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15 July 2009

Comments

Vance

@Kevjack:

I really don't know the answers to those questions. I don't want to be flip and I am sorry for trying to 'read' you and especially Rod. You all aren't the problem.

Can I honestly say I am afraid? My whole life is tied up in ... this image. Going to church, people 'respecting me'... I guess folks know I am gay. I am so floored that a black gay man like Rev. Kev is so accomplished and accepted and is a man of God. And he is black and gay! That just takes me some time to get used to.

I really enjoy this website. I am in Macon, Georgia an I feel like I can learn just as much as the 'out' brothas in ATL or NYC. Maybe I'm just an older black gay Southern "church queen" stuck in my closet, but slowly trying to open the door.

Thanks for explaining and listening. Change is sometimes scary though. I guess I know that many of my church family and neighbors would look down on me if I were out.

J Matt

Wow man. Rod, U know I got to used this article on the other side. It needs to definitely be talked about. For far too long, the hypocrisy invades the church, our communities and you would have thought that in 2009 we would have made some traction. Instead, it's the same ol' rhetoric with the same ol' results. Good job, Rod.

Former COGIC

This discussion is really deep. And I am glad we are keeping it on a higher level too.

Vance, your sharing is very personal and I applaud you for being honest. There are very many black gay men in your situation, many post here, but are avoiding this post. That's okay, we all have our own journeys to travel.

If I may say one thing my good man: Your family, church family and neighbors are already looking down on you. They're just not saying it to your face, but you know they are and would if you were out. The pastor and the church already are, right?

Just my two cents and please, receive that in the spirit it was given. Thank you for sharing my man.

Jim

BTW, two quotes stand out for me from Wendi Thomas’s column. First, the obvious:

“Being gay is not a sin. Being hateful is.”

Then:

“If gay people can't be gay, then black people can't be free.”

How many straight people do you think agree with that statement?

Jim

Kevin Perez: It should be no surprise that the more insecure someone is about his place in society, the more needful he is of finding someone to feel superior to. One might think that would just refer to the poor or the working class, but it really explains why some of the worse homophobes are going to be the newly-made middle class: “arrived” not so long ago, so worried about maintaining appearances, so worried about measuring up to a mentally held image.

For many of these people, their churches are their proving grounds. They get to compete in the sanctuary with their suits, hats, and dresses, then compete out in the parking lot with their late model sedans.

To be stained with “the faggot” is like a fall from grace, a fall from the middle class, a fall from what keeps them thinking good thoughts about how they’ve “won the game,” or at least not lost conspicuously.

DW Jazzlover

This subject is very close to my heart, I grew up in the South in 3 housholds,with 3 different Religions,and all let me know very early to keep it to myself!I lived with the hypocrisy of "open secrets"for all of my formative years...But my belief in God was never shaken for even then I did not believe that God makes mistakes and I knew I was ment to be just as I was. I have never left that belief, but I did leave orginized religion of any kind.
I am grateful to see and read this dialog,but it saddens me to know this conversation is stll needed.
Thanks Rod and all of you for your commitment to yourselves, we can lie to people but we can not lie to God, and I think Churches have forgotten that....

Kevjack

Vance

I empathize with your fear. It can be scary to move out of your comfort zone. Since you are in Macon, why don't you try to visit an affirming church in the Atlanta area? If you like it maybe you will come to visit from time to time when you need a "break" from your home church. There are several. I myself have been to the Vision Church a few times. It is pastored by an openly gay black man, and yes, they have a first gentleman of the church! It is a pretty large congregation, and about 95% black. I am certain you will feel at home there.


@ Cajiva. That bible that you say condems me teaches me that the Lord loves me as I am. I study the word for myself so that no man can tell me how God feels about me. As the word says "oh taste and see that the Lord is good!" I refuse to let anyone separate me from the love, salvation, and deliverance that I have. The bible does not condemn me in the least. [I will let RevKev elaborate if he chooses to.]

