Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities

By Darnell Hunt; Ana-Christina Ramón | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Black and Gay in L.A.
The Relationships Black Lesbians and
Gay Men Have to Their Racial and
Religious Communities

Mignon R. Moore

On November 4, 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, an initiative on the state ballot that sought to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. The proposition passed by a 52 to 48 percent margin, and the first exit polls conducted by the Associated Press reported that 70 percent of black voters backed the initiative, which effectively overturned the California Supreme Courts May 2008 decision that had allowed same-sex marriage.1 Three weeks after the vote, the Los Angeles Sentinel2 sponsored a town hall meeting3 to allow black Angelenos to voice their opinions about the vote on Proposition 8 and to discuss their views on gay sexuality. Nevin Powell, an activist supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, was on the panel and shared his experience talking about Proposition 8 with members of the black community.

Powell said that on the morning after the vote, he noticed a group of African Americans, mostly men, who had gathered at the Magic Johnsonowned Starbucks in Ladera Heights.4 He overheard them talking about the news that overwhelming numbers of blacks in California had voted “yes” on Proposition 8, and that African Americans had played a significant role in getting the measure passed. They all said they had voted “yes” and agreed it was the right thing to do. Powell interjected and told them he had voted “no.” He explained that he had been gay for many years and had a long-term partner that he wanted to marry. He told them how disappointed he was that he would no longer have that opportunity. He also

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