December 2, 2014 at 10:14 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Anti-gang advocate uses gay slur at Barry memorial
Marion Barry, gay news, Washington Blade

A speaker at a memorial for Marion Barry said ex-offenders should stop acting like ‘faggots.’ (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The leader of a local organization that opposes youth gang violence and supports ex-offenders startled participants of a memorial for the late D.C. Mayor Marion Barry on Monday by saying ex-offenders should develop a political agenda and stop acting like “faggots” and “prostrating themselves like females,” according to a report by Washington City Paper columnist Will Sommer.

The report by Sommer, who writes the City Paper’s Loose Lips column, says the anti-gay comment by Al-Malik Farrakhan took place on the steps of the John Wilson Building, which serves as D.C.’s city hall, during an unofficial memorial for Barry.

Farrakhan is the founder and president of the non-profit group Cease Fire: Don’t Smoke The Brothers and Sisters, Inc., which has been praised for persuading youth at risk not to join criminal gangs. He made the anti-gay remark while standing next to D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large), Sommer reported.

Also attending the memorial was Barry’s son, Christopher Barry, and former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5), who resigned from the Council in 2012 before pleading guilty to a felony charge of theft of government funds and filing false tax returns. Thomas is completing a prison sentence at a city halfway house.

Orange helped arrange for Farrakhan and representatives of other ex-offender groups to obtain access to the front entrance of the Wilson Building as the site for the Barry memorial ceremony.

People reading the City Paper column immediately began posting comments on social media criticizing Orange for not speaking out at the event against Farrakhan for hurling an anti-gay slur on the steps of city hall at a tribute to Barry who, for most of his career in politics, was a strong supporter of LGBT rights.

“Would you have stood there silent if ‘faggot’ had been [the] ‘N-word?’” asked gay business and nightlife advocate Mark Lee in a Twitter posting.

Political commentator and radio talk show host Chuck Thies, who served as campaign manager for Mayor Vincent Gray’s unsuccessful re-election campaign, posted his own Twitter message criticizing Orange for doing “nothing” while standing next to a speaker who said “faggot.”

In his own Twitter postings Orange insisted he did respond to Farrakhan’s comment during the Barry memorial.

“My statement was ‘manly deeds, scholarship and love for ALL mankind,’” Orange said repeatedly in a Twitter exchange with Thies and Lee.

“Still not an answer to the questions, sir,” Lee replied in Twitter posting.

James Brown Jr., chief of staff for Orange’s City Council office, told the Blade on Tuesday he agreed that it would have been inappropriate for Orange to interrupt the Barry memorial to respond to Farrakhan’s comments. Brown said Orange is a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and the Council member’s Twitter posting was a proper response to Farrakhan’s anti-gay remark.

But as criticism of Orange continued on Tuesday, he released a more strongly worded statement.

“I wholeheartedly disagree with anti-gay slurs made at the Marion Barry memorial,” he said. “I believe in equality for all citizens of the District, regardless of race, creed, religion, or sexuality. The anti-gay slurs were inappropriate and it’s unfortunate that they have overshadowed a positive event honoring the late Marion Barry.”

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) told WJLA TV, “I don’t know the whole context, but if I had been there I would have objected right away…I think someone should have stood up and said, ‘This is intolerable. This cannot be said.'”

Farrakhan or a representative of his organization couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

People familiar with the event said it was not part of the official Barry funeral and memorial events scheduled to be held Dec. 4-6 and are sponsored by the Barry family, the Office of the Mayor and the City Council.

Barry, a four-term mayor and long-time member of the City Council, died Nov. 23 of natural causes at the age of 78.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

19 Comments
  • Not only anti-gay, but anti-woman — using "female" as an insult.

  • hate to say it, but what a primitive, uneducated, ignorant savage

  • hate to say it, but what a primitive, uneducated, ignorant savage

  • Public anti-gay slurring left unchallenged by a D.C. Councilmember. What a fitting memorial to the man who took gay support for 40 years and then stabbed us all in the back in order to pander to bigoted ministers!

    Sadly, I see that Lou is still tossing aside his journalistic professionalism and erasing the Barry betrayal.

  • Totally inappropriate, especially at a funeral. I was not a big fan of Marion Barry due to his opposition to gay marriage, but come on! Hate speech and needs to be called out.

