Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our Chocolate Coming Out Parameters Are Not Like Yours

Over the weekend I shook my head and chuckled to myself as the reactions in the Blogosphere and elsewhere began to trickle in as a result of Queen Latifah's performance at the Long Beach Pride Festival and Raven's comments regarding rumors that she's part of the rainbow family.

The Queen has been dogged by those rainbow rumors ever since she played butch lesbian Cleo in the movie Set It Off off back in the late 90's.  Her appearance at the 4th largest pride festival in the States only added new fuel to the fire.

The latest person to feel the come out of the chocolate rainbow closet heat is now 26 year old Raven-Symoné in the wake of a National Liar Enquirer article claiming she was dating America's Next Top Model out lesbian contestant AzMarie Livingston

Raven tweeted this response to the rumors

"I'm living my PERSONAL life the way I'm happiest," she tweeted. "I'm not one, in my 25 year career to disclose who I'm dating. and I shall not start now. My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I'm datings to know. I'm not one for a public display of my life."

She continued that "however that is my right as a HUMAN BEing whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I'm not harming anyone. I am a light being made from love. And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life. Kisses!"

Got that right.   Thanks for telling it like it T-I-S is, Raven.

While having more out and proud chocolate rainbow people is always a good thing and frankly we could use more positive Black TBLG role models, it's not only still up to that person to make the call when they are comfortable enough in their own skin to do so,  we have as African descended rainbow people different parameters we factor into that coming out decision.

Black people in general are politically liberal, but socially conservative.   When I say conservative, I don't mean the batturd crazy stuff that is on regular display in Republican circles.   We are also as a community still grappling with as the recent marriage equality evolution and announcement by President Obama was an example of, reconciling our personal deeply held faith traditions to our social justice leanings when it comes to the issues of BTLG human rights.  

And yeah, let me be real on this, some of my peeps are just straight up transphobes and homophobes hiding behind their faith to be as bigoted as they wanna be.   The faith based drama they stir up causes deleterious effects in our lives.

As we African-descended transwomen are painfully reminded of on a monthly basis, the anti-LGBT hate speech fuels anti-trans violence that has cost far too many transpeople our lives.  It forces us to factor personal safety into our coming out decision making.. 

Many of us Black GLBT people grow up in the church and still faithfully attend regular Sunday services because our religious faith is an intrinsic core value we build the rest of our lives around.  If coming out means that we're no longer welcome in a church we've attended since childhood, that's for some people a price they are not willing to pay.

Our families and those relationships are also as important to us as the ones we have with our church and our faith and spirituality.   One of the things I was afraid of when I transitioned was how I would handle the worst case scenario of never seeing any of my family members again if they chose to cut ties to me. 

While my family relationship was rocky for a few years, fortunately that permanent split I feared didn't happen even though I was prepared for it had it occurred. But I have run across people in my nearly two decades spent in the rainbow community for whom birthdays and holidays are very depressing moments for them because their families did cut ties with them.  

Since we African-Americans have had to deal with being the last hired and first fired in this country, a J-O-B has huge importance to us. 

If you're a public figure like Queen Latifah and Raven, you additionally have to factor into your decision whether coming out is worth the money and roles you're going to lose out on in a vanillacentric Hollywood that is already hard enough for straight cisgender Black actresses to work in.
Now people, leave Raven-Symoné and The Queen alone about their private lives and who they may or may not be sleeping with. We are already blessed enough in terms of them sharing their singing and acting talents to entertain us, and they deserve to have some part of their lives that is private.

Neither is it any of our concern who they choose to sleep with.    If they wish to tell us that part of their business, that should be their decision alone to make in terms of going public with that or not and if they do the timing of that announcement.

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