Marginalization by the Marginalized: Race, Homophobia, Heterosexism, and “the Problem of the 21st Century”

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Taylor & Francis

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Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services

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On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. This historic election occurred 105 years after W. E. B. Du Bois proclaimed in the introduction to The Souls of Black Folk, “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line” (1994, p. v). According to Du Bois, the problem of the color line is racialized segregation and oppression. This article posits, however, that “the problem of the 21st century” is the further marginalization within already marginalized groups, and this article focuses on the history and occurrence of homophobia and heterosexism within the African American community as well as its links to gender discrimination. Special focus is placed on the Black Church as a possible causal factor for homophobia and heterosexism in the African American community. Possible solutions are also proposed, which consist of a nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage and African American leaders actively and publicly supporting lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the African American community.


Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, Vol. 21, No. 4 (2009): 430-448. DOI.

Angelique C. Harris was affiliated with California State University, Fullerton at the time of publication.