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Gay rights leader
barred from speaking at Millions More event

Gay rights leader
barred from speaking at Millions More event

Keith_boykin_0

After being promised he'd be allowed to address the massive crowd at Saturday's Millions More March in Washington, D.C., gay activist Keith Boykin was turned away before he could utter a word.

After being promised he'd be allowed to address the massive crowd at Saturday's Millions More March in Washington, D.C., gay activist Keith Boykin was turned away before he could utter a word. Boykin, president of the National Black Justice Coalition, was prevented from speaking by the Reverend Willie F. Wilson, the march's national executive director. According to Boykin, this came after Wilson and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan promised Boykin a spot on the event's schedule as part of an inclusive march that was to incorporate gays, women, and whites. Boykin said members of the NBJC had met with Farrakhan and Wilson on Wednesday, and an agreement had been made for Boykin to speak during the Unity Tapestry section of the program. After heated exchanges in the VIP tent Saturday morning, Wilson let it be known that no one from the NBJC would be speaking that day, Boykin said. The offer was rescinded because Wilson was furious about angry calls and letters he received for writing earlier this year about a supposed "epidemic" of lesbianism among young black females, Boykin said. Wilson told The Washington Post, "[Boykin] straight-out lied. There were certain conditions that he had to meet in order to speak, and he did not."

On Monday, Boykin wrote about the experience on his blog and took aim at Wilson. "Ever since his controversial July 3 sermon in which he blamed the rise of lesbianism for the problems in the black community, Rev. Wilson seems to have developed ill feelings toward the black gay community for responding to his attack," Boykin wrote. "That was three months ago, and I had hoped to use my speech today to extend an olive branch to Rev. Wilson to move beyond our differences and heal our wounds, but his actions this morning made that impossible. Today I am publishing the remarks I would have given at the Millions More Movement March had I been allowed to speak." In response to Boykin's being turned away, gay leaders on Saturday led a protest in Washington of the Millions More March. "There is no way we're going to come together as a community if people are shut out," said Alexander Robinson of the National Black Justice Coalition. "Minister Farrakhan has previously kept his word while Reverend Wilson has been anything but cooperative. Regardless of who's responsible, it's time for someone to step up and say 'Enough.' " "The march's goal was unity, but the result was division," said Donna Payne, senior diversity organizer for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign and a participant at the October 12 meeting. "Minister Farrakhan and Reverend Willie Wilson went back on their word this weekend. It's past time for us to speak the truth, and that means being honest about the diversity within the African-American community. We're owed an apology." The Millions More March was intended as a 10th anniversary celebration of the Million Man March as well an effort to launch a long-term movement tackling racial injustice and poverty. (Neal Broverman, Advocate.com)

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