Position Statement: Standing Together With You Against Racism
We, the Gay Freedom Band of Los Angeles (GFBLA), are saddened and angered by the recent display of hatred, brutalities, and tragedies relating to police violence and racial injustice. The words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his letter sent from the Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963, has never been more relevant: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” (African Studies Center – University of Pennsylvania, 2020).
It is heartbreaking for those who have suffered or lost their lives as a result of systemic racism. Racism and discrimination in any form are completely unacceptable and must be addressed unequivocally. We want to pause to recognize the pain many members of the Black community are feeling. This tragedy, COVID-19, and the social, economic, and political challenges are overwhelming.
GFBLA, as an LGBTQ+ organization, is aware of a complex web of barriers to equitable treatment and respect for Black lives across the nation that must not only be addressed, but prioritized for solutions to begin the process of dismantling and ending racism. Conversations about race and systemic racism in America may be challenging, intimidating, and overwhelming at times, but we must have these conversations openly and humbly. GFBLA has an unwavering commitment to equality and justice for all, zero tolerance for racism, xenophobia, bigotry, and hate of any kind.
GFBLA has historically been a shining example of diversity, inclusivity, and equality. We look forward to continuing our pledge to our communities and be leaders in our great march toward total equality.
As a community ensemble, we have a unique ability to elevate the voices and music of people of color by doing what we do best: programming a concert showcasing Black history, featuring current working Black composers and artists. The Black community has pioneered so many of the most influential musical genres. In doing this, we can meaningfully elevate musicians of Color. The concert will be an incredible experience to say the least. Though the thought of a concert may feel far away, we at GFBLA are anticipating a return to musical excellence once we are able. We sincerely look forward to sharing this and so many more musical experiences with you once again.
While non-Black LGBT+ people experience prejudices and injustices, there are many facets of the Black experience that non-Black people simply can never know. We remain committed to listening to our LGBT+, Black, marginalized, and support communities with open ears and open hearts, and providing them support to the absolute best of our ability and capacity.
GFBLA sees a powerful opportunity for us to listen, to learn, and most importantly, to take action. In the same letter sent from the Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (African Studies Center – University of Pennsylvania, 2020). Hence, we will be a part of the change to address the pernicious issue of racism. We have joined forces with other prominent LGBTQ+ organizations in unity to show our explicit commitments to condemn racism, racial violence, and police brutality:
LGBTQ Organizations Unite to Combat Racial Violence (Equality Florida)
LGBTQ Organizations Unite in Calling for Transformational Change in Policing (Human Rights Campaign)
In addition to the display of unity behind efforts to annihilate racism, GFBLA is doing the following:
Program future concert programs that feature works from Black composers and composers of color and commemorate Black history, struggles, and incremental victories.
Host and facilitate conversations with Black leaders in the community to actively listen to their collective, unique voices and to understand their lived experiences to help inform us of areas where we could make a difference and effect change toward anti-racism.
Support organizations that fight for equality and justice for the Black LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized populations.
Establish criteria, guidelines, policies, and procedures on which organizations that GFBLA should support.
Attract and recruit musicians, Board members, and supporters of the Black community and other marginalized populations.
Educate ourselves on racism by receiving cross-cultural diversity training among other resources.
The actions above are only the beginning. It will take all of us to make a change. GFBLA is committed to being a visible ally for the Black community. Silence is not an option. Complete silence is really loud.
We stand together against racism, and we advocate our members and supporters to voice their unwavering support of equality, justice, and inclusivity. Let’s continue to talk to each other and create space for empathy and emotions. Thank you for your compassion and commitment to make a difference together.
GFBLA Board of Directors