Friday, September 11, 2009

Old Fight, New Flavor

Today brought news that 2 out of the 3 DMV areas were taking steps toward marriage equality. Even in the heat of the fiery health care debate, DC and Maryland are on the way to passing some key legislation. Now, more than ever, it is of the utmost importance for minorities, especially African Americans, to mobilize.

The fight over same-sex marriage in DC will more than likely be drawn on racial lines; apparently, according to marriage opponents, there are either no gay Black people or being Black means you can't possibly believe in marriage equality. This is not only wholly untrue, but completely underestimates the amount of Black, gay people who live in the DMV. We are out there, just come to Mezza Luna on 1st Saturdays or Saki Lounge on last Sundays. If the amount of people who pack into the club on Saturday night could spend Saturday afternoon canvassing in their neighborhoods, Black LGBT people could have a strong voice in DC.

If this reads like a slight criticism of the black gay community, it is. We partied all night during Black Pride weekend but couldn't get up on Sunday to go to the festival at Love Nightclub. We talk so much about how we want equality but don't want to come to any council meetings. Now, I will say there was an excellent turnout at the Ward 8 meeting a few months ago but we still have a long way to go. Yes, there is still racism/classism within the gay community but that should be no excuse for us not to fight for our rights in our hometown. When Michael Crawford gets on TV and talks about what he's doing to aid our efforts, we should be in the background waving at the camera, soaked in sweat and hoarse from all the outreach we've done.

Black people make up 55% of DC's population; the highest demographic in DC. Now you know why they call it Chocolate City, if you didn't know already. Being black and gay means making a community of your own; you have to battle racism in mainstream society and homophobia in your own culture. For many, it's not an easy line to walk, so we have things like men on the down-low and you garden-variety "convenient" gays. This has to stop. We have to stand up for each other. We have to be brave and vigilant and we have to make our voices heard.

The fight is here and we're sitting outside the ropes. We need to take each other by the hand and step into the ring. We cannot let Bishop Jackson speak for "us", we have to speak for ourselves. Black history is loaded with people who have done extraordinary things in the face of great adversity. The path has already been laid before us. Regardless of disagreements within the movement, we must make this our fight. This is our lunch counter, only this time the people who don't want to let us sit down look like us. The outcome of this fight will be determined by how many people we can mobilize. If it comes down to a vote, we'll hit the streets; if it gets held up in congress, we'll call our representatives. We can do this, we ca win this fight.

Stand up, speak out, fight on!

Washington Post Article on DC Marriage Laws:

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