Leaving the Table, Leaving Home

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.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Gay Rights, Life, Race, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Leaving the Table, Leaving Home

  1. Scott Wells says:

    For what’s it is worth. Mr. (or Ms., Mrs. or Miss) is a perfectly respectable title for members of the clergy. Even if said clergymember says shameful things.

  2. John says:

    When I lived in Logan Circle in DC, this was one of those simmering neighborhood things that really got to me. On the one hand, I recognized that I could easily be seen as the evil white gentifying homo. On the other hand, I didn’t want my neighbors to be tossed out – I liked the neighborhood just as it was, and only wanted to see it be a better place for everybody.

    It felt (and this is of course my highly personal take) like I was expected to be highly sensitive to everybody, even when some of those folks were spreading nasty homophobia in an increasingly gay neighborhood.

    I’m not proud of it, but sometimes I would walk past Metropolitan Baptist Church, and think “I can’t wait till they move to PG County – I’d rather it were a Starbucks.” But at the same time I recognized that they were doing some very good work in the community, even as the minister stirred up all kinds of hateful racist and homophobic sentiments when it suited him.

    No answers from me. Unfortunately I think there’s probably an extra burden on gay people of color, with a foot in both communities, here. Not fair but there it is.

    I enjoy hearing your thoughts on the topic and hope you’ll post more.

    (Oh, and given Willie Wilson’s history in DC, I doubt the words were just taken out of context.)

  3. Terrance says:

    For what it’s worth I didn’t fare much better as a black gay male in Logan Circle. I’m not sure I saw what Metropolitan Baptist was doing in the community. All I knew is that parking on a Sunday morning was impossible. Basically, we planned our Sunday activities around when we figured church was over and they’d go home. Because, my impression was, most of their members didn’t live in the neighborhood, and some not even in D.C.

    Either way, if people are spouting stuff like this then I don’t care what they do in the community. They don’t get any more respect from me than the Klan would if they moved into the neighborhood and opened soup kitchen.

  4. maurice says:

    you got it right… there ain’t no homecoming here….

    we need to do more than just walk away…. we must find and support organizations that affirm our lives…

  5. JW Richard says:

    There are people in this community who don’t subscribe to the rhetoric, just like they’re people in Dallas who don’t. What I’m finding here is that same PJT that has been in black churches as long as I can remember. Well, working with friends in Dallas, we plan to inject something more into the dialouge. Let’s see what happens.

  6. Metropolitan Baptist operates some social service programs in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

    Don’t get me started on the parking. Being Christian means never having to obey the law, I guess. When I was a neighbor to them, my general feeling was that they couldn’t move out to Largo fast enough.

  7. c. says:

    homophobia reers it’s ugly head again. perhaps the rev. is watching to much straight porn?! what a dick!

  8. This is my first post here, came over from feministe (great blog btw!)

    Of course, I know the gay (ie white) community isn’t welcoming of gay people of colour (Chicago is insanely like that) so I guess not only can you not go home, but you aren’t really allowed to be fully a member of your community of choice either.

    Of course, I’m white (though not american) so my experience of such is anecdotal and through observation.

  9. viv says:

    I am not gay. I wish certain folks in the born-again community would stop being so hypocritical however.

    Being gay has no affect on anybody(‘s) (else’s) marriage.

    *Adultery*, however, appears to. But they won’t touch that one with a ten foot pole, even though it’s in their beloved Ten Commandments. They want them placed everywhere but don’t even read them.

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