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Controversial minister endorses gay D.C. Council candidate

Rev. Wilson called ‘lesbianism’ threat to youth, families

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D.C. City Council candidate Clark Ray (center) accepted an endorsement this week from a controversial Baptist minister. (Photo courtesy of Clark Ray for Council)

Gay D.C. City Council candidate Clark Ray drew mixed reactions from the LGBT community this week when he accepted the endorsement of a minister who preached in 2005 that “lesbianism is about to take over our community.”

Ray, who is challenging LGBT-supportive Council member Phil Mendelson, noted that Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Anacostia, apologized for the remarks about lesbians and gay men in his widely reported 2005 sermon.

Ray said he and Wilson developed a friendship while meeting regularly over the past two years on a wide range of issues beginning when Ray served as director of the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation.

“What we’re trying to do today and I think what this is an example of is building a bridge,” Ray said at Denny’s Restaurant in Southeast D.C., where Wilson announced the endorsement Wednesday and pledged to work hard for Ray’s election in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

“We don’t agree on everything, the reverend and I,” Ray said at the announcement. “And I disagree on a number of topics that we’ve talked about. But the deal is we can talk about it. And I can learn from him and he can learn from me. … So I welcome the endorsement.”

Wilson told the gathering that as parks and recreation director, Ray showed a strong interest in the issues and concerns of residents in wards 7 and 8 and helped Wilson with several projects related to city recreation and senior citizen centers.

“We developed a very close friendship,” Wilson said. “I vigorously support his campaign for at-large member of the D.C. City Council. I will personally canvas my community to get out the vote in support of Clark Ray for at-large Council member.”

Members of the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance criticized Ray for accepting Wilson’s endorsement, triggering a debate on the group’s blog, GLAAforum.org.

Bob Summersgill, a former GLAA president, pointed to published reports and transcripts of Wilson’s 2005 sermon, saying Ray’s acceptance of the endorsement appeared to be “pandering to one group while alienating others.”

In his sermon July 3, 2005, Wilson asserted that black families were being harmed by a growing number of young women who were rejecting men and forming romantic relationships with other women.

“Lesbianism is about to take over our community,” he said. “I’m talking about young girls.”

In remarks that drew expressions of outrage by LGBT activists and women’s rights groups, Wilson recounted how his son had complained that he could not find a date for his high school prom.

“He said, ‘Dad, I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. There ain’t but two of them straight and both are ugly.’”

Wilson continued, “But when you get down to this thing, woman falling down on another woman, strapping herself up with something. It ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural.”

Turning to his concern about gay men, Wilson told his congregation, “Any time somebody got to slap some grease on your behind, and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that.”

Following a flurry of news reports about the sermon, which began when the Blade broke the story after obtaining an recorded copy of Wilson’s sermon, Wilson issued an apology that some in the LGBT community said wasn’t sincere.

“Some people in the community were offended by the language I used in my message, which I will admit was intemperate,” Wilson told the Washington Post. “I apologize to anyone who was hurt by the language that I used.”

The Post reported that Wilson added, “I do not apologize for raising a very serious issue concerning our young girls, some as young as 10 and 11 years of age, who are engaging in same-sex relations.”

Three months later, in October 2005, Wilson angered gay activists on a separate matter when he reportedly blocked black gay activist and former Clinton administration official Keith Boykin from speaking at an African American civil rights rally on the National Mall known as the Millions More Movement March. Wilson served as national executive director of the march.

Boykin was scheduled to speak at the event following extensive negotiations between the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT group, and organizers of the Millions More Movement. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the event’s lead organizer, initially agreed to allow a gay speaker and didn’t object when activists decided Boykin would be a speaker representing the black LGBT community. Wilson objected late to Boykin taking the stage and his appearance was scrapped.

Ray said he believes Wilson has “come a long way” since his 2005 actions. Ray noted that while Wilson personally opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds, he chose not to become involved with efforts by his fellow ministers to campaign against the city’s same-sex marriage law passed by the City Council in December.

In a statement released this week, Wilson said, “I have enjoyed getting to know and working with Clark. He knows that I support full civil equality for all residents of the District of Columbia — including those who comprise the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning (GLBTQ) Community.”

Ray supporter Joel Lawson, a gay activist and Dupont Circle civic leader, said Ray’s acceptance of the Wilson endorsement was an important conciliatory gesture.

“I think Clark is showing leadership in building a bridge through and across some very uncomfortable territory,” Lawson said. “We have gay marriage now. We’ve won. The question now is do we expand our discussions with one another within this family of D.C. residents.

“They have forged a very improbable connection,” he said of Ray and Wilson’s relationship. “And I think that is progress.”

But in the GLAA blog, Mitch Wood, the group’s president, expressed skepticism about how much Wilson may have changed in his views on LGBT rights.

“I am all for building bridges across cultures and demographics — but anyone from the gay and lesbian community should be exceptionally wary about embracing a ‘man of God’ with such a tarnished and divisive record,” he said.

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District of Columbia

Whitman-Walker announces leadership change

CEO Ryan Moran to become Deputy Secretary of Health in Maryland

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Dr. Ryan Moran is leaving his role as CEO of the Whitman-Walker Health System. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Dr. Ryan Moran, who has served since 2021 as CEO of the Whitman-Walker Health System, an arm of D.C.’s longtime LGBTQ and HIV health services provider Whitman-Walker Health, will be leaving his position next month after being named as Deputy Secretary of Health and Healthcare Finance and Medicaid Director for the State of Maryland.

According to a March 21 statement released by Whitman-Walker, Moran will begin his new job as a member of the Maryland Department of Health’s senior leadership team effective April 12.

The statement says Cindy Lewin, an official with nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years and who previously served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel at the AARP, will serve as interim CEO at Whitman-Walker Health System beginning April 10.

