Distant Gay Traces

And todays gays aren’t getting any royalties either, As the NAACP’s Benjamin Todd declares to the NYT.

The N.A.A.C.P., which just held its 100th annual convention amid much fanfare, was founded to advance civil rights. Why has the organization failed to take a stand on same-sex marriage, one of the most urgent civil rights issues of our day?

We’re engaged in fighting a whole range of issues of urgent relevance to the gay community and people of color in our country, including school bullying, hate crimes and employment discrimination. But we’re a barge, not a speedboat. We’re not going to repeat the mistakes of so many other institutions that have literally torn themselves apart over this divisive issue.

Exit polling suggested that 70 percent of black voters — the largest by far of any minority group — voted to make gay marriage illegal in California by voting in favor of Proposition 8 last fall. How do you explain that? The bond between black culture and church culture?

You’re looking at this from 50,000 feet. I’m looking at if from the ground, and I know that church leaders are on both sides of the debate. Black voters have been scapegoated — so many pundits blamed the passage of Proposition 8 on them. But it would have passed even if 100 percent of the black voters had voted against it.

Why do you think it’s such a divisive issue in the black community?

If gay rights groups want to change the opinion polls in the black community, they have to invest in it. It’s a long-term conversation. The battle to oppose Prop 8 could have been much better run. They came to the black community late, with the expectation that they were going to get certain results.

So you think gays should mobilize blacks instead of expecting you to?

That’s exactly right.

And how to you propose that should be done, Mr. Todd — seeing as you regard gay as entirely divisible from black ? This is of course connected to his refusal to answer “Why do you think it’s such a divisive issue in the black community?”

That’s because “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has always been a black thing.

Yes the fabled “Harlem Renaissance was a Gay and Lesbian movement. But you’re not supposed to mention that.

Especially whenever Langston Hughes is brought up.

As for Sweet Pea —

Beautiful, Nat. But it’s distingue traces, not “distant gay traces.” But at least you did the verse, unlike Dana — who skips it for obvious reasons.

Billy Strayhorn was a teenager when he wrote this paen to ennui. No wonder then that he was able to write the likes of this a bit later —

Of course that’s a “up” tune. He could write a lot of them too. He could write all sorts of things. The excellent TV documentary (from which the opening clip comes from) questions why Strayhorn clung to Elligton and his unbelievably stingy deal. Fear of taking on the world on his own? Obsessive fealty to the powerrful? No real way to know. But his legacy is being acknowledged. And his gayness too. As the documentary shows he had a white lover who he insitsted on being with him in his hospital room at the last.

Quite a feat — then as now. For as we all know we’re never so gay as when we’re dying — as far as this culture is concerned.

And that’s why we’ve got to fight against all our enemies — black and white.

‘Touche’s lyrics for the above —

“Daydream, why do you haunt me so
Deep in a rosy glow
The face of my love you show
Daydream, I walk along on air
Building a castle there
For me and my love to share
Don’t know the time,
Lordy I’m in a daze
Sun in the sky,
while I moon around, feeling, hazy
Daydream,
don’t break my reverie
Until I find that he,
Is daydreaming just like me”

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