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The King That Was A Queen

by : Wayne Besen
Thursday February 2, 2006 - 02:33
1 comment

by Wayne Besen

Coretta Scott King was a wonderful soul of love and empathy who will be mourned by millions of people. She was the King who was a queen, because she understood her husband’s "dream" was much greater than achieving liberty for one narrow slice of the population.

"For many years now, I have been an outspoken supporter of civil and human rights for gay and lesbian people," Coretta Scott King said at the 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."

King has left a legacy that lives on today through a nascent movement of prominent African Americans who are coming together to support the gay community. Earlier this month, black civil rights leaders held a national summit in an Atlanta Baptist church to discuss how to overcome anti-gay prejudice often fomented by homophobic pastors.

At the conference, Rev. Al Sharpton wisely pointed out that the overwhelmingly white and historically anti-black religious right was using anti-gay prejudice to divide the African American vote.

"In 2004, the religious right was concerned about re-electing George W. Bush," said Sharpton at First Iconium Baptist Church. "They couldn’t come to black churches to talk about the war, about health care, about poverty. So they did what they always do and reached for the bigotry against gay and lesbian people."

Indeed, immediately following the 2004 presidential election, social conservatives made a strong push to lure African-Americans by exploiting the same-sex marriage issue. According to the Los Angles Times, Rev. Lou Sheldon hosted a right wing meeting of 70 black religious leaders in Los Angeles.

Unbelievably, Sheldon played an anti-gay video featuring disgraced Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. Remember, Lott had to step down as Senate Majority Leader after he publicly pined over Strom Thurmond not winning the presidency as a Dixiecrat. Fortunately, African-American columnist Leonard Pitts put Sheldon’s power grab in perspective.

"Whether the issue was slavery, segregation, lynching, voting rights or housing discrimination, social conservatives have always taken a position that history later judged to be ignorant and flat-out wrong...which leaves me at a loss to understand why any African American possessed of a functioning brain would give this atavistic bunch the time of day," wrote Pitts.

The disastrous response from President Bush following Hurricane Katrina put a temporary end to this unholy alliance. Rapper Kanye West summed up the sentiment felt by many people when he said on live television, "George Bush doesn’t care about black people."

Still, many African American church leaders are outspoken against gay and lesbian rights.

** Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, made news by urging conservatives to buy Microsoft stock, and then dump it to punish the company for supporting a successful measure in Washington State that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

** African American preacher Talbert W. Swann II published an intolerant book "Closing the Closet: Testimonies from Deliverance from Homosexuality," that features stories from 23 "ex-gays."

** Washington, DC minister Rev. Willie F. Wilson, immorally double-crossed black gay activist Keith Boykin, by banning him from the Millions More Movement rally, right as he was about to take the stage and deliver an inclusive address. Wilson is a creepy minister who has written about an "epidemic" of lesbianism among young black girls.

The good news is that this opposition has led to heterosexual African Americans, such as Sharpton and West, openly speaking out against homophobia. It has helped motivate people, such as basketball star Cheryl Swoops, to come out of the closet.

"I mean, you have Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, but you don’t have your well-known gay African-American who’s come out, not to my knowledge," Swoopes said, citing this as a major reason for revealing her sexual orientation.

Outspoken hatemongering has also led to the emergence of the National Black Justice Coalition, a group created to fend off attacks and introduce black gay people to the African American community. The group features powerful and persuasive leaders, such as Donna Payne and Keith Boykin, who are educating people and standing up to the extreme right.

No one group owns the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently articulated. Coretta Scott King was a kindred spirit of her late-husband who left a legacy of unity that will help stop those of all races who thrive on sowing the seeds of division and disunity.

"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people," King said in 1998. "But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ’Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people." 7 Comments:

Too bad Mrs. King’s gay tolerant views aren’t widely known. There is a very outspoken & homophobic daughter or granddaughter who makes the antigay religious rallies. Too bad she didn’t get the message. posted by Anonymous, at 2/01/2006 6:55 AM

Coretta is one of my heroines. What she did for civil rights advancement is immeasurable. We need more like her in the African-American community. She was a shining example of common decency and principles, just like her late husband. We will all miss her terribly.

