Farrakhan Endorses Gay and Women Participants at 10th Anniversary Million Man March
Farrakhan is ready to welcome gays and lesbians; NBJC President Keith Boykin was surprised by the open acceptance and progress by the Nation of Islam.
The world really has turned upside down. This declaration by Farrakhan has to be some kind of turning point in the recognition of gays and lesbians of color by an extremist religion with a history of anti-homosexual views. If the Nation of Islam can make a public declaration of support for gays, where does this leave our bible-thumping, homo-hating pastors that are cozying up to Chimpy and his faith-based booty? Clearly, Farrakhan didn’t have to make this statement, and he has to have an agenda. (GayWired):
Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan said Saturday that he supports allowing gay people and women to participate in the upcoming 10th anniversary march commemorating the Million Man March in October. “The makeup will be our people whoever we are,” said Farrakhan. “Male, female, gay, straight, White, dark, rich, poor, ignorant, wise.”
Farrakhan was one of several high-powered leaders of Black America gathering in metro Atlanta at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia for the annual State of the Black Union symposium. National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) President Keith Boykin was also a panelist discussing the future of Black America. The program was divided into one discussion on healthcare and two separate discussions on developing a priority list of issues for a so-called “contract” or “covenant for and with Black America.”
Keith Boykin said he was surprised and pleased with Farrakhan’s announcement at the symposium’s news conference. “I remember in October 1995, there were about 200 of us black gay men marching among the million in DC,” said Boykin. “We were not necessarily welcomed, but we gathered courage and marched anyway and we were respected by those who saw us participate.”
“For Minister Farrakhan to welcome us this time shows tremendous growth in understanding and respect for us” said Boykin, who told the 6,000 people in the audience and the millions watching on the live C-SPAN television cablecast, of a rare and special moment backstage. Boykin approached Farrakhan and told him who he was and that he was a gay Black man, and in turn, Farrakhan smiled and said, “You are my brother, I love you.” Both men hugged each other.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH organization who was on the same panel too, told reporters after the Farrakhan announcement that it was high time for African Americans to pay attention to important matters and stop discriminating because of someone’s sexual orientation.
As late as 1997, Farrakhan had not renounced any of the homophobic views of former head Elijah Muhammad, so some change in thinking or strategy has occurred. The group is still unapologetically anti-Semitic. And, after all, the following statement on separatism is still on the Nation of Islam web site:
WE BELIEVE that the offer of integration is hypocritical and is made by those who are trying to deceive the black peoples into believing that their 400-year-old open enemies of freedom, justice and equality are, all of a sudden, their “friends.” Furthermore, we believe that such deception is intended to prevent black people from realizing that the time in history has arrived for the separation from the whites of this nation.
I still dismiss Farrakhan and the NOI as bigots (who can forget his “Jews practice a gutter religion” remark). However the larger, issue here is the deliberate inclusion of gays in the march by Farrakhan in what is the most conservative, (or to some, fringe) element of the religious black community.
What does this mean for the mainstream churches? This will begin to force public statements and explanations from Bush’s new colored friends on the take. At the very least, it will cause some interesting political in-fighting. The lesson here is that all these religious leaders at one time or another have to reckon with their own flawed moral leadership in the face of oppression. It’s especially pointed when their own bigotry involves other minorities.
Organized religion just doesn’t work for me on so many levels.