The Black community often blames every and anyone else for our misfortune and with valid reason. But after hundreds of Black gay youth turned this year’s “Black Pride” celebration, held annually in D.C. during Memorial Day Weekend, into a violent free-for-all at various clubs, hotels and public parks, they did nothing more than support the notion that we Blacks are our own worst enemies. Even more, whether by design or inadvertently, they dishonored the untold sacrifices made by our elders in their efforts to secure equal rights for America’s LGBT communities of color. They should be ashamed. We should be ashamed. And it’s time for those who have survived the maelstrom to put their foot down and to grab those youth by their collars who lack any concept of history and take them on a walk down Memory Lane.
We must recount our tales of horror, fear, frustration, pain and death. We must, because more and more young folk today have bought into the fantasy that it’s all about “me” instead of “us,” embracing European individualism over that which has long been the foundation of our DNA — the essential African prime directive of protecting the “community” over anything else.
I remember when Wendy Williams joined me in Chicago during one Black Pride weekend in the early ’90s to raise both dollars and awareness in the support of young Black gay men, dying painfully day after day from AIDS-related complications while white health officials and politicians turned a blind eye. I can still see the bloated, unrecognizable remains of a beloved friend who went looking for “love” in all the wrong places, who we found three days after his demise, hanging by an electric chord in his home — naked, burned and as we would later discover, sodomized in ways I cannot mention. I hear the voices of brothers who learned, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, that they had been infected — once vibrant, muscular, energetic young men who quickly became walking skeletons, begging for death to come. Others would be harassed, chased down, beaten and left as vegetables — their heads split open by bat-wielding assailants.
They are the reasons why elders in 1999 decided to form a network connecting Black LGBT communities across the U.S., hoping to increase their chances of visibility, outreach to prevent and educate their own on AIDS and funding opportunities. Marriage was NOT on the agenda — staying alive and living with a modicum of respect was all that mattered.
That’s what Black pride was about — not unbridled sexual encounters, not endless parties, not violent outbursts perpetuated by youth who have no respect for their own names, their own futures or their own people who paid the “ultimate price.” In the words of Doughboy (“Boyz in the Hood”), “Either they don’t know, don’t show or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.”
We don’t need white racists or self-professed white evangelicals and conservatives to eradicate the Black race from the planet — by refusing to rein in our youth, by keeping our heads in the sand and by allowing, as the Bible forewarns, “sons to turn against fathers and daughters to turn against mothers,” we’re doing a great job all by ourselves.