Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What they DID talk about during the NAACP town hall meeting on gay issues

After my post this morning about the lack of press at the NAACP's first town hall meeting on gay issues, I got a lot of responses from folks and entities - such as No More Down Low TV - saying that they will be presenting videos and transcripts about what happened.

I also got a link from a friend on twitter to an article talking about the town hall meeting.

From the article, it appears that this was a very beneficial meeting (except for the omission of the transgender and bisexual community of course). If anything, it does more to illustrate my point about what a shame it was that more press didn't cover this event.

From People's World:

In his opening, (Julian) Bond, a veteran civil rights leader, said, "We know sexual orientation is not a choice. We know homosexuality is not a mental illness. We know you can't 'pray the gay away.'"

The event was organized as a town hall-styled meeting with audience participation and a panel that included famous gay African Americans, like comedian and actress Wanda Sykes and CNN Anchor Don Lemon who publicly came out in his memoir, "Transparent."

Bond said gay rights are another component of civil rights.

"Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born black and had no choice. I could not and will not change it if I could. Like race, our sexuality isn't preference. It is immutable, unchangeable, and the constitution protects us all from prejudices and discrimination based on immutable differences."

Many panelists and audience members spoke about the role of the church in the Black community, and the conflicts that have arisen from that relationship on the issue of LGBT rights.

Bond said although one might be a member of a church that preaches against a religious same-sex marriage that viewpoint should not be extended to same-sex marriage in city halls, as a civil right.

Sykes said her church experience pressured her from being truthful with her sexuality because of the ingrained notion that gay and lesbian relationships were fundamentally wrong. Such sermonizing can be lethal, she said, because of bullying and violence against LGBT youth and the high level of suicides.

"You just suppress everything and become this other person. You start living that life that you think that you're supposed to do. I worked it so hard I got married! It just hit me, like, wait a minute. Why aren't my relationships going further? Why can't I really open up? And I realized oh, that's right. I forgot; I'm a lesbian! That's what it is. You don't have breasts!" Sykes said to an applauding and laughing audience.

The article also talked about the situation involving the passage of Prop 8 in California and how some folks blamed this on the black community. NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, as far as I am concerned, nailed the true problem of the situation:

 . . . according to Jealous-and audience members-the bigger issue was the lack of outreach to the African American community at an early stage.

Jealous criticized LGBT groups "who come to the black community late" because it sends a message of disrespect.

"If folks really wanted to win on Prop. 8, and thought the black community was so important, then they should have been organizing" outreach a lot sooner, he said.

The article also said that Bond had put together a task force designed to help the African-American community combat homophobia and transphobia.

The task force has a three part mission:

to strengthen NAACP's knowledge of LGBT issues and policies;
to build relationships among LGBT civil rights and human rights organizations;
to advance awareness of LGBT issues "as they relate to overarching programs and interest of the NAACP."

Might I suggest that the task force add a fourth goal - to increase visibility of lgbtqs of color in the black community.

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Rachel Maddow sued by homophobe for $50 million and other Wednesday midday news briefs

Maddow Sued For $50 Million By Bachmann Buddy Bradlee Dean. Allegedly. - This ought to be a fun lawsuit.

AFA lets the people vote; people don't want to - See what happens when the American Family Association doesn't slant its poll.

Nimocks: Bans on Interracial Marriage Were Wrong Because They're Discriminatory, But Bans on Same-Sex Marriage A.O.K. - Hold on to your stomach. He actually said something about "marriage uniting the great halves of humanity." Geez!
Anti-Gay Christian Groups Can No Longer Profit Off Apple - Some good news!

Conservative Columnist Dismantles NOM’s New York Campaign: A “Futile Venture” - Ouch!

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I am disappointed by NAACP gay/lesbian town hall meeting

Earlier this week, the NAACP held its first ever town hall meeting on gay issues in the African-American community. The town hall meeting had a panel with included comedian Wanda Sykes and civil rights legend Julian Bond. CNN Don Lemon also served as moderator.

It sounded like a good idea and it was. I am sure that a lot of things were said which needed to be said. And a lot of things were learned.

But as for right now, I don't know what was said nor do I know what was learned because very few entities covered the event.

The black media, of course didn't touch it. And the gay media - and I am highly disappointed by this fact - also didn't touch it.

Oh sure, everyone announced that it was going to happen in highly patronizing tones - "the NAACP is going to have their first town hall meeting" "oh that's awesome" "it's about time."

However when it actually comes to covering the event, so many seemed to have forgotten that it was taking place.

That's not to say that there was no coverage at all.

MSNBC gave it sloppy coverage, centering around the issue of marriage equality and how many African-Americans opposed it. The article didn't talk about anything specifically said at the town hall meeting.

And this was sad because a transgender activist also attended the town hall meeting and she made a very good point about the unfortunate omission of the African-American transgender community.

The omission of members of the transgender community, and the bisexual community for that matter, should have been the most covered angle.

Marriage equality is a very hot issue right now, but to many lgbtqs of color, it's not the prevailing issue in our community. We do worry about other things, such as health, self-esteem, the ability to come out, and how to function with a dual identity in communities which do not address who we are because they are so busy trying to whittle us down to what they want us to be.

Or being made invisible, as in the case of the transgender and bisexual community.

I was hoping that the NAACP's town hall meeting would be a step in a direction which finally saw lgbtqs of color being seen as people not being forced to choose between both identities but embracing both with pride.

But unfortunately, the entire situation revealed that while we are exactly that - people embracing both of our identities with pride - it also demonstrated just how quickly folks want us to be invisible.

Or even worse, tokens.

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