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  • Writer's pictureAuthor T.D. McLaughlin Talks

Black Men, Are we still homophobic

This week I was at the barbershop and I stopped in to get my naps trimmed and my thirteen year old son an edge up. When I got to the shop there was one or two guys there plus the regular barber crew. As always we started shouting the s**t, talking about sports, kids, wives and just life in general. If you have ever stepped foot in a black barbershop you know the vibes. Now the three barbers are like me, all in their late thirties to early forties, everybody has a wife and at least one kid. But our regular shooting the s**t took a turn that we have never explored in the shop. The conversation of homosexual black men.

Now before we head down this road know I see myself as a progressive black man meaning peoples sexuality and sexual orientation don’t bother me at all. I have homosexual friends both men and woman, I have homosexual family members both men and women and who they all chose to date, be with or marry does not bother me. I thought that many brothers in my age group thought the same way, but boy was I freaking wrong. The ensuing conversation made me believe that my beliefs about homosexuality may be in the minority when it comes to my brethren. The question that was posed was if you had a male cousin who was a homosexual, would you go out in public with him? Out of eight to ten (more folks had come in) grown men in the shop I’m the only one who said "yes". The vitriol and verbal venom that was unleashed was something that I myself was not ready for. The answers went from hell no, to no F’ing way to why the hell would I do that? Now there were a couple of guys who said yes but their reasoning was a selfish one, their reason is because the homosexual guys are always around the baddest b*+***s (their words not mine). I was confused and dumbfounded. My thirteen year old son seemed even more appalled than his old man. My son who again is thirteen, in the seventh grade and has been raised by my wife and I to be a progressive thinker. Unlike me and many of my generation, my son has been raised in mixed race, gender and sexuality environments. The masculine traits that I grew up identifying with are not the traits that his friends and himself are growing up with. The kids now are taught to if not accept at least tolerate those who are different. My brethren in the shop were not on that kind of time. I wanted to know why these seemingly heterosexual, masculine brothers that I know, felt so vehemently about the question at hand.

The answer was more shocking than the original responses. “Because I have an image to protect”, “the 48 laws of power tell us to protect or image”. These were real responses and I guess valid reasons why as a heterosexual man, why you couldn’t be seen in public with you homosexual male cousin. I was blown away. My retort was “ do y’all think homosexuality is transferable or contagious?” For me that’s the only reason I could think that these seemingly smart, thoughtful group of brothers would be thinking so archaiclly.

But the conversation got deeper, we explored more reasons for why they wouldn’t be seen in public with their cousins, then we explored what if your father were the homosexual would you not still love your father? Then because we are in the south of course the “good book” came into the conversation about wether people are born homosexual or turned (that term made me uncomfortable as if the homosexual community are a bunch of vampires). The patron in the chair next to me yelled out “ain’t no way God would make some like that!. Implying as if homosexual people were God’s mistakes. Again I was taken a back and I questioned this logic “if we have baby killers, terrorist and mass murders, you believe that people can’t be born gay”? He stopped. I unpacked my thought verbally some more “why would you think people can’t be born gay, that doesn’t make them evil you know. You probably have gay friends and don’t even now it”. People agreed. I asked my barber, who is a longtime family friend, him and his brother knew my wife many years before I met her, she has known their family for along time, so I asked him “if your brother was gay, would you stop talking to him”. Boom! His tenor changed “naw, not my brother, I would ask him what happened (his brother is a heterosexual that is divorced and has kids) but hell that’s my brother.” As that conversation ended a new one began. "What if your sons turn out to be homosexual"? You think it was tense before, this group of brother went in, some saying that the kids weren't allowed to bring their lifestyle around them, others vowing to turn their backs on the kids but the most outlandish statement was a gentleman seating on the other end of the shop definitively and without hesitation stating that he would turn his son over to the state. I was like wooooooooooow. I thought that was the most foolish thing i had ever heard. I responded" I have three sons, 13,16,18 if one of them turned out to be a homosexual I wouldn't love them any less because it doesn't change the fact that they are my sons (of course i was in the minority once again)" " I continued to address the foolish statement of the man at the other end of the shop "people like you are the reason why homosexual kids kill themselves, because of statements like the one you just made." But we didn't get to engage further in that discussion because like a rpg being fired at a black hawk the barber next to mine, I guy I know a little bit, respect and most times find to be a solid individual made a blanket statement that homosexuals are child predators. For me this is when things got dark. I lived in a house with a child predator that was a homosexual and that did not make me think that all homosexual men were child predators. To make that statement is like saying all black men are deadbeats and thugs. So again there was a little more back and forth but I began to tire of the conversation until again a religious shot was fired across the shop.

“Anybody that is a homosexual will be dealt with, when they meet the man upstairs!. I stopped dropped my head, cleared my thoughts and then proceeded “now I’m not religious and I don’t really know that book but I do know that all people are sinners and homosexuality is no more a sin than adultery, lying, stealing or any of the rest of them”. Now after being the lone voice in the room on the side of progression the tenor of the collective changed. The tenor changed but I don't think I was effective in changing hearts or minds. Just as all of this was being said, my barber finished my haircut, I got up, told my brethren to have a good day and my son and I walked out. As my son and I took the short walk to the car where my wife, his mother waited for us my son said "dad I just didn’t understand that, who cares if someone is gay and if they are your family why wouldn’t you go out with them”? I responded son, "I know, just keep being progressive because no one should care who someone sleeps with or marries because honestly it’s no one’s damn business”

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