Anthony in Nashville

Everyone knows that certain groups have a tendency to ignore reality and act like they don't see gay people -- the military, churches, Greek organizations, rappers, etc.

I believe sexuality is just another issue that the black community chooses to be willfully ignorant about, to everyone's detriment.

For those of you who are church-goers, and have found "accepting" congregations, I guess I have to give you props for hanging in there. I gave up on church many years ago. I always wonder why the gay-friendly churches aren't as vocal about their support of gay folks as the homophobic churches seem to be about their hatred for us.

There are several gay friendly churches in town but I don't go to those either. How can they be using the same Bible as the mega church but be drawing different conclusions on what it means?

If people are choosing to interpret "the word" according to their own beliefs, then either nobody really knows what it means, or it doesn't matter because you're only going to follow the parts you like anyway.

I try to focus on treating people fairly and looking for a higher power in other places besides religious institutions.

Kevin Perez

You know I don't think Black folk, Latinos and other POC should complain about discrimination when they violently and proudly use us as their personal whipping boys for everything wrong the communities. It's the truth. Sorry but they treat us in ways that make the make treatment White folk look like Disney World, which really isn't saying much. I notice too that when LGBT communities of color in urban areas call on social issues that affect them in many ways it does for the general populace, straight Black/Latino communities go apeshit and demand that we stop being selfish and think of the community before anything else. WTF? Are not part of the community? Are we not affected by the same issues the straighs endure? So, LGBT commmunities of color should just sit back, allowing straight folk who don't care about us in way or form suggest what issues are important and not, at the expense of not even being acknowleged and not even mentioned at all? Hell, they don't think we exist and like everyone else, wrongfully categories as just as "gay", forgetting that we too are human beings and POC.

Blacks, Latinos and other POC behave in a White fashion and their "majority over minority rule'" attitude says it all, that is, the masses (of our pathetic communities) feel we can be gay and what not, but when me demand equality and call on their discriminatory attitudes they condemn from White people, we must know are place. I am so tired of people talking about "communities" because in reality, its only certain groups that fit a certain criteria and share the same beliefs the idenitfy and represent themselves as "the community".

It's disgusting, its tiresome and fat-@$$ reality check that there are many aspects in which we only have ourselves to support being LGBT.

Kevin Perez

On the side note, do any of you get a shudder when you hear heterosexual, homophobic Blacks, Latinos and other POC talk about "brotherhood" and "unity? You know like the Rastas, National of Islam and dare I say, most Nuyoricans? They hate everything gay or percived to be gay. And their hypocritcal @$$ses use religioun as a cheap excuse to validate their own bigotry. Their concept of brotherhood and racial unity is one I find laughable because we all know they're the idea of a brotherhood is basically a group of people that have to fit a criteria, as well as @$$ kiss every belief the masses believe and follow some lame idealogy. And do any of you just love hearing POC speak for/about the community, while realizing they sure hell ain't talking about us!

BTW, their criteria is one LGBT will never, NEVER match up to.

Nathan James

In reading many of the comments following Wendi Thomas' insightful essay, I was reminded how deeeply hatred of gays still runs among many people. The anonymity afforded by the Internet allows them to write bigoted statements they would probably never utter aloud in mixed company. The repeated "homosexuality is wrong", "[gayness] is a choice", and "it's a mental illness" comments highlight the perception of the LGBT community in the eyes of Middle America. Granted, Memphis is the "buckle of the Bible Belt", (where, presumably, Christian ideals such as love and tolerance should rule the roost) and whatever the local churches teach there will be reflected in the mores and values of those who live there. This, as Thomas points out, is nowhere more true than in the "traditional" black church.

