Tony Norman: Isaiah Washington “irrelevant” to reality of homophobia within African-American community

From today's Post-Gazette:

Is it religion that fosters this willful ignorance and compulsion to deny basic civil rights to other oppressed minorities?

Why is the black church so complicit in taking up the cudgel of discrimination when so many organists, choir leaders and assistant pastors are obviously gay? What accounts for this shameful lack of honesty and tolerance?

Certainly, the non-religious corners of African-American life are proudly and defiantly homophobic. It's another pathology this community has to come to grips with sooner or later.

Artful as always, Tony Norman attempts to elevate the furor around Isaiah Washington to a level of discourse that's actually relevant to homosexuals, particularly African-American gay men and lesbians (and bisexuals and transgender individuals).  Rather than validate the absurd call for Washington's “Grey's Anatomy” character to turn gay, Norman dismisses Washington's acting impact, characterizing his role in the larger dynamic as simply another reinforcement of a stereotype that straight black men are homophobes.

Let's face it, though he's a competent enough actor, he's no Andre Braugher, Hugh Laurie or Forest Whitaker. You don't think “brilliant thespian” when Washington's name comes up. You think grumpy guy with a stethoscope.

Not only did Washington offend homosexuals by slurring T.R. Knight, he embarrassed straight, black folks like myself who aren't eager to deal with the stereotype that all black men are homophobes.

Turning Washington's character gay simply perpetuates the notion that being gay is a punishment, a curse to be born, an anathema to all straight men who aren't in touch with their femine side.  Its a stupid suggestion made by small minded people who don't understand that playing a gay man on television has nothing in common with being gay. All the artificial swish in the world won't penetrate his thick skull unless he genuinely opens his mind.  And, frankly, I don't care if he does.  I'm much  more concerned about the thick-skulled Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria's Anglican Church in terms of impact on the lives of gay people.

Tony's finger pointing at the faith communities within the African-American community is well-done and much-needed.  But, to be fair, here in Pittsburgh there is also much needed work to be done on the part of the mainstream (aka white) gay community reaching out to include gay minorities. 


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  • Its a stupid suggestion made by small minded people who don't understand that playing a gay man on television has nothing in common with being gay.
    Not true at all. In third grade, I had to play the role of a tree in the class play. And look at the the effect it had on me. It turned me wooden. Every year, I get a new growth ring. My hair falls out as winter sets in, and then buds and grows in the spring. Damn that teacher for not at least allowing me to portray an evergreen! I think it was all part of the “deciduous agenda”.
    I just posted own take on Norman's column, with a view to how Washington's behavior can be compared to Ravenstahl's.

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