Comeback: Aunt Mattie

Ed’s note: If you read this blog’s comments, you’re likely to see some commentary from The Comeback Girl. She’s one of my favorite bloggers, and she wrote this intriguing open letter last week about gay marriage that she’s letting us re-post. It’s worth the read.

To My Dearest Aunt Mattie,

I don’t think I’ve ever written you a letter. Nor ever attempted to “out you”,  including in this very public forum, otherwise known as my blog. The one you will most likely never read. Aunt Edna thinks this is where I come to babble. I do a lot more than babble here, that’s a secret that my cousin Mia and I keep.

Is it possible for me to come out to you (in reverse); in a way that acknowledges that I know you’re gay. What a interesting life I had as a kid spending weekends with you and Aunt Evie, your then “friend” of more than 25 years. The only person who really made a big ta-do was Aunt Barbara. She’s nuts though, so maybe she doesn’t count. But for the record, my mother always defended you. Her favorite phrase when Aunt B was going off on self-righteous biblical tangents was: “Mind your business” only second to, “Live and Let Live.”  Ma misses you, I suppose raising kids “in the closet” perhaps isn’t the best parental practice. And who knows maybe your daughter’s life would have turned out differently, if you were honest at least to her. But your daughter certainly has a long time to think about it in the federal prison system. Your homose!xuality certainly didn’t put her there, but I think your silence about it helped.  Perhaps on the case of Nikki, I’ll take my own mother’s advice.

Ellen Degeneres & Portia de Rossi's wedding

Ellen Degeneres & Portia de Rossi's wedding

I really do “love the gays”, as Miss Patty always says. How can one not. Everybody has an Aunt Mattie, a straight laced Uncle Doogie Howser, or a flamboyant Uncle Ru Paul. Differences make the world go around.

I’m rambling. But I said all that to say, I’m not sure about this Proposition 8 thing. You were never a by the book woman yourself. Somewhere I imagine you not really giving a dayum about government deciding upon your right to marry, cause as the baby you did whatever the he!l you wanted to. But if you care, I think there’s a real reason that black people voted “Yes” to Proposition 8 (denying marriage be opened for same sex partners) in overwhelming numbers (70%)-essentially causing you to lose the vote. The country looked to California to set the legislative tone on gay marriage. Perhaps its too late with the CA. Supreme Court’s latest decision.

But if there is some kind of gay treehouse meeting that you attend, please let them know that gay rights being defined as civil rights is off putting to conservative black folks. I betcha if a white person read this they’d be blown away, BLACK PEOPLE ARE INHERENTLY CONSERVATIVE. Please write that down Newt. Take a memo Cheney. Gay marriage might just be one of the sticking points to galvinize black folks around your dying party.

I digress. (I hate that phrase by the way.) Let it be known that I am all the way down for gay unions. I am all the way down for gay adoption. I am all the way down for domestic partners being added to health, life etc. work related benefits. I am all the way down for gays to be willed assets when one partner dies.

Sign me up for everything.

But give me a raincheck on gay marriage.

I have a slight problem with gays defining what marriage looks like and then screaming civil rights. And then using Selma Alabama as a reference. Ya’ll are not going to be able to make gay marriage a “civil rights issue and then cite Selma.

I know I’m probably stepping on rainbow territory here. And I’m not trying to tell gay people how to change black folks minds. But I really suggest yall come up with other social parallels that exclude the right to riding on the front of buses and equal protection under the law.

Your “Favorite Niece” Always,

The Comeback Girl

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41 responses to “Comeback: Aunt Mattie

  1. Plain and simple, great letter.

    Bring the girl come back for more guest posts.

  2. This is subject people on both sides feel strongly about, including myself. And I do have an Uncle RuPaul, lol. My opinion is this.

