Coates takes issue with my statement about black homophobia. Jamelle Bouie, after looking at the numbers, also says I'm wrong. I wish I were. There is a tsunami of data showing that African-Americans are more opposed to gay equality than any other ethnic group. Here's a taste of the opposition to marriage and civil unions as recorded by Pew this year. Money quote:
By more a margin of more than two-to-one (56% to 26%), more blacks oppose gay marriage than favor it. The balance of opinion among African Americans regarding civil unions is only modestly less negative (53% oppose vs. 34% favor).
More studies bear this out:
African-Americans are more likely than whites by a 65 percent-to-53 percent margin to oppose marriage equality for gays and lesbians, according to a new report by the National Black Justice Coalition and Freedom to Marry.
The study showed that African-Americans are “virtually the only constituency in the country that has not become more supportive over the last dozen years, falling from a high of 65 percent support for gay rights in 1996 to only 40 percent in 2004.”
The younger generation is not much better. Young Latinos are much less homophobic than young African-Americans:
Younger persons generally are more supportive of LGBT rights than are older persons. But significantly more black youth (55 percent) “believe that homosexuality is always wrong” than do Latino (36 percent) or white (35 percent) youth, according to a recent study from the University of Chicago.
The rampant homophobia in urban black culture also cannot be denied, as well as the role of the black church in fomenting and entrenching homophobia, even as so many black men and women have died of HIV and AIDS. I've been following this issue since I first raised the issue of black indifference to HIV and the awful isolation of gay black men as far back as 1990. There are many black heroes in this, with John Lewis and Coretta Scott King standing out; and the Congressional Black Caucus has been very supportive, as has the black civil rights leadership. But it helps no one to deny that the leadership knows how deeply hostile to gay equality many in the African-American community are. I'm surprised that some would seek to deny this rather than confront it.