Lord Byron (1788-1824)
It is not one man nor a million, but the spirit of liberty that must be preserved. The waves which dash upon the shore are, one by one, broken, but the ocean conquers nevertheless. It overwhelms the Armada, it wears out the rock. In like manner, whatever the struggle of individuals, the great cause will gather strength.
I was not fortunate enough to be able to travel to Washington D.C. today to be a part of yet another historic occasion. After spending time in another of the “masses” in April, 1993, I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have been there. Rather, today, I sat and observed the happenings on CNN and C-SPAN. At various times, I cried. I laughed. I worried. I criticized. Generally, though, I came away happy, with a sense of good will and with hope for a better tomorrow for myself, my distant family, my people, and my nation. (I even learned a new word: diaspora.)
It was called the Million Man March, a gathering of African-American males from across the land, as far and wide as the land itself. There were many things said about the March, true and false. Probably still so. That women were not invited. That admission was charged. However, most charged were the comments that Black people should not participate because of the leadership which suggested the March.
Last week, when discussing the March with a Black male friend of mine, I was disquieted that Minister Louis Farrakhan was the principal voice behind the March. I’m still disquieted as I write this. I sat today and heard co-organizer Benjamin Chavis say that you cannot separate the messenger from the message. Al Sampson of Fernwood United Methodist Church in Chicago implied the same thing. Still, many others feel that the message and the messenger are indeed separate. Regardless, Minister Farrakhan should be respected for making the call. As stated in the American mythology Star Trek, “Only Nixon could go to China”.
However, I am even more disquieted by a gnawing at my insides. I’m sitting here wondering how I, a black gay male, would be received in the Black community’s new world order. Minister Farrakhan asked us to return to our neighborhoods, join an organization, join a church, give up drugs, and black-on-black crime. Is there tolerance enough in this movement to include me and those like me? Or, are we to suffer a distinction that will keep us apart from our communities?
I don’t have an answer for that; I’m not sure I should even care. For if the messenger is listening to his own message, then it should not matter whether I am gay or not. All that should matter is that I have something to offer like the other million or so men on the Mall today.
Ciao for now!