I stayed out of the fight for the most part this time. Just moved back to LA, and after years of on campus and off LGBT activism I'd been focusing on increasing awareness of the bisexual politic. Most of the black lgbt activists I know were all over the Obama campaign, devoting their time and resources there. Only a few were contacted by EQCA, No on 8, and other marriage rights orgs. I even spoke with a black lesbian couple last night that felt unwelcome in EQCA headquarters. This was after the long rally ended and we'd heard ever so much about people of color fighting against civil rights for the LGBT community. Such arguments never sits right with me unless there's a wide representation of people of color around chiming in. As I listened to the speeches last night my passion grew, peaking during a LGBT Latino speech when one part of a White female couple behind me remarked, "Is this a Latino rally or Gay Rights?" She was obviously LGBT with rainbow accoutrement, holding on to her partner. And I turned back and said, "Haha, Racist". And she groaned and said, "Please not tonight, not tonight." And I said "There are people of color who are queer, and I was offended by your comment" before turning back to hear the rest. When it was all over, I went with the BlaQue couple who had felt unwelcome in No on 8 campaign headquarters to speak with Lorri Jean of the Gay and Lesbian Center. They shared with Lorri how they had felt and I told her, "Next time I will be on that stage with you. We need Black people up there saying the words too". I went off into the crowd collecting emails from all the BlaQues I saw and we plan on starting a political group with the very purpose of combating hatred of queers in the Black community and racism in the LGBT community. You can hear my thoughts on a bit of that this Saturday between Noon and 1pm on 89.3, KPCC as I did a little interview last night.
This conversation of Blacks in particular facing racism with the mainstream "gay" rights movement has been a discussion point for a long time and plenty of us were sick of being asked why we're shopping in the gay porn store or bookstore. Plenty of us were sick of being unsupported by mainstream orgs like GLAAD (when I was the subject of a debate on homophobia that happened to be featured on Oprah, GLAAD helped shove under rug...producer was getting an Image award the next week so...). Plenty of us were sick of fighting the fight within our churches and communities, with little to no LGBT org support. And I think a lot of us Black LGBT activists sat it out or worked only on the Obama campaign.
There were little to nada ads spent on the African American community by the No on 8 campaign, even with a known surge of first time liberal Black voters in CA, there wasn't much effort. That was a factor in this loss. Is it racist to say more Blacks are homophobic than Whites because of the Christian Industrial Complex as I like to call it? I used really battle that idea, saying proportionally homophobia is the same. However as education about LGBT civil rights grows in the mainstream, people of color organizations especially African Americans are being left behind. Extremely unfortunate as Blacks have the 2nd longest minority history in this country, and LGBT African Americans have been out and proud for more than a hundred years. Many non culturally identified LGBT folk read James Baldwin first, many queer women hold Alice Walker and other out Black women like Angela Davis close to their hearts. Before Lorri Jean and others went after people of color with abandon, I wanted her to recognize why POC LGBT don't show up all time. Lorri Jean said herself, "We have a lot of educating to do within our own community". Had that been a factor in the strategy, the percents indicate 8 would not have passed.
I grew up with a missionary mom in the Pentecostal Church of God In Christ, and part of my journey to self acceptance was a reconciliation of my faith with my sexual orientation. I did a lot of workshops over the years, but I feel slam poetry has more impact so I turned mine into a poem. It is specifically for the Black community, but feel free to share it with anyone you like.
Once was a dude named Saul, in the Bible look him up under Paul. Raised Jew, he made it his business to pursue Christians right after Christ died and left for the sky, he even stood by and watched Stephen, the first "official" martyr die.
But one day on the way to Damascus came a light and the Lord, and he fell to his knees.
Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?!!!
I am not a threat to the Jews, I fulfill all you hold true.
And Saul was struck blind, yet Paul's sight was restored!
"... I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy has been found trustworthy."
Jotted down by the apostle who wrote to Rome and told them to stop sleeping with their own sons, it's a favorite moment of mine, a time tested version of ultimate conversion, a point I hope will illuminate a true existence of love, finding a way to stop the hate.
For who can say that gay people today are not by the Lord's mercy, trustworthy?
Police profiling, infighting, lack of community kindness, straight people's license to kill, corporate ill will, crystal meth, a new black death…Many of us have LOVED without even picking up the phone to call home. We have wished we would be asked to tell and survived.
Now, before you get up from your seats and wander away, take a second to consider what change means today, we have internet, millions of books and time to look—seen past sinners become saints: divorcees, Joan of Arc, haters and interracial daters.
Didn't know that's an abomination to? According to the Bible only 7 or 8 exist...Interracial marriage was one tossed into the mix, women wearing gold jewelry or men's clothing, check. And now we come to… gay sex.
THAT sex is SO NASTY you say...funny, last time I checked isn't all sex that way? Wasn't your first time a mess of wetness, slapping sounds a mix of pleasure and pain? Isn't all sex the same? Love IS TOO and here we find the righteous and true course. When one loves but cannot say, hey that's my wife after 30 years and many tears... something's gone horribly wrong, hear?!!! To not be able to say goodbye before you die? To never feel safe and comfortable in school, to be a lil black boy who's breaking all the rules?
I'm telling you, you know who we are. You seen us as kids, see the parents desperately trying to put back the lid, boys a lil too "sweet" or girls too sour...now you see us behind makeup counters shouting "girl power", we're the women on softball teams with 10 up, the drag kings holding court, we've also got soldiers in every fort! Some of us even become actors, but please believe that being closeted and queer is totally a factor.
This Love exists.
The past knows this truth, who knows how well, as Brother Huey of the Black Panther Party so eloquently put it, "Quite the contrary, perhaps a homosexual could be the most, revolutionary". They are now never alone as they wait for you: Bayard Rustin who led the March for the Dream with Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes still perched on a crystal stair waiting for YOU to know what it's like to be really disappeared. James Baldwin, up in Giovanni's room listening to Billie sang bi blues...they turn to tell you this love has always existed.
All the way back to African times, where there were women warriors and boy wives before Christ came and was battered into our brains. Don't get me twisted, I'm not dissing Christ or saying we should give 'em up. I'm just wondering why no one is listening to the son of god crying out to us from our communion cup?
Love one another! Love one another! Love one another!
It's never been a riddle, ain't no missin jot or tittle.
He said, "I am the vine and you are the branches", so stop leaving your fruit on the tree!
So sad, that for some black folk an invisible closet has instead been key. And I'm finally here on the other side, finding it locked, kicking it down, and letting you have it; opening your ears to the tragic w\ word magic.
So speak to your pastors and wonder aloud…ask yourself what to do now. Do it before your son or daughter starts showing the trait and before "your best friend" asks for a date. We can all be delivered if you vote to turn the tide against hate, your voice has much weight so use it and tell others for we are your sons and mothers, brothers and daughters, baby's mamas, sisters, father's brothers, grandmothers, your baby boys and girls. We are the love that exists.It was by the Lord's Mercy that I was found trustworthy...and hence suffered and suffered, like Paul I was once even beheaded and put back together…all because one day on the way to Damascus came a light and the Lord, and I fell to my knees. I am not a threat to you, I only fulfill all you hold true. I am the love that has always existed.