DIFFERENT IS NOT DEFICIENT—Jeremiah Wright uses humor to tackle a controversial subject. (Photos by J.L. Martello)
It seems as though everyday another prominent figure is coming out of the closet or speaking up to support the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered community. However, while many Americans are just beginning to change their minds on homosexuality, others have had the courage to voice their support for decades.
President Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright’s views on homosexuality were forever changed when an 8-year-old girl came to him several years ago and told him she felt like a boy. Over the years, as the girl grew up and began to identify as a lesbian, Wright stood by her when her own mother would not.
“Different does not mean deficient,” Wright said during a lecture at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture when he visited Pittsburgh April 25. “Even though Jesus said that, we keep looking at and labeling those who are different as deficient.”
As a religious leader, Wright’s position on homosexuality is rare.
He said attempts to bring other religious leaders around to his position have been met with such vehement resistance that at a conference, one man was so overcome with anger at the notion, Wright believed he might turn violent.
Wright’s lecture was the first in the 2013 Bayard Rustin Lecture series, dedicated to the memory of Rustin, an openly gay, influential civil rights leader who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963 and the New York City School Boycott.
Despite Rustin’s influence in the civil rights movement, some in the Black community ostracized him because of his sexuality. For this reason, Wright said other civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King are credited for the March on Washington, while Rustin was relegated to the shadows.
“Why can’t I let it go? Because Rustin organized (A. Phillip) Randolph’s March on Washington for Jobs and Justice,” Wright said. “I don’t care what they told you; Martin Luther King Jr. did not organize that march.”
Wright used the lecture as an opportunity to highlight other homosexual “African-American heroes” including Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. He also expelled other historical inaccuracies dating back to President Abraham Lincoln.
“Historical lies have to be corrected,” Wright said. “The truth must be told not only about the March (on Washington), but also the civil rights movement. There was misogyny and sexism in the civil rights movement.”
In order to illustrate his position on homosexuality, Wright began his lecture by pointing out the differences between European Americans and African-Americans. With humor and song, Wright explained inherent differences ranging from learning styles to linguistics to demonstrate how African-Americans like homosexuals are put down because of their differences.
“We operate under the false assumption that if you’re different from us, you’re deficient,” Wright said. “Because ain’t nobody right, but us.”
Speaking frankly, Wright said he believes the reason some men in the Black church community have a problem with homosexuality is because they themselves are gay and living on the “down low.”