Some folks believe that if a man is gay, he is less than a man. Which is why Ken Hubbard felt he suffered a double whammy — he was black and he was attracted to men. As a result, he did a lot of hiding, from his friends, his family, and his God. But at 23, Hubbard finally came to terms with his sexual orientation.
He came out to his family, who, as fate would have it, were already aware of has sexuality and readily accepted his admission. He also found peace with the Lord; he now serves as a lay minister for the Open Door Christian Church.
"I'm who God made me. Labeling puts people in boxes, but being gay doesn't mean you have to be a 'sissy,'" says Hubbard, who for 13 years was an athletic trainer and equipment manager for Arkansas State University.
To the folks in the black community who believe that homosexuality is exclusively the domain of white males, Hubbard wants them to know that plenty of gays and lesbians are African American. "We're everywhere," Hubbard says. "Almost everyone has a brother, sister, or a cousin who is gay. It touches almost every family."
Since coming out, Hubbard has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights as a member of numerous civil rights organizations including the Lowcountry Gay and Lesbian Alliance, the S.C. Equality Coalition, the NAACP, and Palmetto Umoja, an advocacy organization for gay and lesbian people of color. But even though more and more people are coming out these days and activists like Hubbard strive to create a more tolerant world, hypocrisy is still rampant. "A lot of people downgrade gays and lesbians when they are doing the same thing," Hubbard says.
Like many in the gay community, Hubbard looks forward to the day when same-sex marriage is legal. "Gay people pay taxes just like everybody else, and the government should realize that."
Hubbard says he shares the same ambitions as most people, and being homosexual doesn't sum up his existence. After all, being gay is a very small part of any homosexual's life.
With persistent pressure from advocacy groups, Hubbard is confident that laws and cultural bias will change. "If my mother can accept what it took 23 years for me to admit, others will. Although some people still will be kicked out of their families. There are those who will be accepted just as my two brothers who both are ministers and my sister accept me. My mom still calls me her son and I've still got to call home every Sunday."
To learn more about LGBT advocacy efforts in the African American community, contact the following organizations:
Carolina's Black Pride Movement