Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-12-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Project examines Black, LGBT struggles
by William Burks
2009-11-18

This article shared 5105 times since Wed Nov 18, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Marilyn Bennett and the Rev. Gil Caldwell see the dialogue between the LGBT and African-American Christian communities as a challenging one.

Caldwell is a 75-year-old heterosexual African-American clergyman, and Bennett is a 47-year-old white lesbian. The two are collaborating in a multimedia endeavor they call "Truth in Progress," covering the history of the LGBT and Black civil-rights movements, particularly as they experienced them in working together for LGBT equality in the United Methodist Church ( UMC ) .

Their shared history extends back a decade, when they found themselves on the same side of the fight within the UMC to extend full rights to members of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Once their paths converged, they shared conversations, meetings and marches in support of their goal. They were arrested twice at the 2000 General Conference of the UMC for their peaceful disruption of the proceedings. Yet, the church did not offer full equality to its LGBT members: non-celibate gay or lesbian Methodists cannot become ministers in the UMC.

Caldwell, whose activism in the civil-rights movement extends to the 1963 March on Washington and Selma and Montgomery marches of 1965, co-founded United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church—advocating full inclusion of LGBT members—in 2000. He was also recently named to the national board of Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays ( PFLAG ) . Bennett, who has spent much of her career in LGBT advocacy, served for five years as executive director of the Chicago-based Reconciling Ministries Network, an organization of LGBT-supportive UMC churches. Caldwell remains a UMC minister, now retired, while Bennett has left the church.

"Truth in Progress" tells the story of a unique friendship, forged in their shared advocacy, with an almost family intimacy—they affectionately term one another "elder brother" and "little sister." Conceived as a multimedia project including print, video and Web-based materials, it will provide a history of two movements that have often been compared yet been at odds with the other. They two have also begun a blog at truthinprogress.wordpress.com/, where others can comment on and add to their reflections.

The authors hope that both African Americans and LGBT communities will discover elements of a shared struggle as well as appreciation of the differences between the two movements. "Maybe there can be a conversation within, that maybe our project will help diffuse some of the tension by saying, 'This isn't the same struggle. These are different histories. These are difference experiences. But the fight for civil rights and acknowledging equal [ LGBT ] rights is the same thing,'" Bennett said.

Caldwell said he hopes the two "can kind of be the tip of the arrow in terms of our individual conversations, that say what other folk don't say, whether they're African-American or whether they are white and gay."

Bennett noted one of the differences in the two struggles, as, over a period of years, she and Caldwell attended church meetings and conferences on LGBT inclusion. At a hearing before a national church commission about homosexuality in 2002, she remembered how Caldwell summed up some of her feelings: "By then I'd found these presentations rather distasteful as they often turned out to be a way for church people to think that the church is doing something to solve the 'divisive issue of homosexuality' by having both sides ( 'pro' and 'anti' gay ) talk in the same venue. This formal hearing to 'engage in healthy dialogue' was merely a way for church folks to feel like both sides had been heard without acknowledging the damage done to sexual minorities.

"At the hearing Gil tried to speak to the absurdity of these conversations by using an example of race as the 'issue.' [ He said, ] a 'dialogue' of this kind would be like presenting 'both sides' of racism ( pro and con ) without ever stating that racism is wrong. The church does not move towards change, only towards an eased conscience."

She added her hope that the project helps makes people aware of the power they hold over others: "We all have different power plays, you know, white majority, and then, in African American communities there is the power of the vote, to vote against same-gender marriage, or within the church against ordination of gays, so that everyone is aware of the ways they can affect another person for good—or for bad."

In written selections from the print version of their work in the form of letters between the two, Caldwell and Bennett's discussions range from the deeply personal to the general and theoretical, on such issues as being invisible as African American or LGBT persons, the meaning of "passing" as white or as heterosexual, issues of white privilege and unconscious racism or homophobia, and African American clergy who speak to or about LGBT persons as though Black LGBTs do not exist.

Caldwell related the experience of LGBT people who "pass" as heterosexual to experiences in his own family, who, he said, were fearful of being present "with someone 'dark' because they are fearful of their friends if they are seen with me then they will be found out, they will be 'outed.' That's another kind of thing. Whether there are comparable kinds of experiences, is one" of the issues the project is designed to address, he said.

"I happened to be looking at Cornell West's book, Race Matters" Caldwell said, "and I just wanted to see if this plays in terms of gayness: Cornell West in his chapter about sexuality, said this one sentence, 'White fear of Black sexuality is a basic ingredient of white racism.' I wonder if you could say, 'Straight fear of gay sexuality is a basic ingredient of heterosexism.'? Here's a topic we don't talk about. And, in a sense, I tend to talk of same-gender couples rather than same-sexual, both because I think it's accurate but also because I think of the taboo around sexuality in our society, in our church society."

