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20 comments | Tuesday, May 11, 2010




Why do you think there's so many black gay men in the church, especially in the choir?


That's a question I would love to have to ask them because I will not tolerate being castigated and then asked to sing a solo. I can't. I can't be castigated and then asked to sing a solo. I can't. I can't be castigated and then say, "Oh please. I'll usher." I cannot do that. I think that there's a very schizophrenic relationship. There's a nod, nod, wink, wink, as if to say, "Now you know what I am but I'm really working on it and give me one more week. I'm really working on it". And it's almost a way of atonement, like "I know that you don't like what I'm doing but listen to me sing. I know you don't like what I'm doing but I'm tithing. I know you don't like what I'm doing but if I can...give me just a little more time and I'll help you out. Give me just a little more time and I promise I'll marry Miss So-and-So down the street. Give me just a little more time." And I think it's a very unhealthy game. It's almost like bribery. "You let me in. You let me be apart of the community and I will grant you this service".


-An excerpt from Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of The South by E. Patrick Johnson


I'm currently reading Sweet Tea and one particular chapter titled Church Sissies: Gayness and the Black Church really struck a chord and reminded me of a post I'd written a while ago on a controversy surrounding gospel artist Ricky Dillard. In that post it was reported that Dillard had officially come out during a benefit service here in Atlanta after his home had been burned down. The post was quickly pulled after I was contacted by Ricky Dillard's manager Will Bogle via e-mail, a decision that I would later regret. After all the editorial decisions on this blog begin and end with me, but let's chalk it up to me being new at the time.


It seems Bogle was no stranger to putting out "gay fires" for his client and the unspoken truth would only continue to manifest itself later on, particularly at the 2008 Stellar Awards.


It's no secret that black gays and lesbians are everywhere, especially in the black church. This post really isn't about Dillard, but the countless nameless faces who subscribe to the "don't ask don't tell policy" of the black church. Many of whom refuse to join LGBT affirming congregations.


I know you're out there and you read this blog, so please tell me why.





Required Reading:


Gays and Gospel Music: A Divine Refuge?


Who Is Jermaine Sellers?


Gospel Artist Tonex and The Gay Rumors


Say What?


DeWayne Woods: Smoke & Mirrors?

20 Comments:

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

The Church Sissy phenomenon can be boiled down to one thing, in my opinion: fear.

I think that church sissies think that if they show God that they are pious and that they are trying to be good and spiritual and church-going, even though they have been afflicted with the "terrible burden of homosexuality," that God will forgive their dirty faggotness and accept them into heaven.

There's just a profound self-loathing at work. And I am so thankful and feel so blessed that I'm not one of them.

March 02, 2009 1:56 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@everybody,
Let's make being a church sissy one of the worst things a black gay man can be.

Let's shame church sissies into 1) joining a gay church, or 2 joining a gay friendly church.

There's no rational reason for any black gay man to be a church sissy in 2009.

March 02, 2009 2:23 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

We hide in plain sight. We have our small group of gay friends and fag hags that know our biz and we pretend that no one else in the church knows what's up too. We refuse to be 'out' in these churches for many reasons, mostly fear is indeed the culprit. We love the environment as long as we are not bashed and hated. Our families would not understand. If we are not 'out' in any other aspect or facet of life we certainly cannot 'out' ourselves at church. It's not fun or easy but our surroundings make it difficult to totally accept OURSELVES, let alone expect others to do the same! Just trying to give a little insight as you asked.

March 02, 2009 2:30 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 02, 2009 5:54 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

It might also be because of lack of alternatives. Many cities do not have gay-affirming churches, and as many of us who grew up in the South know, church is not only the spiritual but social foundation for many in the black community.

So someone who's closeted may feel that in coming out they will not only lose their church family but also lose valuable social networking and employment opportunities.

March 02, 2009 8:57 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Darian, you're so white it isn't funny.
You trad eon the color of your skin but that's as deep as it goes. You are the black equivalent of The Advocate or Out Magazine.
You make the same assumptions and come to the same conclusions--but just substitute black people and then convince yourself that you are original.