    I don’t believe that most gays were trying to compare the violence and injustices that happened during the Civil Rights era to what’s going on now. I think they were merely saying that they believe, as I do, that marriage is a right all Americans should be entitled to. Just like riding a bus, drinking out of the same water fountain, being able to attend college, etc. should be. Others may feel that marriage isn’t a right. I pride myself on always being able to see the other side of an argument, but this is one that I will never understand. I just don’t get why you would want to deny two people in love the right to get married. Sure you “(in general not you specifically) may not agree for religious reasons, and that’s fine. Feel free to pick and choose from the Bible as you wish, but that should have nothing to do with others. And I can understand why gays were a little upset with blacks. They too are a minority, and if anyone should understand, it should be us. Doesn’t the KKK site religious reasons for hating us too? I just think sometimes we get stuck in a mind set that we are the only disenfranchised group in America. If we’re gonna fight for equal rights for all, we should do just that.

    • thecomebackgirl

      “I don’t believe that most gays were trying to compare the violence and injustices that happened during the Civil Rights era to what’s going on now. I think they were merely saying that they believe, as I do, that marriage is a right all Americans should be entitled to. ”

      Maybe its a geograhpic thing cause where I’m from white gay men cite MLK with the quickness. in fact a reader did it on my site.

  3. @cbg: I told you this before but wanted to comment here as well…great letter.

    My favorite part of the letter is still “The only person who really made a big ta-do was Aunt Barbara. She’s nuts though, so maybe she doesn’t count.”

    Practically every family has at least one member who is a bit “cuckoo” and has something to say about everything & everyone…but don’t try to get in THEIR business.

    • thecomebackgirl

      “Practically every family has at least one member who is a bit “cuckoo” and has something to say about everything & everyone”

      true dat.

  4. I think that if gay people want to get married then fine. It has nothing to do with me and does not make my marriage any less “real”. Letting gay people get married could not possibly harm the state of marriage anymore then it has already been damaged as a result of poor morales, selfishness and whatever else it is that is causing the divorce rate to be so high.

    There are SO many more important things that society should be concerned with other than gay people getting married. If all the energy, time and money that has been spent on protesting this was put towards one of those other causes then perhaps the values that these groups are trying so desperately to protect would start to improve.

    As far as the religious aspect is concerned…I feel that it is up to the church to determine if it wants to marry a particular couple or not.

    • thecomebackgirl

      “There are SO many more important things that society should be concerned with other than gay people getting married”

      Like I told many of my posters who had similiar sentiments..this letter ISN’T REALLY about gay marriage as much as it is about how the black family acknowledges and treats gay people they love. Thats so important that….i know many black people who claim they don’t have any gay people in their family…I’ve seen the numbers.

      and something is off, people are still stuck in the closet and not free to be who they really are.

      or perhaps black folks can say the tendancy to be gay for them is at a low..but i dont buy that assertion one bit.

      • Yeah, that’s very untrue. I have plenty of gay people in my family on both parents’ sides and that doesn’t include the ones who are not out yet. As a culture blacks are very homophobic and given that we are so rooted in the church, it makes sense. I don’t think the GLBT community understands how insulting it is, though, to compare their ‘struggle’ to the civil rights movement which should have been called the ‘human’ rights movement….

      • Oh yeah, I realized that and although I didn’t say it in my 1st comment I thought this was a great letter. I just wanted to comment on the whole gay marriage rights issue since it is an on-going discussion in my social circle.

        I agree that it is very important how a family treats those that are gay in their family. I have some men in my family that we have “known” were gay their whole lives but it was never truly acknowledged until they died from pnemonia (read: AIDS). Could them being accepted for who they were helped avoid this? Maybe, maybe not but at the very least the family could have been more supportive in their struggles.

        “or perhaps black folks can say the tendancy to be gay for them is at a low”
        – I don’t buy that assertion one bit either. Not with the relatively high amounts of gay black men and women I see around here.

  5. I really liked this letter. It basically summed up how I feel about gay marriage as well. I wrote a letter on facebook about this months ago and it specifically touched on the idea that blacks really are more conservative than they are liberal. Which really begs the question of why we so robotically vote Democrat. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that the best candidate should get the position but we are truly conservatively rooted as a people. This was nicely and succinctly put in your letter.

    • thecomebackgirl

      “Which really begs the question of why we so robotically vote Democrat”

      I’m fascinated by this too. 70% of black folks of a 10% population voted against gay marriage..that is rather telling in and of itself.

