Homo Newark School Official Apologizes for Censoring Gay Kiss—Kinda, Sorta
posted by June 25 at 13:49 PMon
Jackson paid $150 for a “tribute page” in his school’s yearbook. Like some of the other kids that paid for tribute pages, Andre included a picture on his tribute page of him kissing his significant other. But Andre’s SO was another boy, so Newark Superintendent Marion A. Bolden ordered that all 230 copies of the East Side High’s 2007 yearbook be seized. Officials then used black magic markers to ink out the supposedly “illicit” photo, lest it “offend parents.”
At first school officials suggested that no kissing photos were allowed, and claimed not to be aware of other pictures in the yearbook that showed straight teenagers kissing—including a much more explicit photo on the tribute page directly across from Jackson’s tribute page. Somehow officials failed to notice that picture each of the 230 times they opened the East Side High yearbook to Jackson’s page and blacked out the photo of him kissing his boyfriend. Then they claimed that they acted on “erroneous information”—namely, that they had been told that Andre Jackson, one of East Side High’s graduating seniors, wasn’t actually a student.
Marion Bolden has now apologized.
The Newark city school district that ordered staffers to use markers to black out a picture of a male student kissing his boyfriend from all copies of a school yearbook now says it regrets the decision.
Superintendent Marion A. Bolden issued an apology to the student, Andre Jackson, according to a statement released by the district on Monday.
“The decision was based, in part, on misinformation that Mr. Jackson was not one of our students and our review simply focused on the suggestive nature of the photograph,” the district said. “Superintendent Marion A. Bolden personally apologizes to Mr. Jackson and regrets any embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to him,” according to the statement.
The district said it would reissue an “un-redacted version” of the 2007 yearbook to any student of East Side High School who wants one.
Andre Jackson isn’t satisfied:
At a news conference organized by Garden State Equality, a gay rights group, Jackson said he was disappointed that the superintendent had not told him she was sorry face-to-face and in public. Because of that, he said he didn’t accept her apology as sincere.
“I would accept an apology—a public apology,” said Jackson, who found out about the district’s statement through the media.
They didn’t even call him? That’s not an apology, that’s a press release.
Another angle on this story: Andre Jackson and his boyfriend are openly gay and black, which can be hard enough without school officials singling you out for discriminatory treatment. Homophobia in the African American community—constantly being fanned by callous African American preachers like, oh, these assholes—helped to create the “down low.”
In order to avoid being ostracized by their families and churches, many gay African American men lead double lives. They have girlfriends and wives but meet up with other gay men on the “down low” for anonymous sex. Since using condoms with their wives would arouse suspicion, gay black men on the down low place their female partners at risk of HIV infection and many of these women wind up contracting HIV as a result. The homophobia in the African American community is quite literally killing African American women.
Gay men like Andre Jackson and his boyfriend—gay African American men who refuse to place women’s lives at risk by leading double lives, gay men who are, in Jackson’s case, out to his “teachers, classmates and his parents”—should be commended and given support, not treated so shabbily by public officials.