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SUMMARY: James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin: Standing At The Intersection of Black and SGL/LGBTQ Rights - A Celebration


Kicking off African American History Month, The Gatekeepers Collective considered the freedom-fighting legacy left us by James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin in a caucus titled, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin: Standing at the Intersection of Black and SGL/LGBTQ Rights – A Celebration.

Among comments following the screening of a short film, “Bayard Rustin and James Baldwin: Freedom Fighters and Friends”, included,

“[Baldwin and Rustin called attention to] the struggle of what it meant to be Black…[they] raised consciousness…”

“Baldwin was my absolute favorite of all times writer…but, I feel that conflict…that he had white lovers…and particularly with Rustin…I heard he had disdain for being around Black people…”

Facilitator says, {“Mr. Rustin trained my parents as organizers out of Mr. [A. Philip] Randolph’s office on 125th Street…I remember my sense as a little kid that Mr. Rustin loved Black people…”}

“I remember [musician] Michelle N‘degeoello saying she was going to marry a white woman so that she could be like the [Black] revolutionaries of the sixties…”

“I can’t excuse a Baldwin or a Rustin [for choosing white men as their life partners]…”

“Being able to find love, how or wherever one finds it, is an amazing and mysterious thing, and I can’t spite anybody if the object of their love isn't one I think I might choose…”

“I have never known love from a white person in my life…”

“[A lot of people will say,] Let’s march against injustice and then call you a faggot…”

“There are Black people who have never been loved by Black people…”

“In the church I used to go to in Chicago, I remember Reverend Jeremiah Wright used to say, ‘People who look like you are not necessarily for you, and people who don’t look like you are not necessarily against you…”

“For Baldwin to have been a Black gay man…”

Facilitator says, {“Baldwin made a point of not identifying as gay…In a 1984 village Voice article called, Go the Way Your Blood Beats, he explained that the term gay had nothing to do with his identity…Now, where these men had white lovers…if we consider the period when these men avowed and honored their homosexuality… dating back sixty-plus years ago, when most entitled White homosexuals dared not acknowledge their sexuality… some of us in this room are not present in our sexualities today…Lest we forget, homosexuality was not just stigmatized, it was treated as a mental illness, and among the treatments administered were electric shock, and lobotomies…Because of the stigma, the potential penalties for being discovered homosexual, and [because of] internalized black and homosexual oppression, most SGL Black men didn’t feel free to be fully present in their sexualities, where, [once again] among White homosexuals, there were many more who felt entitled enough to be able to feel whole unto themselves…One would think men like Baldwin and Rustin, who were whole unto themselves, would seek companionship and love from other men who felt whole unto themselves…”}


The LGBT Movement has evolved to the same-sex marriage movement, which is now the law of the land in 37 states, and counting...The Civil Rights Movement would seem to have morphed into Black Lives Matter...As Black men who love men, do we have a stake in these movements?

“The revolution is around this connectivity…[My cohorts and I] woke up one day and realized, we don’t know what’s going on…[We have to] see each other as resources…So, we created a magazine celebrating Black gay men…and every hand that touched the magazine [we publish] is a Black gay man…[there’s an] intergenerational connection that’s happening as well…[And,] White people, you don’t have a voice at our table…”

“We’re consumers…We support these brands…”

“The creators of the Black Lives Matter Movement are SGL women…That’s an example of this new movement [for Black liberation]…”

“A nine-point-two-million-dollar renovation was done on the LGBT Center, six-million of which were state [funds]…And the only Black people you see in power roles there are the custodians…We need those kinds of resources being funneled into our own centers… “

“What the GLBT Movement is doing is what the NAACP did…going to court over and over, and rolling back the anti-homosexual laws… It’s not all about money…It’s about human rights…It’s about respect as a human being when we are fighting for our rights…”

“I grew up during Civil Rights…We though that if we could just get rights, everything would work out…”

“When you talk about economics and power, it’s going to evolve to physical struggle, and we don’t want to talk about that…”

“[In the film,] “7 AM”…the concept is economic empowerment…We need to be conscious of where we put our money…The money we spend is used against us…”

“Until we come to a place of acceptance for all in the community, we [will continue to have to struggle…”

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