i am

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harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Former NBA Star Tim Hardaway Hates Gay People: Why Should We Care?

A couple of weeks ago, former NBA all-pro guard Tim Hardaway, in a Dallas radio interview with a trusted writer, admitted he "hates gay people...don't trust them...wouldn't feel comfortable with them in the locker room and would ask for them to be traded." His comments angered, shocked & troubled many people, gay or otherwise, yet some said his brutal honesty was in alignment with the deepest sentiments of the average American. But why should we care?

Ironically, Hardaway's comments came just days after former NBA journeyman John Ameichi disclosed his gay identity with an ESPN reporter. Ameichi, the new author of a book detailing his basketball career & his struggles with self-acceptance, has since become the media spokesperson for everything good, bad or indifferent in the gay community. When asked how he felt about Hardaway's statements, he said, "thousands of people will be adversely affected." But why should we care?

The gay movement in America is younger than my aunt in Chicago. In the early 50's, a few white, male homosexuals sought to cultivate a sense of identity, pride & unity with their sexual politics. The word gay was adopted, yet the burgeoning economic, political & social power of the hugely successful movement becomes evident when a person says something deemed offensive - or commits a hate crime - toward anyone who identifies as gay, or sometimes, though not with as much tenacity, lesbian, most notably when you are white, or jewish.

Quite often, when an individual makes a statement, such as the ones echoed by Hardaway, they are immediately labeled as "homophobic." From my perspective, assigning the homophobic label to people is a function of white supremacy, in that the genesis of the gay identity is a Western social construct which does not benefit African-descended people who experience same sex desire. In fact, the term homophobia was created by a couple of gay, white male psychologists in the 70's to futher strengthen, both legally & socially, the gay movement, as well as punish people who appear, and/or are insensitive to homosexuals.

The root of homophobia is misogyny. Little boys are taught early on how wrong it is to be a little girl, as such, they're attacked by being called a bitch, coward, faggot, punk, sissy and/or weak. This type of humiliation scars boys as they move forward into adulthood because the resulting manhood anxiety is neither addressed nor resolved. I contend emotional abuse, when experienced in this harmful context, is sexual abuse. Some men never recover from their trauma.

Unfortunately, since homosexuality in America has historically been framed from a gay, white male lens - or pair of Dolce & Gabbana shades - the construct is rarely deconstructed in a national forum from a cultural context. American anti-homosexual perspectives are rooted in familial contempt, religious dogma & social stigma. I was born into a large family, yet we never talked about sex: bi, hetero or homo. I have six brothers & sisters...its obvious somebody was fucking, ok? Largely because of the dysfunctional model I was given, I surmised sex was a secret. When I talk to my friends, we generally share the same stories of not talking about sex, with anyone, even the person you have sex with.

Hardaway has since apologized for his unkind remarks. I don't believe a word of it. He said exactly how he felt & now we're supposed to believe, in less than 48 hours, otherwise? I don't think so. Usually folks will play the free speech card when someone goes against the grain. What's important is that we begin to engage each other in honest, open dialogue, especially when the issue is uncomfortable. We should care because his comments, though perhaps unintended, offer an opportunity for people to express themselves freely, even when someone's feelings will be hurt. As a trusted hetero male friend said to me a few weeks ago, "the truth will piss you off before it sets you free."

My mother taught me God don't make mistakes, people do. Hardaway is a hue-man being, subject to the same fears, insecurities & shortcomings many of us have, whether we admit them or not. As the sexy Teddy Pendergrass once sang, "you can't hide from yourself, everywhere you go, there you are." We should care because America, like it or not, offers certain freedoms other countries continue to kill each other for. Mistakes are opportunities for learning. I suggest we extend compassion & forgiveness to Hardaway. And the next time someone says something homophobic, tell 'em , Hardaway told you so.


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Eulalie said...

Good words.