As I/ve noted before, the relationship I've had with my Church (I was a Methodist) has been a stormy one. Pastors go up on their pulpits and give the congregation permission to hate gays and lesbians, all the while knowing full well what their bigoted words will lead to. What such words lead to was illustrated once again last week in the vicious attack against my neighbor, Carmella Etienne. She was savagely gay-bashed because she was a transgender who dared to think she could walk the streets of her own neighborhood in safety,

Where did her attackers learn to hate her? At home, most likely from their parents and older siblings. Where were these anti-gay beliefs encouraged and cultivated? In church. I wonder if these pastors and other authority figures in the church realize the damage they do to people's lives, when they (as Rev. Hezekiah Walker, for example, has done on many occasions) cry from their pulpits that we are sick, wrong, evil, out of touch with God, and therefore unacceptable. This translates in many people's minds as "God hates gays".

I think Wendi Thomas made an important point, however, when she quoted, "whatever you hate, will come live in your house." So very, very true! I see that happen over and over again. But some, like my own erstwhile pastor, don't understand the significance of that truth.

That's why, on the last Sunday I ever set foot in his church, he said in his sermon, "I have two lesbian sisters. And I cannot abide them, I will not deal with them, because the Lord says they are wrong."

I'm STILL banging my head against the wall over THAT one...

Chaz

@ Cajiva

Work. Why would anyone choose to praise at a Black church or any church that permits and glorifies homophobia? That is outrageous to me. No one forces these church queens to stay in the closet as their ministers psychologically manhandle them with their sermons of gay hatred.

Rev Kev

“If gay people can't be gay, then black people can't be free.”

JIM, you ask how many people agree with this statement and that is where the FIRE THIS TIME begins. It is SO not about CARING if people AGREE, it is truth!

If people, especially other oppressed people, get in conjunction with the idea of oppression, then that same oppressive mentality lives and will come back into daily fashion. IF GAY PEOPLE CANNOT GET FREE, STAND FREE, LIVE FREE TO BE FREE, the BLACK FOLKS (of which I am one as well) ARE IN GRAVE DANGER OF BUYING INTO, PLAYING INTO AND REIGNITING THE SAME STEREOTYPICAL FLAMES THAT FUEL HATRED AROUND THE WORLD!

What the Bible is used to say to the Gay or the Lesbian, it was used to say to the Woman and the Black. The Bible has amazing tenents and wonderful truths in it. So does the idea of peace as men still go to war.

I stand on that first truth:

BEING GAY ISN'T A SIN. God didn't create any people--women, gays, blacks--to be oppressed, even as we live in a country that has ways of berating and oppressing each of those groups. God didn't set us up to be talked about, the laws do. God didn't set us up to be set apart, the laws do. This is conjuring up so much of the REVELATION ABOUT PROP 8 in Cali, where gays who live in West Hollywood were faced with the painful truth that people whose businesses they support and who smile in that International Male faces voted against their rights! White people are hateful to white people. Church folks are hateful to church folks. I am not going to spend a lifetime trying to outhate hate. BEING HATEFUL IS THE SIN and I don't have time to keep fighting against hate. I'd rather fight FOR truth. When I testified before the Senate here in NJ, I spoke from my heart about the rights of Black folks and Gay folks and oppressed folks and how we have to be a better state than that, in a better state than that. That's the kind of truth that got civil unions on the books and will bring them off for full marriage equality!

I don't have time to debate hate. I know that so many people don't have time for church, hate the hypocrisy and so many other things, BUT for some people, that faith is a sustainer. I hurt, I ache that they take THAT moment, when they are yearning to be their freest, to go to places that are not free, who push them to be silent and THEN OPPRESS THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE WILL TO ACQUIESCE! It's like YOU PUNKED WHEN I PUNKED YOU SO YOU ARE A PUNK and we are treated accordingly!

