Black and Gay Brother Poised to Become Detroit Councilman
Somewhere, Harvey Milk is smiling.
And even black churches support his bid. You know what kind they are. They’re the ones who say gays are going to hell:
Some Detroit churches have historically sermonized that homosexuality was a sin, but Pugh got the backing of both the AME Ministerial Alliance and the Council of Baptist Pastors.
I think it is because most blacks in Detroit feel that they know him because he is a former local TV news reporter. And he’s not on the fake, that is, he’s not on the downlow. Looks as if people are not looking for rigid morals, but someone who has an economic as well as a political plan, and can be a leader. Because Detroit, like a lot of other American cities, especially in the Midwest, is in a whole lot of trouble.
Pugh was one of 18 candidates to advance to the Nov. 3 primary for the nine-member council. His early success, some say, could thrust the city into the national spotlight in a very different way than a parade of scandals had over the last four years.
“This city has had the worst PR of any city in the world and now this will be very good news,” said Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey, who is also gay. “Detroit is going to be seen as a place that can be tolerant and progressive.”
In his campaign literature, during candidate rallies and in debates, there was no reference to Pugh’s sexual orientation.
Yet on radio shows or television segments, he has talked candidly about his romantic relationships. “I am absolutely gay and been open about it,” he said. “But that’s not what I’m running on.”
Members of the gay community Wednesday used words like “thrilling,” “exciting” and “amazing” to describe Pugh’s victory, where he won with 59,560 votes and 8.9 percent of the vote. Coming in second was City Council President Kenneth Cockrel Jr. with 49,657.
National reporters have been calling leading gay-rights organizations in the region for weeks to find out what the city’s embrace of Pugh means.
Unfortunately, 88% of Detroit’s voters did not vote in the primary. Pugh wants to bring them back to the ballot box. What Pugh wants to do is eliminate corruption, and regain the trust of city residents. If Pugh succeeds, his actions will further revolutionize black as well as gay politics in this country.
“Here’s what I want,” Pugh said. “I want a transparency that we’ve never seen. I would like the city budget to be put online so people can see it, criticize it. This is not the City Council’s money. This is the people’s money, and they are trusting the council to spend it properly and know what community priorities are.”
Second, Pugh said he wants a greater level of engagement with Detroiters. If elected, he said, his council office will employ a Web designer and Web producer to operate a “user-friendly Web site to help people participate.”
Third, Pugh said, “we’re going to put part of our staff on the streets.” He wants Detroit residents to have regular contact with employees and with him.
That kind of revolutionary talk may be just what the doctor — or young Detroiters — need to become engaged in a way that they barely are now.
It doesn’t mean homophobia is over in the black community. Far from it. It does mean, however, that for many Detroiters, black gays and gays of color are their neighbors, their family, their friends, and their role models, and their leaders while contributing to their communities of color and of gender and of sexuality. Pugh is not “running away” from where he came from. He’s home, right there in Detroit.
If you want to contribute to this brother’s campaign, his website is here.