Since coming out as queer and non-binary 2 years ago, I have been living and experiencing the world very differently than what I used to. However, one of the things that has stayed the same that kept me closeted for many years was how black people view the queer community.
Homophobia in the black community has always confused me because logically, two marginalized communities should join together to fight against their common oppressor, but the two communities are constantly at war with each other. Power dynamics between the two communities are ambiguous, where some individuals have power over others, but no one community is distinctly dominant over the other.
I believe that homophobia in the black community is as old as the community itself. Since most scholars (white people) didn’t start studying “homosexuality” until the 19th century, I’m not sure how sexuality and gender worked on the African continent before colonization and the Atlantic Slave Trade. However, European colonizers forced their beliefs and ideas onto the African people and if they resisted, they would receive cruel penalties such as death. Some of the beliefs that were enforced were that there are only two genders, those who are born with penises are men and those who are born with vaginas are women, very fixed definitions of masculinity and femininity, and that love and marriage are only between men and women. And like most beliefs enforced by white people, they were beaten into black people until they had it memorized. So now you have a community of black people who are much more visibly homophobic because it was literally beaten into them!
Growing up, I was never directly told that being gay was bad but it was constantly implied throughout my childhood. I also do admit that I was coming of age in a world that was more accepting of queer people while also still being very homophobic at the same time. While most of the Western world started to become more accepting, it seemed like the black community as a whole refused to move forward. I never really saw black people fight against homophobia until the end of last year when I heard a black radio host encouraging black people to fight.
My main point is that black people have been seen as a beacon of morality throughout the world, but if we do not fight against something as horrible as homophobia, then we are doomed to be imprisoned by the chains of our oppressors forever.