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First U.S. Gay Movement President
Highlights from Nat'l Black & White Men Together Convention
Notable Activists Host Media & Stolen Election 2000 Workshop
Henry Gerber, the Society's founder and Graves' good friend, served as the Society's secretary, as shown in the group's Illinois incorporation papers. John Graves, says Dr. Sears, signed those papers as did the man with whom he lived, Ellsworth Booher.
The Society for Human Rights was almost immediately dissolved, however, when police jailed both President Graves and Secretary Gerber. This untimely intervention occurred when the wife of a bisexual member talked to her social worker about the Society and the social worker, in turn, reported its existence to the authorities.
In later correspondence with Manual boyFrank, Henry Gerber wrote about others who had taken part in forming the ill-fated visionary group. Referring to an African-American clergyman who'd played host to the new organization's membership, Gerber, a German immigrant, wrote:
"I fortunately have no racial prejudices and especially not about Negroes. In Chicago I had a Negro preacher as a friend and his home was sort of a hangout for the brotherhood." (March 26, 1945)
Dr. Sears told GayToday: "Writing this letter two decades later about his preacher friend, Gerber didn't identify him by name, but it appears this African-American friend could only have been John Graves."
The present significance, if Graves was, in fact, the first chief officer of an American gay movement group, is clear. An Orlando Sentinel August 11 headline says: "Miami-Dade's gay rights may hinge on black votes." (August 11, page 1).
The Miami Bureau's Maya Bell notes how white religious fundamentalist crusaders for the repeal of the county's anti-discrimination ordinance have garnered significant support in the area's black community churches. There are 184,000 black voters in Miami-Dade County.
That the president of the nation's first gay organization may have been himself a black clergyman could prove an interesting twist in the right's upcoming battle for votes, one NABWMT convention attendee noted.
Press reports note that Miami area African-American civil rights leaders have been supportive of gay civil rights, contradicting discrimination-prone black churches. This fact heartened many at the convention.
An anti-gay Take Back Miami flyer distributed at these churches by white fundamentalists was repudiated outright by officials at the King Center in Atlanta. The Take Back Miami flyer's headline read: "Martin Luther King would be OUTRAGED if he knew gays were abusing the civil rights movement."
The King Center officials contradicted this message by recalling how Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. had declared solidarity with the LGBT movement when she took part in its 1993 March on Washington. Later, as GayToday reported, Mrs. King addressed dinners hosted by America's largest LGBT organizations, saying, "We must stand together."
The U.S. Corporate Media & Stolen Election 2000
Nadine Smith told her listeners: "I do not use the word 'President' when I refer to George W. Bush."
Jeffrey Montgomery emphasized the "traitorous" behavior of the gang of five on the U.S. Supreme Court who had installed George W. Bush in the Oval Office.
When it was revealed that more than 585 U.S. Professors of Law signed a document essentially agreeing with Mr. Montgomery's viewpoint, many convention attendees, in this reporter's opinion, showed a heightened awareness of the need for increased political momentum.