Controversial pastor Reverend Willie Wilson of Union Temple, you remember the Black pastor who denounced lesbians in a sermon last summer and blamed lesbians for his son not being able to find a date to the prom, delivered a respectful sermon and eulogy during 24-year-old Laquanda “Swoop” Johnson’s funeral service this week. However, Wilson upset the family by refusing to allow the family to distribute a printed program for the service inside the church. The program included several photos of Johnson with her arms around her girlfriend, which Wilson and other Union Temple officials said were inappropriate for a church.
Johnson was shot to death July 11 in Southeast D.C., in what police think is an apparent retaliation for her cooperation with prosecutors in a murder investigation. However her family thinks that it was possibly because of her openness about her sexual orientation.
Johnson’s killing was one of about a dozen murders that occurred in the District during a two-week period in July. The murders prompted D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams to declare a crime emergency. Although other news media outlets, including the Washington Post, reported Johnson’s murder, none disclosed that she was a lesbian.
Johnson’s slaying also took place two months after Crystal Smith, 20, who was also gay, was shot to death May 16 near her home on the 400 block of 33rd Street, S.E.
Violence in the Black community, for me, and I assume other same-gender loving people, is probably more of an issue that getting married right now. I know in Los Angeles, we are going through a crime wave with the gangs and it’s bad. When I came back from Seattle and went to work, I received a report that over the weekend 4 people, including a 2-year-old and 3-year-old had been shot in Compton. I know that addressing the violence in Black communities has never been and will never be a priority in the gay rights movement, but deaths such as Johnson’s go to show once again, that as Black people, even thoughwe may be gay, we are struggling with a lot of issues and many of them start with just being able to make it home each day alive.
Click here to visit Johnson’s guest book where friends and family are posting their condolences.
Click here to read the Washington Blade story.