Gay-Marriage Views and the Black Gender Gap
Experts discuss a report that among blacks, men are more likely than women to oppose same-sex nuptials.
Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the African-American LGBT-rights group the National Black Justice Coalition, echoed this sentiment. "Historically, black manhood and masculinity have been under attack systematically and socially. Anything that doesn't fit within that box of what it means to be a man -- specifically a black man -- is seen as a threat, and many black brothers want nothing to do with it."
Moodie-Mills also suggested that something is likely at play that can't be overlooked. "Women in our community are often the nurturers."
Mental-health expert Dr. Jeffrey Gardere concurred. "My clinical opinion is that women -- and in this case black women -- are more maternal [than men]," he said. "Where there may be some men who may have significant issues with the sexuality of their children, women give birth to these children. That is an unbreakable bond which leads to quicker acceptance of the child, no matter what the situation may be."
He added this: "It is my experience that black men are becoming more progressive and accepting of their children being gay, bisexual or transgender, even if it is a major issue for them earlier on when they learn of it."
When asked for solutions on how to encourage more black men to become progressive on LGBT rights, thereby closing the gender gap, Lettman-Hicks offered, "More black, male allies need to come out and stand up for their brothers." In other words, it's not enough for the Don Lemons and Frank Oceans of the world to come out as gay. More Jay-Zs need to "come out" as supportive of the LGBT community.
Moodie-Mills had another suggestion. Regarding misogyny within the black community, she said, "I think the faith community perpetuates it in a lot of ways." She noted that many black churches are still "predicated on a pastor being king."
While she is not critical of the church itself, she did note that the idea of one man being dominant over a congregation or community, and the idea that men must be a certain way to be real men -- including being dominant over women and dominant in the culture in general -- is a notion that many black churches continue to perpetuate. "Until we challenge this, we are going to keep seeing this gender split on LGBT issues," she said.
Lettman-Hicks noted that celebrating those who have the courage to challenge gender-based stereotypes is also key. "Black women need to laud black men, gay and heterosexual, who turn gender binaries, stereotypes and roles on their heads. There isn't one way to be a black man. And black gay, bisexual and transgender men are black, too. They are your brothers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, co-workers and friends, and should be free to live authentically and proud of who they are."
Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.