by Cameron Scott, QueerMinded Contributor
Is It possible to be conscious and Gay??
As it stands, there are many different variations of Black American Consciousness. You have those who are unapologetically black, standing in the face of adversity with all types of “hell naw!”. You have your Black Americans who are concerned with identity and respectability politics (what do they think of me, should I code switch etc.) Then you have people like me who stand somewhere in the middle of unapologetically black and your normal independent free thinking American. I like many of my gay brethren, and sisteren (is that a word?) love everything about being a Black American. Our words, music, culture, food and clothing have permeated American culture in such a way that you can’t go anywhere without seeing our influence. But there is a sect of the heterosexual Black culture that feels as though we don’t fit. These people are uber “Black” and use various African references to attest to this. Images of Egyptian Pharaohs are held as icons. Different variations of African folklore are brought up in casual conversation. But when it comes to us gays, if you ask many they will tell you that we do not fit inside of the construct of Black or African American consciousness.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the movement, Dictonary.com describes Black Consciousness as:
a movement of the 1960s after the civil rights movement of the 1950s, involving the cultivation of pride in a cultural identity for black persons
Basically it’s a worldwide communmity that celebrates blackity blackness in all forms. But as with every movement you have your go hards. Conspiracy theories abound, Many so called “conscious” black folk or as I like to call them “The Super Negro”, began changing their pictures to the RBG colors (red,black and green) in protest. A lot of these people felt like the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Marriage for gay folks was an all-out attack on blackness by the powers that be to detract America’s attention away from the violence against black bodies as of late. Not everyone who changed their profile pic to the RBG colors did so with this in mind. But if you were to take a look inside various conscious Facebook groups you would see where the so called movement had its orgins. I belong to many of these groups and let me tell you, I held up the blood stained banner for gayphigay by my lonesome. It was tiring but a brutha don’t mind putting in that work.
Now I have my feelings on how the media does it’s news cycles on which will be discussed on another blog but for right now I have a few choice words for my fellow so called “Super Negro” brothers and sisters.
First off, I am a black gay man but black first. There is this rhetoric in these so called intelligent circles that the homosexuality is a European construct unknown to Africa prior to colonization. This is completely wrong. We first have to start with the fact that Africa is not a country it is a Continent with thousands of different tribes, dialect, rituals and creeds. To try to lump Africa as one monolithic “thing” is preposterous. Most of these so called “Super Negro’s” call on references of Egypt and ancient Ethiopia not paying attention to the fact that those regions are miles and a desert away from where our so called ancestors came from. Almost 97 percent of Africans transported to the Americas during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade came from West Africa so your ancestors probably came from countries like Nigeria or the region that is now modern day Ghana, not Egypt.
Secondly, Homosexuality was present and is still present in many different tribes in Africa till this day. There are many tribes that recognize a “third gender” like the Mukodo Dako amongst the Nilotico Lango men in Uganda. Or you have, the act of homosexual sex between men was know as Bian’nku Ma, in what is now present day Cameroon and was/is considered to bring wealth to the men who participate in it. There are countless other examples that one would only have to do a little research to find.
Thirdly, It wasn’t until the Christian missionaries arrived in Africa that the concept of Homosexuality was all out condemned. You have to understand the reasoning for this. Africans were considered non civilized to Europeans who considered themselves to be the upmost forms of human beings on the planet. Christian concepts were brought to the would be slaves to tame them and keep them calm. African kings did indeed sell some of their slaves to the colonist participating in the slave trade, but slavery in Africa was more like indentured servitude where the slave could work or buy his way to freedom. Once the African kings heard of the harsh treatment that the slaves they sold were receiving and learned from escapee’s the plan to brainwash their fellow man, all hell broke loose. This is the part of the slave narrative that is never ever EVER told. It is widely believed that homosexual acts were ceremoniously done between warriors before battle as a marker for good luck and for a while the Africans were kicking the Europeans ass… Until they came back with guns. So yes, Shaka Zulu an nem did butt stuff. A lot.
Without going any further into a whole dissertation on the presence of homosexuals in Africa pre colonization, I say all this to say that, “No, mister “Super Negro”, you are wrong.” The claim or allegation that gay Africans did not exist before European take over and, that the original black man was and could not ever be gay is absurd. There is no evidence that supports this theory; and, frankly, common sense would tell you otherwise. If all of this were inherently true then I myself and a million other black gay men across the globe must be unicorns or something because last time i looked in the mirror I damn sure well was indeed black. As hell.
Being gay does not take away from my blackness in any sense of the word. To be considered conscious one must have a full understanding of self. Having a full understanding of self is what led me to come out the closet. How can I not be conscious when I am the full personification of the definition of the word? Furthermore, for anyone in the conscious community to align themselves with post-colonial ideals of black masculinity is giving up to the construct of white supremacy which is something that the so called “Super Nego” vehemently detests. I would expect more from you “Mister Mega Negro.” It should also be noted that it was black trans women and drag queens that threw the first punch in the Stonewall Riots, sparking the whole gay rights movement. Yes black women are magic, no matter which form they may come in.
When you pray to your African Orisha, give a shout out to Erinle, an African Orisha who was known to be androgynous, wear refined garments and is the official gods of the gays. This comes out of the Yourba tradition in West Africa, the area that our ancestors came from. So while you pick and choose which tribes to take traditions from, remember that there is a queen that members of your bloodlines prays and gives offerings to, to this very day.
So yes a black gay man can indeed be conscious. To have knowledge of self is powerful, and it takes a lot of power to be this fucking fierce amongst the world of racism and micro aggressions rather it’s coming from the so called “man”, or that ambiguously fragmented group “The Hyper Conscious, Pseudo Conflicted Super Negro” There is no way in hell that I or any other black gay man should let a small group of Mega Nigga’s police my blackness while being black themselves. The whole concept is stupid when you think about it. In all seriousness, Black Gay Americans were elated at the Supreme Courts decision on gay marriage, but we also felt a twinge of immense sadness due to the fact that yes one part of our minority status is victorious, but on the other hand our brothers are getting shot up by police, and our churches are being burned. Hell yeah we are still angry. Foaming at the mouth even, and aint no way some simple minded, dread head wearing, sandlewood oil rubbing, incense burning Super Negro going to down play my emotional connection to my people and the community to which I love and fight for.