in which andrew sullivan gives me indigestion

I was sitting at my desk this morning, minding my own business, eating a lovely breakfast from Whole Foods and going through my Google Reader when I came across one of Andrew Sullivan’s blog entries (emphasis mine):

“As the epidemic continues in this country – still largely among men who have sex with men, especially black men who have sex with men

followed by

The atitudes [sic] among African-Americans that brought 70 percent of black voters to support Prop 8 in California are the attitudes that are killing black men at historic rates. It’s communal suicide by homophobia.”

Listen here, Mr. Sullivan-


First of all, I understand you are upset about Proposition 8 passing. But I am SICK AND TIRED of always hearing it mentioned in the same breath as black people. Stop it. Stop it right now. I don’t care how many times you or Dan Savage and whoever else try to say it’s black people’s fault (sort of), but they should be supporting us anyways, (don’t you know). I am sick of it. I will give you credit for saying that the No on 8 campaign did little outreach to the black community. But the continued condescension towards and infantalization of the black community is not winning any friends. And it’s making life difficult for the friends you have, namely me. If I lived in California, I would have voted no on 8. I contributed to the no on 8 campaign. I was ON YOUR SIDE. I still believe whole-heartedly in gay marriage. Neither I nor anyone else has any business telling someone else who they can and can’t marry, end of story. My morals, beliefs, and convictions apply to me and me only, and leave plenty of room for you to have yours. But I am finding it increasingly impossible to sympathize with the shrill outcries and crap reasoning from the gay community. This is not the kind of thing that wins hearts and minds.

Second of all, Get over it. You (and I mean you in the general sense, not you specifically) lost. You came tantalizingly, amazingly close. So close that next time (because there will be a next time- as many, many others have said, the demographics are CLEARLY in favor of gay marriage supporters) you will probably win. In the meantime, all this finger pointing is doing more harm than good. Why not put all that energy and time and effort into real, organized outreach? Go talk to people! Since there seems to be a contingent out there likening the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement (that’s a whole separate issue,) take some hints. Fundamentally, acceptance of gays is just like anything else. When being gay ceases to mean being “the other”, and means your neighbors across the street, your office mate, your son’s buddy in Iraq, or your daughter’s best friend, it becomes a lot harder to say no.

Third of all, what the hell does gay marriage have to do with HIV/AIDS? You (and now I mean you, Andrew Sullivan) are doing a great disservice to millions of infected people across the country to try and make HIV/AIDS a gay disease. It’s not. As a black heterosexual woman in my 20’s, do you know what the number one cause of death for women like me? HIV/AIDS. Fastest growing group of new infections? Black women. Blacks comprise 13% of the population and 49% of infections. Does that make HIV/AIDS a black disease? NO. As a resident of DC, you should know- HIV/AIDS is not a gay issue. It’s not a black issue. It’s not a poor issue. It is a public health issue. Hell here, it’s a public health crisis. To characterize it as anything else is to make it easier to marginalize and puts everyone at even greater risk.

I am not denying high levels of homophobia in the black community. But guess what? This attitude of “those black people are backwards and unenlightened we must help them” is NOT helpful. Gay or straight, that’s a lot of condescension from a white guy looking for support from the black community.

You should know better. Shame on you.

Some more takes on Prop 8 and AIDS:

D.L. Hughley and Dan Savage

Jezebel: Hate Won’t Stop 8

The Bilerico Project: Race, Sexuality and Propostion 8

Pam’s House Blend: Ballot initiatives provide a wake up call to the LGBT community on race

Pam Spaulding at Huff Post

TAPPED: The AIDS Deniers

Feministe: Women and AIDS

UPDATE: Ta-Nehisi Coates has the Congressional Black Caucus on Prop 8 and Hendrick Hertzberg at the New Yorker.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s