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Robin Roberts Loosens The Grip of Black Homophobia

 Robin Roberts Loosens The Grip of Black Homophobia

While I will continue to argue that the African American community doesn’t have a patent on homophobia, it does, however, have a problem with it. Black homophobia still has a deadly hold on African American life. And while I would like to say its oppressive grip only impacts lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people of African descent, in truth, black homophobia maims the entire community.

For example, to date more than a quarter of a million African Americans have died of AIDS—both straight and gay. There are many persistent social and economic factors contributing to the high rates of the epidemic in the African American community—racism, poverty, health care disparity, violence, to name just a few—but the biggest attitudinal factor still contributing to the epidemic and showing no sign of abating is homophobia. Like many of us who have grown up in communities of African descent—here and abroad—we cannot, however, escape the cultural, personal, interpersonal, and institutional indoctrinations in which homophobia is constructed in our very makeup of being defined as black.

The community’s expression of its intolerance of LGBTQ people is easily seen along gender lines. For example, sisters mouth off about us while brothers get both—verbally and physically—violent with us. "My son better talk to me like a man and not in a gay voice or I’ll pull out a knife and stab that little n-gger to death," Tracy Morgan, comedian and former actor on NBC’s "30 Rock,"told his audience at the Ryman Auditorium in 2011.

When CNN's Don Lemon came out he told Joy Behar on her HLN show that, "In the black community they think you can pray the gay away." So, whenever there's an opportunity to applaud and/or celebrate a person's—especially a high profile celeb, athlete or mega star—coming out moment, it helps loosens black homophobia's persistent sharp teeth buried in our collective flesh and hold on the community.

Black high profile celebs's public coming out events—correct and heal—if not for only a moment, a community's irrational and persistent fear, shame, taboo, and ignorance about the wide spectrum of human sexuality—even found among people of African descent. And we had one such moment with one of America’s beloved newscasters.

"Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts just recently came out of her "open" closet, using  a Facebook post to publicly announce what we all knew. The Obamas—both Barack and Michell—congratulated Roberts with Michelle gleefully tweeting "I am so happy for you and Amber!