Sunday, November 09, 2008

SF Chron: Black Church Service
Disrupted Over Prop 8

The last time I saw the Rev. Amos C. Brown, head of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, was back in September when I was counter-protesting a demonstration at City Hall by Christian anti-gay zealots voicing opposition to the Folsom Street Fair and gay marriage. Click here to see the pics.

Brown, who is heterosexual, pro-gay, black and conservative, stopped by the dueling protests to give the zealots a piece of his mind. He was so forcefully defending gay marriage to a Christian protester that a cop had to tell him to cool his hot head.

Not only is Brown pro-gay marriage, he opposed Prop 8, but, big surprise here, the No on 8 leadership didn't recruit him to help defeat the ballot measure. I didn't see any No materials with him and all his associations from the black community, touting his opposition. Were the No leaders unaware of his position, or, did they not now how to work with Brown to persuade other blacks to voters to say No?

My mind imagines the free publicity and education the No side would have generated if this pillar of the black and religious communities had used his clout and booming, prophetic orating style at a debate with the Yes forces. Oh, what I would have given to witness, on television, Rev. Amos C. Brown challenging the lies of the Yes folks!

But as we all know, the scaredy-cats running the No show, didn't seek out debates with our opposition, and when the Yes side asked us to debate the final weekend before the election, our side snidely passed on the invitation.

Okay, I've digressed enough. The point of this posting is an item from this morning's political gossip column in the San Francisco Chronicle, showing Brown, yet again, going to great lengths for gay marriage:

Just last Sunday, Third Baptist Church minister and former San Francisco Supervisor Rev. Amos Brown - a veteran of the civil rights battles of the 1960s - launched into a sermon about the need to protect the rights of gays.

Suddenly, a young associate minister seated in the front row stormed the pulpit, grabbed a microphone and began lecturing Brown about the need to "just preach the Gospel and leave that other stuff alone."

Brown snatched the microphone from the man, who was quickly escorted out.

"There are African Americans who ... feel the white gays haven't stood with them on issues like social justice, education and housing," Brown said.

On the other hand, Brown also knows the black community was slow to offer support to gays at the outset of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Brown warned the ugliness will continue if cooler heads don't prevail.

"What this man did storming the church pulpit was just the tip of the iceberg," he said.

I'm being mild here in saying, interesting that the disruption came not from a gay protester after we lost, but that it came from another religious figure within Brown's church.

One day soon, I want the No leaders to answer this question: Why didn't you collaborate with Brown?

It is downright criminal that such a straight black religious leader was not a visible and loud member of the No coalition that brought us defeat on Tuesday. Then again, I must remember how the only reason why the No side ever got around to using Obama's image and opposition to Prop 8, three days before November 4, was because the Yes side beat them at being the first to use the popular candidate to garner votes.

I'll be snail mailing a thank you note to the Rev. Amos C. Brown on Monday. Sure, too little, too late, to defeat Prop 8, but at least he'll hear a small dose of gratitude expressed for his support for gays this election season from at least one white gay voter.


Anonymous said...

White gays do not care about blacks. They are insignificant in the white gay world (relegated to fetishes and otherwise to the bottom of the consideration ladder).

So you an be assured that they didn't even think about blacks during the whole thing--much less think about approaching them.

White gays only care about exploiting civil rights language but care nothing about its principles in they gay movement--the most sexually racist group in America (not to mention in other ways) bar none.

Then they think that blacks owe them something because gays supported Obama?
Blacks built this country for free (no--wait--they paid to build this country with their lives and freedom against their will) They don't owe gays---or anyone else--squat!

But white privilege is an ugly thing to watch.

Cambel said...

James give me a break. During the entire "No on 8" campaign people were worried about polls that showed the black community were opposed to gay marraige. You can yell and scream and stomp your foot all you want about how suppoedly racist the white gay community is, but the fact remains, the white gay community supported Obama for President and the black community voted 70% to take away our rights. your attempt at mis-direction is not helpful because what it does is prevent any kind of meaningful discussion on what needs to be done within the communities, both black and gay to comabat the rampant homophobia within the black churches.

