Asserts the moderate-liberal commentator in New York: "As a consequence of its painful heritage, black America has a special responsibility: to be further ahead of the curve than whites on accepting gay people as full citizens. The Bible cannot be used as an excuse to hold us back. We should remember that racists once also appealed to the Bible to justify segregation, slavery and all manners of hatred. Let’s be progressive for real this time around. One indication that the black community has turned a corner on this issue will be from celebrities. Black America has yet to see the equivalent of Ellen DeGeneres’ famous coming-out. Wanda Sykes, Don Lemon and rapper Frank Ocean have been noble pioneers — but then again, none are megastars or play romantic parts."
Mr. McWhorter continues his commentary about blacks and gay rights: "But the sad thing is that a James Cleveland today lives the same lie. As do, almost certainly, three very prominent black Americans I am thinking of right now. One can’t be certain about them, obviously. But let me put it this way: The life histories of all three make it so that if it turned out they were straight, it would be extremely surprising. One of them gets by with 'It’s none of your business.' Another uses artfully gender-neutral language when talking about romance. With another, a longstanding and deafening silence has had a certain eloquence of its own. There are white people corresponding to all three in the public pantheon who have long been public about being gay. It is highly likely that the reticence of the above trio is at least partly due to fears of rejection by the black public. One way we will know black America has fulfilled its responsibility in keeping the struggle alive for others is when figures such as the three above can own up to themselves in public — and their fellow black Americans are okay with it."
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