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Pivotal event for our rights

By |2007-07-19T09:00:00-04:00July 19th, 2007|Uncategorized|

For the first time in the 98 year history of the NAACP annual convention last week, the black LGBT community had a visible and openly welcomed presence – and it happened here in Detroit. The local community of LGBT people of color collaborated with the National Black Justice Coalition, a Washington DC based organization for black LGBT rights, to produce a reception and awards ceremony that created visibility and recognition of black LGBT people and their issues.
The event also highlighted some of the courageous and tireless work of our local organizations that provide services to Michigan’s LGBT communities of color. In attendance were leaders of NAACP national board of directors, staff and the NAACP National Voter Fund, the PAC arm of the NAACP. Each of the speakers made a point of stressing how important it is that the NAACP and the black community at large not allow itself to be divided by wedge issues. In these times, when civil rights are being routinely attacked and diluted, it is important that we recognize our allies, value the diversities within our communities, and work to break down the barriers that keep us from joining each other in the struggle for full equality – for everyone.
Another strong message that rang through during the evening was that some of the black churches and its pastors are often the source of much pain and alienation of its LGBT members. Increasingly, though, black leaders are voicing their objections to having the “gay issue” used to divide their efforts and their congregations. As the Rev. Al Sharpton said, “I didn’t meet the gay community in Greenwich Village. I met the gay community at church!”
It gives us great hope to hear national black leaders speak out for LGBT rights. We recognize that the forces that benefit from the oppression of people of color are the same forces that see a benefit in driving LGBT people back into the closet. Right wing activists, predominantly white, want the black church to turn its back on LGBT people, issues and freedoms. But the black church has long been a stalwart in the fight for equal rights. It only makes sense that black leaders would recognize the irony of demanding rights for themselves but not for their LGBT brothers and sisters, just as it is nonsensical to many LGBT leaders that our community’s rights should take precedence over anyone else’s.
We were honored to be at the NBJC reception and awards ceremony and we were moved by the strong, proud leaders that received awards from the local community. It was a historic moment to see the NAACP fully embrace its LGBT members, and to encourage others to join them in their continuing struggle for equality.
It behooves all of us to join the membership of NBJC along with all the other important local and national organizations we support financially. So take a minute now to write a check out to help in this critical work.

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.