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June 23, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 25
 
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SEATTLE'S GAY HISTORY:Black and White Men Together (circa. 1983)
SEATTLE'S GAY HISTORY:Black and White Men Together (circa. 1983)
by Don Paulson - SGN Contributing Writer

BWMT is a multiracial, multicultural organization dedicated to providing a supportive environment for predominately gay and bisexual men to work together to understand racial and cultural differences and celebrate diversity.

Why are some Whites attracted to Blacks and visa versa, especially when race mixing is such a feeding ground for gossip and racism? It receives a double blow from society because it was not only race mixing but homosexuality. Gays were also guilty of intolerance. A typical remark was, "Oh, you like big dick." Whites who liked Blacks were called, "Dinge Queens," or Blacks who were 'trying to be White,' and visa versa.

In the early 1940s Fred Coleman of the gay Spinning Wheel Cabaret met a black guy in prison and fell in love with him. They lived happily together in spite of intolerant neighbors. But once, circumstance led him to pass off his black lover as his chauffeur.

In 1955, Duane Gillman said he was attracted to Blacks from an early age and dreamed about having a Black lover. "One night I was stopped at a red light and a car with a Black driver and a blond white woman pulled up next to me. She leaned over and gave the driver a big kiss and they both looked over to me for my reaction. I knew they were out to have fun and release steam so I raised my fist and pretended to spout a volley of racial slurs. They cracked up with laughter, the light changed and they sped off laughing," he said. "My charade made their day and mine, but I was envious. In 1957, I was on Broadway with friends and someone pointed to this cute blond guy on the other side of the street. Someone said, 'He only likes Black guys.' Everyone became silent and looked at him like he was an odd ball."

The Peace and Liberation movements of the 1960s brought some understanding of race relations, but for gay race mixing, society was not so accommodating. But in 1980 a bright star appeared over San Francisco when Michael Smith conceived a gay interracial organization called 'Black and White Men Together.' In Seattle, BWMT founders Lary Darby, Jim McClaren and Oscar Jackson advertised in the Seattle Gay News on July 7th 1983 and 20 gay men showed up. At the next meeting, 40 attended and membership remained high for years.

I came into the organization one month after it's Seattle beginning. It was enlightening and revolutionary. Nothing like this ever happened before in U.S. history. We sat in a circle for rap sessions at KOMO TV's 'People Helper,' Brook Stanford's house. It was almost a mystical experience.

Black and White men did find each other at the bars, baths and other places, but BWMT was immediate and focused. It was living theater and a unique opportunity for tenderness, a learning and sharing experience with no slurs, snickers or explanations. We were bonded from the start. It was eye to eye, soul to soul; the whole person and not just a sexual object.

Of course BWMT was immediately accused of being a sex club and I adamantly objected, but I eventually agreed that sex was a valid ingredient. What's wrong with meeting the right guy and the legendary walks on the beach and those hot whispers in the night? It never eclipsed the groups purpose of learning, companionship and support or it's active belief in freedom and justice under law.

An old Sufi proverb reads: "He who tastes, knows." For Blacks and Whites, BWMT was that taste, a bridge after hundreds of years of cruelty, lies and separation. Between looking for Mr. Right at BWMT, there was a lot of race baggage and personal issues to address. As elementary as it is, we are all equal rainbow ambassadors on the third planet from the sun.

BWMT had many potlucks, outings and supported other gay and straight organizations such as Gay Rights; the African American Museum takeover of the vacant Coleman school and our own offshoot; and 'The Discrimination Response System,' to address discrimination in the GBLT community such as carding Blacks and Drag Queens in some gay bars, etc.

But not all was about social/political issues. We had a lot of fun at our potlucks and outings - at a members beach house or a resort suite or a dinning room takeover in some small town restaurant. It must have been a shock to the locals as this herd of twenty or so black and white men filed in. What they must have thought. We always acted like gentlemen but they had to be impressed with our camaraderie. Our local joke was: "The Oreo generation has arrived!" In a sense, we are that black man and white woman kissing in the car fifty years earlier.

BWMT continues to this day with twenty chapters nationwide. To include more people, Seattle changed it's name to M.A.C.C.T (Men of All Colors and Cultures Together) Seattle enjoyed over ten years of weekly rap sessions and 100 potlucks and outings motivated by it's original purpose to offer a safe affirming environment for interracial socializing. Nat Martin: "Overall, we speak to the wall of oppression which includes racism, sexism, ageism, etc. But racism is a big brick in that wall and it's a place for us to focus our attention on." M.A.C.C.T Seattle is still a vital organization with alcohol free monthly potluck socials. Everyone under the rainbow is welcome to attend or visit us on the Internet.

So, why do some White men like Blacks and visa versa? The question is irrelevant. Why are some people attracted to blond hair, hairy chests, skin color or four inch heels? No one is obligated to justify their individual preferences, so, there is no logical purpose to a question that which can never be answered.

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