May 11, 2005, Military Park, Newark, NJ By Louie Crew My gaydar is broken, but I sense there are at least some of you who are straight who are here to join with us today. Bless your hearts! We are grateful that you would risk sharing our stigma. We need your help. May your numbers increase! No one group can make it all alone. We all need each other - straights and lbgts alike, blacks, whites, Asians and multiethnic persons alike; women and men.. The Newark Pride Alliance is that, an alliance, and we want to promote healthy alliances everywhere. Some of you who are straight are there when things are said that would never be said when people know lbgt persons are present. You know what I mean. And those things will continue to be said until you, and those like you, say, "For as much as you are talking about my friends, you are talking about me, and I won't allow it." All of our public schools need to develop alliances between gays and straights. If there is not such an alliance in your school, you don't even have to be lbtg to start one. I am delighted that my bishop is here. Thank you, Bishop Croneberger. Raise your hands all who are clergy: I charge you to find more to join you. These crimes will continue until the leaders of all institutions in this community get serious about their job to serve everyone, not just Violence does not just happen. Bullies act in the most predictably when they think no one will be concerned, they pick on those already the most vulnerable. We are here today because those in power in this community are not doing their jobs, they are not fulfilling the obligations to make Newark a safe community for all citizens, especially for unpopular citizen. We are here today because of the brutal murder of Sakia Gunn two years ago at the main intersection of the city. We are here today because the mayor has not fulfilled his commitment to assure safe spaces for lesbian and gay youth in this city. We are here today because we do not have the lesbigay youth center that so desperately need. We are here today because too many of the clergy of this town, like Pontius Pilate when Jesus was brought before him, want to wash their hands of the matter. New Jersey's LAD (Law Against Discrimination) exempts religious institutions, and too many congregations and their leaders use that exemption as a license to teach hate and shame. This must stop. We are here today because too few people in this community treat us their lesbian and gay neighbors as themselves. Far too many Christians treat the bible as a weapon rather than as Jesus treated it, as a book of life. "God so loved the world.." Not just the heterosexual world, but the world, all of it, absolutely everyone of us. "God so loved the world..that whosoever believeth...., whosoever believeth, whosoever believeth..." Just what part of whosoever is so difficult to understand? As slaves reminded the world with strong irony: Not everybody talking about heaven is going there! We are here today because racism limits the humanity of this place - this city, this state, this nation, this world. We are here to proclaim that the lives of lesbians of color, the lives of gays, bisexuals, and transgendered persons of color are of equal value to the lives of white lesbians of color, the lives of white gays, white bisexual and white transgendered persons. Today I Googled for the name "Sakia Gunn" and in the whole world wide web found only 5,010 hits. I googled for the name "Matthew Shepherd" and found 128,000 hits, over 25 times the attention given on the internet to Sakia Gunn. That, folks, is wrong. We cannot reverse evil, we cannot end murder, if we don't know that it is happening. On May 11, 2003, when Richard McCullough stabbed to death 15 year old Sakia Gunn, he acted just as egregiously, just as heinously, as did Russell Henderson (an Eagle Scout) and Aaron McKinney on October 12, 1998 when they crucified Matthew Shepherd. Matthew and Sakia are both in God's arms today, but we are not. We are stuck here to remove the injustices that sent them both to God. We are here today because our Newark's schools and institutions of higher learning have not done their job well. It is one thing to receive students who bring the hatred of the street with them when they begin their education. It is quite another for us to graduate them still holding the hatred of the streets, often with no evidence of ever encountering serious challenges to that hatred. What colleges and universities in Newark are safe for gay students? Which of these institutions has added to the curriculum the texts so vital for everyone to learn to live with one another, not threatened by our differences, but delighting in our great diversity? What high schools in Newark have added to the curriculum the texts vital to have lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people to understand our many contributions to the rich heritage of science, literature and the arts? Rita Mae Brown once said, "If Michelangelo had been straight, he would have painted the Sistine Chapel off white and used a roller. How many of their chancellors, deans, and department heads have worked with lesbian and gay colleagues and students to make a safe environment? Why are the campus police and security officials often the ones least open the concerns of lesbians and gays? If we act in alliance, in solidarity, we can end this violence. -- 30 --
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