I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Dr. Raynard Kington, the first Black gay president of Grinnell college. In a world where far too many of our people believe living an open and authentic life is a barrier to success, here we have a glowing example that it is not. But the fact that I was "surprised" tells me that I don't always instantly believe it. I have to remind myself.
There is a high level of "damaged goods" amongst Black gay men. We've had a tougher row to hoe growing up black and gay in a mostly 'churchified', hyper-masculine Black America where a drug-dealer gets more respect than an openly gay man. The "masculine journey" message featured above from Eddie Long's Longfellow's Youth Academy says it all - well, that and the anti-gay ranting Long's infamous and dizzying hypocrisy. Church vilification leads to the rise of the down-low and other self-destructive behavior, which, no doubt, explains the higher rate of HIV infections. Not disparaging my colorful and talented Black brethren, just relating a series of sad facts.
Rob Smith - freelance writer, former contestant on I Want to work for Diddy, and army vet - said it best in this HuffPo piece about Defarra 'Dean' Gaymon (the Black CEO of Credit Union of Atlanta, who was shot and killed July '10 by an undercover cop in Newark in a known gay cruising area in a botched sex-sting operation):
There is some truth to what he said. Some would even say that it is easier to break this taboo in academia than it is in the corporate world. The same people might parse between fields like Hollywood, professional sports, or the music industry. But it's never easy to be the first anything, no matter what field of endeavor.
The thing about glass ceilings is, hell, they're glass, which means they are poised to shatter at any given moment. The next 1st Black gay (fill in the blank) is just a brief, soul-searching internal struggle away.
Back to Dr. Raynard Kington.. This is a little out of left field but another friend lamented that he was saddened that Kington was not with another black man.
While it would have been wonderful to have a Black male power-couple in this story, alas, love is love and Kington fell for someone who wasn't Black. Such is life.
But Dr. Kington found love. He shattered a ceiling. He's living life authentically. And that's all that should matter to anyone. ~