Cleo Manago (cleomanagosblog) wrote,
Cleo Manago

Rev. Al Sharpton Pledges Fight Against Homophobia Among Blacks!!


Regarding the 'Sharpton against "Homophobia" issue: Sharpton needs to be
careful. Instead of the (possible) whole-hearted support of "gayness," he
should consider spearheading some community dialogue on the issue - at
least in addition. Some of what appears as anti-homosexual attitudes,
particularly in Black communities (including the church), is a justifiable,
if not dysfunctionally expressed, concern about the possible symptoms of
micro and macro oppression and repression on Black males historically.
Manhood anxieties and Black male compromise concerns are deeply connected
to these sometimes badly and/or abusively expressed attitudes. Which
contributes to why there is so much inner-group vicious oppression between
[Black] homosexuals too, which does the same level of harm if not more than
so-called "homophobia" from outside.

That some in the community are concerned, and have strong reactions to
"gayness" can be a result of ignorance about sexual differences, a
side-effect of Black male/manhood humiliation (i.e. 50% of Black males in
NYC are unemployed) and the still under addressed issue of [homo]sexual
abuse experienced by some of our young males.

This issue of gayness and homosexuality is under addressed, particularly in
Black communities. Sharpton, just willy-nilly advocating acceptance of
"gayness" with no evident expertise on this issue may affirm white gays,
who don't even need Sharpton, and Blacks adapting that culture. But it
won't necessarily induce healing, awareness and understanding in a 'yet to
rationally and collectively address the topic' Black community.

Watch out Sharpton! Just advocating a fight against "homophobia" without
community dialogue and engagement is a mistake, particularly in the Black
community. I can be reached at 213-923-7260.

To read article on the first-ever Black community debate/discussion on homosexuality (

Cleo Manago
Founder/Organizer - Black Men's Xchange (BMX) New York
The mission of Black Men’s Xchange is to affirm, educate, unify, and promote health and critical thinking among Black males diverse in sexuality, class, culture and philosophy.

August 3, 2005 > New York > Sharpton Pledges Fight Against Homophobia Among

Sharpton Pledges Fight Against Homophobia Among Blacks
August 3, 2005

At a gathering last week at the West Village apartment of a gay rights
activist, Allen Roskoff, the Reverend Al Sharpton took to the floor and
launched an initiative likely to make some of his most loyal supporters

Rev. Sharpton has pledged to jumpstart a grassroots movement that would
address the issue of homophobia in the black community. That problem has
undoubtedly contributed to the epidemic rates of HIV/AIDS cases among
African-Americans, particularly black women.

Rev. Sharpton's strongest detractors, to be sure, will be black preachers
who remain in denial, even as the deadly disease claims the lives of those
who sit in their pews week after week.

The failure by the black religious community to tackle homophobia within
its ranks has been a travesty and has further undermined the black clergy's
efforts to become leading moral voices when it comes to eliminating "isms."
Black clerics must stop ignoring the reality that the black community they
claim to represent includes gay men and lesbians, many of whom spend years
in hiding because they fear their lifestyle will be considered morally and
socially unacceptable.

"There is latent homophobia in our community," Rev. Sharpton said.

Al Sharpton was the only presidential candidate last year who
unapologetically supported gay marriage, surprising critics who have tried
to label him as a one-issue activist.

He forcefully spoke out against the Bush administration - in alliance with
some black preachers - when it threatened last year to support a
constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

"They tried to say that being gay is a sin, and I said that adultery is a
sin," Rev. Sharpton said. "Adultery is responsible for breaking up more
marriages, but do we put that in the Constitution? It's absurd."

All the talk about preventing gay people from being able to marry one
another had the effect of bolstering homophobic views. Tragically, the
discourse failed to deal with the staggering HIV/AIDS infection rates in
the black community, which have gone unnoticed and unaddressed by the
general public.

Rev. Sharpton's initiative is being coordinated by his associate Marjorie
Fields-Harris, executive director of the National Action Network - the
civil rights organization founded in 1991 by Rev. Sharpton. It will include
forums at public schools and churches aimed at educating the black
community about AIDS and the dangers of homophobia. Rev. Sharpton said he
plans to launch public-service announcements on black radio and to make the
issue central to his civil-rights work in the upcoming year.

For Rev. Sharpton, the issue is a personal one.

His mentor, Bayard Rustin, a leading figure in the civil rights movement,
was targeted by the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover because he was gay. Time after
time, Hoover threatened to "out" the leader who was one of the coordinators
of the 1963 March on Washington and a close confidant of Martin Luther King

King maintained an alliance and friendship with Rustin, though other black
ministers in King's camp urged that Rustin be kicked out of the movement.

Rev. Sharpton, who marched in the Gay Pride Parade this year for the first
time, is perhaps the very person who can make a dent in the rampant
homophobic views so entrenched in the African-American community. Over the
past 20 years, he has emerged as a credible civil rights leader who has a
track record of bringing African-Americans together.
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