Chloe Hilliard, a comedian, takes issue with all the people who think that any person who doesn’t have kids by the time they’re 30 must be gay. Hilliard’s point, made in jest, is a serious nuisance for millions of African American women who find themselves on the other side of the big 3-0 without having a husband or child in tow. Many of these women are liberated, educated and enjoying the single life. But some of them are haunted by questions from relatives who are “concerned” about the state of their love lives.
Frank Ocean is getting on my nerves. Not for the reason you’re thinking. I don’t care who you decide to love or sleep with. I’m frustrated because now that he has publicly clarified his s****l preference, folks are trying to predict who will be next.
Even Queen Latifah is catching flack. This past week while visiting The View, the musician, actress and spokesperson found herself dodging sexuality questions posed by Barbara Walters. In her 40′s Latifah is childless and thinking of adopting which naturally means, it’s time for her to address whether she is gay or straight. The awkward exchange didn’t shake Latifah who declared that her private life is not open for discussion.
The author says that she has a family with “strong southern roots.” That means that she either has kids or she’s a lesbian. Her relatives, like a lot of older African Americans from the south, have a difficult time thinking outside the box when it comes to individual choices in lifestyle and relationship outcomes.
My mother got married at 19 and had me at 22. My grandmother got married late – 23. “And I was a grown woman,” she likes to emphasize before reminding me that she also had seven kids. By their example I should have been married by now. They also don’t buy into the “black women aren’t getting married” hype that’s managed to depress a lot of my girlfriends and sell thousands of magazines.
My singleness is a major issue of concern. “Chloe, I don’t want you to be alone,” my mother says with just enough love so I know that it’s coming from a good place. I also know she fears that I’ll end up being the old woman with 50 cats, eating cake frosting for dinner being featured on Hoarders: Buried Alive. Good thing I don’t like cats.
Chloe then talks about how she doesn’t bring every male she meets around her family, so they don’t know much about her dating life. She says that she has to go out of her way to prove her sexuality to her relatives, who refuse to believe that she is single and still heterosexual.
Over the years I’ve found myself dropping hints letting my family know that yes, I enjoy the company of men. I have deliberately let condoms fall out of my pocketbook or popped birth control pills at the dinner table. Don’t worry, I did it with class.
My bible-thumping grandmother even shows her concern on occasion. While sitting at her kitchen table, where she holds court, she once told me the story of her friend who found out her granddaughter “liked girls.”
Even beyond the problems experienced by women like Chloe is the deeper challenge of actually being a gay American. Many African Americans feel that they must openly declare their heterosexuality, for the intense fear of being gay still exists within the black community. Also, for those with a heterosexual lifestyle, there are disparities between the numbers of available men and women that leave cause for alarm when it comes to dating.
To read more of Chloe’s article, you can visit this link.