Don't Compare Blacks and Gays

MAIL

To The Editors of The Crimson:

I was talking with a friend yesterday about gay rights when he declared, "discrimination against gays; it's the same as discrimination against Blacks." Opponents of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) use the same argument concerning the discriminatory practices of the armed forces. But you cannot compare homosexuals to Blacks. Gays are not a race of people. Discrimination against Blacks is very different from discrimination against gays.

The Black struggle in America has historical basis and implication. Slavery and Jim Crow were practices that raped our families, our identities and our culture. Today, Blacks remain politically and economically oppressed. Poverty and violence have resulted from this systematic oppression. The gains of our ancestors seem to have been temporary.

In contrast, homosexuals are not economically oppressed. As gay rights advocates indicate, they are our lawyers, our doctors, our teachers, etc. Gays represent mainstream America in that they have gained economic freedom and affluence. Politically, many government officials have begun to admit their homosexuality. The struggle of gays is not comparable.

The reason I wrote this letter is that I cannot stand to see the plight of Blacks misrepresented. ROTC assailants are correct in saying that ROTC's discrimination against gays today is similar to that applied by the military toward Blacks historically.

This is where the similarity between Blacks and homosexuals ends. Liberals have suggested that Blacks, gays, other minorities and women should band together to fight discrimination. For Blacks this would do no good. We already have civil rights laws that ironically proclaim our legal equality. We must now fight covert as well as systematic persecution that have prevented equality of opportunity for our people. By banding together, each group would lose the individual message of their unique situation. Blacks gain nothing in standing beside gays. This only clouds the true problems of Black America.

I mean no disrespect to gays, but I will not apologize for my unwillingness to parallel homosexuality to Blackness. Everytime I hear the analogy--on Donahue, in The Crimson, at dinner--I cringe. It is simply a fallacy. Discrimination against homosexuals centers around morality and sexuality. Discrimination against Blacks is racial and holds great historical significance in America.

Gays gain a lot in repeating the analogy. They believe it gives legitimacy to their claims. I feel it does a disservice to the Black struggle and to my ancestors. It may be true that together we stand, divided we fall. But don't confuse these separate issues. It is not the morality of Blacks that is in question; it is the color of their skin and the deep-rooted inequalities that still exist in our society. Karl W. Lampley '93