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Boykin banned from stage at Millions More March by homo-bigot Rev. Wilson

[UPDATE: More information on what happened below, including a link Keith’s speech that he couldn’t give.

Sunday, 10/16: I have an updated post on the Blend, the edited version that is a front-page diary on DKos today.]

Holy sh*t. Willie Wilson pulled him. (via PageOneQ):

Breaking news from Metro Weekly’s Will O’Bryan, who’s on-site at the National Black Justice Coalition’s “We Are Family” Unity Rally at Freedom Plaza in D.C.

A month-long effort by the National Black Justice Coalition and the D.C. Coalition to secure a speaker at the Millions More Movement commemoration event that met with apparent success mid-week, was quashed this morning.

When NBJC president Keith Boykin and vice-president Donna Payne reported to the event on the Mall, they say, they were blocked from speaking by MMM organizer Rev. Willie Wilson.

Boykin was supposed to to represent the black LGBT community at the event.

Back at the Freedom Plaza rally, Payne said that when she and Boykin arrived at the MMM site, Wilson said, “They will not be speaking.”

“I’m so angry, so angry,” Payne said.

And from 365gay.com:

“In our previous conversations with Minister Farrakhan, he has consistently kept his word. Rev. Wilson, however, has not been cooperative. We call on Minister Farrakhan to fulfill our agreement,” the statement said.

Wilson is executive director of the Millions More Movement. He is also pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast Washington, the District’s largest Black congregation and has a record of homophobia.

In July Wilson, warned his congregation that “Sisters making more money than brothers and it’s creating problems in families … that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians.”

In the July 3 sermon entitled “You’ve Got to Fight to Be Free” he also said, “Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I’m talking about young girls. My son in high school last year tried to go to the prom. He said, ‘Dad, I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. Ain’t but two of ’em straight, and both of them ugly.’”

***

[UPDATE: Keith says what really happened…]

He tried, he really did, but Willie Wilson, one of the organizers of the march, was making it clear that Keith Boykin was not going to give a speech today on the visibility of gays and lesbians in the black community. Keith recounts what happened on his blog, in the post, “The Speech That Didn’t Happen.”

After eight months of discussion, four productive conversations with Minister Farrakhan and a heated exchange with Rev. Willie Wilson, the Millions More Movement March took place today and I was not allowed to speak. Although I believe we have opened the door for historic and positive dialogue with Minister Farrakhan, Rev. Wilson does not appear to be ready for such dialogue.

This is what happened today. After I arrived at the VIP tent shortly after 8 in the morning, my colleague Donna Payne spoke directly to Rev. Willie Wilson backstage, and he informed her that no one from the National Black Justice Coalition would be speaking today. Donna told Rev. Wilson that he was violating our agreement, and Wilson replied that the agreement was void because the Coalition had not responded by Friday. That was not true.

Rev. Wilson’s excuse seemed a mere pretext to prevent us from speaking. Sadly, I am not surprised. He has been an obstacle to this process all along. Ever since his controversial July 3 sermon in which he blamed the rise of lesbianism for the problems in the black community, Rev. Wilson seems to have developed ill feelings toward the black gay community for responding to his attack. That was three months ago, and I had hoped to use my speech today to extend an olive branch to Rev. Wilson to move beyond our differences and heal our wounds, but his actions this morning made that impossible.

Eva at Lloydletta has thoughts on what went wrong.

I was thinking this probably happened because Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick did the outing campaign looking for stories about Willie Wilson being a closet gay. [I posted about the series on the Blend here]

This reminds me alot of what happened between Log Cabin Republicans and the Bush campaign in 2000. Jake Tapper’s account discusses the Log Cabin internal divisions on this.

Keith gave it the old college try, but after Wilson’s behavior (as a minister, no less), it’s time to hang it up with getting a seat at that particular table.

Farrakhan knew exactly what he was doing when he extended the invitation in the first place. The National Black Justice Coalition had sent him a list of 10 prospective gay speakers for the MMM — Keith wasn’t on the list — yet Farrakhan asked Keith to speak, knowing that Wilson was hopping mad over the outing campaign from a few weeks ago.

It’s no surprise then, on the day of the event — with festivities in motion — Wilson could pull rank and block Keith from taking the stage and call it miscommunication. The goal is achieved — the NBJC doesn’t get a chance in front of thousands of people that needed to hear the message Keith planned to deliver.

For me, the larger issue is the whether there will be a follow-up reaction to this incident by the other black leaders at that march — will they ignore this slight? Will they address Wilson’s bigoted remarks and end-run on the black gay community?

These are the people that need to be asked to comment on what it means when a segment of the black community that has been marginalized and demonized is explicitly denied an opportunity to openly address a painful issue — black homophobia — with a message of hope.

Instead, Farrakhan and Wilson played Keith — letting him publicize the “success” of being given a seat at the table, and then pulling the chair out from under him — all to show him who was in charge. It’s disgusting.

I don’t want a seat at the table of homophobes and bigots claiming to be religious leaders. Keith, you’re better than these people. They are brothers under the skin with the white evangelical AmTaliban — they’d rather bed down with those jackals.

Keith’s speech — the one that he could not give because of bigotry by a man of the cloth — is powerful. You can read it here.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding