CVILLE PRIDE RELEASES STATEMENT REGARDING WES BELLAMY
A reaction to the recently published tweets by the city councilor
Charlottesville, VA – Sunday, December 5, 2016 – Local nonprofit Charlottesville Pride Community Network (Cville Pride) notes: Our delay in responding to this issue reflects our deep concern and shock and a commitment to delay initial knee-jerk reactions. And while not all of us, as individuals, feel at all settled regarding the situation, as a board we considered deeply the best way for us to respond.
Like many others in the community, we at Cville Pride were dismayed and saddened by Wes Bellamy’s past tweets, published last week. We repudiate and find utterly unacceptable the language, which appears to promote a rape culture, homophobia, and racial divides. We acknowledge the unacceptability of such sentiments. And Wes has acknowledged this also, taking full responsibility — and apologizing — for the damaging messages and any fallout that ensued.
And while we at Cville Pride were immensely disappointed and angered by the revealed tweets, we cannot and will not simply dismiss Wes Bellamy. He has been an ally of and a champion for the Charlottesville LGBTQ community for years. As an advocate who often challenges the homophobic views of other people in public forums, he lost votes while running for City Council from people who rejected his support of the LGBTQ community. He has routinely invited representatives of Cville Pride to speak at protests and other events for racial justice; he has likewise spoken out for LGBTQ rights and worked with Cville Pride to find ways to bring the black and gay communities together.
We repudiate Wes’ public statements in his past, but we believe that Wes has also been repudiating his words through his actions of the present.
We also believe that the comments Wes made were more than just a mistake of an individual; they are evidence of a larger, pervasive cultural bias that cuts deep into the core of who we are as Americans; he is a product of a society that divides and devalues its people. They are not just his words, but words that reflect much about the patriarchal, racially divided, misogynist, homophobic world that still shapes who we are. No one is without blame, and we are all implicated – not just in this devastating local situation, but in the national one, as well. The way to move forward is to move together, confronting our flaws, our mistakes, and even the injustices we have delivered against each other. Finding understanding and forgiveness, and encouraging each other to grow from these experiences, is the only way we can become whole.
Upon much reflection, we feel that the best way to move forward with Wes is through dialogue and education.
Specifically, we invite and encourage Wes to attend one of the safe-space trainings we offer through Safe Cville, a Charlottesville Pride initiative that offers education for organizations and businesses with the goal of increasing cultural sensitivity, respect, and empathy for the LGBTQ community.
Additionally, we ask Wes to include this safe-space training as a part of the mentorship program of the 100 Black Men, an organization he currently leads. We challenge Wes to continue helping the young men whom he mentors to realize their self-worth and, at the same time, giving them a chance he was not afforded to realize, acknowledge, and respect the worth of other people, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or race.
Along with this training, which is free, we hope to work with Wes and especially the young men he mentors to create opportunities for community discussions about how we talk about each other, whether in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, or identity.
To schedule interviews or coverage, please contact Amy Sarah Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434.882.1588 (cell).
Charlottesville Pride Community Network (Cville Pride) is a Charlottesville-based nonprofit that creates a vibrant, visible, and unified LGBTQ community presence in Charlottesville and its surrounding region that promotes equality and integrates groups and individuals through events, outreach, resource-sharing, networking, and communications initiatives. To find out more: cvillepride.org.