Homophobia in the Black Community and the Rise of the Hotep
How Supposedly ‘Woke’ Hoteps Foster Hatred Toward Queer and Trans Blacks
Before our good, righteous Hotep brothas hijack national conversation that is currently underway about the state of the LGBTQ community in America — prompted by the recent tragedy in Orlando — we’re here to help preclude the lies they peddle in before they begin.
According to a 2012 Gallup report, African-Americans make up the biggest ethnic subgroup in the LGBTQ community. Another study approximates the number of African-Americans who identify as LGBTQ at one million, with 34 percent of them sharing a same-sex household. But the Hoteps aren’t OK with that.
Reports like these confirm that homosexuality and Blackness are not essentially antagonistic or antithetical to one another, nor are they mutually exclusive. They illustrate the broad extent to which homosexuality exists within in the Black community.
Plainly speaking, they demonstrate that Blacks can be, and often are, Black and gay, Black and lesbian, Black and transgender, Black and queer — at the same time and in the same Black body through which they are Black and proud.
Reports like these also reveal the tension Black homosexuality exerts on the Black community. Seventy-five percent of Black Americans hold anti-gay beliefs. Within this 75 percent are that peculiar brand of Black species dubbed, simply — yep — Hoteps.
So What’s a Hotep?
For our purposes, what’s important to note about Hoteps — the “woke” men, the neo-Garveyites, the nationalists, the “conscious” patriarchs and “African Kings” who are so pro-Black they’re actually anti-Black, who scoff at numbers and data and science, dismissing them with phrases like “the White Man” — is the backwardness of their conviction that Blacks who identify as LGBTQ do not embody an authentically Black mode of being, that homosexuality is a vestige of European colonialism and that same-sex attraction is a disease rendered on Black bodies and psyches by white supremacy.
These are brothas who will scream about the liberation of “our people,” who shout that black lives matter, but will not lift a decibel to defend Black trans women — the sistas who are most vulnerable to gender violence and discrimination.
And there’s a historical precedent that set the tone for viewing the Black experience through a Hotep-framed, strictly heteronormative and misogynistic lens.
We can find it in Elridge Cleaver.
We can hear it in Stokely Carmichael.
We see it in the “I Am A Man” posters that littered the 1968 Memphis garbage strike.
Hotepean tendencies, in some iteration, have been around for a long time.
Fortunately for us, this same history offers a counter-precedent for clapping back at pseudo-Afrocentric garbage.
Point to the organizational savvy of Bayard Rustin.
Point to the Shakespearean majesty of Langston Hughes.
Point to the polished prose of James Baldwin.
Point to the dynamic courage of Angela Davis.
And, after pointing to those giants, point a Hotep to the front door.