I want to return to the BLACK AND POC LGBT COMMUNITIES with an idea that really ignited that POOR PEOPLE'S MARCH: I want to wear tee-shirts, MAYBE EVEN IN PINK, but something bold, that read:

I AM A MAN! I am tired of people thinking that there is less of a man in the skin of Gay Men. We have got to stop trying to win this unwinnable popularity contest with God and the Black Church. There are too many lies and half-truths and untruths IN the building to be coming to the building, thinking that there is an answer in ANY ONE PERSON, including the preacher. It's about worship and fellowship and enlightenment and transformation and some of that is ignited by the truth but it rarely happens IN the church.

This article is so spot on because in the end, for me, this is taking us beyond the veil and acknowledging that so many of us try to win the hearts of church folks and we should be trying to live in the heart of God.

I'VE DECIDED TO MAKE JESUS MY CHOICE!

Kevin Perez, I love you for your fervor and your fight and I have only one question and/or statement about your last statement:

IF THERE ARE MANY ASPECTS IN WHICH WE ONLY HAVE OURSELVES TO SUPPORT BEING LGBT, WHY ISN'T THAT ENOUGH? Just as the Jew community, the Black community and many communities cloke and clamor around themselves to support, sustain and love on themselves, WHY DON'T WE!? I want us to support our churches and our authors, our designers and our bloggers, our businesses and our boyfriends, our restaurants and our magazines!

WE ARE ENOUGH! I could NEVER leave the BLACK AND POC LGBT COMMUNITIES and still have a full and amazing life! I try to support our artists and our endeavors in every way I can. I buy books on top of books and I am a writer. I am friendly with preachers and churches in other denominations (MCC, The Fellowship) because we are all doing the same work and need support. I think that WE HAVE TO CONSIDER WHY WE AREN'T ENOUGH TO OURSELVES!

I don't live in a bubble but I do take sanctuary amongst my own, believing that elevating each of you IS elevating me!

I believe in what Rod is doing when he's posting articles like this AND when he's posting Mehcad Brooks and Dhani Jones and when he's righting about the death of a sailor! WE HAVE TO BELIEVE AND GET AS FIRED UP ABOUT THE POLITICS OF US AS WE ARE ABOUT THE OTHER PARTS OF US.

We can be our own worst stereotype sometimes, posting 150 comments about Terrell Carter NOT coming out and then only 10 about the death of a young boy. We've got to LIVE what we keep staying we want OTHERS to live!

I love us.

I love me.

I know that God loves me.

Kirk Franklin's song "I LIKE ME" is my new mantra--I LIKE ME, GOD LIKES ME, I LIKE ME...YO, YOU DON'T LIKE ME! I don't give half-a-damn about someone not liking me if I love me. I know that we all want this perfect picture of being us in a world where we are all loved, but that's not the truth for MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!

I would rather praise God in spirit and in truth in a church of 150 REAL BELIEVERS, who are free and free indeed, than be in a sanctuary of 1000s where I am being jeered at, talked about from the pulpit and leaving more broken than I arrived! THAT IS NOT SANCTUARY! I know we "live" for the choirs and the fashion show of it all more than most, but YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SOUL and if you can sit still and let someone talk about you (women didn't take it from the church and black folks got up and started their own denominations), then we are proving to the church that we ARE punks!

I truly TRUTLY believe that the church hit an impass where the women were outnumbering the men 5 to 1 and the church realized that many of the men who were there were gay! So, the Black church either had to deal with where the brothers were who were eligible for these sisters (SITTING IN JAIL, NOT IN THE CHURCH, ON THE STREETS, ETC) or they could proceed to berate and hate on the gays until they "got in line" and "changed" so that THEY could be there for the women. Otherwise, the church was going to have to do some real community work, some real prison ministering, some real conversations with the crackhead and the convict who thought they were hypocrites! SEE WHICH ONE THEY PICKED? THE PUNK...the easy target who stayed when they talked about him, who shrank when they said "you are doing too much young man," who cowered when they said "dont tell anybody."

WE BOUGHT INTO THE MESS AND WE HAVE TO GET OURSELVES OUT OF THIS LIE!

