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Now that We’ve Found Love, What Are We Gonna’ Do with It?
What does marriage equality mean to me, when you don’t recognize that BLACK LIVES MATTER?’

At the most recent Gatekeepers Collective caucus, Brothers considered the ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, in the same week that the first of a series of funerals is conducted in the wake of a Black church massacre.

Facilitator says, “When I was eight, I dreamed I was standing on top of a high hill with a man I had just married, and we were holding each other, looking down at the city below, feeling an extraordinary kind of happiness and peace…I woke up feeling disoriented and a little frightened…In the dream I had been a woman…That would become a recurring dream for me…I had done several years of therapy as an adult before I understood the reason I had been a woman in the dream was because, in the world in which we lived, that was the only way one could marry a man…But, I never dreamed that in my lifetime it would be possible for a man to marry another  man…And, now that we can, while I think it is a wonderful turn of events…a most marvelous paradigm shift, to be sure…I have to admit, I feel a little disoriented all over again…”

And with that, he asks the group, ‘What does marriage equality mean to us?’

Participants answer…

“I’m not really surprised, or elated…The big thing to me is the push back against marriage equality…like the Confederate flag…They say they’re celebrating their history…I don’t get that they don’t get that it’s [infringing] on other people’s rights… our right to just be…”

“The right to marry, for those who want to, they can…As for our people getting married, every time we see a Black person, it’s with a white person…I’m wondering if we will start seeing Black-on-Black love being expressed…Since I was gay, I was expected to have a White lover, in the community I grew up in…Piscataway…We were among five Black families in the community…The biggest stereotype in the Black community is that, if you’re gay, you’re sleeping with a White man…I’m hoping this is the starting point for all of us to see that we can love each other…As far as the flag, that’s their last stand…It’s a reminder…a threat to us that they can still do what they want to do to us [with impunity]…”

“I have a question…I’m not from America…What is the significance of the Confederate flag?...”

“It was used as a counterpoint to oppress [Black people]…”

“There was a Civil War between the South and the North…”

“If we take down the flag, does that mean that we’ve solved racism?...Slavery still exists in our bloodline…”

“How does this affect our ability to love each other?..."

“The Confederate Battle Flag, which is at the center of controversy today, is different from the Flags that represented the government of the Confederate States…[So, it's a false argument]...”

Facilitator says, “What is most problematic about the [flying Confederate] flag[s] is the symbolism… [they are] a constant reminder to Black people of our so-called place in the social order as slaves…[They are poised] to reinforce white supremacy, and Black domination, subjugation, dehumanization, exploitation, and some other negative "-ations"…If we will understand why the struggle to bring down those flags is still a matter of life and death, it is imperative that we understand the role symbols play in institutionalizing and maintaining systems and roles within systems…”

“We keep talking about being equal…What we should be shooting for is to be all that we can be… We may want to go another step [beyond marriage equality], where a man can have a man and a woman…What we should be concerned about is our own flag…the red, black, and green [Pan African] flag…They got their flag ‘cause of us…They got their flag because of our [stolen] labor…”

“We have so much other things we haven’t taken care of [before we start thinking about getting married]…I’m glad we can [get married, but]…Our health stats are still bad…Our economics are the poorest…Our money doesn’t circulate at all in our community…Civil Service jobs which had been stepping-stones into the middle class…token clerks, bus drivers…less and less Blacks [are getting them]…The assault on Black bodies…Tazing people, even when they’re running away from them…Even with cameras [capturing the action]…[Assaulting] Black boys and girls in bathing suits…It’s old wine in new bottles…[They’re still telling us] ‘You’re less than us’…”

“For those of us that identify as bisexual, if you marry a woman, it’s a big thing…excitement…[It] brings families together…And then, if I married a man, it would bring pride and joy, but also hurt about who wouldn’t come [to the wedding]…For years, going to Adodi and BMX…[They said marriage] was a hetero-normative construct, and how we should think of something better…Jonathan and David in the Bible…When I heard them speak so negatively about marriage, I wondered…If you have health, and all the money in the world, if you don’t have love, what do you have?...For me, the American flag is the same as the Confederate flag…When they drop bombs on people, what flag is flying?...The same [goes for] the rainbow flag…Like [another Brother said], we should have our own flag…Love is an intentional thing that we should learn as human beings…”

“We can allow ourselves to have a victory with our feeling like all our work is done…I remember growing up with the feelings of deviancy…While [the movement for marriage equality] was spearheaded by people who didn’t necessarily have us in mind, doesn’t mean it doesn’t benefit us…”

“Marriage is failing…Marriage may be obsolete…Why run into a house that’s on fire?...”

“The right to be married was not created for us…[Our ancestors were not allowed to marry]…Our parents struggled [within their marriages, to have their civil and human rights recognized]…”

“Anything that’s given to us, we should take advantage of…Yes, we have issues…We will always have issues…”

“As wonderful as marriage may be, in twenty-nine states, gay and lesbian people can still be fired from their jobs [for their sexual orientations]…” *

“I’m trying to understand why we feel the people who pushed for marriage equality weren’t thinking about us…People marry because they love each other…Marriage brings along with it all sorts of legal things…Monies can be transferred [and coalesced]…”

“When you look at [the struggle for] gay marriage, it looks like Civil and human rights with the NAACP…People asked, ‘Why are you fighting to desegregate the busses?’…It’s about rights…the choice…the option is now available that wasn’t before…the more options you have, the more freedom you have…If it’s going to take me a little longer to stop the tide of the killing of Black men, so be it…”

“As men…As Americans, we are in the best time we could be in, and be gay…Right now we can do whatever we want to do, and be with whoever we want to be with…I remember when I was 17, or 18-years-old, my best friend was a girl…We slept in the same bed…I told her I was gay, and she said, ‘So?’…”

“The mental, physical, and spiritual health are critical…Working on those things…and the desire, and hope, and expectation [is what will prime us to take advantage of this new right]…You started this conversation with a premonition you had at an early age…Dreams are the way we speak to ourselves about possibilities…In places like this, where we can unlearn the stigma of all the things we were told were not good about us…[We can learn] that we are worthy, and beautiful and know that it’s a process…love…[This is where we can prepare ourselves for this new possibility]…”

* In 32 states it is legal to fire people based on their sexual orientation


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