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 2018-10-17
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Unlikely collaborators seek out their "truth in progress"
by Matt Simonette
2013-07-20

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


A straight African American minister from New Jersey and an out lesbian writer living in Montana might, on the surface, seem to have very little in common. But for several years, Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett, both longtime activists, have been collaborating on a multi-media project they hope will illuminate the intersections between race, sexual orientation and religion in America.

Caldwell and Bennett will discuss their project, Truth in Progress, after a film screening at Broadway United Methodist Church, 3338 N. Broadway St., at 9:45 a.m. July 21. Caldwell will also preach that morning at the church's 8:45 and 11:00 a.m. services.

They met in Chicago in 2000; both were helping prepare for a UMC conference alongside Rev. Greg Dell. A few weeks later, they were both arrested at a civil action in Cleveland. "That was a bonding experience," Bennett said.

They began a written correspondence that helped both Caldwell and Bennett gain new insights into their activism. "As we took the layers off, we would come to more and more truth," Bennett said, adding that was how the name of their project, Truth in Progress, came about. It consists of a book, documentary film and a website. In 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu expressed his thoughts on the Trayvon Martin killing on the website.

"We wanted to have the information available immediately, which is the reason for the multi-media project," said Bennett. "We had written a series of letters to each other about the topic, but we knew that only a certain number of people would buy a book."

The film shows the pair travelling across the country engaging in conversation with activists, religious leaders, artists, "people on the street" and scholars. So far they have filmed at Selma, the Stonewall Inn, Montana and Texas.

A provocative question for the pair has been how to engage the right spaces and times in which to hold conversations on race and sexual orientation, and, as Bennett asked, "How can you have them in 'mixed company?'"

"It is important for people to engage in a kind of self-inventory," said Caldwell. "Conversations on race and gayness often need to take place in existing groups, where there's a trust factor. We tend to have integrated groups to look at race—white people often don't feel they can talk about it unless there are people of color present. And when people of color are present, that changes the dynamic. …In groups that are homogeneous, where you've got trust, you can just be who you are."

Both Caldwell and Bennett were careful to point out that they were not trying to illustrate equivalencies between the civil rights and gay rights movements. Instead they were looking for existing connections the two communities could draw from.

Caldwell explained, in fact, where disconnects might happen between each community's goals.

"The survival issues in the African American community—particularly within poorer communities—are such that gay rights and marriage equality becomes a secondary thing," he said. "Even though I disagree, an appreciation for that is important. That sea change in the gay community is not happening in the African American community."

One of Caldwell's mantras comes from Rev. Martin Luther King's April, 1963, letter from the Birmingham jail: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I live by that," Caldwell said. "I try to find myself doing in this movement what we did not do well in the civil rights movement. We were isolated. We dealt with racial injustice, but we did not address women's issues and we did not address gay issues. I find myself in this movement wanting to talk in holistic ways and one of those is talking about both racism and heterosexism."

He said that the African American community has had individual success stories, but, "Collectively, there are some real concerns. I hope there will be a real merging, that gay "power" can somehow partner with the black community."

Very often Caldwell links details from the killings of African Americans and gay men. After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, he remembered that the law commonly referred to as "the Matthew Shepard Act" is officially the "Matthew Shepard and Robert Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act," in remembrance of a black man who was dragged behind a truck, then decapitated, in Texas in 1998.

"Black identity invokes in so many non-blacks an unconscious response, and the same thing happens in terms of gay people," Caldwell said. "You wonder if it's the DNA. There's an 'ominous reality' about blackness and an 'ominous reality' about gayness for many people."

Many public responses to President Obama "emanate from a visceral anti-black, kind of place," according to Caldwell. "We haven't been able to call blackness 'blackness.' With conservatives especially, to talk about racism is racist. That's what we are seeing after the killing of Trayvon Martin—the accusations that we are the ones who made a racist issue out of it."

Bennett said that one way to sustain dialogues about equality over time is to use important events as springboards for conversation. That was a sentiment shared by Lois McCullen Parr, pastor at Broadway United Methodist Church, who's hosting Bennett and Caldwell's visit.

"That intersection of oppressions is always something we're looking at here," said Parr. "…We're working really hard here at Broadway to be an anti-racist, multi-cultural community—that is hard work for white people, to own up to privilege and power. We've been really intentional in our ministry about that."

The day after the Zimmerman verdict was handed down, Parr opened up the floor for discussion during Sunday services. "Our service lasted for two hours. I don't know how many of those conversations like that happened last week, so I'm proud of my people."

Visit truthinprogress.com for more information.


facebook twitter pin it 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

Gay News

The Trans Generation 2018-10-17 - By Ann Travers $25; New York University Press; 261 pages Boy or girl? That's a common enough question, if you're ...


Gay News

A Cradle Song Part One 2018-10-17 - A Cradle Song debuts in the Windy City Times as the new holiday classic. Filled with travail and woe, warmth and great joy, ...


Gay News

Chelsea Clinton at W&CF Oct. 21 2018-10-17 - Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton will be at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m. ...


Gay News

Intersectional feminism meets coffee table books in 'HERstory,' 'Revolution' 2018-10-16 - The Revolution is Female Author: Kristen Blush. $61; Blush; 128 pages Modern HERstory Author: Blair Imani. $17.99; Ten Speed Press; 208 pages ...


Gay News

'Tinderbox' author at Unabridged 2018-10-15 - Author/historian Robert Fieseler ( left ) discussed his new book, Tinderbox: The Untold Story of The Upstairs Lounge Fire and The Rise of ...


Gay News

Jill Soloway looks ahead to celebrating new book in Chicago 2018-10-13 - Jill Soloway spoke with the Windy City Times ahead of the release of their new book, She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling ...


Gay News

Black Queer Hoe 2018-10-10 - By Britteney Black Rose Kapri $16; Haymarket; 55 pages In her poem "a reading guide: for white people reading my book," ...


Gay News

On My Way to Liberation 2018-10-10 - By H. Melt, $10; Haymarket; 28 pages On My Way to Liberation, by H. Melt, is a chapbook-length preview of their ...


Gay News

And Then We Danced, A Voyage into the Groove 2018-10-10 - By Henry Alford $26; Simon & Schuster; 229 pages You can't stop your feet. They need to move, to tap-tap-tap, to ...


Gay News

Archbishop's comment explains why Church is in so much trouble 2018-10-10 - MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland—Archbishop Charles Chaput's statement about LGBT Catholics at the synod on youth yesterday is a perfect example of how some church ...


 



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      Post 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.