Over the weekend I received an e-mail from gospel singer Ricky Dillard's manager Will Bogle, regarding a post that I wrote about an incident that occured involvingTye Tribbett at a benefit for Ricky Dillard last week here in Atlanta.
If you've followed my blog from the beginning then you know it's not a gossip site and I don't waste my time on "outing" people. However, from time to time I will state the obvious or what is known to be true about certain individuals who aren't as forthcoming as others.
After reading Will's e-mail I decided to remove the post, a decision that I regret, but I had given him my word and I was not about to go back on it. After all we do live in a country where we take pride in having freedom of speech and on my blog I'm free to express my opinions without being regulated by anyone.
I paid close attention to everything he had to say in his e-mail and responded, but it wasn't until after I had sent the e-mail that a much bigger question/dilemma presented itself that I think needs to be discussed. I've posted Will's e-mail and my response here for everyone to read in an effort to be fair and balanced, but there's always two sides to every story and then there's the truth.
This message is intended for Mr. Darian Aaron.
Periodically, I come across numerous alleged incidents, fabricated accountings and untruthful stories...however, yours is most inaccurate. My name is Will Bogle and I'm pleased to manage and represent Mr. Ricky Dillard. I was informed of your page by a gay constituent who was also amazed by the extent of your dissertation. I do applaud your efforts to inform your community with news that you may deem relevant...however, I can not, in good faith, idly allow such ridiculous accusations to be made about my client or his friend and brother, Mr.Tyrone Tribbett.
Obviously, you were not at the benefit for Mr. Dillard, which is how you were able to grossly distort the verbiage and the intentions of both Mr.Tribbett and Mr. Dillard. Mr. Tribbett believes in his message for deliverance and Godly reconciliation...and he made it meticulously clear that nothing that he stated was directed to Mr. Dillard personally.
My request is that you immediately amend your postings, as it gives our fans and supporters a very jaded view of the actual events during the benefit service for Mr. Dillard. Slander is not God's desire for His people, nor is it in the best interest of brotherly commeraderie. I'm available at (he provided his phone number), should you have any further comments or concerns.
Manager ~ Ricky Dillard & the New Generation Chorale
This message is intended for Mr. Will Bogle.
I just received your e-mail regarding my post about Tye Tribbett and your client Ricky Dillard and I have to say that it was not my intention to slander Mr. Dillard in any way, I do believe I did just the opposite.
I did not claim to be present the night of the benefit, I actually wrote that I learned of this incident through a friend who was in attendance. You stated that Tye's message was one of deliverance and Godly reconciliation and was not directed towards Ricky personally.
I have never met Ricky, but I respect his work and obvious calling to the ministry. But if he identifies as a same gender loving Black man in private or public , when his "brother" took the mic to speak his distorted message of God's word to all of the homosexual men and women in that church, Ricky was not excluded regardless if Tye Tribbett singled him out or not.
Journalistic integrity is extremely important to me and for that reason alone I will remove the post. I make no apologies for speaking out against Tye Tribbet's homophobic message and for commending Ricky for having the courage to be an openly gay face in an industry filled with closeted men .
I'm available at (I provided my phone number) should you have any further comments or concerns.
Living Out Loud with Darian
All weekend I thought about what had transpired as a result of my post and it caused me to examine the Black church (yet again) and it's treatment of gays and lesbians and the many gospel artists who identify as SGL in silence.
It goes without saying that the Black church has played a major role in shaping who we are as a community, through slavery, Jim Crow and the injustices we face in the 21st century, our relationship with God and the church has been paramount. I think the same thing can be said for gospel music. I can remember the first time I felt a connection with God, it wasn't after hearing the pastor in the country church I grew up in "hoop and holler", it was when I heard John P. Kee and the New Life Community Choir sing "Show Up"! There was something about gospel music that caught my attention and made a relationship with God seem accessible even at my young age.
Later on I would realize that gospel music was the one aspect of the Black church where I was free to praise God openly and honestly without experiencing the condemnation of the "word". As I came into my own and embraced my sexuality and the backlash from the church for identifying openly as such, I couldn't help but notice all of the gay men and women who were at the forefront of the gospel music industry. We've all seen them in church, on tv, we own their cd's, everyone whispers about them, they're flamboyant, attractive, talented, anointed and unmarried.
Praise and worship would not be the same if gay brotha or sister so and so was not leading the choir and bringing souls to Christ. The music in a Black church can ruin the worship experience if the choir is not on point and whoever wants to argue with that can do so all day long but that's just a fact.
We've always been apart of the church, we sit and listen to ministers damn our souls to hell and preach conversion through prayer Sunday after Sunday in silence. Meanwhile, our self -esteem plummets and we allow man to convince us that we won't have access to the kingdomn of God because of who we are. I'm personally sick of this lie and I'm sick of all of the men who "AMEN" this religious dogma and then retire home to feel the touch of their boyfriend.
How many gospel artists do you know that fall into this category? Probably too many too count. But of course no one in the church or the gospel music industry will have a problem with your homosexuality as long as you don't talk about it.
Translation: We'll let you sing in the choir,even let you hold the title of minister of music, buy your cd's, and enjoy the presence of God as a result of your gift, but the moment you admit you're a homosexual you might as well be Lucifer himself.
I'm not calling for every closeted gay man in gospel music to come out, I understand that they are at risk of losing their fan base and their livelihood. But I am challenging them to be sensitive to the fight for tolerance, acceptance, and equality on the behalf of those of us who love exactly as they do but out in the open.