Gay is not the new black: There is a difference

By Paul Cruse III

Gays have been constantly ridiculed, discriminated and oppressed throughout history.

In modern America, we have made some great strides in giving gays the same rights as “everyone else” but even with the progress we have made, they are still seen as second-class citizens.

Gays cannot enter the military, get married (in most states) and there are even some laws being proposed that would stop gay couples from adopting children.

With all this discrimination and hatred towards homosexuals, some feel as though their struggle for equality is similar to other minority groups.

A common saying is, “Being gay now is like being black (African American) in the past.”

Many gays and gay-rights activists feel that African Americans should support gay rights more because their struggle is similar to African Americans.

I do agree that there are some similarities between the fight for gay rights and the fight for civil rights, but I completely disagree in the notion that “Gay is the new black” because there are some inherent differences.

Before I begin, let me say that this column will not be about gay rights. This column will not advocate or critique the argument for or against gay rights.

I will not argue whether gays are born the way they are or choose to be the way they are. This column will only discuss the differences between being gay (a sexual-preference minority) and being black (a racial minority).

To begin, I must ask: Are you gay? It is not the answer to this question that is important but rather the fact that the question has to be asked.

For blacks, no one asks whether or not we are black. Society has determined what black is. From the second we walk into a room, everyone knows we are black.

We are immediately entitled to all the stereotypes and assumptions (both negative and positive) that go along with being black, whether we want them or not.

The same can be said for other racial minorities, like people from the Middle East, Latinos and Asians.

The main point I am making is that if gays don’t want to be discriminated against then they don’t have to tell people they are gay.

Gays don’t have a genetic difference that changes their outward appearance.

Hypothetically speaking, if a gay employee is scared that his new boss will not promote him because he is gay, all he has to do is not tell his new boss.

But if a black employee is scared that his new boss will not promote him because of his race, all he can do is work hard to prove to his boss that he is worth promoting or prepare a lawsuit, if he feels he has been discriminated against.

To reiterate, I am not saying whether this is right or wrong.

I am not saying that gay people should have to hide their sexual orientation or that the majority of society should change its belief and be more welcoming to gays.

All I am arguing is that the option is there. If a situation presented itself where being gay would be detrimental to one’s future (like in the employee scenario) or to one’s immediate safety (like being the possible victim of a hate crime), gay people have the option to not tell others of their sexual orientation and avoid the situation.

Now some of you might be saying that you know some black people who don’t look black.

I can personally attest to this.

I have a lighter complexion than most blacks (although I am not mixed) and I have been called everything from Mexican to Filipino.

But I am still seen as some sort of minority.

You may know of people from the Middle East or Latinos who look Caucasian, but they still have ethnic names.

The point is that you may know some minorities who look white, but these are a small marginalized portion of much larger groups that fit the description. The majority of gays do not fit a particular description.

I am not gay, but I do sympathize with gays’ struggle for equality.

I do this not only because I am a black man who has personally experienced discrimination but also as a human being who believes that all people should be entitled to equal rights regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation. But I cannot agree that “Being gay is the new black.”

Paul is a senior in computer and political science and thinks no one should have to hide their true self.