WE CAN DO ALL THINGS! WE CAN DO GREAT THINGS! WE CAN DO EVERYTHING! I think that there is a part of us that still BELIEVES that lie and thinks that God doesn't love us and it's all a set-up but God knows me--my heart, my head, my journey, my orientation--and God keeps on doing GREAT THINGS for me...this me...the Me that God knew before I was formed in my mother's womb. The Me that is wonderfully made and created in God's image! I AM THE BOMB AND ONLY HATERS TRY TO SHUT DOWN HEAVEN! BELIEVERS JUST WANT TO GET IN!

NOW LET'S HAVE CHURCH!

DU

Rod,

My thanks to you for informing us of the insightful newspaper article. Up until late last year, I belonged to a (mildly) homophobic black megachurch in Macon, GA.

This is how I tried to deal with the homophobia there:

1. Whenever there was a homophobic comment from the pulpit, I would send my tithe/monetary contribution for that month (or the following month) to an affirming church in Atlanta.

2. I would refrain from singing in the choir for 2 weeks. However, I attended choir practice, since the leadership of the choir was not homophobic.

3. I wrote and signed a letter to the pastor suggesting a congregational discussion on homophobia. I also let him know that the gay and lesbian members of his church were hurt by homophobic statements from the pulpit. He acknowledged my letter but said he wanted to handle that discussion in a different manner.


I finally stopped attending the Church after a major incident occured, and the pastor presented the incident to the congregation in a very homophobic manner.


I currently attend a church that has an affirming pastor. This church is not a majority black church. Eventhough I miss the lively service and music of my previous church, I do not want to go back to that spiritually abusive atmosphere. I am still holding strong, but I now understand why abused people sometimes go back to their abusers.


My advice to Vance, check out some of the black affirming churches in ATL. Victory Church in Stone Mountain is a good example. It is a megachurch with a mixed congregation. There a couple of smaller black affirming churches in the ATL area too - such as The Power Center and Vision Church.

TheRevKev

VANCE, please be in touch. My direct email is REVKEV@UFCCNB.ORG.

I really want to walk with you through this real journey. God is so much bigger than this image of church and God really needs you to grow beyond that. If you don't, you'll simply become the Pharisse and not the redeemer.

Love,
Elder Taylor aka RevKev!

TheRevKev

If I may, just a few words on homosexuality and the Bible.

First, lets each be clear that the word homosexual was introduced into the English venacular in 1946. It appears in the modern day version of the Bible BECAUSE someone put in there, in many cases replacing previous references to effeminate men, who were often "abused" by the church (sound familiar) and used in immoral ways by married men who wanted their own relief.

The direct references to homosexuality, most often used in these exchanges (especially debates) are a lot more logical than we understand in our own "fear" of the topic, but let's go:

1) Leviticus 18:22 YOU SHALL NOT LAY WITH MANKIND AS WITH WOMAN. IT IS ABOMINATION. Abomination means "detestable." It is something that people don't like. People, not God. God doesn't hate. God is love. The Levites were a people trying to grow an army and historically men believed that the child, the seed, was in the man. "SPILLING YOUR SEED" was about "wasting" a child and the Levites couldn't "afford" that. Among the other "rules" listed under the Levitical code are A) not mixing fabrics (because in desert-like environments, that could be deadly); not eating various meats (seafood and pork because without refrigeration, these foods can cause food poisoning, thus killing more people) and not having sex with your women when they are menustrating (why? because it would be a wasteful, as she would not become impregnanted). This is about growing numbers and not condemnation. Here is a real truth. THE ONLY REASON THEY MADE THE RULE IS BECAUSE THERE WERE ALREADY MEN LAYING WITH MEN. It was about trying to bully the men who loved men into "joining the struggle and doing the right thing." The Code, in its entirety, is about trying to increase the tribe of the Levites.

