‘Re-imag­ine the Dream’ over MLK Week­end

Rustin/lorde Break­fast high­lights LGBT events

GA Voice - - A & E -

Over the past decade, the Ba­yard Rustin/ Au­dre Lorde Break­fast has be­come the hall­mark event of MLK Week­end in At­lanta as LGBT ac­tivists gather to­gether for food and con­ver­sta­tion.

Craig Washington and Dar­lene Hud­son, or­ga­niz­ers of the an­nual break­fast, agree the event is known for bring­ing to­gether a di­verse crowd of peo­ple to dis­cuss so­cial jus­tice while eat­ing a free break­fast of eggs, ba­con and bis­cuits.

This year there will not be a for­mal panel, Washington said. In­stead, key lead­ers in the city’s LGBT com­mu­nity will present the theme and “de­liver the charge” to at­ten­dees, he said. This year’s theme is “Re-Imag­ine the Dream.”

“We trust that it will mo­ti­vate more own­er­ship and en­vi­sion­ing of to­day’s dream for so­cial jus­tice and equal­ity for to­day’s pro­gres­sive LGBTQ peo­ple and our al­lies, our beloved com­mu­nity,” Washington said.

“In invit­ing our folks to re-imag­ine the dream there is the ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to Dr. King’s vi­sion for equal­ity. How­ever the break­fast pri­or­i­tizes the so­cial jus­tice and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment work of LGBTQ peo­ple, cen­tral­iz­ing black and other queer peo­ple of color,” he ex­plained.

The break­fast is a time to fill stom­achs but also fill minds of peo­ple hun­gry for knowl­edge and sup­port.

“Peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence the break­fast as a safe space to ‘break bread’ to­gether as they learn about pre­cious his­to­ries, cel­e­brate to­day’s move­ment builders and ad­dress mat­ters that are ur­gent to our sur­vival,” Washington said.

“Year af­ter year, at­ten­dees tell us that they most en­joy the dis­cus­sions at their ta­bles and the fel­low­ship. They love the fea­tured pan­els and speeches but it is the bond­ing they en­joy most! I love that and ev­ery year we work to meet that need, sat­isfy that hunger,” he said.

‘Up­lift­ing’ black LGBTQ voices

In 2002, the first an­nual Ba­yard Rustin Break­fast was held to bring LGBT ac­tivists to­gether be­fore the an­nual MLK March & Rally spon­sored by the Africa/African Amer­i­can Re­nais­sance Fes­ti­val.

It was also a way to honor Rustin, the openly gay ac­tivist who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and or­ga­nized the renowned 1963 March on Washington. The ad­di­tion of Au­dre Lorde, the iconic les­bian poet and au­thor, came sev­eral years later.

As the years have gone by, the Rustin / Lorde break­fast has grown to some 200 peo­ple in a stand­ing-room-only crowd at St. Mark United Methodist Church, this year set for Jan. 21.

“In my opin­ion, the Lorde/Rustin Break­fast has be­come a sym­bol of what it means for di­verse com­mu­ni­ties to come to­gether to dis­cuss the so­cial chal­lenges of to­day, ideas about how we face those chal­lenges, and to share our ac­com­plish­ments and hopes for the fu­ture,” said Hud­son.

The break­fast also en­sures that black LGBT peo­ple and ac­tivists are rec­og­nized and hon­ored, Washington said.

“The break­fast helps en­sure that black LGBTQ con­tri­bu­tions to so­cial jus­tice in the U.S. and abroad will be up­lifted,” he said.

“More peo­ple gain a deeper un­der­stand­ing of LGBTQ and peo­ple of color com­mu­ni­ties and our ac­tivism. The com­mu­nity is mo­bi­lized around our com­mon­al­i­ties, not through ig­nor­ing dif­fer­ences, rather by ac­knowl­edg­ing them and break­ing com­mon ground,” he added.

Men­tor­ing lead­ers of to­mor­row

Hud­son said the break­fast serves as an op­por­tu­nity to men­tor young peo­ple.

“A large part of the work we do must also be to cul­ti­vate ac­tivism in our youth to give them the op­por­tu­nity to learn and grow,” she said.

“Who knows — we might have the next U.S. Pres­i­dent in our midst! My hope is that as new part­ner­ships are formed, ad­di­tional groups will come on board to learn about the break­fast and con­trib­ute their en­er­gies and ideas,” Hud­son said.

The idea of the break­fast to “break bread” be­fore par­tic­i­pat­ing in the march that at­tracts hun­dreds of peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions to march through the city’s streets and hold a rally at the King Cen­ter con­tin­ues to­day, but the break­fast has evolved to be­come a place to work to­ward equal­ity for all, Washington said.

“Through their ex­pe­ri­ence with the break­fast, in­di­vid­u­als who are less ex­pe­ri­enced may have a clearer idea of how they can con­trib­ute, how valu­able their voice is to the col­lec­tive,” he said.

“Lenses are sharp­ened re­gard­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween queer­ness, race, gen­der, and class and the ways to chal­lenge op­pres­sion, achieve equal­ity and em­brace each other. It is our hope that the break­fast en­hances con­nec­tiv­ity and col­lab­o­ra­tion across our beloved com­mu­nity,” Washington added.

MLK Week­end and the hon­or­ing of Rustin and Lorde is a time for ac­tivists to be­come “an­gelic trou­ble­mak­ers,” a term coined by Rustin.

“We honor the lives of free­dom fight­ers who fought against and were marginal­ized by racism, ho­mo­pho­bia, sex­ism and class op­pres­sion,” Washington said of the break­fast. “This year at­ten­dees will help iden­tify a com­mon vi­sion and di­rect path­ways to reach­ing that vi­sion, mak­ing our dream more of a con­crete re­al­ity.”

The break­fast is also an an­nual event to re­mind peo­ple as they en­ter the new year to make res­o­lu­tions to bet­ter them­selves as well as their com­mu­ni­ties.

“Many have ex­pressed to us that af­ter at­tend­ing the break­fast they left with feel­ings of be­ing en­er­gized to carry on with the commu- nity work they do,” Hud­son said.

“The break­fast is also about be­ing in fel­low­ship with other so­cial jus­tice work­ers and the com­mu­nity … I be­lieve we must not only look for more op­por­tu­ni­ties to bring peo­ple of di­verse back­grounds to­gether to dis­cuss tough is­sues, such as racism, poverty and vi­o­lence, but we must also bring to­gether re­sources and con­nec­tions to en­sure that the work is sup­ported,” she ex­plained.

Also this year, the At­lanta Pride Com­mit­tee, Out on Film and Charis Books and More/Charis Cir­cle are join­ing forces Jan. 9 to present a pre-MLK screen­ing of “Brother Out­sider,” the renowned doc­u­men­tary of Rustin. There will also be read­ings of Lorde’s po­etry.

Party time

MLK Week­end is also a week­end of many par­ties put on by black gay and les­bian pro­mot­ers. Was­sup N ATL plans sev­eral par­ties for men Jan. 17-21 while Traxx Girls prom­ises par­ties for women who love women. Traxx At­lanta is also plan­ning par­ties dur­ing the week­end and Ladies at Play has booked Tongue and Groove on Jan. 20 for its King week­end party.

Each year, the Ba­yard Rustin/Au­dre Lorde Break­fast brings to­gether peo­ple from all walks of life to ‘break bread’ and dis­cuss ways to keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive in LGBT com­mu­ni­ties. Or­ga­niz­ers Dar­lene Hud­son and Craig Washington tout the event’s di­ver­sity. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

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