Updated: Aug 13
It's evident that Queer attendance in the black church is abundant. However, God-Confident Queer representation is another story. Because we are treated poorly in traditional non-affirming churches, I wondered why we are so present in churches who teach oppressive theology. I couldn't put myself in a position to be bashed every week, I'm just not that girl. I follow God's spirit wherever I go, and if God (peace, clarity, and inclusion) isn't there, I don't stay. The Pentecostal church can only be profitable if there is good music. Ironically, most talented and anointed psalmists are (closeted) Queer. Thus, like American prosperity was built on the backs of slaves, the church has met great success on the backs of same gender loving folks who lead them in worship every Sunday. Although anointed, although powerful and effective, the Queer community is in hiding because of the shame others have created for them. If Queers are anointed, why does it matter what they do in their intimate lives? Thus, Quiet Queer’s exists within a culturally-induced compunction without the freedom to experience a love they deserve in wholeness. The intrusive nature of homophobia is fueled by a lack of resistance to the bigotry that sustains shame. By accepting this treatment, the Queer population avouches homophobia, and this shame continues to evolve because respect is not demanded.
We've got to be the change we wish to see in the world. For example, in June 2019, a pastor in Tennessee was refused service at a well-known restaurant because his sermons suggest that Queer folks should be executed by the government (Time Magazine). The world was made aware in January 2020; when a highly ranked elected official said, Homosexuality is of the devil in a church service (I guess he won’t get our vote) (CBS News)). Queers were awarded (June 2020) the privilege of employment protection due to the Supreme Court ruling to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to outlaw employment discrimination (Haas Jr, Matt Foreman). These things wouldn't have happened if people sat in silence. These triumphs result from a person deciding to declare that THIS TREATMENT IS WRONG. We must start standing up for ourselves organically and expose our families to what it means to be rejected based on culturally selected biblical principles they've chosen for themselves. Rejecting homophobia on all fronts should sever the connection of shame projected towards the Queer community.
Rejecting poor treatment from non-affirming churches and environments whose ruthless intent to spread the belief that God doesn't want Queer people as they are will set boundaries. Its almost like they've created a cage for us to sit in because "we need to repent, run to the altar, and beg God for mercy"(Ms. Burrell). We can no longer accept bashing in front of thousands of people at COGIC conventions. We have to stand against being called out and publicly shamed in front of ANY church. We need to get up and WALKOUT!!! Our differences exist to start conversations and evolve. The request for a discussion with the church promoting what respect looks like for us, would be an investment of love from the church to the LGBTQ+ community. We, Queers, are anointed. God speaks to us the same way He speaks to all His children. Unfortunately, Queers are singled out because of the heterosexual initiative, which is the core of Christianity, to be fruitful and multiply. Well, bitter fruit isn't worth reproducing if no one can consume it. No one will benefit from the way Queers are being treated in the black community. Its as if we are expected to be ashamed automatically because of selected Christian principles. But I can't understand how or why folks criticize the Queer community based on a religion they don't thoroughly practice for the life of me. This tells me that homophobia is not a God thing; it's a sociocultural infraction. And let's not forget, the Queers who are not ashamed and walk with pride are considered heretics and anti-Christian. The irony is that the church's treatment of Queers is the most anti-Christian thing they could do along with racism.
What has rejecting Queer family members produced? Suicide. Drug addiction. A significant percentage of homelessness of people between ages 12-25. According to True Colors United, LGBTQ young Queers are 120% more likely to experience homelessness, and 40% of young LGBTQ+ kids will be homeless in the US alone. Closeted men marry straight women because of the shame caused by homophobia. These men aren't allowed to love themselves and make the best decisions for their health and others because of homophobia. Thus, the closeted (married and in church every Sunday) Queer steps outside of the marriage recklessly destroying families because they can't be who they indeed are. Again, this treatment is similar to racism. We're exiled and forced to segregate ourselves. Homophobia is far worse than racism because it's one thing to be rejected by the world but having no sense of belonging with family is far more painful. Let's not forget they tried taking God from us as well, and exile from family and God is a dark space to live.
As a human being (especially family), all people should be treated with respect amid differences. The Queer community is attacked with sanctioned discriminatory treatment mostly from people in our immediate circle. But once we realize that homophobia is a product of theology (the interpretation of the relationship between a specific culture and God) chosen for us, we can then decide if that theology connects us to God. If not, find a place where you are accepted and challenged to grow. God will never initiate behavior or directives that doesn't join (like the intimacy in marriage) us to God. God is passionate about us and always will be. We have a choice in the way we worship and WHERE we worship. We MUST be vigilant in choosing safe spaces we invest in to achieve spiritual growth.
I've met a few people in the black community that treated me with respect, and better yet, some of them were Christians. I'll never forget getting my hair cut in a barbershop owned by an older lady, a Christian. I never hid who I was, and she knew I was a lesbian. I returned to her every other week not only because she could cut hair, but she was the best barber I'd met thus far. She would cut my hair with sheers each time, with no clippers, and each cut was perfect. I learned how to cut hair professionally myself a few years later, and now cutting hair gives me a similar peace I had sitting in her chair. She was the most delightful Christian I'd ever met, and I'll never forget her. She never made me feel any different than any other person who came into her shop. Now, this could've been motivated by a need for sales, but we had a genuine connection. I remember talking to her about an experience I had each time I visited a church where a prophet wanted to call me upfront to tell me what God felt about my sexuality each time I’d enter the building. She abruptly stopped me and asked. "Why does God need a person to speak to His children? I have children, and if I need them, I call them up and talk to them. God is the same way. You don't need a person to tell you what God says, just listen."
