Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are Gay Blacks and Latinos Still Afraid to Come Out?

Okay, so most of us by now have heard the term “On The DL” to refer to gays who are in the closet. It’s a euphemism that by now, is as well known as Wendy’s Williams motto “ How You Doing?”. In fact Ms. Williams started that phrase to “Out” without outing those like Sean “P Diddy” Combs, albeit without doing it directly. Unfortunately it seems that many of my Black and Hispanics are still grappling with their sexuality. Okay, before I get all kinds of death threats let me expound on this a little.

Although the LGBT community has been in the mainstream media lately, from last year when The New York State Senate voted down same sex marriage, it has not helped give courage to some. In fact, it seems even more so than ever, the LGBT of color are increasingly absent from much of the main fight for LGBT rights. While there are many who are willing to fight to make others understand that being gay is something that is not shameful, or sinful, many are still caught in the DL web. Many in fact ONLY know how to be “Out” on the web. If out is the word that can be used. Following is a video I came across almost 2 years ago. It is by a group of Black men that are out and discussing the issues about being out and proud.

I can remember as far back as the early nineties, when I first started clubbing how many floors were jam packed. Wall to wall men, many of whom had girlfriends or wives. It’s a known fact. Many of us spoke about it, many wrote books about it. Many just lived it. Even today when I go out to a club, I still see the clubs filled to capacity. Bodies of men, drinking, dancing, laughing, and afterwards unfortunately, hiding. Being out isn’t for everyone. Anyone with a shred of understanding of the complexities of the LGBT lifestyle, knows it’s far from easy. It is however not impossible. The thing is that no one holds any conferences, no one holds forums, no one has webinars. There is still a huge lack of resources for the gay community of color.

Sure, there are tens of thousands of men (and women) of color that know how to work the DL underground. It becomes second nature. It’s almost like super gaydar. Even a quick glance is enough for one to say “ Hmm...I think he’s into me”. How easy it has become. Much like a blind person who knows his way around in the dark. It’s very similar. The thing that is a bit disheartening , is that so very many, still are alone and lonely. In my opinion most become so caught up with just knowing the nightlife and being in hiding, that they can’t hold a relationship. Relationships, ones that thrive, can’t grow in the dark. In fact the opposite is true.

To be honest, I hadn’t really thought much about the so called “DL Phenomenon” in ages. Until today, when I went online to find gay’s to add to my Facebook page. After about 2 hours of trying to find LGBT groups and people of color, I quickly started thinking “ Where the hell are all the Black and Hispanic gays”? Did I find some? Yes. A whopping 10. Does something seem wrong with that number? I thought so. A huge part of it seems to be fear of society religion and nationality.

I am not saying that we don’t have Black and Latinos who are out. I know some that are..and very happy being so. There just aren’t as many as there should be. The truth remains that even in the activist circles, most are not from a Black or Hispanic background. There are some such as Michael Crawford, Rod Mccullum Pam Spaulding and others that are extremely intelligent, personable and successfully out LGBT individuals.

So if any out there among my twitter buddies, or even real life peeps think that I’m wrong about the DL status being far from gone, I’d like to hear your take on it. It’ll be interesting to see how many of the comments will come from Blacks, Whites, or Latinos.


  1. I am not Black or Latino, but read with interest as I am writing about the subject of why men come out late in life.

    Men who have sex with men who are also of color are doubly stigmatized. They often feel they have to choose between their ethnicity and their sexuality. Coming out could lead to the loss of a community which protects them from the threats of a world that often treats them badly.

    The situation is even more severe in other places like Africa and the Middle East, where discovery of homosexuality is still punished by torture or death.

    In order to come out, it is important to have a sense of community with others who are like you. When that does not seem possible, the Internet is a good source for that. Although sites are often dominated by porn which enhance negative stereotypes, it is possible to find sites where non-sexual connections can also occur.

    A community of like minded individuals can help shed the internalized stereotypes of homosexuality and provides role models and mentors. For many, without these relationships, coming out seems far to risky.

    But our minds magnify the risks of what might be lost minimize potential rewards.

    Loren A. Olson MD

  2. True. I agree with that. Although I myself have always been out. I had an older brother who didn't come out till he was 46. Although all of my relatives knew, he didn't come out until his partner of 21 years was dying of HIV related cancer in '96. As I said, coming out is different for everyone, we all have our own reasons to come out or not. Its not an easy thing for most. I had a wonderful relationship with my mom (R.I.P.)which made it easier for me. My brother never understood why I was comfortable telling my family when he wasn't. Relationships and fear have a lot to do with it. I'm glad I've been blessed.


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