Category Archives: Our Rich Legacy

Gays Are Us

Why LGBT Equality Is Not a “White” Issue

By Rev. Dr. Dennis W. Wiley

At last month’s 102nd annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a historic workshop focused on overcoming homophobia within the black community.  As an African American, heterosexual, male pastor of a traditionally black Baptist church in the inner city of Washington, D.C., I was glad to see this legendary organization take this small but important step in its increasingly inclusive perspective on civil rights.

There are some, however, including the Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr., an NAACP national board member, who see no parallel between gay rights and civil rights.  Expressing this conviction at a rally last May, he demanded that the gay community “stop hijacking the civil rights movement.”

This statement, subtly suggesting that “civil rights” is a black issue and “gay rights” is a white issue, implies that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, equality is not a priority for black people.  This sentiment, particularly prevalent regarding the issue of marriage equality, is often expressed in a variety of ways, including, “This is not our issue,” “This is not a priority for the black community,” and, “We have more critical matters to consider.”

TO READ FULL ARTICLE, CLICK HERE –> GAYS ARE US.

TV Premiere: First Openly Gay Black Ballplayer

A documentary that traces the life journey of Glenn Burke, the first Black Major League Baseball player to publicly embrace his gay identity, will air on the Versus (VS) Network on Wed., August 17 @ 11pm EST.  Check your local cable TV schedule for OUT. The Glenn Burke Story on the Versus Network or NBC Sports.

Burke, who came out while he was still a Major League Baseball player, paved the way for LGBT pro athletes.  He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 World Series against the NY Yankees, and is credited with inventing the “high five” in 1977 when he congratulated Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Dusty Baker for hitting a home run in the last game of the regular season.  Burke was traded to the A’s out of Oakland and was compared to the legendary Willie Mays.

QUOTE FROM FILM — Vincent Trahan (Burke’s classmate):
On Dodger management and their suspicions: “Al Campanis and Walter O’Malley had called him into the office and offered him $75,000 to get married.  And Glenn, being his comic self, said, ‘I guess you mean to a woman?’”

The documentary navigates viewers through Burke’s career ascent from the streets of Oakland and moments around his coming out in 1982, then traces his heart-wrenching downfall due to drug addiction, and his diagnosis with AIDS in 1994.

Watch clip from film now, click here –> OUT. The Glenn Burke Story.

For Half of a Century, Love Endures

Long-time Brooklyn couple considers nuptials  as marriage equality act takes effect in New York State

By C. Zawadi Morris

(C.Zawadi.Morris@patch.com)

On the eve of same-sex marriage equality in New York State, nearly five-decades of love has endured for one Brooklyn couple.

“It’s about time!” Jean Rowe and Thelma Simmons of East Flatbush say simultaneously. Often finishing each other’s sentences, it’s clear these women have known each other a very long time—49 years and eight months, to be exact. But who’s counting?

Jean is in her 70s and Thelma is 82. They are both African-American women. They have a gentle nature but possess subtle personality differences that clearly complement each other.

Their love took root while they were in their late 20s and early 30s, and together, over the past fifty years, they have seen the world change: They’ve watched economies bottom out and rise again and wars start and stop.

So many social and political revolutions have happened as they went about their lives during a time when it was unheard of for gay couples to be out about their relationship, much less consider same-sex marriage.

Click this link to read full article:

For Half of a Century, Love Endures – Bed-Stuy, NY Patch.

NATIONAL CONVENING TO ADDRESS DISPARITIES

FIRST NATIONAL CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS

Addresses disparities in services to LGBT POC older adults

[New York, NY]  On October 12-13, 2011 GRIOT Circle, in collaboration with the POC Committee of the LAIN/American Society of Aging, and with generous support from AARP and funding from Atlantic Philanthropic, will bring together national leaders on aging for the first National Convening of its kind to address the needs/concerns of this traditionally under-served population.

Hosted by AARP at the Brickfield Center at 601 East St. NW, Washington, DC on October 12-13, 2011.  The National Convening of Aging Professionals will provide insight into economic and health disparities that are services/care-based to the LGBT POC (People of Color) elder communities, a population that continues to heavily bear the brunt of stigmatization and social isolation.

Areas to be covered include: Social Security, housing, supportive services, HIV/STD prevention, culturally competent research and training, health literacy disparities, ethno-geriatrics, and other challenges for LGBT POC seniors, policy reform (LGBT POC specific), and the creation of a National Professional Network around POC LGBT Aging.

Confirmed participants/attendees include: Kathy Greenlee, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging, Administration on Aging (AoA), Jay Blackwell, Director, Office of Minority Health-Resource Center (OMH-RC), Christopher Bates, E.D., Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), Tony Sarmiento, E.D., Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI), Mandy Carter, Co-founder of National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Senator Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Vice Speaker, 31st Guam Legislature, Mario Tapia, CEO, Latino Center on Aging (LCA), and Aisha C. Young, CEO, African Americans in Gerontology (AAIG).

“I am delighted you are doing this historic convening” –Renowned social justice activist and former Arcus Foundation Executive Director, Urvashi Vaid.

GRIOT Circle, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1995.  It addresses the needs and concerns of LGBT elders of color in New York City.  Fifteen years later, GRIOT Circle continues to be the only LGBT organization in the nation that exclusively serves the LGBT POC elders 50 and older.  GRIOT is proud to be one of the leading voices on this historic occasion marking a decided shift in the health care paradigm for LGBT POC elders.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Glen-Michael Francis, 718-246-2775 | Glen@griotcircle.org

Queers for Economic Justice supports Convening, read Letter from QEJ.

The Audre Lorde Project supports Convening, read Letter from ALP.