A Tribute to An Ally to Black LGBTQ Communities

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A Tribute to An Ally to Black LGBTQ Communities

Thomas Menino was inarguably one of the best mayors the city of Boston ever had. As Boston said farewell to its longest-serving mayor, the city also celebrated the life, career, and integrity of a great public servant. As mayor to "all  the people” of Boston—African American LGBTQ communities felt heard, respected and represented during his administration.

For example, every year Mayor Tom Menino's Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events put on its annual Boston GospelFest at City Hall Plaza. And because the Gospelfest is a public and taxpayer-funded community event, it’s opened to all- even its African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.

For many in the African American—both in the LGBTQ and straight Christian communities—excitedly await Boston’s annual Gospelfest. Gospelfest brings together huge gatherings of black church-going Christians across Greater Boston and across denominational affiliations in fellowship with one another.

While for many African American heterosexual Christians, Gospelfest is a second worship service for them for the day because it’s always held on a Sunday, for many African American LGBTQ Christians, Gospelfest is our only worship service for the year.

Because there are so few welcoming African American in Greater Boston, Gospelfest affords many of us in our black LGBTQ communities a sweet moment—as unabashedly Christians and unapologetically queers—in corporate worship and celebration with our faith communities in an inclusive and public space.

In 2010 a public outcry ensued concerning that year’s GospelFest megastar Pastor Donnie McClurkin. McClurkin—the poster boy for African American ex-gay ministries who spews anti-gay religion-based vitriol—was billed as the main event. That year, many in the African American LGBTQ communities stayed home, and so did the mayor.

Menino thoughtful absence from the event sent shock waves throughout the African American church communities, and sent a powerful message.

This protest, however, wasn’t Menino’s first time skipping an event because it excluded a segment of Boston's LGBTQ population.

Menino was possibly the most pro -LGBTQ mayor in the country. He refused to participate in the traditional South Boston’s St. Patrick's Day parade when organizers barred an LGBTQ group from marching, and he told the Chick-fil-A franchise that the city of Boston will not tolerate discrimination against its LGBTQ citizens. Always an advocate for marriage equality, Menino has thrown his weight around and has used his power on behalf of LGBTQ civil rights, and