Dialogue about LGBT People In Entertainment and Sports

The past few days have brought a steady flow of derogatory, stigmatizing and hurtful statements from Blacks in entertainment and sports in regard to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. In this short time, other prominent figures from the entertainment and sports industry have offered statements in support of LGBT rights.

During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Cissy Houston, a gospel music legend and mother of the late iconic pop star Whitney Houston, stated that she would “absolutely have a problem with it if Whitney was gay,” as it has been rumored for years.

Super Bowl-bound cornerback Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers recently commented, “homosexuals would not be welcome in the NFL,” and further stated that he “doesn’t do that sweet stuff.”

“While we certainly wish that these two prominent individuals who many look to as role models would have made statements in support of the rights of all people to live their lives freely and happily regardless of the sexual orientation and/or gender identity, we are never the less pleased that their comments have led to more conversation in Black communities about LGBT issues”, said Dwayne Jenkins, President of the Board of Directors of the Center for Black Equity (CBE).

In contrast, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and punter Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings have recently made statements in support of LGBT rights. Kluwe wrote an editorial, coming to the defense of Ayanbadejo’s marriage equality statements after Maryland State House of Delegates Member C. Emmett Burns, Jr., called for the Baltimore Ravens to silence Ayanbadejo.

“The CBE has been very clear since our founding in 1999 that the only way equal rights for all will be achieved is through open, continuous and sometimes spontaneous dialogue. This dialogue doesn’t happen when opposing or supportive views are silenced without being provided an opportunity to explore the other sides’ views. So, we welcome the comments of Cissy Houston, Chris Culliver, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Chris Kluwe. These statements afford opportunities for us and our communities to step up to the plate and provide a road map for us to promote policies that improve the health, economic and social vitality communities” said Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr. President/CEO of the CBE.

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