When I speak of affirmation I am talking about a homecoming.
People often ask me about liberation and revolution and that’s because the words in the streets will soon be liberation and revolution. The ruling class have grossly misused the power they accumulated through blood and exploitation and we are now in a situation where we could see huge up springs of revolutionary action from the masses of people within the next ten years, given that we get out, organize and help to create a peoples army with the people. I speak on Black queer struggle because I am most familiar with that as a Black queer. And because of this I am often asked questions about Black queer struggle in relation to the Black community, if that mythical group indeed exists, and the entire working class. Usually, and very proudly, I am the first to say that I am not the correct person to be asked because I don’t know nearly as much as people project onto me but I wish to speak right now, if for even for a very brief moment, about two things; a homecoming, and a fire. I wish to speak, if even for the slightest of moments, about Black queer affirmation.
It is important for Black queers to know that the changing of our conditions will not come with our acceptance into the violence that created the very need for us to run away from home. That violence, which was born out of the evils of a rising bourgeoisie in Europe and strengthened through the rape of Africa, is something all consuming and all damning. It is important to recognize the dangers in basing the queer revolution on assimilation, especially for Black queers. The ability of our more privileged brothers and sisters to get married and so on will not result in decent housing for all, or an end to the system of profit over people. It can only result in the fortifying of the that violent system, the capitalist system, which has needs and desires diametrically opposed to our own as a people seeking liberation from oppression. That is because oppression against people of color, queers, and womyn are the very necessary preconditions for a successful capitalist society; the most oppressed and marginalized will become the most exploited.
Black queer folk occupy a very unique and key position in this country and system because of their caste positioning. We are an intersection of many disparate groups. Many of us have left the “Black community” because of the culture of patriarchal oppression against queers that, while prevalent in the dominant society, has a particularly damaging character in the Black community. It is often shouted that Blacks are the most homophobic of all peoples, which I reject most simply because Blacks cannot in-act state violence against gays in the same manner that the mostly white state can and does.
Essex Hemphill, that bold and often forgotten poet, once said:
“The return I call for is so we can do the work that no one else can do for us. The white lesbian and gay community can’t come in and interrogate our black churches about the homophobia. We have to do that. We’re already singing in the choirs, we’re already on the usher boards, but then to accept homophobic diatribes from the podium … I’m not expecting the white community to interrogate black intellectuals, writers and cultural activists about their homophobia. We have to do that first, and the only way we’re going to do that is to really consider and understand how important that home space is for us.”
I believe that it is absolutely necessary for the Black Queers to struggle within the Black community for the redemption of the race. Problems, such as homophobia, within the Black community are two fold. They are problems that cannot be solved without the larger culture making a shift and they must be addressed in order for the larger culture to make a shift. By this I mean that problems that Black folk face in their interactions with one another are often mirrored by the social ills at large; for example patriarchy is not exclusive to the Black community but sometimes has a particular character when we speak about the oppression of Black womyn under Black male patriarchy. So I contend that Black Queers must struggle within the Black community to attack the twin beast of patriarchy and homophobia.