Robert, NYC. posted by Anonymous, at 2/01/2006 8:20 AM

She was great. She is at rest now and is free from having to have her sacred sensibilities insulted on a daily basis by this ignorant world. George W. Bush isn’t fit to utter this hero’s name. But republicans always do the same thing. They pay lip-service to such saints while working against everything that they stand for. Only two and one-half more years to go! posted by Chris L., at 2/01/2006 8:25 AM

I remember when I was very young, and struggling to understand where my place would be as a black woman in a rapidly shifting society. I was a teenager in the 70’s and I knew that my mind would require sharpness and I was instilled with educational disciplines that has gifted many blacks today. Part of that education was to listen to gay folks, be open and socialize and not pass judgment.

Gay folks knew their OWN story and I was not and never would be one in a position to deny what gay folks know for themselves, anymore than I would want a segregationist to tell the story of blacks and pass it off as truth.

I listended to our godmother of the movement, Mrs. King-I wanted to belong to something important and to seek justice for those who did not have it as well. My family and the generation that Ms. King exemplified taught me to look after each other, that there was still much work to be done.

The brutal lynchings of so many gay and lesbian people on the altar of bigotry parallels with the history of that of blacks enough that it is my duty to this minority as well.

I know it’s not enough to just care, and not raise a hand against gay men and women, but to work actively alongside to educate on the brutality of breaking the identity of gays and lesbians. There is no kind way to demand that such a thing occur. The ex gay movement in particular merely makes this demand with a kind face, while at the same time benefitting from the same fear and intimidation that enforced segregation. I can only hope that I do my own duty with the same tenacity and accuracy that Mother King continued hers.

I pray for, in her name, courage...but most of all enduring love for justice and for my fellow gay and lesbian citizens. posted by Regan, at 2/01/2006 9:05 AM

Regan, what a wonderful post! posted by Chris L., at 2/01/2006 9:20 AM

Regan, that was beautifully put and I thank thank you for your continued love and support. You have become one of my heroines.

Robert, NYC. posted by Anonymous, at 2/01/2006 3:16 PM

Correta Scott King was a courageous and wonderful woman. Unfortunately, she was wrong about her views concering lesbian and gay men and women. Sexual preference has nothing to do with being black or white.

http://www.waynebesen.com/2006/01/k...



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> The King That Was A Queen
Thursday February 2 - 14:46 - Posted by 84717afef2bdae76...

I wanted to comment on the passing of Coretta Scott King. Let me first admit that I am a white gay man who grew up in the south, and who deeply admired the courage, persistence, FAITH, and strength as personified by both Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his incredible tower of strength, Coretta Scott King. From them and their willingness to risk their lives for what was right and just for all, I learned what it meant to care for others, to march for the poor, the disenfranchised, to work for peace and against war, and finally to work to make all of America a more equal and inclusive society.

I also learned from their example and their lives that it was important to be who God made me to be as a gay man and not continue to deny it ---to pass, for anybody else’s comfort or prejudice. I personally had no more choice over my sexual orientation than I had over my skin color. However I did have the choice to hide in the shadows, living in fear and regret or, choose to come out and live in the light with self respect and dignity and compassion and determination to make things better for all---the same lessons I had learned from Dr. and Mrs. King’s personal lives and example.

When I learned that Mrs. King had become involved in the struggle for my full civil rights as I had been for others, I was touched, honored and deeply grateful. She could have let this issue pass her by. I am sure it would have been easier to do, but being the great woman and role model for liberation that she is, that was not a possibility. She lived with truth and integrity and left us all so much richer by her exemplary life.

She joins the pantheon of great men and women who by living their lives with honesty and integrity, provide us with shining examples of the lives we are all called to live, to listen to our better angels, love more compassionately and empathically and leave this world richer for our having been here.

I am certain she is at peace, knowing she has fought the good fight til the end, and is enjoying the fruits of all her justice work with her Creator and all her loved ones. Let us continue the work.

Peace and blessings,

David in NYC







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