Our Families: LGBT African American Stories

Uploaded by BasicRights on 30.09.2011

I remember not knowing what gay was but that he was different. The first time I thought
that I might be gay was actually in the eighth grade. I remember when I was twelve years
old and in the Girls scouts, I had the biggest crush on somebody. I remember really wanting
to put my arm around this girl's waist. Everybody in the family embraced me. I feel very blessed
that they accepted me when I came out. I think he was sixteen or seventeen and he shared
with me one day that he identified as gay. I remember just putting my arms around him
and saying you're mine. we'll just go forward. I felt release. he always had a friend, a
special friend. I noticed he was you know talking on the phone alot, one day he asked
me to go to the mall he was actually going to meet up with this friend. Long story short
he ended up going his way and me and my brother were still at the mall, and I was like so
Khalil, he's gay, are you gay, no I didn't even ask, you are gay, Khalil said yes he
told me he was and from there on, it was always love, because it was love from the beginning
our relationship was built on love. In the black community as in other communities there
is a long way to go towards erasing homophobia that has been one of the probably, hardest
things that I've had to deal with. When I came out my family was quite unaccepting.
I had a child by that point. when my daughter was born I moved a couple of times for my
job and all of a sudden I got a subpoena for custody of my daughter. This was back in the
eighties so understand that I had no rights, and so my mother had custody of my daughter.
My mother raised my daughter I think I lost my daughter I know I have, I've lost a grandson
as well yes I do have a grandson that I'm not allowed to see. that's the way is. So,
so everybody loses. Frankly there have been times when I've been afraid for Ty. This could
be a hostile walk in the Portland community just being black and male. so to be black
and male and gay adds to the fear that I've felt sometimes for his safety, and at the
same time i know that he is part of a community that has embraced him. Our church family of
course has embraced him. Having a pastor that is loving caring non-judgmental is very important
to me. It makes me feel warmed, welcomed, accepted. there is a stereotype still operating
about the African American church being an unwelcoming place for gay and lesbian folk
and I want to call it for what it is. I think it's a stereotype. I mean every church has
got gay people in it. They're sitting in the pews they're in the choir, they're playing
the music, they may even be preaching so it is a stereotype. we need to call for what
it is and keep breaking it down. I think it took some time for me to really try to reach
out and find places that were open and accepting and affirming and understanding that true
faith is all about love. I'm African American, I'm gay, and I live in a highly Caucasian
community and I must be able to operate or at least function in all of those. I'm blessed
in the fact that I live in a community that cares about all three. We come from a family
of community builders and what I want for our family is that they be able to thrive
that we are a part of building what Martin Luther King Jr. called, beloved community.
A community that embraces all of its people and the potential of all of its people. Well
the fact that I'm sixty seven years old means that I've gone through the African American
movement with Dr. King and I've also gone through and still going through the movement
with gays. We're moving. We've got a long way to go. ok, We should be very positive
about that we need to be patient but not too patient. Everyone wants the same thing as
thats a quality of life to be accepted and to be able to just be free and just to love
and support that if nothing else support that. For all the families out there erasing homophobia
starts with you. To accept me you have to accept him and that's really how I stand on
it and I always have. You know, having that support it's like it's immeasurable. To have
a wonderful brother, you know, it means the world to me and it just so happens that he's
gay. What I love about Ty: two things courage and intelligence, intelligence and courage,
that's Ty. I'm just thankful of all the support that she has given me over the years. Being
a Mom and a friend and someone that cares and tries to understand. We are some of the
most spiritual people that I know of and that probably there is because of that spirit we
can be one the most energetic the one of the most forceful communities out there. We love
you. Love us back.