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Gender Talk and Proposition 8

While reading Chapter 6, “Black, Lesbian, and Gay: Speaking the Unspeakable� in Gender Talk, my mind immediately went to the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California. This chapter discussed the negative attitudes toward homosexuals that exists in the African-American community. The recent passage of Proposition 8 is proof of these negative attitudes still existing in 2008. According to exit polls, 70% of all African-Americans that voted in the decision voted in favor of the measure. In addition, no other minority supported the measure by more than 53%, which was the percentage of Latinos that backed the proposition. In Gender Talk, Cole and Guy-Sheftall give many reasons why this negative attitude toward homosexuals developed in African-American communities. One reason for the homophobia was the acceptance of traditional notions of masculinity and femininity and the embrace of Christian values (which included antihomosexual beliefs). The authors go on to discuss how Black Nationalism was a large influence on homophobia in the African-American community. According to the authors, a persistent theme in post 50's Black Nationalism was that males became homosexual as the result of adopting decadent white values. Clearly then, this practice would be looked upon as a sickness by the black community. Another reason the authors mention for homophobia in the black community is the large placement of value on a patriarchical society. It seems as though African-American communities place a lot of merit on having a male dominated society, and in this type of society it is not ideal to be gay because that is seen as taking away a man’s masculinity and power. These are just a few reasons highlighted in chapter six of Gender Talk, and it seems that more people need to be paying attention to the homophobia that exists in African-American communities so that a well-needed change happens.

Rachael Wendlandt


Thanks Rachael

I was absolutely intrigued by that chapter, my final paper is based off the backbone of the well-written piece.

You mentioned how the Black Nationalism drove this vehicle of homophobia into the already homophobic black community; you are quite right!

A great many people believed homosexuality was conformity Eurocentric ideology, because Africa had no ties to same-sex relations outside form the "norm."

On the contrary: Pre-industrial African cultures were liberal to sexual/gender practices. For instance the Asante warriors. Grown men had "boy wives." They referred to one another as "my love:" females also had close relations with other females too!

This notion of African tribes being too simply to have complex sexualities, outside of having children has come from ancient European scholarly discourse. A great many European scholars believed the people of Africa was too primitive-its primary purpose for sex was to produce children!

On another note: I have been quite aware of homophobia within the Black community, however I was shocked by the 70% of African Americas voted in favor of Prop 8.

Crazy! Great post! Great facts too!