Main | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Has MLK's Daughter Evolved On Gays?

Martin Luther King's daughter Bernice is infamous for her anti-gay track record. But King surprised onlookers yesterday when she included LGBT people in remarks made at a ceremony honoring her father. Dyana Bagby reports at Georgia Voice:
In a passionate, sermon-like speech about building unity, King said she didn't care if people were Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, were from the North side or the South side, were black or white, were “heterosexual or homosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender” — that all people were needed to create unity. LGBT people who attended the rally said they were shocked that King – who has a long anti-gay past — actually acknowledged the community in a public speech, but said they were also glad because it shows people can evolve.

Rev. Maressa Pendermon, a minister with LGBT-inclusive Unity Fellowship Church, said she at first intended to tune out King because of her anti-gay past, but decided to pay attention one more time. For her father's vision to be realized we've got to come together across boundaries and then she got in preacher mode. Then she said ‘heterosexual or homosexual,’ and then backed up and said ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.’ We need all of us,” Pendermon said. There's always room for growth,” Pendermon said, describing her reaction to King's words. “People grow and people change. Sometimes we don't let them. I wasn't expecting that. And I was already ready to shut down but I challenged myself to listen and I'm glad I listened."
Possibly related to Bernice King's apparent change of heart is that she's just been named the CEO of Atlanta's King Center, which was founded in 1968 by her late mother (and gay ally), Coretta Scott King. Last year Bernice King resigned her position with Eddie Long's Atlanta-based megachurch after Long was accused of coercing sex from several young men.

UPDATE: Pam Spaulding weighs in.

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