Around that time, the statement says, Whitman-Walker will begin a nationwide executive search “to secure a permanent CEO” for the top position at Whitman-Walker Health System.

The statement points out that Naseema Shafi will continue in her role as CEO of Whitman-Walker Health, the other component of Whitman-Walker that directly provides and oversees medical and health care services to patients and clients, including those from the LGBTQ community.

Whitman-Walker Health System, among other things, advances the mission of Whitman-Walker through expanding its financial and fundraising capacity through the Whitman-Walker Foundation, the Whitman-Walker Institute, and the Whitman-Walker Health System Real Property Holdings, the statement says.

“Whitman-Walker Health System is grateful for Ryan’s visionary leadership, which has advantageously positioned us for our once in a generation expansion of research and health services with our move to the Saint Elizabeth campus this year,” said Dr. Ann Bonham, the Whitman-Walker Health System Board Chair.

“While the organization will miss Ryan, his enthusiasm and passion for the work and his commitment to the mission of Whitman-Walker, I am sure he will be a transformative leader in his new role,” Bonham said.

“I am deeply grateful to Whitman-Walker for the opportunity to steward our mission-driven organization as a regional and national leader in LGBTQ+ care, advocacy, research, and education,” Moran said in the statement.

“I am honored to have contributed to this organization’s rich history, and I am proud of the work Naseema Shafi and I have accomplished together and of the exceptional board senior leadership team, and staff for their collaboration in building a strong foundation for Whitman-Walker’s future success,” he said.

The statement announcing the Whitman-Walker leadership change notes that Moran played an important role in continuing the organization’s previously started plans for opening its new Max Robinson Center at the city’s St. Elizabeth’s campus in Southeast D.C. According to the statement, the new center will provide services and programs to more than 15,000 people each year, a 300 percent increase from the existing Max Robinson Center located in Anacostia.

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Comings & Goings

Inouye named Deputy Assistant Secretary in communications at Dept. of Education

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Shin Inouye (Photo public domain)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at [email protected].

Congratulations to Shin Inouye on his appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education. He said, “I’m honored to join the Biden-Harris administration and the amazing team under Secretary Cardona.  Working with my outstanding colleagues, I am confident we will meet our goal to raise the bar and promote academic excellence in America.” 

Previously, Inouye served as Executive Vice President of Communications, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. He also held a number of high-level positions in the Obama administration, including Press Secretary and Acting Senior Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Executive Office of the President; White House Office of Communications: Director of Specialty Media; and as an authorized spokesperson for the Obama Inaugural Committee, with a focus on specialty media outlets.

Inouye has received many honors, including being named one of 25 “LGBTI next generation leaders to watch” by Out in National Security and the Atlantic Council; and one of “40 Asian American Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.

Congratulations also to Tristan Fitzpatrick, on his promotion to Senior Communications Consultant at APCO Worldwide. Fitzpatrick said, “I am thrilled to start this new position and look forward to the start of a new chapter advising clients on how to best achieve their communications and public affairs goals.” Tristan has worked with APCO for the past year and a half. They are the fifth largest independently owned PR firm in the United States. Prior to that, Fitzpatrick was a Digital Media Specialist with the National Public Pension Coalition in D.C. He worked as a Communications and Digital Adviser, to the Biden for President campaign. He advised the campaign’s Out for Biden Coalition on communications and digital best practices for turning out 11 million LGBTQ and 57 million pro-equality voters. Tristan has also been a Communications Manager and Digital Outreach Coordinator, Cancer Support Community, Washington, DC.   

Tristan Fitzpatrick
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District of Columbia

Trans people lost to drug overdose remembered at D.C. tribute

Citywide ‘Celebration of Life’ held at Metropolitan Community Church

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Earline Budd organized last weekend’s memorial. (Washington Blade file photo by Tyler Grigsby)

About 50 people turned out on Saturday, March 18, at D.C.’s Metropolitan Community Church for a Citywide Memorial Celebration of Life for at least seven local transgender people who lost their lives from a drug overdose within the past two months.

“We lifted up the lives of those who recently and before passed amongst the transgender community,” said longtime D.C. transgender advocate Earline Budd, the lead organizer of the event.

“The goal was to send a clear message to D.C. officials that we will not sit by silently while members of the LGBTQ community are dying as a result of the OVERDOSE epidemic here in D.C. and around the country,” Budd said in a Facebook post.

Budd told the Washington Blade this week that she and others involved in organizing the memorial celebration are planning a series of conversations with city officials and LGBTQ community stakeholders to push for strengthening the city’s overdose prevention and response programs targeting LGBTQ people at risk for a drug overdose.

Among those participating in the March 18 celebration of life event were Rev. Elder Akosua McCray of Unity Fellowship Church of D.C.; Rev. D. Amina B. Butts of New Hope Baptist United Church of Christ of D.C.; and Rev. Cathy Alexander of D.C.’s Metropolitan Community Church.

Among those who spoke at the event was Tyler Edge, the associate director of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The trans people who recently lost their lives to a drug overdose and whose names were listed in the program book handed out at the memorial tribute include Diva Chole Mason, Kenneth Isaac “Candy,” Terri Holland, Lourica Potts, Cee Cee Creek, Tyneisha Phillips, and Danielle Pinkney.   

Budd said among the plans by her and community supporters to address the overdose problem faced by some in the LGBTQ community include arranging for a more targeted approach to distribute and make accessible the lifesaving medication Narcan, which reverses an opioid overdose if administered quickly through a nasal spray device. 

She said the plan also calls for pushing for a wider distribution of test kits for determining whether the deadly substance fentanyl, the cause of most drug overdose deaths, is present in recreational drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, and crystal meth.

 “That’s what our goal is, and we may end up saving some lives,” Budd said. 

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