CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Part 2 of 2: North Texas activists talk about the issues facing the black LGBT community and how to be unified in diversity
Integration into the larger LGBT community
• Kianna Moore, who grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C. and came out in New York, believes, "People are as open or will mingle with the kind of people that they want to mingle with. I am open to all cultures and into making new friends. Not everyone is like that."
• Derrick Spillman, vice president of DFW Pride Movement and an original founding member of the Dallas Black Pride, said he believes that some organizations have been too self-centered. He left an organization for that very reason.
• Harold Steward with the city of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs, and artistic director of Fahari Arts Institute, notes that being invited into a group or event is not the same as feeling welcome there. That’s why, he says, "integration doesn’t always solve the issues, but can serve to mask them."
• James Nowlin, president and founder of Excel Global Legal Search Consultants, sits on the boards for a number of organizations. He says that members of any subculture have to make a conscious effort to be part of a larger community. "It’s human nature to flock to those who are like us," he says. "It’s important to be aware of our consciousness; we must wear a psychology of liberty wherever we go."
Black gay Pride and identification
• Q Ragsdale says the level of pride in the black LGBT community varies, depending, in part, on what age group a person is in and in which part of the country they live. While words like "gay" and "queer" were considered derogatory in the past, many younger LGBT people, including people of color, have reclaimed them and turned them into positive and proud labels for self-identification. LGBT people of color have also laid claim to terms such as "same-gender-loving," "butch," "femme" and "stud."
• Felecia Miller laments the trend within the black LGBT community to segregate internally, based on age lines. She says younger members of the community often shy away from the older generation. But, she says, if they could bridge the generation gap, it’s possible that positive role models and mentorships among them could flourish.
• Harold Steward notes that within communities of color, societal expectations and pressures often cause LGBT people of color to resist acknowledging or admitting their sexuality. It is important for those communities — and society as a whole — to move toward acceptance and embrace the contributions of LGBT people, which would in turn cut down on self-destructive behaviors in the LGBT community. "Everyone who seeks to heal should seek counseling," Steward says.
• James Nowlin says he is very proud to be part of the LGBT community in general, and the black LGBT community in particular. He says many positive changes are taking place, organizations are growing in size and number, laws are changing and the communities’ visibility is increasing. But there is still a long path to travel, and, Nowlin says, "Nothing will liberate you like your own psychology. We already have the toolbox to be better — the toolbox of our minds, our psychology. We need to look into our own subconscious minds to know the root of the issues. We must work together, to come together; and we must wear a psychology of liberty at all times."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2010.