‘We call on our white gay brothers and sisters …to recognize that they have work of their own to do in communicating with communities of color’

SOUNDBITES — “Many gay and lesbian people wonder how it can be that a Black President has not moved more quickly on LGBT rights. They ask out loud how it can be that President Obama does not see gay rights as the next frontier in our nation’s civil rights struggle. What many of my white gay brothers and sisters need to realize is that Obama absolutely understands the intellectual argument that equates advancing gay rights to America’s civil rights struggles. He said as much in his speech. But he is a President whose constituency—and I do not mean white, Middle America, but his constituency of Black Americans—does not stand with him or follow his argument on civil rights encompassing LGBT rights. Obama’s enlightened perspective on the gay rights struggle is seen in his admonishment to himself: ‘It’s not for me to tell you to be patient anymore than it was for others to counsel African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.'” —National Black Justice Coalition deputy director (and out former Connecticut State representative) Jason W. Bartlett on Obama’s promise for civil rights

MORE: “This understanding of the LGBT disinclination towards patience—just as Black civil rights heroes could wait for justice no longer—was neither welcomed nor accepted by many in the Black community. […] Some people take offense personally that white gays and lesbians would take inspiration from civil rights icons, as many have a feeling of ownership and personal attachment to the civil rights struggle and its philosophy. […] NBJC believes that President Obama is ready to do the hard lifting and we are prepared to assist him in this effort. We are also willing to challenge the homophobia that exists in our community. […] In addition, we call on our white gay brothers and sisters—just as President Obama did—to recognize that they have work of their own to do in communicating with communities of color. All too often, Black LGBT people extend our hand to work with our white colleagues, as we did in California on Proposition Eight, and all too often our white brothers and sisters stay frozen in a black/white construct that is still too separate and unwelcoming.”

RE-READ: Queerty’s exclusive interview with Barlett and our extensive look at the struggles NBJC faces