Kenyon Farrow Speaks on “Is Gay the New Black?” at McDaniel College

On Thursday February 29th, keynote speaker, writer, and activist, Keyon Farrow offered McDaniel College his speech on “Is Gay the New Black?”

With a crowd of about 50 students, faculty, and community members, Farrow made quite a few points on his take about politics, race, and the LGBT community based on the information we are fed from the media.

Farrow opened his speech with the spread of the catch phrase “Gay is the New Black,” and with the topic of Proposition 8, which passed in California in November of 2008.

Proposition 8, commonly referred to a “Prop 8,” was the decoration of marriage only being between a man and a woman would be recognized in the state of California.

Farrow’s main argument of his speech was “Gay is NOT the new Black. Old Black is the New Black.”

He touched upon multiple points that many of us do not consider. What we hear in the media tends to lead us to a certain belief. Farrow decided to challenge that.

Andrew Widmann, a McDaniel Freshman, said he was shocked at some of the points Farrow made.

“It really made think,” said Widmann. “I never would have thought about the idea of the different income levels that Farrow talked about.”

What Widmann is referring to are the statistics that Farrow made in reference to same-sex couples and race. Some of these statistics that Farrow included were:

  •  14.4% of Black male couples are included in the poverty rate while only 2.7%of white male couples are.
  • Black female couples’ report only about $21,000 of income a year which is less than white female couples’ income.
  • Within households, African Americans that are same-sex couples are more likely to be poor compared to white same-sex couples; regardless of gender.

Farrow also had a strong point of how the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community is often making reference to the Civil Rights Movement about marriage equality.

His opinion on this topic was that the Civil Rights Movement and marriage equality weren’t related or even similar.

Farrow also related this to the fact that even though California passed Prop 8, there was “no loss of material rights.”

Apparently, California had already had domestic partnership as being legal down in its books. The law was signed in 2003 and took effect in 2005.

This topic of discussion then brought Farrow to the idea of regardless of sexual orientation, everyone should be considered as a domestic partnership. His idea for this comes from the fact that “benefits from a domestic partnership are very similar to those given under civil marriage.”

These ideas were just some of the topics of discussion for the night within Farrow’s speech.

Malia Joyce, director of  The Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA) organized this event in addition to other events that ODMA plans throughout the semester.

Joyce felt that the topic of race and sexual orientation was one that students need to talk about. She said that she was interested in the intersection of the two topics and was hoping that those who attended would be able to have the chance to think about how LGBT, politics, and race intersect with each other.

“I think it is important to have these conversations,” Joyce said. “I was excited Farrow was able to be here to talk about a topic that is not talked about.”