomination” card when they creeping around with another man’s wife or girlfriend.

        • Dre G | November 26th, 2014

          I hate to say this,but Black churches tend to go for drama.Even the music is dramatic.They know they can get more whoops and hollers if they appeal to the majority of the community’s homophobic tendencies.That’s why no one ever points out the ones yelling out in agreement about gays going to hell,are the same ones who have gossip about everyone,or have kids with other men but lie and make their husband think he’s the father.

    • Ocky Williams | November 21st, 2014

      HA…sick of you boss’n me around.

      Correction has been made. Thank you!

  9. SBthe13,000 | November 21st, 2014

    Black ppl, like all minority groups, are victims of group think. Anything that isn’t ‘black’ in stereotypical tradition, is ‘weird’ and ‘we’ don’t do that. As long as ppl keep bringing their kids to these buildings where a lot of blk ppl get together every Sunday so some man can keep reading the same book to them for a ‘small fee’, generation after generation, we will continue to lose out on the benefit of change.

  10. TheEdge
    COSHAMO | November 23rd, 2014

    The grammar and diction of that preacher is atrocious. He cannot speak correctly. He’s illiterate. I’m embarrassed.

    • alton
      NYCforEVER | November 24th, 2014

      He’s trying to hard too convey an ignorant message in the stereotypical “Preacher” method via song (for lack of a better description) and just comin across stupid as hell. He can’t even formulate a sentence, yet the “SHEEPLE” are just eatin’ it up. smh.

  11. Tyron Balthazar | November 26th, 2014

    I saw Tyler’s interview on HuffPost Live and agreed with many of his points. The guy was well spoken and dared to hold the community responsible for their bias when so many choose to not even address it, even gay blacks in the industry sit silently and don’t question our norm. That’s sad that it took a young, presumably straight cat to get people talking about the foolish responses to black SGL characters.

  12. Dre G | November 26th, 2014

    People always look to someone else who’s keeping the bar low as an excuse not to do better.

  13. Dana | November 26th, 2014

    In Latin grammar, there is the Ablative case for a noun. One of those ablative cases is called ‘the manner in/by which’. The extended families of a community, the diversity and counterintelligence of the religious (not only those who followed the Nazarene, folks), and the quintessential importance of education: these were the ‘manner in which’ those who came before us survived, lived, and thrived, and in not too few cases prospered. But look now,,,look and see for yourself: the primary cornerstones of Afro-descendant survival- extended Families, Religion, and Education/Schools- have been transmogrified from instruments of empowerment into weapons of self-destruction. It is an irony of ironies that these so called followers/believers in the message and the mission of the Christ have prostituted themselves for a paltry taste of political power issued them by the Tea-jhadist Republicans inasmuch as they have the unmitigated gall to “preach” and “amen” about who is part of this pseudo-monolithic thing called the Black Community. OR, is it simply a case of extreme forgetfulness…amnesia if you like…that when they dragged and bound in chains those ancestors of ours from Africa and the islands, they didn’t give a dayum whether they were clocking twot or cock. AND NOW, these self-righteous ignorant and fearful persons advocate treating African-descendant LGBT-SGL persons and and people as less in value/worth than our shared ancestors were??? Talk about 500 years in behavior modification…and I give you the Black megachurch, shuttered schools, and law enforcement who can kill us..all of US..with impunity. Oh no, but less blame black gay dues for all THAT and pass the collection plate right along. tah!

  14. John | November 27th, 2014

    Not sure anyone really answered your question instead of giving more excuses as if most of us with half a brain, inc you Ocky, don’t already know about ‘insert’ (imperialism/sexism/colorism/racism) issues that effect the poor blameless black community.

    Again what are the solutions?

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