Talking about some of the uncomfortable taboos that exist between two communities struggling for equality—with honesty and compassion—is at the heart of "Truth in Progress."


This article shared 5105 times since Wed Nov 18, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Former pope faulted in report on sexual abuse in German diocese 2022-01-20
- A long-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany's Munich diocese faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI's handling of four cases when he was archbishop in the 1970s and 1980s, The Chicago Tribune reported. Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, the ...


Gay News

Pope Francis thanks U.S. nun for advancing LGBTQ+ rights 2022-01-14
- In a recent letter to Sister Jeannine Gramick, Pope Francis thanked her for her 50 years of advocacy and ministry to LGBTQ+ Catholics, The Hill reported. The pope in his letter, dated Dec. 10, said Gramick ...


Gay News

LETTER Continue the dialogue on racism 2022-01-08
- I am writing this letter to the editor about the article that appeared on the Windy City Times website titled "A look at Northalsted/Boystown bars since 2020 town hall on racism," written by Cris Villalonga-Vivoni. Also, ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Vermont judges, trans bishop, Jared Polis, gay mayor 2022-01-02
- Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced his appointments of three Vermont Superior Court judges—Elizabeth Novotny, of Jericho; Heather Gray, of Quechee; and Justin Jiron, of Underhill, a press release noted. Novotny is a Vermont lawyer with more ...


Gay News

Lighthouse Foundation releases analysis of Chicago LGBTQ+ nonprofits 2021-12-28
- Lighthouse Foundation of Chicagoland—a Black- and queer-led, multiracial social justice organization—has released its Black Queer Equity Index (BQEI). The BQEI evaluates the organizational cultures of five of the area's largest ...


Gay News

Utah billionaire leaves Mormon Church, donates to LGBTQ group 2021-12-22
- Billionaire Jeff Green resigned from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, writing in a letter to the church's president that he believes the institution has "hindered global progress in women's rights, civil rights and ...


Gay News

Pride in the Pews: from storytelling to mobilizing Black LGBTQ+ leaders of faith 2021-12-21
- Storytelling, justice and community—these core values drove Pride in the Pews when it began in March 2021 as a campaign to collect 66 stories from Black LGBTQ+ Christians across the country. While the mission for Pride ...


Gay News

Indiana minister leaves job after appearing with drag queens in TV series 2021-12-12
- The Rev. Craig Duke has been a Methodist minister for three decades, building a reputation as a staunch advocate of LGBTQ inclusion. However, according to ABC News, his pastoral duties have ended—the result of a split ...


Gay News

Michigan diocese issues anti-trans request 2021-12-12
- A Catholic diocese in Michigan is asking its pastors to deny baptism, confirmation and other sacraments to transgender and nonbinary people unless they have "repented"—a policy that's possibly the most sweeping of its kind in the ...


Gay News

Rainbow Railroad plans 'When I Am Free' benefit concert to get LGBTQI+s to safety 2021-11-20
--From a press release. Videos below - Chicago, IL (November 12, 2021) - The annual Chicago 5 Lives Fundraiser hosted by Rainbow Railroad is proud to return this year with "When I Am Free", a benefit concert offering attendees a premier evening of ...


Gay News

Bishops approve paper that falls short of denying Communion to pro-choice Biden 2021-11-18
--From a press release - On Nov. 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted overwhelmingly to approve a document that fell short of refusing Holy Communion to President Joe Biden or others who support abortion rights—something conservatives in the Church ...


Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions to present Christmas Dearest 2021-11-12
--From a press release - Book & Lyrics David Cerda Music by David Cerda and Scott Lamberty. Directed by Derek Van Barham. Nov. 27 — Dec. 31, 2021 at Ebenezer Lutheran Churchz CHICAGO (November 11, 2021) — Hell in a Handbag ...


Gay News

Believe Out Loud multi-faith statement decries Texas' anti trans youth law 2021-11-02
--From a press release - DALLAS, Texas (Nov. 2, 2021) — A national coalition of 37 organizations and more than 171 individuals have endorsed a multi-faith statement of solidarity with transgender children in Texas, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Foster-parent case, stars speak out, Texas youth, 'Queer Eye,' HIV 2021-10-17
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Lambda Legal, together with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along ...


Gay News

OP-ED The Black church was one of R. Kelly's enablers 2021-10-13
- The long-awaited justice for R. Kelly's survivors finally came last month when a New York federal jury found him guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. For nearly 30 years, underage Black girls and their families have ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.