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Old 08-26-2005, 01:20 PM   #1
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Sharpton denounces African-American homophobia

i usually take Rev. Sharpton with a large grain of salt ... but he's absolutely right in this case, and it underscores a fact of life: homophobia literally kills.


Inland Empire

By Chris Levister

“There is latent homophobia in our community,” says the Reverend Al Sharpton. In classic Sharpton style the outspoken civil rights activist is pointing the finger directly at what historically has been a sanctuary for Black people: ‘the church’.

“Black churches have not stepped up to the plate o*n HIV. Black preachers walked arm in arm from Selma to Montgomery. Arm in arm we were beaten, jailed, humiliated and dehumanized.” Sharpton says, sadly, o*n the issue of HIV many Black ministers have become the oppressor.” Sharpton accused some Black preachers of using their pulpits to diminish the humanity of some rather than celebrate the humanity of all.

“I’m going to challenge the homophobia in our own backyard,” said Sharpton. Alarmed by the staggering number of new cases of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, Rev. Sharpton is set to launch a grassroots initiative designed to take the gloves off homophobia, a problem, he says, has undoubtedly contributed to the spread of HIV among Blacks.

Sharpton’s national campaign is aimed at educating the public about HIV/AIDS, while using his bully pulpit to caution against discriminating against gays and lesbians. “We’ve turned our backs o*n many of the very folks early civil rights activists fought and died for.”

Sharpton plans to begin airing public service announcements o*n BET and radio stations with predominately Black audiences that will train a spotlight o*n the epidemic, a leading cause of death among African-Americans, especially Black women. “I’m calling o*n Black preachers to step to the line in confronting the issue of homophobia among African-Americans.” A topic long considered taboo, especially in the Black religious community.

“This is an enormous leap for the Reverend to take,” said Allen Roskoff, a gay rights activist. Roskoff has known and worked with Sharpton for more than 20 years. “It’s high time that we all stand together to fight bigotry and homophobia.” He said Sharpton’s decision o*n the HIV issue will generate national attention to the epidemic and save lives in the long-term.

Over the next year, the civil rights activist will conduct public forums at churches and schools addressing the stigma that has long surrounded the disease.

Sharpton’s challenge is welcome news to Rev. Dr. Robert L. Fairley, pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Earlier this year Fairley ruffled feathers in the wider church community when he publicly threw his support behind the use of latex condoms, safe sex education, personal responsibility and greater church leadership to stem the spread of AIDS. In June, Rev. Fairley, HIV/AIDS activists, public health, and community leaders celebrated the opening of the San Bernardino HIV/AIDS Resource Center housed in the New Hope Life Center.

“Rev. Sharpton’s national challenge encourages his peers to speak out,” says 32 year old Marcy Craig of San Bernardino. Craig was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. Her husband of 8 years died of AIDS in 2004. Craig believes Sharpton’s initiative will turn the spotlight o*n pastors who preach homophobia.

“It’s painful to sit in church and hear a pastor preach that HIV is a “consequence of sinful behavior.” Craig said, such uncompassionate ministry encourages many African-American gays and lesbians, to hide their sexual identity for fear of being rejected.”

Marjorie Fields-Harris, the executive director of Sharpton’s National Action Network, will spearhead the fight homophobia initiative.

“It’s a lot larger than preaching biblical doctrine and passing out condoms,” said Harris. “We have to address the social factors. We intend to go into the churches and the community to address this issue from a grassroots perspective.”

During his presidential race last year, Sharpton was o*ne of the o*nly candidates who publicly supported gay marriage, and earlier this year at the request of Brian Ellner, an openly gay candidate running for New York’s Manhattan borough president, Sharpton marched in the city’s Gay Pride Parade.

“Rev. Sharpton can do enormous good o*n this issue.” said Ellner “When the Reverend speaks people listen. We need to get past the myths and phobias. We are faced with the African-American community’s greatest challenge: Survival.”

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Old 08-26-2005, 01:24 PM   #2
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Old 08-26-2005, 01:26 PM   #3
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Good for him . I'm glad to see more people joining up to stand up against homophobia.

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Old 08-26-2005, 01:27 PM   #4
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It is good that he has said this.

(Although I must admit whenever I hear about Sharpton I think of the character in Tom Wolfe's 'Bonfire of the Vanities' that is supposedly based on him )
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Old 08-26-2005, 01:35 PM   #5
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it is interesting how it takes a member of the community to criticize the community ... i have seen, and had retold to me, the effects of homophobia on gay black men, and it's really terrible. and it makes me angry, and it makes me want to chastize African-American culture for inbuing a sense of worthlessness into it's gay population (good gosh, it's as if these pastors had neve read James Baldwin), yet it's nearly impossible for me to do that as a white person and not hear cries of racism (for historically valid reasons). the same thing when it comes to a straight person criticizing gay culture. trust me, there's lots to criticize, yet if it were a straight person who i didn't know well, i'd be instantly defensive.

thus, it's brave of Sharpton to do this.

also, racial politics within gay culture are very, very intersting.
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Old 08-26-2005, 01:37 PM   #6
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another brave african-american:

Kanye West Calls for End to Gay Bashing

NEW YORK - Kanye West says "gay" has become an antonym to hip-hop — and that it needs to be stopped. During an interview for an MTV special, the 27-year-old rapper launched into a discussion about hip-hop and homosexuality while talking about "Hey Mama," a song on his upcoming album, "Late Registration."

West says that when he was young, people would call him a "mama's boy."

"And what happened was, it made me kind of homophobic, 'cause it's like I would go back and question myself," West says on the show, "All Eyes on Kanye West," set to air Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET).

West says he changed his ways, though, when he learned one of his cousins was gay.

"It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I've been discriminating against gays.'"

West says hip-hop was always about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." He adds that in slang, gay is "the opposite, the exact opposite word of hip-hop."

Kanye's message: "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.'"

West, whose debut disc "The College Dropout" won a Grammy for best rap album, will see his second record in stores on Aug. 30.
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Old 08-26-2005, 01:49 PM   #7
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Good ol' Rev Al
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Old 08-26-2005, 02:45 PM   #8
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I actually like a lot of Al Sharpton's ideas (although he does have his share of "what the fuck?" moments ). And this is an excellent move on his part.

Kudos to Kayne West also.

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Old 09-06-2005, 12:02 PM   #9
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Originally posted by U2democrat
Good ol' Rev Al
And Kyane too Very interesting article Irvine...Thank you
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Old 09-06-2005, 01:47 PM   #10
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Very interesting comments by the Reverend. I think he's flaky but he has a good point here.
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Old 09-06-2005, 01:59 PM   #11
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Re: Sharpton denounces African-American homophobia

Originally posted by Irvine511
i usually take Rev. Sharpton with a large grain of salt ... but he's absolutely right in this case, and it underscores a fact of life: homophobia literally kills.


he won't be recieving any "faith based charity" funds, now.
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Old 09-06-2005, 02:01 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Irvine511
it is interesting how it takes a member of the community to criticize the community ...
this point is really interesting to me. great comments, Irvine.

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