  • It's possible to mourn too long… especially if the send-off is used to encourage ongoing anti-LGBT hatred. So I have to agree with Steve (excepting his comments about a serious news reporter, Lou Chibbaro), Peter and John.
    ˙
    It's really not surprising to find Vincent Orange standing by anti-gay hatred again. But just how much lobbying for funding of this 'anti-gang' group is V.O. doing?
    ˙
    It's not really an 'anti-gang' group, is it? It appears to be just a slightly more regulated 'gang' milking DC taxpayers for funds to support, in part, anti-LGBT hate mongering. Why should they get a single dime?
    ˙
    Indeed, why should any anti-LGBT hate mongers get funding from DC taxpayers for their projects???
    ˙
    In Ward 5, long-time V.O. supporter, and shrill anti-gay, anti-marriage equality activist, Kathryn Pearson-West ("KPW") is touting something called, the Greater New York Avenue Gateway Group (aka, the catchy acronym, 'GNYAGG'). KPW was also a fond ally of Bishop Harry Jackson, and anti-gay hate-mailer and Council candidate, Delano Hunter, btw. Who wants to bet Orange isn't supporting that "NY Ave" promotion as a vote-getting vehicle for city bucks?
    ˙
    Sure, it's the same old piggies-at-the-trough game. But again, why should unrepentant homophobic bigots get a dime from DC taxpayers?
    ˙

  • it amazes me when people who cry about being discriminated in America (some for valid reasons) will keep doing worse to others. I do not appreciate, however attacks on Lou Chibbaro..Nice try, folks, Lou has done more for gay rights since the beginning than many of the critics here.

  • Lou has done more for gay rights since the beginning than many of the critics here.

  • In Ward 5, long-time V.O. supporter, and shrill anti-gay, anti-marriage equality activist, Kathryn Pearson-West ("KPW") is touting something called, the Greater New York Avenue Gateway Group (aka, the catchy acronym, 'GNYAGG').
    ===================================
    ˙
    I'll just add that groups like *Friends of RI Avenue* (FORIA), a far more inclusive, LGBT-friendly group — are probably more capable of achieving community support for New York Avenue than Kathryn Pearson-West, with her divisive, anti-LGBT political background.
    ˙

  • Serkan Altan, which does not give him some right to toss aside journalistic integrity and manipulate stories about Barry in order to downplay the 2009 betrayal.

  • Steve Clark AMEN, brother!

  • Steve Clark Marion Barry was loathed by many including myself for many reasons. That is a fact..But attacking Lou's integrity because he wrote "most" is an unfair personal attack on him. He has done so much for this community for ages. You could have made your point without questioning his integrity.

  • Steve Clark Marion Barry was loathed by many including myself for many reasons. That is a fact..But attacking Lou's integrity because he wrote "most" is an unfair personal attack on him. He has done so much for this community for ages. You could have made your point without questioning his integrity.

  • Serkan Altan, I criticized Lou's *journalistic* professionalism and integrity. Here and previously on the same subject, he has bent over backwards to minimize Barry's betrayal of the gay community. I stand by every word of my criticism, whether you like your hero criticized not. You're being an argumentative troll.

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers

    No shade like you white gays really care? That one thing and it foreshadows the many things that Barry has done? This is about the idiot that made that comment, his did this turn to Barry? And yes there are bigoted ministers everywhere. But if you think the LGBTQ Community is ONE Think again we all know it isn't.

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers, Barry had a chance to stand with gays, who had supported him for 40 years, in ridding DC law of the final and most deeply entrenched de jure discrimination against us. He chose instead to betray us, stand with bigots, and inveigh against our "immorality." His choice; his legacy. It's not going away no matter how hard Blade commenters or Blade reporters desperately try to erase it from history.

  • Your whining over Lou being criticized has been repeatedly noted. I don't agree. If he doesn't want to be criticized, he should lose the insulting political agenda that drives him to erase or minimize Barry's betrayal every time he writes about the subject.

  • Steve Clark, first of all, I never said anything rude or argumentative to you. Nothing I said was disrespectful…Yet you are being disrespectful calling me names. I am way younger than you. You betray the gay community with your hatred and racism way more than Marion Barry. Now that I know from your disrespectful responses that your are miserable, racist, fascist, you don't even know who to attack here, your opinion no longer relevant or worthy of discussing.You have done NOTHING for gay rights, so shut your ass up trying to act like a pioneer..

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers amen bro!

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