The issues surrounding homophobia in the Black world are overwhelming and complex. This course will focus on three areas of the Black world, the U.S. communities of Color, the Caribbean, and Africa. The students in this class will be challenged to see the multiple constructs of homophobia. The usual frames of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation will be used as modes of analysis. Of primary importance to this class is the place of culture and violence as critical signifiers in the acceptance of sexual minorities in the Black world. The consequences of homosexuality in Jamaica, for example, are profoundly different to those in the U.S. and many African countries. The use of homophobic lyrics in popular Jamaican dance hall music drives the extreme acts of violence and harassment of those even perceived to be gay.
In the African countries we will examine the contradiction of traditional acceptance of sexual minorities as opposed to the modern vilification of these groups that keeps them essentially underground. Again, these groups live in fear of death, ostracism, and various forms of discrimination.
The material used for this class will draw from the works of Black gay writers in the Caribbean and the U.S. where there is a larger body of literature in this area. The readings from Africa will be culled from a variety of sources including underground networks. Students must be prepared to be creative and open to accessing information that is elusive.
Although there will be an emphasis on the particular problematic of homosexuality and its various forms of expression, attention will be paid to lesbian issues particularly on the problems of corrective rape. Students who take this class must be prepared for controversial ideas and discourse. It is the intention of this class to bring to the table the realities and issues affecting homophobia in the Black world. Although at the beginning of the class you may have thought that you are comfortable with this, it might occur at some point as the class proceeds that you are uncomfortable, if this is the case I urge you to meet with me so we can discuss this. We must try to keep an open mind and check judgments at the door.