Thursday, May 26, 2016

Black Queer History: Charles Law

We talk about Rustin, Baldwin, Hemphill and a host of other Black Queers who have been instrumental throughout our history. These figures had/have the courage and tenacity to connect Blackness to Queerness and spoke on intersectionality before it was coined by KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw. We often miss others like Law, Walter "Charles law." Charles Law was important to weaving the fabric of a now vibrant Black queer community.

He is from right here in Houston, TX and I rarely hear him mentioned among the Black Queers that
gather and evoke the thoughts and musings of our ancestors of the middle to late twentieth century. I suspect that respectability politics played a role in the erasure of his place in our Black Queer/LGBT history. After all, he had two obituaries following his untimely death in 1993 after years of work
being the one the FEW out, visible, Black gay men working in LGBT activism. To your right is a snapshot of what was written by folks from the LGBT side of his work. "Charles was one of the most intelligent and loving leaders in the Houston Gay and Lesbian community. He was memorialized in a family service on June 5, 1993 in which is academic, musical and Church related achievements and contributions to Houston's Black and Larger communities were remembered. What was not noted, however, were his founding leadership in the Houston Committee (a Black gay men's professional organization in the 1970s); his service as an Executive Committee Co - Chair for Town Meeting I in 1978; and his presentation of the finest speech delivered at the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, 1979. Nor was the inspiration he gave to his many Lesbian and Gay friends mentioned. When we gather to reach consensus, defend our freedoms, redress our grievances, recall our history or share our experiences, let us remember Dr. Charles Law and his services to our community."

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