In an earlier post, I wrote about how the phrase "you can’t go home again" had certain tangible meanings for those of us who are black and gay, and how sometimes the price of the ticket is too high. Well, sometimes on the way back home, you find roadblocks put in place by your very own, and the door to home firmly shut.
Case in point, the recent words of a black minister here in D.C.
Rev. Willie Wilson delivered the remarks at Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast D.C., where he is pastor. Wilson is a former mayoral candidate and serves as executive director of the Millions More Movement march, an effort to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March.
Efforts by gay civil rights advocates to secure a visible role at the march stalled again this week when excerpts from Wilson’s anti-gay sermon came to light. One lesbian march organizer quickly resigned in protest.
“Sisters making more money than brothers and it’s creating problems in families … that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians,” Wilson said.
…“Lesbianism is about to take over our community. … I ain’t homophobic because everybody here got something wrong with him,” he said. “But … women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural. Anytime somebody got to slap some grease on your behind and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that.
“No wonder your behind is bleeding,” he said. “You can’t make no connection with a screw and another screw. The Bible says God made them male and female.”
The congregation can be heard shouting its approval in the background during Wilson’s sermon.
And if reading it doesn’t give you the full effect, you can listen for yourself at the link above. I’m not sure which is worse. The sermon itself, or the shouts of approval it receives. It’s 2005 and we’re still dealing with this kind of ignorance in our communities. I’m sure that some people will attempt a dialogue. There’s a GLBT meeting about the Million More March planned for next week.
But I have to ask: why bother? If the above is an example of the welcome we can expect when we try to reach out to our communities, to "go back home" as it were, isn’t the price too high? Where do you begin to dialogue with someone who’s comign from that position? It’s not possible that his words were taken out of context. Anyone who reads them or hears them can’t fail to understand exactly what he means. And at least some of his audience approved of the message. So, why even bother trying to make inroads into black communities where we, as black gay people, are not welcome or wanted? Sometimes it turns out that home was never really home to begin with.
I have news for Mr. Wilson (and, yes, I’m purposely dropping the ministerial title here). It’s not lesbianism that breaking up black families. It’s attitudes like his that are doing damage. How many sons and daughters distance themselves from their families because of attitudes like his? How many end up leaving their communities to try and find acceptance elsewhere? How much might our communities have benefited from the talents and abilities of those of us who are regularly driven away by people like him?
It’s time to call people like Wilson out for what they are. Bigots. Sometimes talking to them, and appealing to their humanity is a waste of time, because it’s wrapped under too many layers of hatred. Wilson can wrap himself in his ministerial robes all he wants. From where I sit, he might as well be wearing a white sheet. He’s no different from those who do, or who used to.
I think the former co-chair of the local organizing committee for Million More March had it about right with her statement after Wilson’s sermon.
Rev. Dr. Amina Binta, co-chair of one of the Millions More Movement march’s local organizing committees, resigned her post this week, based on Wilson’s comments.
“They’re not serious about allowing us to sit at the table,” she said. “And if they are, I don’t care to eat their fare, because they’re serving up a steady diet of homophobia that is very venomous.”
I think that pretty well sums it up.