Lip service is a disservice to all

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 21 2005 11:00 PM ET

Recently the Reverend Willie Wilson of Union Temple Church in southeast Washington, D.C., who is the national executive director of the Millions More Movement, warned that “lesbianism is about to take over our community.”

Imagine that, lesbianism.

Apparently, Wilson’s son couldn’t find a date to the prom and told Dad that all the girls in his class were lesbians except for two, and according to him they were “ugly.” I am more inclined to believe that the son isn’t too good-looking himself and couldn’t get a date. However, since that wasn’t going to fly when the prom came and he had no date, he pawned his unfortunate looks off on lesbianism, sparking outrage in dear old Dad.

Earlier this year Wilson commented on how much his church has done to reach out to gays. In fact, he was bold enough to claim that no other church, except for a gay church, had done more for the gay community in D.C. The ignorance and hypocrisy of Wilson’s statements and actions shouldn’t go unchallenged.

While under Wilson’s leadership, Union Temple Church has taken some steps forward to bridge the gap between the black church and the gay community, but it has also taken a monumental step backward. As the national executive director of the Millions More Movement marking the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March in October, Wilson has rejected every attempt by black gays and lesbians to be involved in the planning and organizing of this event.

Though the honorable minister Louis Farrakhan publicly announced the inclusion of both gays and women in the memorial march at Tavis Smiley’s State of Black America Summit in February, Wilson refuses to allow gays to participate on any level in the organization and planning of the commemoration march. It’s an attitude that isn’t exclusive to D.C.: Black gays and lesbians are being excluded from planning efforts around the country. The idea that gays are being ignored and discouraged from getting involved leads me to believe that Farrakhan paid the gay and lesbian community lip service.

Even if Farrakhan hadn’t invited gays and women to participate in the anniversary march, we were still planning on attending as members of the black community. However, since he did extend an invitation to gays to attend, it’s only right that gays be allowed to participate in the planning, organizing, and mobilizing of “the best, brightest, and most willing minds of our people.”

If Wilson’s comments are any indication of the consensus of those aiding in the preparation for the commemorative march, black gays and lesbians have a lot of work to do. Progressive-minded blacks, regardless of sexual orientation, must hold Farrakhan and other black leaders accountable for their actions.

In light of Wilson’s recent comments, I am reminded of an old Jamaican saying: “You can’t carry two faces under one hat.” Wilson has shown us his second face.

Farrakhan needs to step forward and set the record straight on the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Millions More Movement. Black gays and lesbians are going to attend the anniversary march regardless of what of Wilson and Farrakhan do or don’t do. The organizing has already begun. If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes; if you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.

The question is, will gays be attending as part of the overall black community invited to participate, or as revolutionaries who are kicking down the door where black communities continue to exclude us?