In the past year, I have come across a multitude of image macros posted in black community forums and by black friends in my Facebook feed discussing the “origins” of baggy pants.
This “origin” story has been proven untrue again and again (see Snopes’ article on the subject here), yet it seems every month I see a friend who feels they are “helping” their community by alerting young men or the parents of these men to this notion, in hopes of deterring the trend, as no “real” straight man would align himself with “faggy” behavior.
It is no secret that the black community is not exactly “progressive” when it comes to homosexuality, especially in the arena of gay men. This can be attributed to the emasculation of the black male during slavery, and the fight to reclaim manhood. Male homosexuality is still seen as rejection of manhood by the older generation. If anything, the community is quite divided, most likely due to religious beliefs. It wasn’t until May of this year that the NAACP endorsed gay marriage, and that was met with plenty of dissent. It led to the resignation of key members of NAACP branches, most notably Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr, who lead the Iowa and Nebraska chapters. Last year, he spoke at a rally in Des Moines, making statements such as, “Gay community: Stop hijacking the civil rights movement.”
The NAACP hopes to bring the acceptance of homosexuality to the fold by this endorsement, but the dissenters have become more vocal. And more tricky with their words.
For example, another series features an attack on black youth culture with this:
According to “sources,” the popular word “swag” comes from a code in the 1960s gay bars and meeting places would use to advertise their homosexuality on the down low. Now, the jury is out on whether this was ever a thing, but I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on it too. More credible sources, such as Online Etymology Dictionary, trace it back to an Old Norse word for swaying, fitting in with the “walk” a person with swagger is known for. The average, easily-accessible-from-the Internet-you-are-already-using-to-post-incredulous-infographics dictionary will give a similar explanation.
It is clear some members of our community are exploiting homosexuality as a means to influence the conduct of young black men. This not only works as a deterrent for what we deem improper in youth culture, but for homosexuality, as it is also perceived as amoral. By spreading this belief, they hope to deter homosexuality and its acceptance.
In a world where popular television programs, such as TV’s Glee or Modern Family, expose young adults to homosexuality in a positive scope, one would believe young adults are in favor of differences. (It is to be noted not many characters on television are gay and black, but that is an issue for another day.) As we told them growing up, being different is what makes you unique. Given the public outrage over Chick-Fil-A this summer, it seems the American majority is keen on accepting different sexual orientations. And many have been able to reconcile their religious beliefs with this acceptance just fine.
Those who post such graphics, or statements, seem to know or at least be slightly aware of the implications, but won’t or don’t care about the veracity of these graphics. Apparently, promoting anti-gay concepts is just the price to pay for getting our children to wear a belt, buy smaller pants walk straight, or stop using certain terminology. In short, to “act right.”
Do we really need to use tactics that breed anti-gay sentiments to tell our kids to stop acting like clowns? Whatever happened to good old, less bigoted scare tactics for flying straight (no pun intended)? Also, can we stop using #nohomo already?