I remember one of my first conversations about race relationships (as opposed to race relations) was with my uncle, who was born in 1921. I was born in 1967, so I guess this conversation took place around 1977, when my uncle was in his mid-50s. He was recounting a story his father (born in 1877) told him as a youngster. His father (my grandfather) told him that it would be much preferable for any of his sons to "bring home" a black woman than to bring home a "white trash" woman.
I realize that to today's politically correct ears, this sounds horrible. But the thoughts and feelings behind it is clear: The color of one's skin is not as important as the content of one's character. Although I never met my grandfather, I know he was a somewhat influential cattle rancher in Texas in the early 1900s. He was not as educated or as eloquent as Martin Luther King, Jr., but his beliefs were profound.
This is my family background, and I am proud of it. We are all products of our families, and we can all embrace or rebel against their beliefs, whichever we choose. It happens that I have chosen to love another man, who happens to be Hispanic. I must believe that my grandfather, were he alive today, would have a similarly progressive attitude to the "whole gay thing" as he had to the "whole race thing". He was a man before his time. Although I never knew him, I remain proud to be his grandson.