By Imani Williams
Voices from an Urban Bush Sista
What an honor it is to congratulate my sister and friend Michelle Brown on being chosen as this year’s recipient of the Pride Media Award at the annual Community Pride Banquet. A year ago, when I received word that I was being recognized with the honor, Michelle was one of the first to offer congratulations. We sat next to each other at the banquet and I felt surrounded by love at my table, which consisted of my wife Jocelyn, Michelle, and others from my black sgl family.
While we won’t be there physically this year, being 3,000 miles away makes it a bit hard, I wanted to take time to let Michelle know how important it is that her voice, as well as others in the community, be heard.
The Internet connects us with information all day – everyday. Sometimes it seems too much and you wonder how news travels so fast. Puts me in mind of my grandmother who would shake her head at the how fast bad news travels. So many days, as I sift and delete and choose to read that which I need to know, I find myself reading the bad along with the often sparse good, in order to just stay one step ahead of the game.
I take it in and pull out what works. So I thank Michelle, Terry Howcott.com, Jack Gorro, John Kavanaugh, Johnny Jenkins, Howard Israel, Barb Wood, Sean Kosofsky, Charles Alexander, Hank Millbourne and of course my shero’s Susan and Jan at BTL for making sure that there is a weekly stay in hard print for this community to keep apprised of what’s going on. I may not agree with everything I read or hear, presidential debates included, but at least the information is there for me to take in, agree with or challenge. I remind people who fuss and complain to use their pen or their keypad. Send an editorial, join a list-serve. Your voice matters and we’re making history/herstory, for it won’t be long before we’re celebrating 2020 and beyond wondering where the last 20 years went. Time flies doesn’t it – and so does the chance to be heard if you keep silent on issues that matter to you.
Which brings me to the article in Metro Times Pride Issue, “Affirming Ferndale” by freelancer Wendy Case. The article was shared via list-serve last week giving props to Ferndale and its growth through its acceptance of gay folk. It was historical and painted a vivid picture for people to really take in the welcoming vibe. What it lacked, and I thank my brother Hank Millbourne of Black Pride Society for pointing this out in an op-ed of his own to Metro Times, was the lack of presence of sgl people of color in that piece, historically, organizationally and as viable contributors to the movement.
If nothing else, I’m over being sick and tired of being omitted, overlooked, not seen, as a person of color in the gay community. Lost in the article praising Ferndale, was the fact that there was, has been and continues be a large black community of same gender loving folk who work hard everyday – probably harder than most because of the inherent racism, and rampant homophobia that exists not only outside of the black community but inside as well. That’s a lot of mud to step over while contributing to society. How ,Aeobout mentioning the struggles that we’ve overcome and the contributions that we make on a daily basis. When you turn on the television, another media venue where you don’t see us as proud, strong and out (if you see us at all), you see a small faction if anything, and that person is never seen as a person taking care of business. We exist in all forms, shapes and sizes and hues and I’m darn sure tired of the lack of representation for who and what we are as family and community members.
So this year my pride wish is that we work better at making this a welcoming place and space for all, where historical facts aren’t omitted or twisted to paint a certain picture. My wish is for everyone to rep who they are with Pride and in Pride.
Again I say congratulations to Michelle Brown for her contributions and thoughts on the current state of affairs in and around LGBTQ Issues for all that are same gender loving. I also ask that we all take time to not just paint a broad stroke over being and living our lives as folk who are same gender loving, but to take time to recognize the differences and see the beauty that each of us brings to the table with our own stories of struggle, pain, success and love. Let’s learn a lesson from the elders of yesterday i.e., Mother Ruth Ellis as well as from elders who are still with us today, and most of all for the youth who can use positive guidance and role models. Message to the wise, these babies are finding their way whether we set good examples or not. Keep in mind, we all matter.
Peace and love, Imani