Actor and gay activist Doug Spearman, the handsome openly gay co-star of Noah's Arc and the newish film Noah's Arc Jumping the Broom, writes an excellent essay for the Human Rights Campaign's HRC Backstory blog. Spearman argues that despite the rainbow flag of the gay community, racism in the community is "worse now than it was when I came out in l980."
People tend to believe that racism, on all sides of the color lines, is something that stops at the gates of the LGBT community. As though at the entrance to the various Boys Towns around the country you were required to check your ideas about Blacks, Asians, Jews, Arabs, etc. the way cowboys were required to turn over their guns when they walked into a salon in the Old West. It just doesn’t happen that way. In fact, I think it’s worse now than it was when I came out in l980. Back then the bars felt a lot more friendly, prejudice was a dirty word, and the kids of the l960’s and early 70’s—those that had created the gay movement—were still on the dance floors of America elbow to elbow with the people who’d marched in Vietnam protests and Black Power parades, and had been active participants in the original Civil Rights Movement. Those were the grownups who were standing at the bar when I got there. They welcomed me. But they’re gone. That spirit seems to have evaporated.
Race and race relations are a thick thread in the fabric of our country. It was a factor in the last presidential election, and for a while it was the cause of a lot of finger pointing after the Proposition 8 decision here in California. In the early days after the election, a lot of gay activists blamed black voters for not showing support for their plight for marriage equality. First they got the numbers wrong. Black voters, especially in Los Angeles, were not the tipping point. Second, they failed to understand what the issues of civil rights and equality mean to black people in this country. They— meaning well-intentioned gay activists—assumed that since theirs was an issue of equality and civil rights, that they’d have natural allies among a people who’d spent centuries being discriminated against. It’s a valid hope. But then again, when did a group of gay activist ever show up to make sure that black and Latino/a neighborhoods had decent schools or safe streets, or march for union job protection?
Spearman adds: "It’s a different world for white Americans than it is for black, brown, and yellow Americans. Especially if you have education, income, and available resources. And we’re finally beginning to openly talk about the differences."
Spearman, who is on the board of Equality California and played a married gay man on Noah's Arc, was one of the most prominent black gay activists fighting Proposition 8 last fall. He taped a PSA against the ballot initiative and headlined a news conference featuring several pro-gay and pro-marriage equality black pastors. Props to Doug Spearman for pushing back against the "blame the blacks" meme that resulted after Prop 8, when national black leaders such as the NAACP's Benjamin Jealous have ... well, what are they saying about it?
Did You Read? ...
"Noah's Arc" Doug Spearman's PSA Against Prop 8 [R20]
Doug Spearman in "The Advocate"[R20]
"Noah's Arc" Cast Urges "No" on Proposition 8 [R20]
"Noah's Arc" Actor Doug Spearman, Black Ministers Urge "NO" on Prop 8 [R20]
SCLC Leader Criticizes Anti-Gay, Black Pastors [R20]
Darryl Stephens Talks Coming Out to "Instinct" [R20]
Rodney Chester of "Noah's Arc": I'm Still Not Gay! [R20]
Behind the Scenes Video from Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom [R20]
Noah's Arc Has Sailed [R20]
Deal or No Deal? [R20]
Rodney Chester: I'm STILL NOT Gay!" [R20]
Beyond the Sassy Sidekicks? [After Elton]
What Does the Future Hold for Noah's Arc? [After Elton]
TV's Most Influential Gay Sex Scenes [After Elton]