They Are Us: The Relevancy of Morehouse’s LGBT Course

Morehouse-Man

Last week, Morehouse College announced the addition of an LGBT course to their curriculum via a collaboration between their sociology department and SafeSpace, the GSA on Morehouse’s campus.

From The Maroon Tiger:

Some would say Morehouse College consists of a homogeneous demographic though it regularly boasts of having an aura of diversity that is often ignored from the outside looking in. This realization of diversity has taken new form as the gay/straight alliance and student advocacy group, SafeSpace, through the hard work of Dr. Michael Hodge of the sociology department, has officially received the green light to launch a special topics course on Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and culture to be offered for credit Spring 2013.

The idea came to fruition when SafeSpace’s Special Project and Events Coordinator Marcus Lee partnered with Yale University professor Dr. Jafari S. Allen to pitch the project. Allen focuses on the intersections of queer sexuality, gender and blackness.

As expected, this news caused a variety of reactions. For many this is a victory for the LGBTQ community but there are some that aren’t too enthused about the addition. According to some of the critiques I’ve seen, this isn’t something we should be concerned about. We meaning the black community. According to some, LGBTQ issues aren’t Black issues.

Well, I hate to break it to those people but LGBTQ issues are our issues.

Don’t get me wrong, there some legit criticisms of the mainstream LGBTQ movement and how it ignores intersectional oppressions but to say LGBTQ issues aren’t relevant to the black community is doing the same thing. The Black LGBTQ community is a thriving one and it has to be considering the adversity it faces. It is a rock stuck between the hard places of a mainstream movement that ignores their nuances and a community that shuns them because of their expression and who they choose to love. It’s a hard position to be in and to say this class isn’t needed is a tad, no it’s plain insulting.

There are so many issues that could be covered in that class. The Black LGBTQ community has its hereos, history and culture. It could very well be an academic department. A course like this could be instrumental in helping people outside of the community understand it. It could combat the homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and other destructive thought processes that plague the Black community and society at large.  Black LGBTQ people exist, have always existed and will continue to exist. Ostracizing and othering them isn’t going to  change that. This class is definitely a step in the right direction and I applaud Morehouse for accepting it considering their questionable history with LGBTQ people on their campus. To say these issues aren’t our issues is to deny the complexities of the black community. That type of thinking ignores an integral part of our history and culture. The black community, no, diaspora isn’t a monolith.

What do you think of Morehouse’s new LGBT course? Do you agree with its creation? Why or why not?

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