Yet another important story that happened earlier this week and ignored in the wall-to-wall inauguration coverage. A small rally by black gay activists on Chicago's South Side called attention to problems "faced by Black LGBT people in healthcare, employment, social services and the criminal-justice system"
In the frigid January temperatures, marchers walked east along 79th Street, carrying signs that read "Proud to be black and gay," "We will not back down," and "Honor my family." Marc Loveless, the well-known Chicago black gay activist who heads the Coalition for Justice and Respect, says the city's black gay men and lesbians are still very vulnerable.
"[Loveless] noted in particular the three-year-old shooting deaths of two Black gay men at 79th Street and Woodlawn Avenue—a development Loveless said is a hate crime that remains unsolved. Loveless said that the passage of Proposition 8, the recent California state initiative banning same-sex marriage, served as a reminder of the importance of grassroots organizing by the LGBT community. Despite the historic election of President Barack Obama, Loveless said, "The effort of social justice is not over with the election of any official."
Bob Schwartz, an activist with the Gay Liberation Network, echoed Loveless' remarks. Schwartz pointed to the recent police killing of a young Black man in Oakland, as well as the ongoing struggles of Hurricane Katrina survivors, as examples of work still needed in order to reach the goals of social justice and racial equality.
The activists marched past 79th and Woodlawn, where six black gay men were shot at a New Year's Eve Party on December 31, 2006. (See our article in The Advocate.) The march also went past the former home of Larry Bland, the 24-year-old black gay man who was shot to death in November 2007. There were no arrests in the Bland shooting. Police later determined the party shooting was likely the result of a personal "feud or rivalry" in the city's black gay ballroom community.
In late 2007, another black gay man was killed not far from the march. Donald Young was the choir director at Trinity United Church of Christ, the longtime former church home of President Barack Obama.
Some Background ...
Mother Suspects Gay Son Killed After Online Hookup [R20]
Exclusive: Personal Feud May Have Led to Shootings [R20]
6 Gay Black Men Shot at Chicago Party [R20]
Person of Interest Sought in Chicago Shooting [Advocate]
Crime Against the Gay House [Advocate]
Chgo Blk Gay Activists: Discrimination at AIDS Facility [R20]