If you somehow missed the first part of my candid interview with award winning author, J’son (Lee) Green on his life as a black, gay man in America, I urge you to read it now- Part I. If you’ve already read it then I know you’re anxious for the conclusion of this two part interview.
J’son, I admire the fact that you use your voice to support and seek equality for the LGBT community. I would imagine that there is a certain amount of fear that goes along with that. What has caused you the most fear about being an openly gay man in America? And lets face it, rarely do we hear about long-lasting black, male, same-sex relationships. How is your marriage influencing others?
Despite the progress we’ve made, there will always be some level of fear being part of a marginalized community. The thing that causes me the most fear is the possibility I could be hurt simply for being who I am. This is where my faith comes into play. I can’t give in to this fear. I can’t stop living my life. Sadly enough, much of this bigotry is rooted in religion. Other folks’ religion would have you think that homosexuality is the worst sin there is. That’s all I heard as a child. As I shared earlier, religion damaged me, and taught me how to live a life rooted in shame. Until more of us in the black LGBT community celebrate their unions publicly, we will continue to be ashamed, fearful, and marginalized.
My husband and I had a long talk about black same-sex relationships. Like you said, we rarely see them. We take our vows very seriously. Our friends are watching. Strangers are watching. We want them to see what black, same gender love looks like. We also want to be role models for those within the LGBT community. We’ve been taught we are undeserving of love, and nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there is some fear associated with being so vocal, but the pride and strength we’ve found in our truth outweighs all the risk.
May I ask you to share the most terrifying event related to your sexuality (if there was one)?
I thank God there has been none.
I am thankful for that as well. What do you think causes so much hatred towards the LGBT community in America? Being an African American gay man, do you think that the LGBT struggle for acceptance is comparable to African American’s struggle for equality?
I really don’t know what is at the root of all the hatred. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s ignorance. The only way we can get beyond it is to talk to each other. We are more alike than not.
There is no way we can’t draw parallels between the LGBT struggle and the African-American struggle for equality. No, race and sexual orientation are not the same, but both movements involve a minority group that is discriminated against and persecuted on the basis of an intrinsic characteristic. While the details are different, both groups are in the same battle—a battle against institutionalized oppression and bigotry.
J’son, how does it affect you when you hear of young men and women being attacked and/or killed because of their sexuality?
Stacey, as a writer, I believe I feel pain more intensely.
I grieve for the lives that are lost to bigotry. But for the grace of God, it could have been me. I was one of the lucky ones. My heart aches for those who never got to realize their pride—people like Josh Pacheco, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, and Carlos Vigil. All of these beautiful, gay youth took their lives. This doesn’t even speak to the countless gays and lesbians who are savagely beaten or murdered—people like Mathew Shepard, and Brittney Cosby, and her girlfriend, Crystal Jackson, and most recently, the men and women killed in the rain of gunfire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando—the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history.
Matthew didn’t deserve to be pistol-whipped with the barrel of a .357 Magnum. He didn’t deserve to be hung—barefoot, freezing and barely alive—on a fence, in a pose resembling a crucifixion. Whose sins was he crucified for? Brittney didn’t deserve to die from blunt force trauma, and Crystal didn’t deserve to be shot to death at the hands of Brittney’s father. Certainly, neither of them deserved to be left behind a dumpster. Those 49 men and women at Pulse didn’t deserve to be gunned down in cold blood, especially at a place where they went to escape persecution.
As you mentioned, one of America’s greatest tragedies has been the mass shooting at the nightclub in Orlando, Florida. How has this impacted your life?
The Orlando shooting impacted me deeply. I was both saddened and enraged. I was saddened by the level of hate that persists for those like me. That could have been me, my husband, or one of our friends. I was enraged because so many people went silent after this tragedy as if to say that our lives are not as important as heterosexual ones. Again, religion came into play. Pastors and other religious zealots saw it as God’s punishment for our sin. Silence condones this rhetoric. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us. We can’t say we want equal rights and gun control when it only impacts our own. This fight has to be for everyone. And if that is not the case, sit back and watch the LGBT community work!
Everything you said, J’son could easily be applied to the African American community as well. In light of the most recent killings of our black men at the hands of police officers, we are all enraged and must come together and demand change. That leads us perfectly into my next question. I know that I’m not supposed to ask about a person’s political views or affiliation, but hell. I’ll ask anyway. How important is it for the LGBT community to elect the right candidate in the upcoming election and do you think that one candidate poses more of a threat than the other?
I try to avoid political conversations, too, but I’ll oblige briefly. It is critical that we elect the right candidate. Trump is not that candidate. He opposes marriage equality, and says he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse nationwide marriage equality. He’s also racist. Quite frankly, we need an LGBT advocate in the White House, and that’s why I’m with her.
J’son, I can’t thank you enough for speaking with me. This has been such an enlightening conversation. What final words/message would you like to leave us with?
Stacey, I want your readers to know that LGBT people want to be loved just like everyone else. Yes, there are some gray clouds over the community right now, but I’m hoping with all the tears we’ve shed, there will be a rainbow at the end of all this.
My final thoughts ~ I hope that J’son’s honesty and clarity will help us all to see that his life choice is not our cross to bear. It’s a choice for him just as our life choices are for us. None of us have a heaven or hell for anybody and as long as we respect one another, I say live and let live.