It's not "fear" that keeps black gays in the church--it is familiarity.
The reason they do not feel out of place in a place where the pastor may condemn them is twofold:

1. You're exaggerating (as well as countless other black gay blogs).
The "anti-gay" sermons are not all that common in a given year.
But the most important reason is:

2. These people don't take "gay" as a political identity as seriously as you do.
"Black" is sufficient for them and they have no interest in joining yet another constituency--especially one that is bullying and loud and pre-formed.

Established gay culture leaves very little room for individuality. Everybody must do this and mus do that and must think like this and must think like that.

When the pastor preaches they simply don't internalize all the hatred because they define who they are. They define their own space.
They don't have to internalize the hatred because they are free to not take it seriously. "Gay" isn't their only identity--in fact---much tot he chagrin of the OUT Magazine types---"gay" may not be part of their identity at all.

They stay in church because it is comfortable--that's right comfortable.
Who are you to say they are "suffering" when they are clearly not acting like they're "suffering"?

For once dump the conventional mindset and dare to challenge the gay playbook.

Human beings are not irrational. Just because they reject you does not mean something is wrong with them. Maybe you have nothing to offer them?

Lemme give you a clue.
Nobody is buying the political identity you're yelling at them to buy.

March 02, 2009 9:27 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Anonymous-

I'm gonna make this real short and sweet. I approved your comment because I want others to read your lame ass attempt at a "read".Next time be a man about it and leave your name. Anyone can spout off at the mouth anonymously. And don't think for one second you're gonna come on my blog and disrespect me. The post was not about me and somehow your response was a direct assault on my character. Obviously the post ruffled your feathers. If you're happy hiding in order to be accepted or to feel like you belong to a community of people who despise you then more power to you. Self loathing is not something I subscribe to. And that's a lesson I didn't learn from The Advocate or Out.

March 02, 2009 9:46 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

ANONYMOUS, REALLY, YOU'RE TOO MUCH. PLEASE CALM DOWN!!!!

March 02, 2009 11:50 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Darian,

Ain't it a trip when these anonymous people, filled with self-loathing, try to come on your blog to insult you and have the last word? Don't they know the proper etiquette for behavior in someone else's home? It's like their mommas didn't raise them properly or something.


But the funniest thing about Anonymous' tirade is that it goes out of its way to present itself as something other than pure, homegrown fear and self-loathing, but fails miserably in the attempt.
All Anonymous has succeeded in doing is explaining, in very clear terms, the lengths the Church Sissy will go to rationalize and excuse his fear and self-loathing. "I'm familiar with the hatred directed towards me by the church, that's why I remain in its presence." Sounds like someone needs more than God in their life; they need a psychiatrist!

"They stay in the church because they're comfortable." Remember when white people tried to say the same thing about slaves on the plantation? "My niggers are just as happy as pig shit being my slaves."

I didn't realize that being able to hold my boyfriend's hand or introduce him as my boyfriend was a "political identity." But doesn't Anonymous sound JUST like the white racists who scoffed when black people wanted to be called "black" instead of "Negro"? I don't care what Anonymous says, if you're a man fucking a man, YOU ARE GAY whether you do it in the light or in the dark. You can reject "the identity" now until you're blue in the face, but the ONLY person your fooling is yourself.

In my opinion, all Anonymous has succeeded in doing is showing us his ass, and proving to us all how dreadfully afraid he is of having his love of the dick exposed.

March 03, 2009 7:52 AM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I have to agree with the people who said it comes down to fear.

As for 'anonymous,' the attitude that you can separate your sexuality from your race is a reason I have a hard time dealing with some people who claim SGL rather than gay. It's a part of you, I can't decide on which day I'm going to be more black or more gay. That's a false choice that makes people crazy.

The line about 'defining their own space' is like the Chris Rock routine where he's talking about the women who listen to misogynist lyrics and claim 'he ain't talking about me.' Yes he is, and he's more empowered by the knowledge that he can disrespect you to your face and you won't do anything about it.

