Much of the pain and suffering LGBTQ African Americans experience in theologically conservative churches happens in silence and secret. Some LGBTQ congregants do not even recognize the source of their pain, because sexuality, let alone non-heterosexuality, is not discussed or taught in many African American churches.
Back in the day, Girlfriends was one of my favorite sitcoms to watch. To see the interactions between strong Black women on television that mirrored what I was exposed to in my family always left me joyful and anxious to watch the next episode.
The recent VH1 segment, Out in Hip Hop: What Happens When Your Church Doesn't Accept You; and the recently released BET documentary, Holler If You
We are not the same America.
We are not the same America that we were 20 or even 10 years ago. For decades, civil liberties framed the discourse about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) justice. Now marriage, a union that is sacred for so many, is at the forefront of our national consciousness in ways we could not conceive. Now, more than ever, we cannot omit religion.
Every Sunday, many African American gays worship in churches that preach hate and prejudice against them.
We sit in silence in the pews even though we are tithing members of the congregation.
Today my mother has called me to ask what it is I plan on doing for Good Friday. She knows it has always been my favorite religious holiday of the year and is sure I have made plans. Hearing her voice, a ripe fruit bursting with all that good news and Baptist tabor, only makes it even more difficult to admit (to both her and myself) that I haven’t thought much about it.
Recently, some African American pastors who came to “heckle” me changed their minds and instead asked me what they could do to move the conversation about moral equality for LGBT people in the Black church forward.
Having been raised in a small, conservative church in the Midwest, I was instilled with the notion that there was a clear distinction between “us” and “them.” There were certain people who were perceived as threatening to the true Christian faith.
It took me a while to get here.
Not to the point of LGBT acceptance but to the point of not worrying about what other folks may think of me as the pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory, North Carolina.
I never had a problem affirming LGBT people.