Summer Time

Aug 12, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Here's another obit from The Economist (July 23) for Gloria Allen, 76, whose picture looks very much like an attractive, gracious lady. It ends up that years ago, “Mama Gloria” placed a poster in a community center next to a Whole Foods in Chicago, that was a safe place for LGBTQ people to meet. It was for a charm school for young trans people. Her classes met twice a week led by this stylish Black woman who gave them the social skills they need to respect themselves. Her school’s fame spread far and wide. She addressed everything from hygiene, outfit does and don’ts, and safe sex. The boy who became this glamorous trans lady, had been born the first of eight children. She knew from birth that she would never be the strapping boy her father had wished for. In high school he was raped by four boys, and dropped out, horrified by the hate that came his way, and his own self-hate. Gloria started hormone injections and surgeries, and suffered through several abusive relationships, one in particular that ended after he beat her badly, she shot him and left. But, the acceptance of her mother, grandmother and great-aunt who lived in the queer world in Chicago, steered her toward helping abandoned, discarded and abused trans girls who came to her classes. “Mama Gloria” was a nickname she didn’t like at first, but as her students became a better family than any of them had ever had, she did. She cleaned houses to support herself and them. Toward the end of her life, her school inspired a play, “Charm” and a documentary, “Mama Gloria.” She said her school was partly about manners, mostly about love.

In a speech in March 1860 in Glasgow, Scotland, Frederick Douglass addressed a British opponent’s views of the U.S. Constitution in a speech, “The Constitution of the United States: is it Pro-slavery or Anti-slavery?” He said, “its language is, ‘We the people;’ not we the white people, not even we the citizens, not we the privileged class, not we the high, not we the low, but we the people; not we the horses, sheep, and swine, and wheelbarrows, but we the people, we the human inhabitants; and, if negroes are people, they are included in the benefits for the Constitution.  . . . The Constitution declares that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; it secures to every man the right of trial by jury, the privilege of the writ of habeus corpus—that great writ that put an end to slavery and slave-hunting in England.” This is from Frederic May Holland’s Frederick Douglass: The Colored Orator, 1891. Today the word man could easily be replaced with all.