The reactions to Martin’s suspension can be very negative for the LGBT rights movement. Most people who like Roland Martin’s work, feel that this “punishment” was really injustified. Martin twitted a coloquial expression against an advertising of men’s underwear during the past Super Bowl game
Roland Martin is a media commentator who uses often his cultural background as a Black American man to express his ideas. In his controversial twit he could have been referring to several things, but gay online activists took it in the worst way.
On the contrary, Martin worsened his obvious mistake by openly arguing with offended Twitter followers, instead of apologizing right away regardless if he was right or not. It is extremely wrong to justify violence against anyone for the way we are, period. Especially if it’s meant to be a joke. Is never funny to be targeted by others for the way we are. This mentality causes tragedies, and it can ruin entire lives.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and other LGBT groups and activists reacted dramatically. I think they should have demanded for an apology from Martin -which he published the following day- and also for an open conversation with him on camera, about the consequences of his word choices. This was a missing opportunity to educate others.
Instead, gay people in media and online activits are now being looked upon by many as an annoying group of people who act as a censorship police. Thus, LGBT people are seeing as sensitive individuals who think we have the right to silence others without a chance for rectification. This can backfire against LGBT equality efforts, because Martin has gone from being an attacker to being the victim of an attack in some way.
In the other side of this discussion, I believe that Roland Martin –and his apologists- should understand that as a media personality and a political anchor and commentator, has a strong influence in many peoples’ views. His words have a weight in the mind of thousands, if not millions. This carries a huge social responsibility which is based in credibility and leadership.
|Photo via The Grio|
When Martin jokes about physically hurting a man because he is visually or even sexually aroused by watching other men in underwear, he is inviting others to take such deplorable action in real life. If Martin meant to say this or not doesn’t matter here anymore, but the message he sent out with or without intention is what remains in the minds of many.
This is very important to understand, especially for those people who don’t know what is like living under permanent fears of discrimination, mockery and even violence just because of the way nature has created us. We LGBT people live through this, that is why many of us get so upset when we hear “jokes” like the unfortunate twit.
The reality is, homophobia will never go away completely. It’s part of several human cultures and is there to stay perhaps. But in order to reduce the chances of violence and unequality, LGBT people need to extejd bridges through an open dialogue. These are some comments I read in the Facebook page of The Grio, which defines itself as a "video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories..."
- Hell no, he didnt say anything homophobic. We need equal rights no matter your gender or sexual orientstion, but we cant be scared of words that come out of our mouths!
- Homophobic? I know gay guys that said the same thing he did!
- What happened to freedom of speech?
- CNN.... CRAKA NEWS NETWORK......... Now who is runing the show again.
- They ( Gays ) have far too much power -and- influence to be this Ultra-sensitive.
- So sad that there is no moire freedom of speech. You cannot say anything anymore or even have a comment. What did he say that was so anti gay. If I get called a bitch, no one will come to my rescue and no one will care. Wasn't his tweet personal and not affiliated with CNN. So sorry Roland, you are a good man with positive things going on. I pray he will not loose his job but I am sure he will be OK in spite of this. I have nothing against gay people but sometime it just goes too far. This is a good example of it. That was not gay bashing. Just a silly tweet.
- If you can take a dick you can take a joke.
- There is not a single reference to same-gender loving, gay-bashing or violence in RM's comments and I wish someone would dare try to prove there is. It is about what most men believe to be unmanly and maybe even effeminate in the add and pink suit. If you are suggesting that unmanly and effeminate is equal or tantamount to gay or same-gender loving, then, that is a quantum stretch. And, as far as violence, everybody knows that 'smack the ish' is slang for 'smack the ish', it is not an act of violence just a verbal smack down, maybe even a manly 'push' the way real Bruhs do when they are cracking on each other. This is absolutely ridiculous. He never made a reference to anything derogatory about the gay or same-gender loving community. I wish he were my friend, I'd call him and dare the glaad to prove their point and then offer him an apology. They are sad, not because they are gay or same-gender loving, but because they, who want so much 'freedom' seek to censor others who have no 'beef' with them, no pun intended!
- he aint homophobic, hes a big queen himself...
But among so many negative comments, there was this one:
- People kill me trying to use "freedom of speech" ONLY when they are the ones that did not get offended. If you want to use freedom of speech to defend Roland then be fair and use it to defend Newt, Romney, and the rest of them too. Being black doesn't give you a free pass to say what ever the hell you want to say with out regard for others. For those of you that don't know what the entire bill of right on freedom of speech says... it goes on to say "but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom" so know the entire bill before you try to use the oldest cliche to defend ignorant statements.
Here is important to remind Roland Martin that his comments are not doing a favor to the Black gay community. Even though I’m not Black, I can relate to and understand some things like the strong internalized homophobia under which I grew up and lived for years, before happily accepting that I am a homosexual man.
So I know it can be very complicated being a man of color and being attracted to other men, because culturally we grow up very conscious about race, class and the sexual role we are supposed to play in society. Especially Black men are usually seeing by others in a certain way, so a feminine (gay) Black man can be taken as a weakened individual by other men. This creates an internalized homophobia that is very common among Black, Native or Latino gay communities, where the gay vs. gay hatred is common.
Most likely, in his twits Roland Martin was joking without trying to promote homophobic violence by using coloquial expressions that are common among Black Americans, which other people might not understand.
However, if African Americans want to fight racial discrimination, they also need to preach with the example by stopping living under double standars based on race. That “we can say it / do it because we are Black” mentality is not heping.
A gay man whom I met recently in a very strange party, told me that he believes LGBT people need to learn to see people not as they race, but as people. He is White and I agree with him, but such idea is utopic and unrealistic. The other night as I asked my special friend to define himself. The first thing he said was “I am a Black bisexual man, who…”.
It’s hard to avoid talking about race in this country. For awhile Roland Martin was one of the few Black commentator at CNN, but now he is the homophobic Black commentator suspended from CNN, and somehow deep down I don’t think that is fair at all. In the meantime, a lot of people are misunderstanding the LGBT gay activism. This is an opportunity to have an open dialogue.
To GLAAD and other LGBT activists who campaigned for the suspension of Roland Martin, I think you must remember that is better to educate people, rather than to find revenge. The firing of Martin is an act of censorship and it’s wrong. You don’t tell people to shut up and censor their honest opinions. Is best to ask them to be smarter about what they say and mostly what they think, especially in the media. You teach and learn.
When LGBT activists censor people without educating them about gay LGBT issues, we are silencing them while probably increasing their hatred and misconception about sexual equal rights, perhaps promoting a closeted and hidden homophobia. Let’s focus on educating people, not censoring thm for what they think.