  6. thecomebackgirl

    When I looked at the title first I was like…Damon has an Aunt Mattie too?? wow…LOL

    • @comeback: Something ain’t right in your head. Cause I told you, I’d run it this week. lol. I’ll give you a pass, though.

      So you know, one of my great-grandmother’s names was Mattie Lee. They turned the name around for my Granddad to Lee Matt. My father’s a Jr., and it shoulda been my name but … (we’ll save that story for another day)

  7. “I betcha if a white person read this they’d be blown away, BLACK PEOPLE ARE INHERENTLY CONSERVATIVE. Please write that down Newt. Take a memo Cheney. Gay marriage might just be one of the sticking points to galvanize black folks around your dying party.”

    @comeback: This is the part of this letter that sticks with me because I’ve been telling my closest friends this for a few years now, including JLBD.

    *shrugs*

    But if you think about it, if the GOP would change it’s stance on Affirmative Action, plenty of educated blacks would flock to the right.

    My thoughts on gay marriage are simple: This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles (look at the 10 commandments). I don’t care how old they are, they’ve survived time for a reason. One of those reasons, isn’t gay marriage.

    I’m fine with civil unions for the sake of permitting equal rights for same-sex couples. But marriage is defined as being between Man, Woman and God. Why would you want to jump in the middle of someone religion and taint the meaning of it?

    That’s a perspective most gays refuse to look at it from — you want to bastardize a covenant of one of the primary religions of the people of this nation. That’s not cool. At all.

    “Pump your brakes, people. Pump your brakes.” (~ Boone)

    • *starts a slow clap and almost catches the holy ghost*

      I think that’s the main thing that the GLBT community refuses to acknowledge and/or answer to. I don’t mind civil unions either but I think that religion and religious beliefs and foundations should be respected. There was a debate on CNN a while back with the Miss USA controversy between Perez Hilton and someone else (can’t remember their name) but the question was brought up again by Perez about racism and the civil rights movement and the rebuttal was classic. It was explained that no where in the Bible was racism justified. It was something that was driven by hate and financial gain (research John Brown, and why slavery was kept going for so long). However, the Bible has specifically detailed homos3xuality and religious people have a right to hold firm in their faith. Like you, Damon, I have no problem with civil unions and equal rights to each other’s property, benefits, etc. But MARRIAGE is entirely something else…

    • True the country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but those principles are also found in many other religions and belief systems around the world. Also those principles were made into law because they conflict with people’s rights. Murder and Stealing conflict with people’s right to live and own property. What right is gay marriage infringing upon?

      I hate to use this argument because it’s ALWAYS used, but if the fact that it’s in the bible is the only reason it shouldn’t be allowed, then pre-marital sex is a contributor to much more of society’s ills. But we wouldn’t dare make that illegal. That’s the only reason why the “in the Bible” reason doesn’t fly with me. There’s no LEGAL reason being given that it should be outlawed.

    • And so my devil’s advocate role begins:

      perhaps gay folks liken their “struggle” to that of black folks because in essence the same culprit is at the root of the attempt to limit or define life for their community. eh, hem:

      white men in powers of authority. *ducks away from rotten tomatoes being thrown*

      perhaps they draw images of symmetry because those in power defined our (black folks) worth (3/5’s law, auctions, seperate but equal) in the past, limited our ownership and survivorship rights and pretty much said what we could and could not do since we where first pushed off the boat.

      coupled with the fact that realigious folk who consider their efforts an attempt to “bastardize a covenant of one of the primary religions of the people of this nation” are the same folks who break often the ten commandments they so often proudly boast about. our country was also founded, built and came to be the greatest power in the land as a result of a blanket disregard for the religious values and covenants which the GOD on their currency requires of us all.

  8. Can someone please explain to me the difference between marriage and civil union? It just seems like semantics to me. You’re still going to call your partner your husband or your wife & no one is going to go around saying, “We were unionized on 5/2,” they’ll say, “We were MARRIED on 5/2.” Please explain this great distinction people try to draw.

    • @AJ

      Marriage is something that is religiously rooted in the church and respected by the states as a union between man and woman. If you have man and man ‘marrying’ you no longer have a ‘marriage’, but a different type of union. To be even more specific in my religion of Roman Catholicism marriage is considered a sacrament. So is baptism, holy communion, etc. Holy Communion involves receiving bread and wine as a symbol of the body and blood of Christ as outlined in the Bible. If you are eating chocolate and soda then it is no longer ‘communion’.

