Let’s take a moment to talk about something that is not supposed to be discussed in front of mixed company. As the protests have died down in popularity and the white gaze has shifted back to COVID-19, let’s use this time to work within our community to heal the relationship between the church and the LGTBQIA+ community. If we are serious about black liberation, we must be serious about ensuring we mean ALL black lives. That includes and should especially mean protecting our black trans sisters. The erasure of the gay voice within the movement can be traced back to the beginning of the civil rights uprising and continues to this day. Yet, we would not be where we are if it wasn’t for black and gay freedom fighters that paved the way for us all. Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, the founders of the Black Lives Matter Movement and so many more are embraced for their blackness but their gayness is downplayed because it is seen as taboo.
It is highly likely that the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as impactful if Bayard Rustin did not exist. If he is even mentioned, he is often labeled as an advisor to Dr. King and that is a gross understatement. Bayard Rustin was the person that taught Dr. King about non-violence. He was the head organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where King gave the acclaimed “I Have A Dream” speech. He should be touted as one of the greatest leaders we have ever had but has been erased because of who he slept with. He was forced to make the decision of working in the background to not “tarnish” King’s image. Eventually having to fully distance himself because it was believed that a gay man would hinder the liberation of black lives. When in fact that black gay man created the platform that gave us liberation.
One of the greatest mistakes of that time period and of today’s time is utilizing the labor and talent of our gay community for our betterment; but under the condition of having to hide or tone down a portion of ourselves. It’s okay for the choir director or hair dresser to be gay but only a little bit and only if it’s not spoken of. I often wonder how much farther we would be as a people if Bayard was given the space to be his full authentic self. What a monumental stance that would have been within our liberation for Dr. King and the black church, to have affirmed Bayard’s contributions and seen him as a whole deserving human being.
That is what is needed from our churches today. Not a push to silence or cast away folks because of their gender presentation or sexuality, but a movement of true acceptance and love. One thing I have learned throughout my years is that people flourish when you give them space to be themselves. As we fight for our own liberation from the white supremacy systems that others us, we must do the same within our community and not cast aside our trans and gay siblings. The black church has been the pinnacle of our community and it is time that they lead the way in showing that ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER. There can be no liberation until we liberate ourselves from othering our own community. The time is now to create the change we want to see in the world.
By Tatjana Rebelle | Rebelleswords.com | 2020