Anonymous said...

James, even if the white gay 'leadership' feels that way about blacks, in fact even if most white gays are in that boat, isn't it still worth it to change their minds? And does that change what is actually *right* here, rather this sort of schadenfreude over the oppression of people you see as insufficiently supportive of blacks?

We'll never get anywhere that way - this is about what's RIGHT. I'm not gay, black (or white), or even Christian, so correct me if I'm wrong - but I thought that was what the Gospels was about, and I also thought that's what we were supposed to stand up for as Americans.


Anonymous said...

I've stewed in my anger over this possibly mortal idealogical fissure in Democratic unity--just we are ascending to our mandate, no less--for a week now. And here is my conclusion:

Spokepeople from both groups need to understand the GOP could exploit this small, fixable disagreement of the defintion of "civil rights" and make it something more permanent that will bring the GOPers back into power. No one wants that, so before you say anything else, know that this is ultimately what you will be effecting.

Second, spokespeople from both demographics need to not give in to the defensive instinct to compare his group's plights "realness" to the other groups "illusions". That will only create disunity.

Finally, adding to my my second item, both groups need to understand the other group's plight as distinctive and deserving in their own right. After all, what is the point in honoring the achievements of the black Civil Rights movement if it is to be reduced by uncareful rhetoric to a small, forgettable cause that happened way-back-when and does not matter now? And how could the resilience of Harvey Milk be seen as the work of any other man who was wronged? Both groups have suffered inequality, and like any other group, they have suffered them differently. This does not make one more deserving than the other of achieiving their dreams, and I think that once both groups can respect the acievements made by the others', it will foster an unimpeachable understanding that will make steel the mandate for change.

Gar said...

Interesting. This surely is a great opportunity for gay rights organizations to figure out how to be more inclusive and start reaching out to other minority communities with leadership roles, and they can start by building a partnership with Amos Brown. The gay community also needs to build bridges with Mormon leadership. There is a reason, unfortunately, that people feel the way James does with all this intense polarization among minority groups.

Anonymous said...

i didn't really follow this part of the november 4 election all that closely unfortunately. still, what happened regarding this proposition was a travesty.

it's good to see that there's some soul searching and self-critique going on with regard to how the no on 8 campaign was run. hopefully this will mean that over the coming years, the move toward truly universal access to marriage will gain ground.

you have my support, as someone who isn't gay, is neither white nor black, and isn't american.

Zandt said...

Since when do "white gays" not care about black people? Somehow the fact that there is, in fact, rampant homophobia, fueled by evangelical religion, in much of the African-American community is still white people's fault.

I know plenty of "white gays" who aren't remotely racist, work hard for people of ALL colors, genders, ethicities, and religions, and who don't reduce black people to a fetish.

I have also had the misfortune, in trying to engage black evangelically oriented persons on the issue of civil rights for gay people, flatly tell me that they think I am not a human being.

This is not an issue of race, but of religion. Not all black people hate gay people, and not all white gay people (or gay people of any other color) hate black people.

To deny that there are commonalities in the struggle for civil rights for black people and gay people is complete lunacy. To say they are precisely the same is also wrong. However, that people should be outraged that gay people notice and point out -- rightly -- that the struggle for rights for gay people has its roots in the struggle for rights for ALL people undermines the basic premise that gay people are PEOPLE -- just like anyone else. And that concept is the foundation on which the struggle for civil rights is based.

Anonymous said...

james -- What about all the HIV organizations, mostly gay-founded and -run, whose clients include so many African-Americans? The fastest-growing group with HIV is the African-American community, yet to my knowledge, no gay donor or employee of an ASO has ever begrudged a single penny or minute spent on non-white patients.