March 03, 2009 2:02 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

In my opinion, we should be addressing the reasons behind the self loathing and coming up with ways to help them to feel comfortable in their skin. Let's be real for moment. The black gay community is not the warmest, accepting, and loving place on earth. I grew up in a fire baptized Pentecostal church and have had more hateful and hurtful experiences while dealing with the out-and-proud black gays than I have with the homophobic church folk. What does the black gay community have to offer those who chose to leave the familiarity of the church in pursuit of pride, love and happiness? The infrastructure of the "out" black gay community contains just as much self-loathing, hatred, and unhappiness as the circle of "church sissy's". If anything, it's the "out" gay community that needs to take a look at themselves and change whets wrong from within in addition to the "church sissy's" and every other closeted gay living in fear and shame.

March 04, 2009 9:27 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@tone,
tone brought up some interesting points and I would like to address several of them.

tone said, "the black gay community is not the warmest, accepting, and loving place on earth."

tone then asked, "what does the black gay community have to offer those who chose to leave the familiarity of the church in pursuit of pride, love and happiness?"

I agree that black gays, generally speaking, are not the warmest, most loving people when it comes to how we deal with each other. But let's be realistic: coming out of the closet (or up from the DL) doesn't mean that a gay man is suddenly free of the self-hatred embedded in his psyche before he came out. Coming out is a FIRST STEP towards healing and freedom. Healing the self-hatred caused by years of growing up in homophobic families/churches/schools/ neighborhoods, etc., is a PROCESS that takes place over time and it takes some people longer than others because everyone is different. Some of us will NEVER get over the self-hatred (or never get over it entirely). It varies from person to person. But the journey towards "pride, love and happinesss" is still worth it. Who doesn't want those things?

Instead of doing the same old thing because it's "familiar", try something different. Mainsteam black churches who call us "abominations" are not the only churches out there. How sad that one has become "familiar" with being called an abomination. I don't care if the preacher only does it once a year. Once a year is one time too many. Every large and not-so-large city has gay churches and/or gay friendly churches. If you live in a small town, relocate to a larger city where you have more to pick from. You, and you alone, are responsible for your own pride, love and happiness.

March 05, 2009 10:06 AM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@ elg

I totally understand everything that you’re saying.

And ideally it makes a great amount of sense. But the reality remains the same: some people just aren’t willing to potentially risk loosing their families, friends, and things that know and love to be free of a psyche (that many of them don’t even acknowledge having) to embark on a journey that can leave them totally abandoned and out in the cold. I still say that the infrastructure of the black gay community needs to be worked on. If the goal here is to help people heal then those who have “come out” need to be the example to those who are still in the closet and accept the responsibility that comes with it. Besides the hot bodies and cute faces there really aren’t too many alluring factors in this community. We’re asking people to give up a lot to come “join the club”, but if they don’t fit into a certain mold or look a certain way they’ll still be discriminated against and made to feel unworthy and undesirable. This community itself just as guilty of persecution as the church is. We need to establish more resources that actually promote pride, healing, and self-love. I live in NYC and there is nothing within hands reach that even remotely comes close to offering any types of these services. That’s why so many people are online looking for love and engaging in self destructive behavior and activities. Some real deep social issues need to be addressed within the “out” community before we go recruiting others, dragging folk out of the closet and asking people to make drastic choices.

March 05, 2009 12:40 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@ elg

I totally understand everything that you’re saying.

And ideally it makes a great amount of sense. But the reality remains the same: some people just aren’t willing to potentially risk loosing their families, friends, and things that they know and love to be free of a psyche (that many of them don’t even acknowledge having) to embark on a journey that can leave them totally abandoned and out in the cold. I still say that the infrastructure of the black gay community needs to be worked on. If the goal here is to help people heal then those who have “come out” need to be the example to those who are still in the closet and accept the responsibility that comes with it. Besides the hot bodies and cute faces there really aren’t too many alluring factors in this community. We’re asking people to give up a lot to come “join the club”, but if they don’t fit into a certain mold or look a certain way they’ll still be discriminated against and made to feel unworthy and undesirable. This community itself is just as guilty of persecution as the church is. We need to establish more resources that actually promote pride, healing, and self-love. I live in NYC and there is nothing within hands reach that even remotely comes close to offering any types of these services. That’s why so many people are online looking for love and engaging in self destructive behavior and activities. Some real deep social issues need to be addressed within the “out” community before we go recruiting others, dragging folk out of the closet and asking people to make drastic choices.

