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By Donna Payne, HRC’s Senior Diversity Organizer
Just weeks ago, Rev. Willie Wilson delivered a hateful sermon, antagonizing lesbians and spewing anti-gay messages. Outcry poured forth. But trust has yet to be rebuilt and today another Washington minister, this one on the side of justice and fairness, is facing death threats. These are the ripple effects of hate.
Rev. Willie Wilson, the leader of the Million More Movement March coming up Oct. 15, once stood on the side of justice. I stood by his side as he worked to bring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters to his church. He built a congregation based on unity and a welcoming attitude.
But he abandoned that truth in early July when he said, “Lesbianism is about to take over our community…. I ain’t homophobic because everybody here got something wrong with him.” He went on to make explicit comments about intimate, private relationships that don’t even deserve repeating. In short, he disgraced the pulpit and his own dignity.
We called upon Rev. Wilson to meet with us. We wanted him to sit down with those of us who he once embraced as members of the black church, of his black family. The Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Justice Coalition and other leaders did not receive a response.
So, we’ve continued to rally. And rallying with us is a powerful African American lesbian minister in the community. Like many of us, she was shocked at Rev. Wilson’s comments. Rev. Abena McCray called him to task in a written response. The next day, she started receiving death threats.
“Shut up, or we’ll shut you up,” they said. They threw a brick through her car window.
At the same time, the first black GLBT series on television – “Noah’s Arc” – was forced to shut down production for the day when a group of protestors from the Nation of Islam rallied outside the building.
Speech should be protected. But we all have a responsibility for the strength and power of our words. The pulpit is a powerful resource that should be used for love and unity. Rev. Wilson should know this, as a minister and activist. The Million More March is supposed to bring us all together – from the pastor to the protestors to the actors inside the “Noah’s Arc” studio – all were meant to feel welcome.
In talking about the goals of the last march, the honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that the march, “demonstrated our willingness to reconcile differences at home, school, church, organizations and in the society in general; it demonstrated our willingness to accept responsibility to change our behavior and to strive to make our communities a more decent place to live.”
Now, instead of working together for the better of our communities, Rev. Wilson and others are tearing us apart. Rev. Wilson, it is time for a dialogue. Unity is our need.
Before another rock is thrown, help bring us together. Let’s sit down and, as one united community. There is no need to feel threatened. We can demonstrate our willingness to accept responsibility, to change our behavior and to strive to make our communities the best they can be by talking.
We want to meet with you. Stop the hate by using your powerful voice for unity. We are waiting for you to do the right thing.