SADLY, EVEN IN 2003, several high profile black ministers
have jumped aboard the “Christian” gay-bashing train to heaven
by joining their white clergy counterparts in stepping in
front of the cable TV cameras waving their Bibles and screaming
Scriptures from Romans and Leviticus.
These clergy affirm heterosexuality while proclaiming that
black manhood and black people as a whole are facing a genocidal
threat from the unconscionable, non-Afrocentric ill wind of
Many of us, myself included, have grimaced and endured fiery
homophobic sermons, nervously breathing as our fellow congregants
stood in overzealous applause, proudly beaming with joy, and
reveling in their heterosexuality as the preacher rabidly
screamed, “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!”
As we enter into 2004, our silent response will no longer
pass muster. Today we live in an ever-changing and complex
world, and we cannot afford to remain silent in the black
church concerning our experiences and spiritual walk with
God as black gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered
Too much progress has been made in the arena of GLBT rights
and mainstream inclusion to allow the black church to somehow
slip through the cracks of social progress and change. Today
we must finally begin to individually and collectively stand
up against the black church!
The act of standing up to the black church on the issue of
homosexuality is no easy feat. On top of being notoriously
fundamentalist concerning Scripture, the black church hoists
an extra heaping of cultural and ethnic shame upon gay people.
Black people still face energetic racism and a myriad of
other social issues, making the mere thought of black men
tiptoeing their way through the swishy waters of homosexuality
enough to motivate some congregants to hurl their Bibles at
the nearest suspected gay “threat.”
But black gay people must withstand and endure, much like
we withstood and endured as a race during the civil rights
struggle of the 1960s. We need a plan of action and very brave
soldiers to march into battle.
FOR THOSE SERIOUSLY up to the task, there are six crucial
steps we must take to stand up against the black church:
- Remember that the GLBT inclusion strategy used at Mt.
Liberal White Methodist Church across town probably will
not fly at Greater Conservative Black Baptist Church in
downtown. Get to know your congregation, pastor or bishop.
It helps to know the political dynamics of your church before
initiating a dialogue.
- As a collective group of parishioners, black gay Christians
must peacefully speak directly to your pastor or bishop
or ministry staff about your concerns. Believe it or not,
a calm, intelligent and articulate conversation about the
issue is far more effective than a fire and brimstone debate
over homosexuality and its inclusion in the church. Remember
Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous
words stir up anger.”
- If you cannot find other gay church members to join you
in your mission, then you must summon up the courage to
go it alone. Be fully prepared to be outed and even preached
against by name. No one ever likes being the pioneer on
this journey of gay-inclusion in the black church, but it
must be done. We must recognize that our efforts are not
just about us, but about the many generations to follow.
There comes a point in life where we must stand, walk and
eventually run our faith.
- During your dialogue with your church clergy, do not debate
Scripture or the interpretation of Scripture. Provide them
with literature from your local gay bookstore that speaks
to this issue. Instead, you should speak to your own personal
experience, path and growth with God as a black gay Christian.
Speak to how you are no different in your beliefs, understanding
and spiritual walk and that your personhood in part is a
reflection of your sexual orientation.
- Recruit heterosexuals in your church to broaden your base
of support. It may seem like an impossible task, but think
again. There are too many gays in the black church, along
with their family members and friends, for there not to
be some straight people to take a stand for what’s right.
We cannot make the mistake of automatically assuming that
absolutely no straight black Christians will join us in
- Continue to pray and have lots of patience. Follow up
with your pastor or bishop to continue the dialogue. God
can do the impossible, and we must have faith that he will
indeed move the mountain of homophobia within the black