March 05, 2009 12:42 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@tone

The journey towards pride, love and happiness is not something that depends on others and what they do or don't do. It depends on the individual and how bad he wants to be proud, how bad he wants to be loved and how bad he wants to be happy. If he decides he's going to wait until the "infrastructure" of the 'black gay community' is intact before he goes for it he will probably be waiting around forever.

A black gay man should move on what he believes is good and true regardless of the costs. It's called integrity. I would also add that every black gay man should have AT LEAST one marketable job skill so that he is not financially dependent on ANYONE or ANYTHING who may or may not "like" the fact that he's gay. This is absolutely essential so that he can tell anyone who doesn't "approve" of his being gay to 'kiss where the sun don't shine' (as we used to say) and not have to worry about any consequences in terms of where and how he's going to live.

March 06, 2009 8:55 AM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@elg
The journey towards pride love and happiness is not the same for everyone. Who’s to say that the closeted kids are any less happy than you and I? In addition, not everyone is comfortable with their homosexuality. If a gay man really believes that being gay is wrong and chooses to stay in a church that shares his belief, then he is moving on what he believes is good and true. There are many reasons why people choose to stay closeted and self-hatred isn’t necessarily at the root of it all.

Furthermore, I think that it’s irresponsible of us to ignore the over whelming amount of broken spirits, insecurities, and self-loathing within our “out-community” while criticizing the closeted church goers for not feeling good about being gay. Elements of deception can be found on both sides. And since we can’t force anyone to do anything, we can at least work on ourselves and try to be the example of the emotionally well-balanced out-and-proud gay men who are actually HAPPY.

March 06, 2009 12:16 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

elg said: "If a gay man really believes that being gay is wrong and chooses to stay in a church that shares his belief, then he is moving on what he believes is good and true." Then said, "There are many reasons why people choose to stay closeted and self-hatred isn’t necessarily at the root of it all."

Dude, what you described first is PRECISELY what self-hatred MEANS. So yes, the root IS self-hatred.

March 06, 2009 12:43 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

There is no denying that self-hatred plays a big part in gay life period. But it is not necessarily the only reason why ALL closeted gays may decide to remain closeted and/or discreet. Nor is the issue of self-hatred limited to just the closeted gays.

March 07, 2009 9:32 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Good points about the lack of substance in the "out" community, which has been a common complaint since at least around 1993 -- roughly the time online activity made it a whole lot easier to avoid dealing with people and still get your sex on.

To be honest, I think all members of a minority group (gays, blacks, latinos, etc) are a bit crazy as a result of developing skewed coping mechanisms to deal with their oppression. The church sissy is but one example. It takes a lot of work to deal with those underlying issues, and most people would rather 'keep it moving,' 'stay with what I know' or otherwise avoid confronting those issues. That goes for white gays also.

With so many people claiming to want a 'better' community, why don't we have one? Are we waiting for Keith Boykin, E Lynn Harris, or some other known figure to show us the light?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a gay black history month event and there may have been 6 people there. Yet we continue to make sure the parties are well attended. That just shows our priorities.

- Anthony in Nashville

March 07, 2009 11:50 PM

 
<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Hi, Darian:
I would love to know if 'Anonymous' has even tried to respond again here. I feel so very sorry for all of those who are deeply planted in their closets. I feel sorry because they keep learning and re-learning to hate themselves and anything that even looks like them. I wonder how old 'A' is?? I will be 42 this year and like most of you (I hope) shook off the hangers and shelves of closetry LOOOONG ago. It is a process. I hope for his (their) sake he is able to get the BEST out of this and other Black Gay resources in order to lead himself out of his lovely ignorance. Don't read them anymore, people...help them. To you, Anonymous(es): keep reading here and glean what you can to ease whatever pain you're feeling in your version of self-love and mutual respect or whatever you choose to call it. We'll be here for you when you're ready. :) And, I hope I'm not way out of line here, but maybe you will find less inner-division at least on this line if you STOP "outing" and "advocating" ? Just some thoughts.
Manhattan Jim

March 13, 2009 7:37 PM

 

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