Some people were not happy to see
the Rainbow flag at the Martin Luther King, Jr. March. (Photo: KSAT-TV)
From NDO to MLK -- Two communities fighting for
QSanAntonio, January 25, 2014
It was a glorious day. The sun shone bright, the temperature was mild
and it seemed like all of San Antonio had shown up for the 20th Annual
Martin Luther King, Jr. March. People were in a great mood. Photos of
the event which flooded the internet gave the impression the city was
engaged in a great group hug.
One photo published on the Facebook
page of KSAT-TV drew a lot of attention. It is an aerial shot of the
march showing some of the tens of thousands who walked the route. The
picture is memorable because there among the throngs, so large it is instantly
visible from the air, is the Rainbow flag carried by activists.
It is a powerful image, one that is a tribute to the LGBT community's
integration into the larger community. However, not everyone on Facebook
was happy to see the presence of a gay symbol at the event.
"Why are the gays & lesbians throwing their pride??? Today is
NOT a day for that. I'm so sick of this, nothing against them but now
they feel they can do this all the time," read one disgruntled comment.
"Of course the homosexuals would be there. Shame!" wrote one
black lady whose Facebook profile suggests she's a devout churchgoer.
"Why are they marching in a march that was based on equality and
peace between whites and blacks?!"
Another comment echoed what scores of others were inferring: "MLK
knew what the Bible said about homosexuality and he knew what it didn't
say about race. He fought for racial equality, not for the freedom to
sin with impunity. Those who believe otherwise are ignorant of MLK and
The LGBT contingent at the San Antonio
MLK march on January 20. (Photo: WOAI-TV)
A flag too large?
The photo showing the half-block-long Rainbow flag unfurled at the MLK
march might not have happened if not for the persistence of David Jordan
Cisneros of GetEqual Texas.
"Roughly ten minutes after opening the flag, an MLK march marshall
approached Ivan Juarez and told him it needed to be put away. That's when
I was called over. The marshall repeated himself when I asked why since
it's never been a problem in previous years," Cisneros told QSanAntonio.
"The marshall said the flag was too large and would break up the
parade too much, that it took up too much space,'" says Cisneros.
"I asked him how this flag could affect the flow over 100,000-plus
people and to show me the rule banning flags past a certain size. As he
made a phone call to someone else, I told him not to make me sing 'we
shall not be moved.' Then (he) walked away."
Despite the hitch with the flag, Cisneros says the acceptance of the LGBT
community at this year's march was an improvement over his experience
"The reception from others marching in the crowd and onlookers was
much more positive than last year. I recall a group that walked along
side us last year and as we chanted, 'What do we want? Equality! When
do we want it? Now!' They'd shout: 'Never!' This year, I saw young and
old clapping, cheering us on, and even chanting with us."
City Councilwoman Ivy Taylor (center)
at the MLK march with Congressman Joaquin Castro, Mayor Julian Castro,
County Judge Nelson Wolff and Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Manuel
The Ivy Taylor effect
In early January, QSanAntonio received an email from a reader who was
unhappy that the publication's web site had included the MLK march on
its calendar of events.
Why was a gay publication promoting this march after Councilwoman Ivy
Taylor voted against the nondiscrimination ordinance, the reader asked.
Didn't we know that Taylor is Honorary Chair of the city's Martin Luther
King, Jr. Commission? Didn't we realize she betrayed us? Shouldn't we
be boycotting her event?
Taylor's relationship with the LGBT community was already fragile prior
to her vote on the NDO. In 2011, she sought the endorsement of the Stonewall
Democrats but did not get it.
At the time, the San Antonio Current wrote: "Perhaps what was most
surprising about the day’s discussion was that a sitting councilmember
like Ivy Taylor would expose herself as being so uncomfortable about LGBT
issues. In response to a candidate’s survey, Taylor said that if
she were endorsed by Stonewall she would not carry that endorsement on
her website or campaign literature. 'Many in our area would look at that
as something that would be divisive,' Taylor told the group."
Last September, just minutes before the vote on the nondiscrimination
ordinance, Taylor explained to the standing-room crowd in the city council
chamber why she would not support the measure.
"My main concern has been that the passage of this ordinance may
cause some individuals to have to choose between the law and their faith,"
"As a person whose faith guides many decisions, I can understand
that perspective. I also don’t think there can be agreement on what
constitutes ‘discrimination’ and I don’t believe that
people of faith should be forced to promote that which is in conflict
with their basic moral values . . . I would not be able to sleep at night
if I voted yes. It’s not just about me, it’s my job to represent
“I have sacrificed a lot to serve in this role on city council,
but I will not sacrifice my core values and beliefs for political gain
or to be in alignment with a particular platform,” Taylor added.
Pastor Charles Flowers
Skin versus sin
There's a slogan used in black communities among those who do not support
the comparison of the LGBT fight for equal rights with the struggle for
racial equality. The saying goes something like this: "Don't compare
my skin with your sin."
Standing on the steps of City Hall last August, black pastor Charles Flowers,
one of the main opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance, reaffirmed
this notion to his compatriots. "While we love the (LGBT) people
involved, we cannot allow their agenda to stain the fabric, the tapestry,
of the civil rights movement," he said.
Flowers told the crowd that Jim Crow laws, lynching and slavery were not
shared experiences with the LGBT community. He said lifestyle choices,
not genetics, were the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin,
who was a gay man, with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where paths converge
"Poor Ivy Taylor, caught between being politically correct and her
church teachings," wrote Brenda Johnson last summer on Randy Bear's
Citizens blog in an essay titled "Black Folk, the Church and
"So many cannot understand why African Americans cannot see the struggle
for LGBT civil rights as the same as their own. To me the answer is as
simple as it is complex: the church was front and center in the Negro
struggle for civil rights in the 60’s; and it is front and center
for many in African American activism against LGBT civil rights now,"
Her response to those who would use the bible to deny LGBT rights: "I
suggest they heed Jesus’ own words on the separation of church and
state: 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world,
my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over
to the Jews. But now (or ‘as it is’) my kingdom is not from
Johnson also recalled Bayard Rustin, the gay black man who was the organizer
of the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered
his "I Have a Dream" speech.
"(Rustin) was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned,
fired from important leadership positions, and ultimately cheated from
his prominence in civil rights movement history because he was gay . .
. It’s time to honor Bayard Rustin as the architect for civil rights
he was and support the LGBT community in their struggle for equal protection
under the law."