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Detroit’s homophobia impacts all of us

By |2004-01-22T09:00:00-05:00January 22nd, 2004|Uncategorized|

When thinking of gay friendly states in this country, states like California and New York probably come to mind. When you think of those states, you most likely think of their major cities: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, all of which are gay friendly. These major cities set the standard for LGBT rights in those states.
Now, imagine, if you would, that the City of New York was a bastion of homophobia in New York State. Imagine that the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles were cities where gay people were virtually invisible, where LGBT people or allies held few, if any, public offices, were there were no domestic partner benefits. Would California and New York still register as states with thriving LGBT communties? Probably not.
This is the position that Michigan finds itself in. Detroit, Michigan’s largest major city, does not have a thriving LGBT community with the necessary political support. It’s not that there are not gay people in Detroit. There most certainly are. But while cities like Ferndale and Ann Arbor elect openly gay people to their local and state government offices, Detroit doesn’t even have domestic partner benefits. Detroit’s mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, is a man who said he wouldn’t want his children around gays shortly before being elected. He later apologized for that statement, but it sadly seems to reflect the state of the LGBT community in Detroit for the members of city government: out of sight, out of mind.
A lack of political support is but one of the factors contributing to the prevailing homophobia in Detroit. Black church leaders often speak out against homosexuality, as do hosts of local radio shows like Mildred Gaddis and Hodo. LGBT youth in the city struggle with racial oppression on top of their sexuality, often keeping same-sex attraction secret.
These are just some of the things that led to the organization of a Town Hall meeting to address the problem of homophobia in Detroit Wed. Jan. 28 (see story on cover). An open and candid dialog on this topic is long overdue in this city. Even if you don’t live there, you should be there.
We encourage all of our leaders, community members, and allies to come out and attend this Town Hall meeting. The homophobia of Detroit impacts all of us, no matter where we live in the state. For too long Detroit’s surrounding suburbs have pretended that the hulking city, with its abandoned buuildings and its rank as the most racially segregated city in the nation, is somehow not their problem. But I think we all, deep down, know better than that.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.