Let’s state the obvious: the LGBT community of Philadelphia seems to be in disarray.
Recently there have been conflicts involving Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia FIGHT, a state representative, Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, spilling over into the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, and rumors flying all over social media.
And what is the issue that has caused all this debate? The term most would use is social justice within the community, while others just say racism in the community. Both are correct, and yes, we still need to do work on both terms/issues.
The reality and history, if you understand those terms, is that the work is never done: You have to keep at it and expand it day by day. That creates turmoil, even for a man like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Read Tavis Smiley’s “Death of a King” to witness how MLK’s last year was full of anguish for this very issue. He understood that racism will never be completely erased, and neither will anti-Semitism or ageism or economic justice, just to name a few.
The current situation has led to a point where people are no longer talking to each other but past each other. And not only past each other but actually yelling and refusing to talk. That is where the problem really exists. If we cannot discuss, there is no way to solve, and then you’re only talking, and only to yourself. That doesn’t move any issue forward.
Let me be very clear: Mazzoni, Philadelphia FIGHT, Liberty City are all cherished organizations in this community that have led us towards equality. They have talked the talk and walked the walk and done so for scores of years. They have saved us from a plague and led us out of political isolation. They have shielded this community when others would not. That does not make them perfect — none of us are — but it does earn them the right to listen when changes might be needed to better serve the community in any aspect and earned them the right to reply, or change.
In a time when the nation is under attack, it’s time for us to chat about our problems within the community. Then join with other forces as a united LGBT community on the greater stage of resistance.