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More on Keith Boykin's banning from the podium at the Millions More March

Keith Boykin, and bigot Rev. Willie Wilson.

[I am posting a re-edited piece on the fallout at the Millions More March yesterday. This version has been front-paged at DKos. There are contacts at the end to take action on this bigotry. It’s also time for a blogswarm. –P.]

Kossack TerrenceDC of the excellent Republic of T, had a diary on this subject that scrolled off very quickly yesterday and it deserved more exposure; I’ve excerpted snippets here.]

Several days ago, there was a meeting between Keith Boykin and members of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)  and Millions More March (MMM) leader Louis Farrakhan over GLBT representation at the march.

Keith Boykin was chosen to speak, but at the last minute, as he made his way to the podium, he was turned away by the homo-bigot co-organizer Rev. Willie Wilson.

Wilson was making sure that no one at that march was going to hear what Keith had to say about homophobia and the black community, or the need for gay visibility, recognition and acceptance.

From Metro Weekly‘s Will O’Bryan:

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.

From TerrenceDC’s diary, Million More March (Not) Missed:

The Million More March took place this weekend, and I did not miss it. Don’t take that to mean that I attended, however, because I didn’t. I didn’t march, and I didn’t miss marching either. After observing the behavior and listening to the words of those who organized the march, I don’t believe I missed anything other than more of the same. And at this point in my life, I no longer wish to waste time on it.

…I’ve been over this ground before. I’ve been over it as a black gay man in an interracial relationship. I’ve been over it before in countless online flamewars and “blacker than thou” battles, in which it was asserted that I needed to prioritize one identity — black or gay — over the other; something I can no more do than, as I heard it put in Marlon Riggs’ movie Tongues Untied, choose between “my left nut or my right.”

I agree with Terrence. This is part of a sad sickness, a schism in our community that widens — why should we have to choose? Why are the voices of bigotry against black gays and lesbians allowed to be leaders, to be organizers, to be arbiters of who is included and excluded in the community?

Wilson, a man placed in charge of organizing this march, said the following comments (and all involved, including Farrakhan knew he said these things) from the pulpit:

“But… women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural. Anytime somebody got to slap some grease on your behind and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that.”

“No wonder your behind is bleeding. You can’t make no connection with a screw and another screw. The Bible says God made them male and female.”
–The Rev. Willie Wilson

There’s a real class act, huh? A man chosen to represent leadership in the black community for this march.

It is a sad state of affairs and if the other leaders present today are silent on this rebuff, they need to be held accountable.

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 my blog here — Pam]

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.

As Terrence noted in the comments of his diary in response to the above:

“A seat at the table? From what I’ve seen, we aren’t even wanted in the house, let alone at the table.”

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.


Sunday’s press coverage on the conflict

The WaPo has an article on what occurred, “Gays Protest Rejection Of Speaker at Gathering,” which describes Wilson’s unhinged behavior at the meeting prior to the MMM, which tells you even more about this man.

Leaders said they were sure Wilson was responsible for the snub after their bizarre and angry meeting with Wilson earlier in the week.

…Boykin said Wilson said he was furious about hate mail and angry calls he had gotten since he was criticized for delivering a sermon at his Southeast Washington church that described gay sex in graphic and derogatory terms. He has since written about an “epidemic” of lesbianism among young black girls.

…Donna Payne, an organizer with the Human Rights Campaign who also attended the meeting, said Wilson told them he had to change his telephone number and was worried about his family. He then pulled out a book, “The New Joy of Gay Sex,” and accused gay leaders of sending it to him.

Payne also said Wilson accused gay leaders of not knowing what is happening in the community.

Boykin and Payne said Wilson then grabbed a white plastic bag and pulled out a bottle of sleeping pills and a G-string made from Pez candies strung together. He said black girls use the items to try to turn other girls into lesbians.


You can find the contact information for the Congressional Black Caucus here, and ask if they have any comment on the outrageous statements and behavior of Willie Wilson.

Sheila Jackson Lee (202-225-3816 – phone, 202-225-3317 – fax), is on the board of the Millions More Movement.

I’ll update with more contacts as I have time. If you have some, please post in the comments, and pass the word for a blogswarm.

Key: black pastor

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding