By Jonathan Capehart
You know about the complaint many African Americans have about gay men and lesbians equating — in any way — their shared struggle for equal rights with the civil rights movement. Well, going hand-in-hand with that is an annoyance with the seeming one-way nature of the gay appropriation. In other words, the gays want everyone to understand their plight, but they do nothing to lend their voice and support when the blacks could use it.
That changed with the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
On Monday, 23 groups representing the varied concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people issued an open letter in support of Trayvon’s family and their quest for justice.
The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is a national call to action. Our hearts go out to Trayvon’s family and friends for the loss they have experienced. We stand in solidarity with them as they demand answers and justice. We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies.
Many in our community have been targets of bigotry and bias. We have a great deal of experience grappling with the role bias plays in violent crimes against our communities. We well know the stories of young people targeted for violence just because of who they are: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Deoni Jones, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Angie Zapata, Sean Kennedy and countless others.
Trayvon’s killing is a wakeup call to the enduring cancer of racism and racial profiling. The pain his family continues to endure transcends communities and unites us all. Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.
Trayvon’s killing is tragic and the stark reality that racial bias played a role in his death has alarmed our nation. Questions must be asked. Answers must be sought. And justice must be served. We join our voices to the chorus of so many others to demand that local and federal authorities find those answers. We stand in solidarity with Trayvon’s family and friends as they seek justice for his killing. In the timeless words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
The letter was signed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Justice Coalition, Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality, Freedom to Marry, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, to name a few. It marks an important moment in a necessary alliance that needs more tending.
Folks who feel under siege are always mindful of who their allies are, who is standing with them publicly when they need the support the most. That some of the premiere LGBT organizations in the country have stepped forward on an issue of great importance to African Americans should be applauded — and should not go unnoticed.
By Jonathan Capehart | 11:52 AM ET, 04/05/2012