On October 27, Reverend Al Sharpton voiced his support for the LGBT community when he told “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen about his stance on being a pro-gay advocate.
“I think you can’t be for civil rights for anybody unless you’re for civil rights for everybody,” said the reverend, who has been an advocate and protestor (particularly in African-American rights) since the late sixties. In 2009 he was arrested in a protest at the Vieques Island of Puerto Rico, for challenging US bombing exercises there. Imprisoned for ninety days, he went on a hunger strike for much of the period, resulting in a thirty-pound weight loss.
As a pro-gay activist, Sharpton has been calling for an end to homophobia, especially within the black community, since the late nineties, following a statement he made which was viewed as derogatory toward the LGBT community.
Clearly no stranger to controversy, during his interview with Cohen, Sharpton also commented on the flack he’s gotten from friends and other pastors and leaders in the Christian (particularly Baptist—Sharpton’s affiliation) community for his pro-gay stance.
“When I first came out, I was widely criticized,” Sharpton says. “A lot of my old friends said, ‘What are you doing?’”
Back in the spring of 2012, the controversial reverend took to the radio to slam black faith leaders who didn’t plan to vote for Obama in November as a result of his pro-gay campaign. While Sharpton said that he understood disagreement with the president’s position on the issue, he found faith leaders’ claims against voting for Obama hypocritical.
To hear more from Sharpton, check out the short clip from “Watch What Happens Live,” here.