April 17, 2013 | by WBadmin
Feedback: ‘gay power beat black power’

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor.

In the April 9 edition of The Washington Post, Tim Craig reported that, “D.C. Council member Anita Bonds said Monday that ‘the council should be representative of the people who live in the District of Columbia’ and predicted that African American voters will elect one of their ‘own’ in the April 23 special election.”

Craig also reported that, “the white candidates in the race — Republican Patrick Mara and Democrats Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman and Paul Zukerberg — largely avoided the topic of race.”

In my memory, only once before has a prominent candidate raised the issue of race so explicitly in a District election — and that election was the very first. On March 23, 1971, Franklin Kameny was the first openly gay candidate for a federal office when he ran for non-voting delegate to Congress, the seat now held by Eleanor Holmes Norton. I was Kameny’s campaign manager. One of the other candidates in that race was the Rev. Douglas E. Moore who ran as the “black power candidate.” As some may remember, Moore was also homophobic.

Kameny did not present himself as a gay candidate, but rather as the “personal freedom candidate.” On Election Day, Frank got 1,888 votes and placed fourth among six candidates. In contrast, Moore ran behind Kameny getting only 1,222 votes. Time magazine in its story about the election said that “gay power beat black power.”

In certain precincts such as precinct 189 on Capitol Hill, Frank had 11 percent of the vote. That election was the beginning of gay political influence in Washington. But the most important result was that the public and the media began to speak of homosexuals as “the gay community.” — Paul Kuntzler, Washington

5 Comments
  • Well SHAME on Miss Bonds if she really did say such a thing. She should have chosen those words wisely. However, her statement is really only the sentiments of many African Americans in the District who feel they’re being pushed out due to Gentrification and let’s be clear D.C is NOT a “UNITED” city when it comes to race as more Caucasians move in the underline intent is to GRAB power back. It should not be that way but if you look at past elections actions speak louder than words.

    Anthony Williams, nor Adrian Fenty gave a DAMN about “working class” people of color they were so interested in Gentrifying DC and moving good working class people out it has brought a lot of hostility and as a Gay Black Man the Gay community has never been color blind. It’s just as segregated as the south. When African Americans started going to The Fireplace Caucasians left in droves and went elsewhere and the same thing has now occurred at Remington’s. I would caution Anita and The LGBTQ Community about this. Because if not careful this is a powder keg waiting to EXPLODE. I will also say to The African Americans in DC you must get back involved in the political process as well. No one is giving anyone anything.

    As I do the honestly believe the other Dem candidates regardless of race will look out for all of DC. But Patrick Mara???? HELLS NO I don’t care how you all try to frame him as “socially liberal” and “fiscally conservative” He’s a republican and they DON’T CARE FOR WORKING CLASS people nor did he support President Obama. He supported Romney and EVERYTHING Romney stood for! I don’t think he’s a good fit for ALL of DC! But we must find a way to respect each others position and lookout FOR ALL WASHINGTONIANS regardless of RACE, CLASS, and SEXUAL IDENTITY!

    Please can this “Gay Power beat Black Power” phrase it will only make things more HOSTILE!

  • Chris, I agree with you on both points. Ms. Bonds statement if quoted correctly was not one that would elicit my vote and I don’t think it’s the opinion of most Black voters in the city. That is evident when you see white citizens win At-Large seats while a large majority of voters are Black. There is, in my opinion, far lass racial animosity in the Black community than in the white community and I say this as an old white man who has lived in close proximity to Black people since I moved into the city. I think the worst offender in the push the poor out with gentrification is Jim Graham of ward 1. At a community meeting some years ago, we complained about drugs being pedaled on the corner nearest to us on Georgia Avenue and Graham’s response was that the problem would be taken care of when the area was gentrified. He used that word. I never voted for him again. When he has no opposition I write in my own name.

  • If Mr. Kuntzler is equating an Obama campaign strategy of targeting identity based groups and GOTV efforts as playing the race card, I would like to remind him of this item about his own work from the Rainbow History Project archives.

    “In Marion Barry’s first campaign for Mayor, Kuntzler and the Stein group organized volunteers to man phones and work for the campaign. In post election analysis, Kuntzler demonstrated that 21 precincts in heavily gay neighborhoods had carried the day for Barry demonstrating the growing political significance of the community.”

    So the question is – even though we all supported this election strategy for Obama and now its bad, does his election and re-election means that identity politics is over?

  • I feel as though Mr. Kuntzler must not listen to black radio, as Gray ran very race-based ads there last campaign.

  • Well keep sulking Anita won the Election. Congrats to her. This white influx into DC isn’t trying to mesh together with African Americans instead they want them out! And it shows. But like I said its a power keg waiting to EXPLODE and when it does you’ll be sorry! Learn to live together or else.

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