Joseph F. Beam: Reflections from the Heart of a Mother

17 08 2010

Courtesy of Philadelphia Gay News

In March 2007, Lee Carson, of the Black Gay Men’s Leadership Council, and Tyrone Smith and Kevin Jones, of the Archivists Society, sat down to speak to the mother of Joseph Beam, Ms. Dorothy Beam.

Joseph F. Beam (12/30/54-12/27/88) was born in Philadelphia, PA. A noted author and activists, he edited In the Life, the first Black gay anthology (published by Allyson Press in 1986).

According to the mother of Joseph Beam:

“There is some kind of fear in the black population that says they have to hide their gay sons. Religion frowns on this, but this is YOUR child… They ask: ‘Well how can you be so expressive and your son was gay?’ How can I not be? He’s my son!”

“…When Essex (Hemphill) came over to finish the book, he stayed at my house and got himself a job and an apartment… Essex wanted to finish the book because he loved Joe…one of the things Joe wanted was for gay people to be gay people. Joe’s books speak for themselves. When he wrote his books, there weren’t that many black gay books out. He would have written more but God called him to glory. But I thank Essex for coming over to finish it.”

“They say to pray for the gay sons. I don’t have to pray for God to change my son because that’s how he made him. If I’m going to pray for anything, I’m going to pray for God to change me into a white woman with blond hair.”

Dorothy Beam
March 24, 2007

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