Being a black gay man in America means having to watch my back, even when I’m told “it gets better.” To hear that Empire star Jussie Smollett was hospitalized Tuesday after two people brutally attacked him in Chicago with a noose while hurling racist and homophobic slurs, my heart broke.
Daytime star Ellen DeGeneres made it a point that the Academy reinstate comedian Kevin Hart as host of the Oscars after his tweets resurfaced that featured homophobic jokes, one of which suggested that the comic would knock his son in the head with a dollhouse if he found out he was gay. DeGeneres, who wasn’t the center of his jokes, had more privilege in this regard when she implored fans to give a second chance to Hart, who initially resisted apologizing for the tweets. Black gay men such as myself, who tried to call him out, felt silenced as a result.
What that looks like is acknowledging the racial disparities within the LGBTQ community, along with the reverse within the black community. It’s about calling out the homophobia and racism that routinely impacts black LGBTQ individuals on a daily basis. As a Philadelphian, I’ve extensively covered the role in which racism in our local LGBTQ community has led to protests and institutional change. Now is the time to hold society in general accountable as well.
I wish a speedy recovery and justice for Smollett, but also the same for the countless black LGBTQ individuals who aren’t trending worldwide.
Together, we need to be more empathic of the nuances and ways that identity impacts all of us differently. I wish a speedy recovery and justice for Smollett, but also the same for the countless black LGBTQ individuals who aren’t trending worldwide.