Why do they care what we think?

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Arlene Jones

I didn't grow up in the traditional "Black Church." But I did grow up around it by growing up in a neighborhood full of black people. I lived in Cabrini when it was 15,000 people strong and had a significant portion of the black community as residents. So I am perplexed as to why the issue of "gay marriage" has to come down to any kind of wonderment about what black folks think about it. I mean, our opinions on most pertinent subjects are often overlooked or ignored. So why the concern about black folks and gay marriage when the activity that is "gay" is done in the privacy of the bedroom and thus none of us will ever know it or see it?

When Obama took office, he made "gays in the military" one of his first issues. Now I'm not in the military, so I can't say whether the "don't ask, don't tell" rule was good or bad. But this I can say: I have tons of friends about whom I don't know their sexual preferences. More to the point, I don't want to know! Their sex lives, just like my own, isn't for public consumption or discussion. Sure, it's fun to watch Sex in the City and see those four women talking about sex like they talk about the weather. However, it is not a common subject that black women I know sit around discussing.

But this I do know and I need some older folks to help me out on it: When I was a child in the early 1960s, one of the biggest social events of the year in Black Chicago was Sissie's Ball. I can remember my mother and her girlfriends getting all jazzed up and going to it. This happened during a time when most black folks barely had eighth grade diplomas and even fewer had high school diplomas. Many had come up from the South, yet attending that function was the goal of many.

I don't recall any fire-and-brimstone preachers raising hell about the event. So my question is this: If black people are supposed to be so homophobic, why was that event the biggest social event of the season during a time when the majority of black folks were God-fearing Christians? Is there anyone who recalls the event? Where were the balls held? What happened during the event? What percentage of the people were straight?

I did find one interesting article on the Internet talking about clubs that featured "gay" performers. I remember another favorite thing was for people to go to shows featuring "drag queens." However in the 1960s, the black world was completely separate from the white world. What went on in black neighborhoods was rarely reported. So we must put our history on the Internet. Otherwise it won't get there.

I'm not mad that Obama spoke about "gays in the military." Nor am I upset that he spoke on "gay marriage." But I am pissed as hell that with all the urban violence that is occurring, especially in the town from which he came, I can't find many articles where he has spoken out about all the killings that are going on. That is an issue I would personally prefer to hear him address.

His hometown of Chicago has gone from shooting just on the weekends to shootings every day. It has become so commonplace that many of us are desensitized to it. I think the entire "gay marriage" debate took our eyes off of issues that everyone should be addressing. There is still a housing crisis, jobs are still not readily available at salaries that people can live on, we're still stuck in a war in Afghanistan and on and on.

As the November elections loom closer, the black vote will, as always, determine who takes which office. Don't let distractions take our focus off the major issues we need to be addressing.

www.arlenejones.blogspot.com

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