In 1994, Minister Louis Farrakhan told the Final Call, “In 1963, the leaders of the civil rights movement gathered (including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Black people together to march on Washington for jobs and justice.”
Though Dr. King chose an openly gay people, Bayard Rustin, to organize the historic march, many gay men and women felt not welcomed to the Million Man March. In A Different Kind of Men: A Straight Woman Explores the Lives of Successful Gay Men (see May 2001 - October 2001 issue ofPort of Harlem) Dr. Shelia M. Wise wrote about her attendance at a pre-Million Man March planning session as part of doctoral dissertation research.
At the meeting, she wrote that after activist Phil Pannell questioned whether Gay men would be included, the room fell silent and someone responded, “This March is about MEN!” What followed was a flurry of gay-bashing comments including, “We don’t want any faggots in here . . .,” Wise wrote.
However, Million Man March II organizers are making plans to roll out the welcome mat for gays, women, and others. For the upcoming march, Pannell says that march organizers have invited him to an invitation-only planning session.
Also, unlike at the first march, Farrakhan will also allow women to participate. According to the Washington Informer, Reverend Willie Wilson of Washington, D.C.’s Union Temple Baptist Church made the request.