Carey: “when faced with choices, we should move towards our core value of inclusion and opportunities for constructive dialogue”
By Melanie Nathan, January 19, 2016.
Yesterday the internet exploded when many in our LGBT community expressed hurt and anger at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s decision to ban a Jewish event, to be held by A Wider Bridge, from the Creating Change Conference.
I wrote an article, “Famed LGBT Voices Blast Task Force For Banning Jewish Event from Creating Change Conference” elucidating the comments of several LGBT activists on the ban. I pointed out that we believed the Task Force had caved into pressure of a small group of anti-Israel extremists, and that under no circumstances should any LGBTI voices ever be silenced, and especially at the behest of a few.
My Article had very wide coverage and was read by Creating Change sponsors Hilton Hotels and Gilead, the latter with whom I had an email exchange. It was a simple exchange where I merely pointed out my article – which speaks for itself – and asked if they wanted to comment. They responded immediately, noting that they were not going to comment, which I fully understood. I was just happy that they read how we felt.
A Wider Bridge started a Petition on Change.org, requesting reinstatement and an apology. My article from yesterday can be READ HERE.
Now there has been a reversal in the decision to cancel the event, admitting that they had made a mistake and that they are reverting to the core values they espouse, which we as activists thought they had dismissed.
Chicago, Il, Jan. 19, 2016 — “Having taken in a range of information and seeing what has happened over the last couple of days, I have decided to reverse our decision to cancel the ‘Beyond the Bridge’ reception hosted by A Wider Bridge with guest speakers from the Jerusalem Open House. It is our belief that when faced with choices, we should move towards our core value of inclusion and opportunities for constructive dialogue and canceling the reception was a mistake. Our decision was made by staff; neither our board members nor the local Host Committee were involved. We are aware that our original decision made it appear we were taking sides in a complex and long-standing conflict, which was not the intention, and that in cancelling the reception we deeply offended many people, and our reversal will offend others. In reversing the decision today, we want to make it quite clear that the Creating Change Conference will always be a safe space for inclusion and dialogue for people with often widely different views. It was not at all our intention to censor representatives of the Jerusalem Open House or A Wider Bridge at Creating Change and I apologize that our actions left people feeling silenced.
“What has made our Creating Change Conference so transformative over the years is that it is a place where all attendees are and should feel welcome, have space to be themselves, have an opportunity to freely share their views and perspectives, and to learn from others. In fact, it wouldn’t be Creating Change without disagreement, but we hope for a movement in which we can show how we can come together to discuss difficult issues. We know that many people at Creating Change share our belief in the self-determination of all people. Towards that end, we will also be creating a facilitated session for dialogue around these issues and welcome people who want to have a constructive conversation and learn more about other perspectives.
“I have been concerned about the intense escalation that has occurred over the last couple of days and the threats towards people who hold a range of views. Enough. We are a community of people coming together at Creating Change and no one should be threatened for their opinions no matter how much you disagree. We call upon anyone who may be organizing protests to take place during Creating Change — related to these or any other issues — to be peaceful.
“While we clearly make mistakes, and will make others I’m sure in the future, we also have a strong record of being a leader in advancing freedom, justice, equality and equity for all LGBTQ people. We call upon all conference attendees and members of the wider Task Force family to join us in moving forward,” Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.
While I appreciate the apology and the reinstatement, I do not feel much healing in this one statement. I am wondering if sponsors brought some pressure to bear. I am a proponent of “Truth and Reconciliation” and because I cannot understand how such a “mistake” was made, especially in the context of Task Force’s clear core values – it makes no sense. In other words how was this mistake made? What were the exact facts and circumstances that led to this ban in the first place? I would need to hear that from Rea Carey herself. I would like to see the communications between Task Force and those who proposed the Ban. What exactly in Rea’s words precipitated the ban. Until then. Until I have all the facts from Task Force that led to our hurt and anger, I am not in a personal place of forgiveness! I think Rea Carey needs to publicly explain the genesis of what led to the cancellation and the truth behind it all.
With that said, I am sorry to hear this led to people being threatened. I am not sure who was threatened who or what they were threatened with and would like more information about that. It is never acceptable to threaten anyone.
Lets hope we can get to the bottom of all this, heal and move on….. it should never happen again!