      • People, please do a little research on the history of marriage. Marriage was NOT originally about religion & it is NOT defined today as being solely a religious union. The Bible does refer to it as a union sanctioned by God, but that is not solely what it is. Marriage existed before Jesus & before the Bible was written & it exists in civilizations where they don’t believe in God. It has, however, always (as far as I know) been defined as being between a man and woman. In fact, some historians say that until the 9th century, the church wasn’t even involved in marriages. It is a traditional ceremony. Religion was added later & has become a part of our tradition, but God had nothing to do with the original purposes of marriage. Marriage was a business agreement between families, and wasn’t even about love at 1st (and still isn’t in many societies). Hell, it’s still a business agreement. It was also used to legitimize the children born between a man & woman. So the semantics of saying that same-gendered people should have a civil union & not a marriage because marriage is a sacred union between a man, woman & God is simply untrue. It was adopted by the church, NOT founded in the church.

        • So to reiterate your question to Damon “Where did you get this idea from?”

          Also, bringing up history, true or not, and other country’s practices has nothing to do with America and the principles it was founded on. We are still speaking about the USA, correct?

          • In the U.S. it was not traditionally about religion. My “idea” comes from research. Do a search on the history of marriage. Look up the definition. Read whatever sources you deam legitimate are draw your own conclusion. There are books about it (not written by agnostics, but true historians). I’m pretty sure Discovery Channel did a special about it at some point. There is a factual history of marriage & it’s purpose.

            • Well I’m always open to more information but from what knowledge I currently have The Crusades happened long before 1492 and before the European settlers came to this side of the Atlantic and they were very much influenced by religion and religious beliefs. However, as my previous post indicated there are MANY religions that have a firm belief in the sanctity of marriage and those religions and beliefs have molded our country over centuries. I believe that those views should be respected and not just shunned as ‘bible thumping’. It is what it is…

              • I’m not saying that anyone should change their religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, I am Christian & believe that homosexuality is wrong. I am, however, able to separate my religious beliefs from my political beliefs. As you just stated, this is about respect & I like the term someone used earlier – this is a human rights issues. No one has the real right to enforce their religious beliefs on others. Laws should be about protection & keeping order (and oftentimes on money), not solely based on religious beliefs. There is supposed to be a separation of church & state. As someone put it on another blog, gay marriage, civil unions or whatever you want to call them may offend some people, but they don’t HURT anyone.

                • Good points, and I would go into detail about how this movement could slowly ‘hurt’ society but then we’d have to go into everything else that is decaying away our moral roots. I’m not judging anyone AT ALL but allowing gays to ‘marry’ is sending a signal that the act itself is just fine and ‘ok’ (not trying to offend anyone). But, if everyone was gay then humanity itself would end, that alone should send the message of it not being in the natural order of life. It’s a moot point on many levels and if it helps I think over time it will be allowed in all states eventually because the fight for it is pretty strong. I also think marijuana will be legal and alcohol will be sold on Sundays and in the grocery stores down in the bible belt. **shrugs shoulders**, it is what it is 🙂

                • @AJ. While agree that religion and politics shouldn’t float in the same boat, we all know this country’s foundation is built on religious “freedom”. Even our money says to trust God.

                  Religion is often used to justify human rights, or lack thereof. God told the inhabitants (thieves) of the new land to enslave us for hundreds of years…

                  Logically, it sounds right that gay marriage is about human rights, but marriage is a union under God (unless you do like Brandy and have a “spiritual union”). I’m truly not in favor or against gay marriage because that law doesn’t affect me…but I am definitely not in favor of Indian-giving. That’s like overturning the 13th amendment. Well, sort of.

    • This isn’t word, but I see marriage as a union of you and your husband/wife with God. A civil union, to me, is not not sanctioned by God. I’m not sure either is better than the other. I think it just depends on your personal beliefs and faith.

  9. @ Damon, “But marriage is defined as being between Man, Woman and God. Why would you want to jump in the middle of someone religion and taint the meaning of it?” Where did you get this idea from?

