I was walking through Gallery Place the other day with “The World’s Worst Black Girl.” We were on our way to “our spot,” the Barnes and Noble on 12th street, to continue our discussion on the book, “Is Marriage for White People” by Ralph Richard Banks. This discussion had inevitably led to a more general dialogue about modern day dating in the Black Community. As you could imagine this was a long conversation with some emphatic (if not personal) moments.
As we were walking. We passed a lesbian couple. One was bent over a stroller adjusting the baby while I stood behind the stroller with tens resting on the handles. It was picturesque: a couple engaged in the everyday joys of raising a family. But then I tried to recall how often had I seen this same scene starring a Black man and a Black woman. I could remember seeing a number of young Black girls pushing strollers or toting babies on their hips. I could even recall a few instances where I had recently seen a Black father walking with his child. But I couldn’t find a recent mental reference point for having seen a heterosexual Black family. I looked over at my friend and said to her, “You know what? We should all just be lesbians!”
It is not my intention to presume that lesbian women have it easy when it comes to romance or that every lesbian woman is a perfect wife. The point that I am making is that, while the entire institution of marriage is faltering in the U.S. and heterosexual Black couples are the least likely to take that walk down the aisle, for some reason, it seems like lesbian women still believe in marriage.
In the 6 states (and Washington D.C.) where same-sex marriage is legal, there are 131,729 married lesbian couples. 20 percent of those couples are raising children. The number of lesbian partnerships increased by 80.4% from the year 2000 to 2010. In spite of any opinion on the morality of homosexuality and their right to marry, I have to say its encouraging to see that in a country that’s so obsessed with love somebody actually wants to get married.
32% of Black men and 26% of Black women in the U.S. are married. That’s less than half for each gender. What’s the problem?! Is it because Black Americans have three obsessions: money, status, and sex? And we only venture to search for love when it doesn’t jeopardize our pursuit of the other two. Is it because we go after love like we go after a job: with an interview where we present a flawless, polished resume to represent us and a discussion fosusing on responsibilities and compensation?
This is America! Happiness and fulfillment comes from climbing social and economic ladders, right? And love is a taboo we lament over; in the shadows of bars; in the glare of computer screens; in the dark at home; holding the sheets in an empty bed; after the intoxication from our sexual exploits begins to fade. This has become the American condition.
When it comes to marriage, we see the return of interest as just too low to make the investment worthwhile. Pre-marital sex is acceptable, single parenthood is acceptable, cohabitating is acceptable, and being in-married is acceptable. And apparently being in love with someone is not enough motivation. So when weighed against the struggles two people undertake to get married and stay married, I guess marriage doesn’t appear to be worth the risk. But it should be.
In a marriage, affection becomes accountable and, for better or worse, two people commit to a common goal. Married people risk losing everything they have and everything they are for the chance of being someone new and possibly someone better. What could be more romantic? What could be more honorable? What could be more intimate? So while men and women justifying their alternative lifestyles with overt expressions of acceptance, same gender loving women all over the country still find the old tradition viable and worth the risk. That kind of bravery is to be commended. I think maybe we all could stand to be a little lezzy.
I’m not Sayin; I’m just Sayin
An Angry Black Man