This experience was a turning point for me because this woman guided me, gave me scriptures to read, and even helped me eat healthier. More than anything else, she didn't bash me. We became close, and NOT ONCE did she question God's heart towards me because of my sexuality. This should be the "Christian" experience we seek and accept throughout our lives. As a result of a relationship with her, I would take nothing less from Christians I'd encounter afterward. Unfortunately, we need more God-Confident Queer folks standing up telling these types of stories to provide strength for others and awareness to the ignorant. I am not the only Queer black person who feels this way about God. Christianity teaches rigidity and admonishes everyone to follow each word in the Bible as truth, even though the Bible was written for a different culture and time. These inconsistencies increase the possibility of human error owing to Christianity's inability to promote unilateral connection to God. How can one learn without a preacher, they say? God would be inadequate if HE needed a person to translate how He feels towards us all at all times. The lack of guidance and teachings connecting us to God independently further substantiates the theory that religion is a means to preserve culture and tradition. Nothing more. Investing in a relationship with God is the total opposite. Its intimacy between God and you.
For example, after speaking to a young minister who has a Master of Divinity, I found it interesting that he bashed a person for their differences out in the open on. Surprisingly, not even 2 years prior, I remember encouraging him while in similarly dismal space. He'd been attending a Church and Ministers, without his solicitation, gathered around him to pray the gay away and the result was heartbreak for him. I could feel the weight he carried while he told his story because I knew how that felt. He was embarrassed and angry and overcome. So, I encouraged him to keep going, and I told him how special he was to God. Once I remembered that weight he felt, I asked him why he projected the same hate towards people who were different after experiencing similar treatment. His response was astounding. He said that it was his responsibility to his ancestors to preserve tradition. His decision to inflict the same pain onto others had nothing to do with God or righteousness. What's even crazier is this.
As a result of my inquiry, we are no longer friends. However the last picture I saw of him was taken with a new, very feminine, hairstyle that was laid for the gawds. This is when I started to feel sorry for him. Defensively, after I questioned the hate, he attempted to attack me personally by expressing my desperate need for prayer because of church hurt. I laughed it off (poor tink tink) without taking it personally because he wasn't free. Respectfully, I don’t take comments from people who don’t know me personally, to heart. Finally, the opinions of a person who can't live their truth has no weight with me. That would be equivalent to getting upset at a child for spilling a drink. It's not his fault; he's just stuck in the immature concept of perfection with the intent to receive acceptance from those who reject him. What he doesn’t know is that he’s hiding the most beautiful part of him. The gay man God ordained to promote change in the earth. Denying who you are is not righteous, its prison. Because he isn't strong enough to live freely, he duplicated the same toxic behavior he'd received a few years prior. His response confirms something God spoke to me years ago.
You become what you cannot forgive.
This young man’s response made things more clear. Many of us create idol gods without knowing it. When we value acceptance over spirit and truth at the expense of our own well-being, those people become our god. If you sacrifice your own spiritual safety to be accepted in a place where you are selectively criticized and counted as spiritual offenders not worthy of God, your reward will come from those people. Think about this. The reason churches are so profitable and successful is because of talented musicians. If there isn't an excellent music department in a church (especially the black church), growth will not be consistent. Unfortunately, most talented and anointed psalmists are Queer.
In comparison, American prosperity was built on the backs of slaves; thus, the black church's success is built on the backs of Queer folks who lead them in worship every Sunday, play the screws out of an organ, and beat those drums like they stole something. My beautiful Queer brothers and sisters deserve to be accepted and loved, mainly because of our contribution to music alone in the black church. No one should ever make you believe you don't belong to God, and God doesn't belong to you.
Your relationship with God should be personal and not a collective attempt from others to define your value to God. We need to start standing up for ourselves and reject our previous reverence towards acceptance from the intolerant. God has been replaced by all the condemning faces you see when you enter the house of God. Replace their faces with the face of God once more and stay there. They don’t get it yet, but they will. Standing up for yourself will take the power of homophobia away from the biased, and respect WILL be the result. If not, cut ties with toxic people who aren't interested in who you are but what they need you to be in order to love you. I don't need folks to agree with who I am. God knows me, and God loves me as I am. My experiences have given me high confidence and a secure KNOWING that I am the Kingdom of God in real-time. And the truth is, I don't need to be called a Christian to love God or for God to love me. Any religion is a cultural structure that should provide guidance towards compassion, inclusion, self-awareness, and connecting to the divinity God placed inside us. My love and passion for God isolates me from oppressive theology because I INVEST in research to be more aware of the fruit and effects religion has had on humanity.
Its time out for being a Quiet Queer. There is no shame (shame: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute-Webster), just like there was no spoon in the first Matrix. Just think…(There is no spoon, there is no spoon) Do your research. Surround yourself with liberating individuals. Learn how to hear from God. Learn to recognize God because that's the only way you'll ever identify what God is NOT! Homophobia is NOT OF GOD. Do the work to obtain peace. Write down your victories because freedom is practiced. Freedom must be fed and nurtured. Just because you make it through one situation doesn't mean the next case will be successful without great effort and feeding your faith with previous victories.
Stand up for yourselves and LIVE!