    • @AJ@KIM: This is one of those things that I clearly have a position on. I’ll state it, but I refuse to debate it/argue it.

      I’m good for frivolous debate. But there are so things I just won’t go on and on about. I’ll let you all do it.

      Thanks for the commentary, though. And the thoughts. I am reading the comments per usual.

  10. I understand the belief that blacks are actually more conservative. I think it could be true. I would consider myself a moderate liberal. I believe in half of republican idealogy and some of liberal ideology. Not all of both. Unfortunately though, there is too much focus on the social and religious aspects of what being republican means when really there is so much more than that. Being republican means that you believe the private sector is more suited to handle social problems than the government, and also a strict separation of powers, and a more literal translation of the constitution rather than having it be open to interpretation. These are the reasons for opposing universal health care, affirmative action, raising taxes for the wealthy, abortion, etc. Not necessarily religion. It means you support a truly free market and oppose labor unions.

    So changing their stance on affirmative action isn’t necessarily a race issue; affirmative action is inherently against republican ideology. That’s not going to change. We have to understand that. (And I know there are a lot of racist republicans that hide their racism in their political idealogy) I just think we should know everything a party stands for before committing. Being conservative isn’t just not supporting gay marriage and being a Christian.

    • @Kim

      I agree with you wholeheartedly and I’m not necessarily the biggest pusher of affirmative action (although I do think it has helped out society). I strongly believe in the free market system and small government, conservative fiscal spending, etc. I consider myself a conservative independent because I don’t believe in every single ideology of either side of the political spectrum as well. But honestly, if you take a long look at blacks and their social issues many of them are simply NOT liberal. Almost everyone in my family is strongly against abortion and gay marriage. But when it comes to government handouts that’s a whole seperate issue. Side note: I have to reiterate that I am for small government and would like the handouts to be nixed. The main point of Comeback Girl’s letter is to bring up the conversation of conservatism in the black community which I don’t think has been brought up enough…

  11. Great letter CBG!

    I think it’s interesting how when you are a child with gay people in your family you can be perfectly accepting of them because society’s rules about sexuality haven’t tainted you yet. I have a gay cousin and she had two girls (she “became” gay after her girl’s daddy left her high and dry). I’m certain her behavior affected one daughter because she too is sexually confused and plays on both sides of the fence. The other is strictly-d….(you know the phrase).

    I really have no opinion on how people choose to live sexually because I’m a sinner too. After all, you being gay has no bearings on my life (well, it does if you’re a gay (black) man because somehow I think you are throwing the ratio off). I just think that it’s important to take special care in raising children in an environment that is generally not socially accepted.

    Sidebar:
    “I digress. (I hate that phrase by the way.) ”
    I hate that phrase too….I let Damon get one off on me once…so, he’s used his digression one-time pass (sorry D.).

  12. This has been one of busiest weeks ever. Wow…I’ve missed a lot of good discussion here today. I have a lot of catching up to do. 🙂

  13. Personally, I think that as long as the majority of people see being gay as behavioral, an action, something you DO… we will continue to run in circles on this issue.

  14. I hate to steal thunder from the recent DJ Jazzy Jeff story but a lot of the comments on this particular blog are just factually inaccurate

    First, this country was not founded on religious principles. The forefathers of this country were children of the Enlightenment period in France which was a rejection of religious stances and the acceptance of science and philosophy as truth.

    Second, as a Catholic I am against gay marriage personally but as a constitutionalist I don’t believe that our government can strip the rights of someone that is a consenting adult and has not committed a crime. Unless we make it illegal to be gay then there is no precedence in this country that says its okay to take away the rights of law-abiding adult.

    finally, you cannot give someone marriage but not civil unions. It violates Brown v Topeka BOE which clearly states that the government cannot sponsor a situation where citizens are distributed their rights but in different conditions or venues more popularly known as “Separate but equal”.

    Ultimately, I see the government resolving this by no longer recognizing the term “marriage” period, leave it to religion and only recoginizing the legal contract that is the “civil union” for all citizens ( or gay Jamaicans that wish to become citizens lol)

  15. fuck….. same sex marriage, its the end of the world.

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