The reference to Sodom and Gomorrah and it being about gays is pretty rampant but ill-founded. Several things make it so:

1) If the towns were filled with gays, why are Lot and his family there?

2) If the men are gay, why offer them your beautiful so that they don't attack the men (angels)?

3) If the men of the town, young and old, are gay, where did the young ones come from if the older ones are gay?

The story is about inhospitality and the complete disregard for a longstanding belief that we must take care of each other, offering our own to visitors. When it looked as though the people of S&G would attempt to harm them, God destroyed the town because of the Lack of Love and Kind-hearted! That's so clear but that's so painful to a body that continues to "love the sinner, but hate the sin." It's like saying I didn't mean to hit you. I meant to hit the bones in you!

I have 18 Bibles (so many versions) and to sit them side-by-side, you see the ways (and sometimes the reasons) that men have written "VERSIONS," trying to make their way the way. But God's word is true and GOD never says hate. GOD never says abomination (CHECK THE WORDS) and JESUS NEVER SPOKE IT AT ALL.

How can we build Christianity on the teachings of Jesus the Christ and use him as a hate-barometer for homosexuality WHEN HE NEVER SAID A MUMBLING WORD?!

Kevjack

@RevKev

I knew you would break it down! Thanks so much.

Incidentally, it is a shame that I did not hear of you before this Spring. I was a visiting faculty member at Princeton from August '08 to Feb '09. Here I was shlepping to NYC and you were only a train stop away!! I really needed to get my church on, but God must have a plan for me to do quiet reflection!! But I will be back.

TheRevKev

WOW, KEVJACK...I have been here since Rod 2.0 got started, but you are right, God's plan had to do with allowing you to do the work you were doing.

I hope that we can connect when you return. I ride through Princeton often (live in Somerset) and it will be a pleasure to converse when you return.

LOOKING FORWARD. LIVING UPWARD!

Thomas

Vance, you said "By the way,m I am sure a few people suspect my 'tea' but I am a leader at my church, on the Usher Board and am looked up to. Do you have that? What about you Rod?" I have to wonder who you are looked up to as? If people are looking up to a false representation of yourself- this 'gay-not-gay self'- they aren't looking up to 'you' at all. No one should be proud of a lie.

Diva1961

And The Church Say AMEN!!! This is a beautiful, thoughtful discussion on a topic that can open eyes and hearts. I want to thank everyone for commenting because I just love reading them and seeing the evolution of ideas and thoughts. Poele are growing and expanding their consciousness through this discussion.

I wish this was the way the black straight blogs were moving. maybe in time, since there have been more and more closeted progressive straight blacks. It's more like 20 or 25% instead of the 10% from before. The more enlightened straight blacks will back our causes, but it will be on the DL for now. They won't all come out openly for LGBT rights, but they won't come out against us.

The author of this article shows us that Black folk are slowly opening up they perspective. this article in this paper in this little town would not have been written, and definiately not published even 5 years ago. So slowly, but surely evolution waits for no man.

So pray and be vigilant about who you are, because remember "A man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything". And the church says "AMEN!!"

Rod Mc

This is an incredibly uplifting conversation. Just want to thank everyone who is contributing. There are so many thoughtful responses here, especially those by Rev Kev, Kevjack and Ravenback. Let me especially thank and welcome Vance and DU, thanks for your honesty and courage. -RM

kayman

Well, she did call out the majority of the black churches for their silence and hypocrisy on issues involving homosexual behaviors. It's ashame that we will probably dealing with these same issues probably 10 years from now because its more a generational thing amongst many. The older set is set in their ways, and it is nearly impossible to change or break them. The younger set with myself are more open-minded and willing to listen to the others.

Perhaps, more Progressive congregations will pop up in the cities with large black populations particularly those in the South. It is becoming more evident that these smaller metropolises are progressing to the point that you won't have to leave them to find a sanctuary there. I say you should never run from a city when forming your own organization there to advocate the truth.

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