CommunityPam's House Blend

Mandy Carter on LGBTs bridging racial and ethnic barriers

The 2007 Equality NC Conference, held November 3 at the Duke University School of Law, was chock full of workshops for LGBT activists and allies in the state. I was asked to moderate a panel,  Still Crossing Those Bridges: Facing Racial and Ethnic Barriers. It was well-attended and the crowd was enthusiastic and ready to take on the topic of communication hurdles between the more visible and activist white gay community and the less-visible LGBT communities of color (as well as the lack of interaction between those groups of color).

Serving on the panel – Allan Taziri, member, Fayetteville Bayard Rustin Commemorative Alliance; Mandy Carter, Co-Founder, Southerners on New Ground ; Reverend Roger E. Hayes, Pastor, Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Inc., Winston-Salem; and Alba Onofrio, Executive Director, El Centro Hispano, Durham.

We covered a lot of ground in about 90 minutes — coming out in communities of color in NC; finding LGBT cultural common ground; how these groups can come together to on initiatives to move LGBT rights forward; how class factors into the equation.

Given the timing of the conference so close to the Barack Obama/recloseted homosexual Donnie McClurkin flap we couldn't leave that topic undiscussed, as it addressed religious-based bigotry and its effect on people of color in the closet who fear coming out.

I wanted to include this clip of the incredible Mandy Carter, whose wisdom on how the various racial and ethnic LGBT communities can and should reach across cultural boundaries and see how much there is in common to unite on —  jobs, the environment, the criminal justice system and other social justice issues.

People need to think outside the box and get beyond their cultural comfort zones. It's clearly easier to stick with “your own” than extend yourself to learn about people different from yourself. The lack of interest in reaching out allows those who seek to oppress us all ample opportunity to drive a wedge between communities — and we all lose.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding