Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-10-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Black gays invited to White House
VIEWS
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2010-01-13

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Just as my enslaved ancestors could have never imagined an African-American family residing in the White House, nor could my African-American LGBTQ brothers and sisters who fought in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York's Greenwich Village imagine that one day a special invitation from the White House would openly welcome us.

This past December the National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) , a civil-rights organization dedicated to empowering LGBTQ people of the African Diaspora by eradicating the twin evils of racism and homophobia, received the White House invitation to its Holiday Open House Tours.

Within less than a week to recover from the "shock and awe" of the news several of us flew from across the country to D.C. Under the leadership of Sharon J. Letterman, NBJC's new executive director, who cleverly had a hand in NBJC receiving the invitation, 25 of us arrived Dec. 17 at the Southeast Gate at Alexander Hamilton Place and East Executive Avenue for our 6 p.m. tour.

Because of the alleged White House State Dinner party crashers, Tareq and Michelle Salahi, in November, security was so tight it operated like a beast on steroids. Brian K. Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, sent out the following statement in terms of security:

"Each person in your tour will need to have a U. Government issued photo ID. If an individual's name and security information was not previously submitted for purposes of background check by the sponsoring organization, that individual will not be admitted at the gate due to security reasons."

Once in the White House, tours were self-guided. However, the United States Secret Service officers were posted in every room not only for security reasons but they were also there to provide historical information about each room in the White House.

Luckily, NBJC had its own White House historian on our tour, Dr. Sylvia Rhue, who is the organization's director of religious affairs. Rhue became a self-made White House historian when she found out that her enslaved maternal great- great-grandmother was born in Blair House, the official state guesthouse of the President.

Francis Preston Blair, Sr. ( 1791-1876 ) , prominent politician and editor of the Washington Globe in the 1800s, had three sons: Montgomery, James and Francis, Jr. Moreover, Francis Preston Blair, Sr. is a great-great-grandfather of U.S. film and stage actor Montgomery Clift, who was bisexual, and who might also be Rhue's great-great cousin.

Montgomery Blair ( 1813-1883 ) , of Rhue's family lineage, was a cabinet member of Abraham Lincoln's administration during the Civil War, serving as postmaster general during 1861-1864. Rhue suspects that her great-great-grandmother was either Blair's illegitimate child or a child born to a slave family working for the Blairs.

Rev. Deborah L. Johnson, a lesbian, and founder and president of Inner Light Ministries, a transdenominational spiritual community of more than 1,500 people in Northern California, was also with the NBJC's contingent on the tour.

In an interview with Rhue she said, "My great-great-grandmother may have been at some point Blair's mistress. It's not unusual you know. But it's amazing how so much of our history is now coming to light. Deborah's great-great-grandfather was the first black postmaster. His boss may have been Montgomery Blair. Small world."

For Rhue and Johnson the Holiday Open House Tour allows them to imagine what life must have been for their enslaved relatives working in and around the White House and D.C.

The White House was built between 1792 and 1800. And slave labor was an integral part of the construction of the White House, the U.S. Capitol building and grounds. The White House Historical Association reports, "Black quarrymen, sawyers, brick makers, and carpenters fashioned raw materials into the products used to erect the White House." Five slaves—named Tom, Peter, Ben, Harry and Daniel—worked as carpenters during the building to the White House in 1795. And in 1863, a slave named Philip Reid supervised the construction of the Statue of Freedom that is hoisted atop the Capitol dome.

With racism and homophobia erasing LGBTQ African Americans' historical contributions and connections to the physical building of the White House and the moral building of our nation, Rhue's and Johnson's family histories are reminders that we, too, are unequivocally an integral part of this history.


facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

LETTER Response to Kavanaugh 2018-10-10
Archbishop's comment explains why Church is in so much trouble 2018-10-10
Eve Ewing podcast features Terkel interviews 2018-10-10
Alzheimer's: A Love Story 2018-10-03
LETTER A big 'thank you' 2018-10-03
Aging gracefully: Don't speak of overcoats or bowels 2018-09-26
THE AMAZON TRAIL There is no place like home 2018-09-26
Change is in the air 2018-09-19
LETTER Calling out Kavanaugh 2018-09-19
Reeling 2018 reviews 2018-09-19
Challenges face the creators of Tootsie 2.0 2018-09-05
MOMBIAN What's possible in LGBT-inclusive classrooms 2018-08-29
GUEST COLUMN Religious Exemption Laws Put LGBT Elders at Risk 2018-08-29
LETTER TO THE EDITOR As you are 2018-08-22
VIEWS Cardinal Cupich on sexual abuse: Clerical culture, not gay priests, at fault 2018-08-15
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Calling for change 2018-08-15
Youth activist Mack Guthrie talks 'My Body, My Story' campaign 2018-08-08
MOMBIAN Creator of study on LGBTQ familes talks about new findings 2018-08-08
GUEST COLUMN Mishea' Davinae's Chronicles 2018-08-01
ESSAY The Battle Within, Cis and Trans Women, Can We Get Along 2018-08-01
VIEWS Our lives do depend on it 2018-08-01
LETTER Safety stance anniversary 2018-08-01
LETTER Valiant effort 2018-07-25
SOUND THE ALARMS Supreme Court pick could dismantle LGBTQ rights 2018-07-18
Independence Day celebration for whom? 2018-07-11
GenForward surveys millennials' views on LGBT issues: race, identity, experience 2018-07-09
VIEWPOINT When they come for me 2018-07-04
LETTERS Being human, meeting obligations to children 2018-06-27
Raoul for AG attacks opponent on anti-gay views 2018-06-25
Money bond, pretrial incarceration hurting Chicago's LGBTQ Communities 2018-06-20
What's happening to Pride? 2018-06-20
Cakeshop ruling doesn't crumple our opponents 2018-06-13
Trigger warning, mental health, suicide prevention and survivor guilt 2018-06-13
GUEST COLUMN Still a Cis World After All 2018-06-06
MOMBIAN Two new picture books tell story of the rainbow flag 2018-06-06
THEATER VIEWPOINT Don't just stand there 2018-06-06
Can the LGBTQ community trust Pope Francis? 2018-05-30
VIEWS Pimping King 2018-05-23
THE AMAZON TRAIL The six-foot table solution 2018-05-16
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Walking for immigrant justice and dignity 2018-05-16
 



Copyright © 2018 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

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.