Facing Homophobia with Love

The main argument of the chapter titled “Homophobia and Heterosexism in the Black Church and Community” by Kelly Brown Douglas is that homophobia is a subject that the Black community must confront. Douglas argues that virtual silence “has characterized the Black community’s consideration of gay and lesbian sexuality” (Douglas 997) .However, she also argues that the Black community is not more homophobic than the rest of society, this idea is only asserted due to the Black church’s history of oppression and exploitation by white people that simply makes Black homophobia appear more passionate and tenacious. She claims that in society, the Bible is often used, even by non-religious people, as “a tool for censoring a group of people, in this case, gay men and lesbians” (Douglas 999) even though the Bible itself does not present a very clear position on homosexuality. In my opinion, one of the most powerful parts of this chapter was when Douglas asserted that, “With such a history of the Bible being used against them, it seems abhorrent for Black people to be so steadfast in their use of the Bible against other Black persons, in this case, gay men and lesbians” (Douglas 1000). I think this argument is powerful because it is so accurate and heart wrenching that I think it might be able to change certain people’s minds regarding homosexuality. To be even more helpful and encouraging, she suggests how Black biblical scholars might go about this, “In drawing attention to this “tradition of terror,” these scholars must prompt Black people to make the connections between the way the Bible was used by Whites to terrorize them and the manner in which Black people use it to terrorize gay and lesbian persons” (Douglas 1005). She is very clever in not encouraging religious Black people to listen to the Bible or White people and instead encouraging religious Black people to ask if their way of religion is supporting the life and freedom of ALL Black people. I also really liked the point Douglas made about how claiming that homosexuality is a white disease erases the existence and denies the humanity of so many Black women and men. Overall, I really liked how she explained why certain prejudices exist: “In a society where privilege is accorded on the basis of race, gender, and sexual preference, heterosexual privilege is virtually the only privilege that Black people-especially Black woman-can claim in order to move to the center” (Douglas 1012) but still didn’t excuse these prejudices in the Black community.

In terms of the short story Blessed Assurance, the fact that Dr. Manley Jaxon writes and dedicates an anthem to Delmar based on a queer character in the Bible makes the story even more powerful. I think it is very interesting that Langton Hughes weaves so many queer references into this short story, even naming the director after a transgender musician. I really like the way he did this because it is a slight enough nod that only people involved in queer culture would understand. Although a tension is alluded to between Delmar and the director, the fact that the anthem he had Delmar perform was based on a same-sex relationship from the scriptures solidifies the queerness in this story. Although there is a queer love story hidden behind all the homophobia of the narrator, it must be acknowledged that John is actually trying to figure out who the homosexuality came from in their family, to place the blame on someone. As if homosexuality is genetic. He also has very strict ideas on masculinity that it seems almost no son could fit into perfectly.

2 thoughts on “Facing Homophobia with Love

  1. I really liked how you laid out the argument and evidence that Kelly Brown Douglas uses in “Homophobia and Heterosexism in the Black Church and Community”. You did a really nice job choosing the most important parts of the chapter to include. I also like how you analysed the argument by explaining why it works and what is good about it, not just saying what you liked but why you liked it.

  2. The idea of the Bible as a tool of oppression has always astounded me. It’s almost as if people did not read the book. Also, the fact that it is used without regard to its history especially with the enslavement of black people is abhorrent. Christianity is supposed to be about all of God’s people living without judgement. The fact that it has been perverted is very frustrating.

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