Rev. Irene Monroe
Rev. Irene Monroe lives in Cambridge and is the Coordinator of the African American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion, a Huffington Post blogger , and a syndicated religion columnist. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Irene Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for my doctorate as Ford Fellow
This spring around the country, LGBTQ communities are celebrating Bayard Rustin's 100th birthday anniversary. But to date, he's still largely an unknown because of the heterosexism that has canonized the history of last century's black civil rights movement.
Cleo Manago is despised by some in the LGBTQ community. Descriptors like "homo demagogue," contrarian, separatist, and anti-white are just a few that can be expressed in polite company.
Seldom do I see my image anywhere, especially portrayed in non-stereotypical and non-heterosexist ways on the silver screen. As a matter of fact, if you Google "black lesbians" or "black lesbians in film" you'll get a plethora of porn sites to visit.
Today's MLK Day.
I am proud to count myself among the many people working for social justice today who stand on the shoulders of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Too many people think King's statements regarding justice are only about race and the African-American community—thus excluding the LGBTQ community.
Having voice in the Black Community is still an arduous struggle for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community. As we cross over into 2012, one of our biggest accomplishments in 2011 has been the various ways in which LGBTQ of African descent have employed different public venues to be heard. These following venues will be used as instruments of change in our future struggle.
Just last month, Gay Black Men News (GBMNews.com) folded. It was a unique online eZine because it brought a perspective of the news as it related specifically to gay men of African descent. And its circulation was global.
Homophobia runs deep! So deep that it also impinges on the animal world.
Toronto's zoo is splitting up a pair of same-gender penguins. These "Happy Feet" males, Pedro and Buddy—jokingly referred to as "Brokeback Iceberg"—have been nesting with each other for a year.
The reason for the boys' split-up, a zoo official says, is because African penguins are an endangered species. The pair has what's known as a "social bond," but it's not necessarily a "sexual bond," Tom Mason, the zoo's curator of birds and invertebrates told the Associated Press.
In the African American community we desperately need public role models denouncing anti-homophobic bullying, vitriol, and discrimination.
Since too few role models come from the Black Church, many of us lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) brothers and sisters of African descent look to black role models, especially males, in the areas of entertainment and sports. But sadly that list too is short. Tim Hardaway, a retired NBA All-Star player, has recently stepped forward.
As the only child of world renowned pop duo Sonny and Cher Bono, many of us remember Chaz as their cherub-faced daughter Chastity, blowing kisses to the audience of her parents top-rated variety television show “Sonny & Cher.”
In 1995, Chaz was outed as a lesbian.
But this time Chaz is in control, and on his own volition has announced he’s legally a man, and will now appear on the 13th season of “Dancing with the Stars,” premiering Sept. 19.
But not everyone is cheering, and ABC is catching some of the fallout.
More than 30,000 people packed Houston’s Reliant Stadium to attend Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s mega prayerfest, “The Response,” a clarion call to all Christian Americans for a national day of prayer for our troubled nation.
But lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) American―Christians―were not invited.
Though you wouldn’t have known it from Gov. Rick Perry’s remarks:
“I’m so humbled to be in the midst of men and women who have answered the call to prayer and fast for our nation. ...Like all of you, I love this country deeply, thank you all for being here.”
But the American Family Association (AFA), one of the largest and most influential traditional family values organizations in the country that has over two million online supporters, financed the event. This Tupelo, Miss.-based Christian group has actively lobbied against the acceptance of LGBTQ Americans by publicly stating, “We oppose the homosexual movement’s efforts to convince our society that their behavior is normal.” The AFA unapologetically promotes the idea that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that can be cured through religious teachings in ex-gay ministries. The organization focuses its anti-gay crusade primarily through television and other media, both nationally and abroad.
For example, in 2007, the AFA spoke out against IKEA for featuring lesbian and gay families in their television ads. In June 2008, the AFA protested a Heinz television ad, shown in the U.K, for featuring two men kissing, and Heinz withdrew the ad. And in July 2008, the AFA boycotted McDonald’s because McDonald’s had a director on its board from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
But AFA wasn’t the only anti-LGBTQ organization at the rally. Representatives from Tony Perkins’s Family Research Council and Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family also attended.
Perry stated “The Response” wasn’t a disguised platform for his political aspiration to run for the presidency in 2012, but rather a simple Christian rally praying for all Americans, even Obama, during these difficult times.
“We pray for our nation’s leaders, Lord, for parents, for pastors, for the generals, for governors, that you would inspire them in these difficult times,” Perry told those gathered at Reliant Stadium. “Father, we pray for our President, that you would impart your wisdom upon him, that you would protect his family.”
However, I am confused about Perry’s role serving the American people. If Perry were a minister who had the backing of anti-gay organizations, I wouldn’t be so troubled. But Perry is a governor, whose oath to office is to represent not simply his evangelical conservative base, but rather every citizen in the Lone Star State.
Who would have ever thought that the hard-earned gains that have been won to separate the church―an institution that summarily can and has excluded LGBT people from the state,―an institution that we have leverage to be included in would once again be violated by an elected official, and a Texan no less?
Perry states if he considers a presidential run it will be done in part out of a religious calling. And no doubt, a calling to bow to the Christian Right.
And would we, LGBTQ Americans, not re-experience the Bush era?
Baby Bush (George Walker) unapologetically espoused a theocratic model for government to effect laws and government structures according to his Christian ideal―an ideal that never worked, on the best of his days in office―that egregiously violated the civil rights LGBTQ Americans.
Did I wish Bush had concealed his zeal as a born-again Christian? Not at all!
“Freedom of religion is a good thing. So is freedom from the religion others may wish to impose on those who differ,” wrote Charles Kimball, author of “When Religion Becomes Evil”.
American democracy suffers when people have to be closeted about their faith because it fosters a climate of religious intolerance. And while our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and not freedom from religion, it prohibits the establishment of a state religion. Bush, however, molded his presidency into that of a Christian church-state. And in so doing, his theistic imperative was solely to do the will of God and not the will of the American people.
And in so doing, Bush’s eliding of church and state boundaries diminished not only his political authority as a world leader that he so cherished, but it also diminishes one of the central objectives he wanted to obtain during his presidency―moral authority.
Perry’s rally positioned him as having moral authority, but he’s no friend to LGBTQ Americans. He opposes same-sex marriages, and he vehemently opposed the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down a Texas same-sex anti-sodomy law.
However, for Perry to have moral authority, he cannot as a governor call Americans to a Christian rally that by its invitation and sponsors exclude LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and many others. And he cannot impose his religious views into the fabric of American democracy. n