Commentary: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Strike More Blacks — But They Can Be Perpetrators, Too

Gay African-Americans are more likely to be targeted than other races, but homophobia lingers among all colors.

Posted: 03/07/2012 12:18 PM EST

During the football season in February, CNN analyst Roland Martin got into trouble when he tweeted what was perceived by many to be a call for violence against gay men. Referencing an H&M underwear ad starring soccer player David Beckham, Martin wrote, “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!#superbowl.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) immediately came out against Martin’s comments, and CNN suspended him soon after. Despite his punishment, however, many Martin fans felt the pundit was never in the wrong. Or, if he was in the wrong, his comments — that you should hit a man who's excited about an attractive man in underwear — weren’t deserving of any repercussions. Before anyone reaches any further conclusions, perhaps there’s some statistics we should all consider.

In a new entry on the Huffington Post, gay writer Charles Stephens introduces some terrifying statistics, the gist of which is that when it comes to anti-gay hate crimes, people of color are hugely at risk.

Last year a report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs showed that the number of hate crimes against members of the LGBT community rose 13 percent in 2010, and that people of color and transgender women were most likely to be targets of violence. The report also found that of the victims murdered in 2010, 70 percent were people of color and 44 percent were transgender women.

Already this year, two horrible incidents of anti-gay and anti-transgender violence, besides the Martin tweet, have taken aback the Black community. It is not only an alleged anti-gay tweet by a Black journalist, but actual criminal harm that has occurred at the hands of African-Americans.   

In the beginning of February, a transgender woman was stabbed to death in Washington, D.C., by a 56-year-old Black man. And later that month, a group of African-American men in Atlanta surrounded and beat gay African-American Brandon White, 20, to the pavement, all the while calling him a “faggot.”

None of this is to say that Black people are any more homophobic than whites. In fact, studies show that when you control for education and religion, though Blacks are a bit more disapproving of homosexuality than whites, they’re also more approving of gay civil liberties. But just because we’re no worse doesn’t mean that it’s not incumbent upon us to get better, and the change begins with small stuff.

Roland Martin deserved to be condemned for his tweet, as it is words and “jokes” that often lead to the normalization of anti-gay bigotry in communities. And every African-American should look at gay men being beaten in the streets of Atlanta and remember that, just a generation ago, it was Black men being beaten in the South for being different.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.


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(Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

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