Whose Dream?

Why the black church opposes gay marriage

It seems obvious that black messengers are more effective than whites in communicating with black audiences. Maybe that, too, is one of the lessons of the Brown case. Despite all the progress toward integration, black people still don't trust white people, even those who suffer from discrimination themselves. Beneath the surface of racial tolerance, we're still a country divided by skin color—and certainly the gay community is divided by race.

Given their unique role straddling two worlds, black gays and lesbians may hold the key to unlocking the door of homo-tolerance in the black community. "I think the black community is going to become more accepting, more tolerant," Julian Bond predicts. "I can't place a timetable on it, but I'll tell you one thing: It depends on the degree to which black gays and lesbians begin to stand up in their churches, in their organizations, and say, 'This is me you're talking about.' That's a powerful, powerful message."

Reverend Peter Gomes attributes black social conservatism to assimilation
photo: Kris Snibbe/Harvard University News
Reverend Peter Gomes attributes black social conservatism to assimilation

Keith Boykin is president of the National Black Justice Coalition, which works to build alliances between blacks and gays on the issue of marriage equality.

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