Vonciel Hill sparks largest rally ever in Dallas’ black LGBT community

#RevLOVE - 13

In what one longtime activist called the largest rally in the history of the local black LGBT community, about 50 people gathered in a South Dallas parking lot on Saturday morning to voice their objections to City Councilwoman Vonciel Hill’s anti-gay comments last week concerning an HIV prevention billboard.

The billboard, part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign, features a black man with his arms around another black man and says, “UPDATE YOUR STATUS.”

Hill, who is African-American and virulently anti-gay, told a TV news station that she objected to the billboard in her district because she believes it sends the message that homosexuality is “acceptable.”

Saturday’s rally, which had as its theme a hashtag, #RevLOVE, was held under temporary awnings erected in the parking lot of Abounding Prosperity, an HIV/AIDS agency in the heart of South Dallas at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and SM Wright Freeway. Harold Steward, who organized the rally, explained to those who braved 90-degree heat that the hashtag #RevLOVE is based on a line from pioneering gay black activist Joseph Beam’s book, In The Life.

“Black men loving black men is the revolutionary act,” Beam wrote.

“We have been here before,” Steward told the crowd. “If we have to we will plaster our faces and lives and our loves on every billboard in America. We will love in this revolutionary way until our haters catch up with our history.”

—  John Wright

Gay activists respond to Vonciel Hill’s bigotry with #RevLOVE rally Saturday

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A rally to respond to the anti-gay bigotry of Councilwoman Vonciel Hill and the stigma of HIV in the black community will take place on Saturday outside the office of Abounding Prosperity, 2311 MLK Jr. Blvd., at 11 a.m.

Speakers will include Pastor Alex Byrd, senior pastor of Living Faith Convent Church and bishop-designate of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Community; community activist and health educator Alpha Thomas; youth advocate Eric Henry; and Abounding Prosperity founder and executive director Kirk Myers.

Poet Brandon Jackson and vocalist Miss Connie will perform.

Organizer Harold Steward encouraged everyone from the LGBT community to participate, especially those from the large LGBT community in Hill’s newly redrawn District 3.

The full press release is below.

—  David Taffet

Dallas City Councilwoman Vonciel Hill refuses to sign gay Pride letter

For the last several weeks we’ve been putting together what is know as “The official guide to Dallas Pride” — a publication of the Dallas Tavern Guild that is distributed inside Dallas Voice in advance of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. One of the features that appears regularly in the annual Pride guide is a letter from the Dallas City Council congratulating the Tavern Guild, which puts on the festival and parade.

This year, for the third consecutive year, the letter is signed by 14 of the 15 council members, including the mayor. And for the third consecutive year, the lone holdout who refuses to sign the letter is Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill, who has also refused to ride on the city float in the parade.

Although we’ve never asked Ms. Hill specifically about the letter, here’s the explanation she gave us in 2009 for not appearing in the parade:

“I won’t be participating [this year], and based on my present beliefs, I won’t be participating in the future,” Hill said. “There’s no reason I should be castigated for that.”

Asked what those beliefs are, Hill said: “I believe that all people are loved by God, all people are created equal under God, but there are acts that God does not bless. It does not mean the person is any less God’s child. I’m entitled to stand for what I believe, and I don’t appreciate anyone castigating me for standing for what I believe.”

Maybe Hill is right. Maybe we shouldn’t castigate her for her religious beliefs. Given that redistricting has put one of the city’s most heavily gay neighborhoods in her new district, maybe instead we should just vote her out of office!

Read the council’s letter after the jump — and in case you’re wondering, the Pride guide will be distributed inside the Aug. 31 and Sept. 14 editions of Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright