Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blacks, gays and the Black Panther Party

In June, shades – Celebrating All Women of Color –Magazine (of which I am CEO/Editor-in-Chief) served as a media sponsor for the 2013 San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade. Now heading into its 44th year, the nonprofit organization continues to educate and positively highlight the heritage and culture of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities around the globe.

We were impressed by the way the organization embraced more than its “historically” white, male members. The group reached out to the LGBT and ally communities – all under the supervision of then-Board President Lisa Williams, an African-American lesbian (she is currently the Interim CEO of the organization).

Recently a friend shared an article with me that gave me a new respect for SF Pride and its work to bring people together and the work of other organizations that strive to break down the barriers that many in society still try to build up.

The article, “The Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements,” is a 1970 speech
given by Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panthers. It appeared on the “Sons of Malcolm” blog by Sukant Chandan.

Did you know the Black Panther Party marched in the first SF gay parade? Are you aware that despite his personal questions on why a person may be “homosexual,” Newton understood that a person’s human rights outweighs how he or she is viewed by society.

Newton writes: 

“And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it's a phenomenon that I don't understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don't know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.” 

As the title says, Newton’s speech also makes sure that the black males of the party embrace women, as well, who at that time – and actually still do now – fight for their rights: 

“Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say ‘whatever your insecurities are’ because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

“We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor."

Despite the complaints about the Internet by some, it’s a great way to reveal history’s truths.

We must not forget the fight isn't between us. Each of us on this planet have more in common than not and we should be mindful that we are working on the same team. When we break the line, we're not working for the struggle, but for self.

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