The Rev. Willie F. Wilson, who last week apologized for using "intemperate" language in a sermon about homosexuality, writes in a new posting on his church Web site that he remains deeply concerned about an "epidemic" of lesbianism among young black girls, calling it a "severe crisis" that threatens "the very survival of the Black family."
"The situation is so grave that it should be declared a national emergency," Wilson writes in a defense of his original sermon posted over the weekend on the Web site of Union Temple Baptist Church, where he is pastor.
"Our girls, some as young as 10 and 11 years of age, are engaging in same sex relations," Wilson writes, citing as evidence an incident in an unnamed "local school" where girls were "asked to report to the gymnasium" so school officials could "decipher how many girls were involved in same sex relations." Those who were, he writes, outnumbered those who had not been "by a 10 to 1 count."
Wilson, a prominent local minister who ran for D.C. mayor in 2002, is executive director of the Millions More Movement, a national celebration planned to mark the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March.
In his Web posting, Wilson apologizes "to any and all whom I offended" July 3, when he delivered a sermon at his Southeast Washington church describing gay sex in graphic terms. "But I do not apologize for bringing to the forefront a very critical and crucial issue facing our young girls," Wilson writes. "Though many clergy, parents, school administrators, teachers, community and youth workers are aware of this very serious situation, no one has addressed it."
The reaction to Wilson's latest treatise on homosexuality was swift and furious, with several gay leaders accusing him yesterday of peddling damaging stereotypes, and national experts saying his warnings lack any basis in fact.
Gay leaders said Wilson's remarks are particularly troubling given his role in the Millions More Movement. Gay rights groups say they have been shut out of planning for the October event despite public assurances from Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan that all black people, gay or straight, would be welcome. Farrakhan and Wilson have ignored phone calls, letters and e-mails from the National Black Justice Coalition, which represents black homosexuals, said Alexander Robinson, its chief executive.
Yesterday, Robinson said Wilson's church has made a considerable effort to reach out to gay African Americans. But given his remarks over the past few weeks, Robinson said, "the impact on gay and lesbian people is to believe he's homophobic, that he's intentionally scapegoating lesbians. He claims that's not what he's doing. But since there's no logic to or rational way of reading what he's saying, one is led to that conclusion."
Wilson has a history of making controversial remarks. In the mid-1980s, he accused an Asian storeowner of "disrespecting" one of his flock and said angry Ward 8 residents might have "cut his head off and rolled it down the street."
In his most recent Web posting, Wilson writes that teenage lesbianism is rampant in Washington and nationally, calling it "epidemic, endemic and pandemic in the Black community." He blames its spread on the fear of pregnancy and abusive men, as well as "same sex girls' gangs," which he says use threats and intimidation to lure other girls into the same-sex fold.
Wilson writes that he knows about such things "not from hearsay or theory, but through actual counseling of parents, grandparents and their daughters and granddaughters." He says the numbers of girls lured into lesbianism are "prolific, astounding and mind-boggling."
Counselors who work in D.C. public schools said they are unaware of any rapid rise in the number of lesbians on school campuses. Nor had anyone heard of girls being herded into a gym and asked to reveal the nature of their sexual liaisons.
"No such event has taken place in D.C. public schools," said system spokeswoman Alexis Moore.
Wilson declined yesterday to provide specifics about that incident or other claims in his Web posting.