Prop 8 Redux

Gay marriage is a civil rights issue, and that means it’s a black issue, too.

I am certain great scholarship equal to Giddings’ important work will document the determined, similar efforts of gay and lesbian couples to legally wed.

When my friend, a beautiful brother, came out of the closet to me several years ago, he said he thought he would still marry a woman and father children one day. “So, you’re bisexual then?” I asked. “No,” he answered. He said he was just “doing what he was doing” while he was young and single. It took years for him to be able to exclusively date men, come out fully, self-identify as a gay man, and reject the false image of hetero-normative marriage that for so long had compelled him to deny his basic self and, foolishly, think he would be able to live as a straight man. Before our conversation, he had been in a few relationships with women that had lasted for years. Though he was finally able to name and claim his sexual orientation, think of all that time everyone lost because he was silenced into the closet by too many of us in the black community.

At the start of the 20th century, writer Nella Larsen began to hint at the psychological damage done by “passing for straight” in her novels Quicksand and Passing. Now, at the start of the 21st century, we need to probe deeper, into our own souls, into our own communities, into our own truths.

The most issue isn’t whether people should have to right to experience and express homosexual love; but rather whether they deserve to be victims of violent hate as a result The answer is no. What people deserve, whoever they are, is equal protection and privacy. They deserve that simply because they exist.

Eisa Nefertari Ulen is the author of Crystelle Mourning and lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn.