Imani Woody Macko says even though Kwanzaa isn’t a religious holiday per se, it’s important for it to be acknowledged at her church, Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, because it’s an inclusive place.
“It’s an acknowledgement of others’ cultures and that these principles are important,” she says. “They help us all live our lives and, as we say here at MCC, this is our little mantra now — they help us grow from the inside out.”
MCC-D.C., the District’s largest mostly LGBT church (474 Ridge Street, N.W.) has its annual Kwanzaa celebration slated for Dec. 29 at 5 p.m. Nearly 100 attended last year. Macko says several African-American LGBT leaders, such as Phil Pannell and Rev. Rainey Cheeks, will be present. And it’s not just for the black community — Woody Macko says all ages and races will participate as in previous years. Singing, drumming, dancing, candle lighting, a kids’ performance and more will be included. Visit mccdc.com for details.
Woody Macko has been attending MCC for about 15 years. She’s on the board and co-chairs an older adults program for the denomination. Providing services for older LGBT people is one of her passions. When her father died two years ago, she inherited his house, which she hopes to convert into an affordable center of studio units for older LGBT adults. Find the group on Facebook at Mary’s House for Older Adults.
“I want to make sure people don’t feel they have to go back in the closet when they move into a retirement community,” Woody Macko says. “I’ve seen instances where you see these big gay boys or really big dykes or maybe somebody who came out later in life and they’re in a vulnerable position anyway because they’re older. Nobody should have to go back in the closet. We need affordable housing for older LGBT adults where they can live as their whole person.”
Woody Macko, a native Washingtonian, has also had stints in Hawaii, Pennsylvania and North Carolina but says she “always ends up back home in Washington.” She and her partner of 12 years, Andrea, had a commitment ceremony seven years ago and got married two years ago. They live in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood.
Woody Macko enjoys swimming and reading in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
For many years. My son, who at the time was 16.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Barbara Smith. She’s one of the first women whose activism and writings as a black lesbian feminist resonated with me.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Hill Haven, a gathering spot particularly for lesbians of color. I danced many a night there.
Describe your dream wedding.
(It was) a room filled with people who love and care about me and my (now) wife, with candles and the song “I need you to survive” by Kirk Franklin.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Aren’t LGBT people in all issues? I am passionate about eliminating racism, classism and ageism.
What historical outcome would you change?
The assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“You can still donate to Mary’s House by sending a check to P.O. Box 29561, WDC 20017!”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Amazing Lives of Imani Freewoman”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
To work with other communities on their issues andlisten to and be inclusive of the voices of people who are often disenfranchised and oppressed including people who are young and old adults, people living in poverty, people who immigrated here, people of color, people with physical and mental disabilities.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The elimination of poverty and global peace
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That butch women are trying to be men.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Don’t have a favorite LGBT movie but would watch “Black is … Black Ain’t” over and over again.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
If you are talking about manners and social graces, we need more kindness and acceptance in the world. Words to express that one is thankful, pleased or apologetic aid in this effort.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The love and support of my biological and logical family.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That getting married (to a man) was not the only path.
It is my home, my city. I grew up with the Frederick Douglas House, the Smithsonian Museum and the National Zoo. More importantly, it has some of the strongest human rights laws in the country.