Later, I read about some of the controversy the photo was garnering on the popular Rod 2.0 — a blog by Rod McCullom, a self-described “television producer-writer-gym-rat-wannabe-novelist.”
McCullom takes on the haters and describes the photo as “a very sweet and innocent photo. According to the comments, it seems the young men’s primary offense, in addition to seemingly being gay, is that they are ‘normal looking’ and apparently in love. More power to them. It’s too bad more people don’t have the courage to be themselves.”
The controversy about the photo has been apparently stirred up by blogger Sandra Rose, who is often described as a lesbian but also called a “gay-baiter.” She titles her blog of the photo as, “Thug love: 2 thugs on a train.”
From this one photo, Sandra Rose has extrapolated:
“Over the past 4 decades, black women have decided to go it alone with their kids rather than be subservient to black men like their mothers and aunts were back in the days when black men were the majority head of households.
“It’s become nearly impossible to distinguish heterosexual men from down low thugs due to the proliferation of female-led households in the black community.
“As more and more black women switch roles and responsibilities with men, more and more fatherless men are turning to other men for the strength and guidance they are missing in their lives.
“Meanwhile, African Americans account for the highest rate of new HIV/AIDS cases.”
The upside of the anti-gay sentiment of the twitpic poster as well as from Sandra Rose herself are the numbers of comments defending the young men — whomever they are and wherever they were when this photo was made.
“Carrington,” a commenter on Sandra Rose’s site, seemed to sum it up for many of her commenters as well:
“Come on, Sandra Mae. LMAO! From the looks of it, these are two gay men who don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks about it. Their physical attachment/comfort with one another speaks volumes. Not too many straight men would be seen in public like this, but I could be wrong – Isn’t assuming that they’re on the DL or some straight dudes one step away from bisexuality just because they have on baseball caps and not skinny jeans or capri pants a stretch?
“I’m more troubled at you, a gay woman who would have worded this post ENTIRELY differently if this were two fem broads cuddled up, taking yet ANOTHER opportunity to use gay men, or the perceived notion of gay men to rant about HIV and AIDS, but that never seems to come up when you lovingly discuss the ‘lesbuns’… care to explain? Dare to explain?
“You are obviously one of those lesbians who believe that there is something ‘natural’ about a woman with another woman, but clearly have issues with a man being with another man — as evidenced in the fact that everytime you mention a gay dude, it’s negative or you find a way to attach an HIV stereotype to it.
“Either you’re going to walk the horse or ride it. Your homosexuality is no different than a man’s. It’s all gay.
Of course, what Sandra Rose forgets to mention, conveniently, is that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention studies show that men on the “down low” — often meant to be black men who have sex with men but don’t identify as gay and continue to have sex with women — do not contribute to higher rates of HIV among black women.
“We have looked at the proportion of HIV infections among women from bisexual partners and have found no data to indicate this is the primary route through which Black women are becoming infected,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the CDC, in a story on www.blackaids.org.
“In fact, research has shown that Black men who are currently bisexually active account for a very small proportion, 2 percent, of the overall population of Black men. So while women certainly become infected through sex with bisexually active men, they also become infected from sex with men who are drug users or who have multiple female partners.”
Regardless of whether or not these two young men are gay or just affectionate with each other, a lot of homophobia persists in the black community when a simple tweet can create such a controversy in the blogosphere.
To the two young men on the train — good luck and good love.
Top photo: Black gay love on a train (via Twitpic)