There are a lot of things happening that I wanted to blog about: the new episode of Transamerican Love Story, the murder of the student in California by his 14-year-old schoolmate, some gender equality stuff I’ve been thinking about. But it’s all mostly depressing, and I’d rather draw your attention to this rather encouraging news:
Connecticut State Representative Jason Bartlett has come out of the closet. He is the first openly gay black state legislator in America. Whoo hoo!
This is great news on a lot of levels – it’s often good when politicians come out, in my opinion, because it can help reinforce that sexuality doesn’t interfere with political vision. And it’s also nice to have visible members of the community. But this is also good news for the black community – another step in the direction of accepting homosexuality, another member of the community who has decided to be unafraid to say who he is out loud.
Oh, I know the homophobia isn’t all gone, especially not in the black community – just Sunday afternoon, I attended a reading / panel discussion on writers of the African-American Diaspora, and the event organizers were advertising an independent film called Cover, a story involving a black man living on the down-low. The fact that this concept of living on the d.l. still exists and is relevant is proof enough that phobic behavior is still rampant.
And for more proof, check out this paragraph from the brief report offered by 365gay.com:
NBJC [the National Black Justice Coalition] also asked which he identifies with more heavily: African American, gay or both equally.
I find it really annoying that NBJC is attempting to dissect him into pieces – essentially they want to compartmentalize him, put the Gay Jason Bartlett over here, and the Black Jason Bartlett over there. The simple act of asking the question is essentially an attempt to deny Bartlett the right to be perceived as a well-blended human being who is comfortable with all aspects of his social identity. It’s as if they find it difficult to believe that any person could be ok with being black and gay at the same time, and therefore must choose one to identify with more.
I thought Bartlett’s answer was good: “I do not give weight more heavily to one aspect of my being than another.” It was an appropriate answer, well delivered and careful.
So congrats to Representative Jason Bartlett, and thank you. You are willing to be the change you wish to see in the world, and many of us are grateful for it.