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4 comments | Thursday, February 04, 2010

The February edition of The New Yorker Magazine has an incredible profile on openly gay artist Tonex' penned by Kelefah Sanneh chronicling the rise and fall of gospel music's first artist to ever publicly admit his homosexuality.

Tonex's 2009 interview on The Lexi Show where he admitted that homosexuality wasn't a struggle for him and he'd indeed embraced his same-sex attraction sent ripples throughout the gospel music industry; Tonex' had done the unthinkable by addressing the elephant in the room occupied by hundreds of closeted gay gospel artists and without the veil of repentance.

From The New Yorker:

He is, within the church world, the first high-profile gospel singer in history to come out of the closet. Within hours, he started to realize what he had done. His relationship with the mainstream gospel industry was effectively over. Tonéx was brought up in the church. The Williams family belonged to the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), and his father, A. C. Williams, founded Truth Apostolic Community Church. Mentions the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Nearly all the Pentecostal gospel stars were COGIC.

In the nineties, Tonéx was signed by a local Christian label called Rescue, and then by Jive Records. Tonéx sensed early on that he was attracted to other boys, and he spent the better part of three decades trying to figure out what that might mean for him. Along the way, he has honed a style of his own, a sly but ecstatic form of electronic pop. Early last year, he made a major-label comeback with “Unspoken,” but the album was largely ignored by the gospel industry. By going public, and by suggesting that a homosexual relationship can be as godly (or ungodly) as a heterosexual one, Tonéx went from being just another sinner to being a high-profile heretic.

There's audio of Kelefah Sanneh's interview experience with Tonex' here that should be required listening.

In an exclusive interview with loldarian.com Tonex' went into detail about his experience as a closeted same gender loving man, the homophobia of the black church, and the fallout from his decision to go public with his sexual orientation.

Tonex' is a friend of the blog and I love this brotha deeply. Our condolences go out to him after the loss of his mother and on a good note we send our congratulations on his recent Grammy nomination.

Read a PDF of the entire article here.


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Yes Tonex'! I'm so very proud of him for having the courage that no one else in the industry has had b4. I loved him b4 and love him even more now. Just for being Real!

February 04, 2010 6:45 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I've been a subscriber of The New Yorker magazine for years and I just read the article about Tonex. It's informative and fairly amazing. It not only tells Tonex's personal story but also gets into the history of the pentecostal church as it relates to the gospel music industry.

I've never been a "church queen" or a "gospel queen" and I'd never heard of Tonex until you, darian, blogged about his "coming out" sometime ago. Since you blogged about him, I had sometimes wondered what happened to him and his career. Now I know and it's kind of sad.

Tonex says in the magazine article that "his industry friends haven't defended him". I wonder are the church/gospel queens going to let him crash and burn? If they let him crash and burn (and it looks like they're going to do just that), no other black gospel singer will come out anytime soon. Or ever.

I wish Tonex the best.

February 05, 2010 3:12 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

GOod for him

February 05, 2010 10:57 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I have nothing but respect for Tonex’s his brutal honesty. I would’ve expected a deeply rooted church boy such as himself to try to take the easy way out by claiming to be an “ex-gay” and propagating the ever popular “I’ve been delivered from homosexuality” crap. I grew up in the church and I know first hand how harsh their judgemental attitudes can be. Church folks are all about looking the part. They’ll do and say whatever is necessary to make themselves appear saved & sanctified at the moment. So it’s no surprise to me that his industry friends have chosen to keep up the facade and hold their places in the church community by not supporting him. He’s better off living in truth without their support.

February 05, 2010 12:45 PM


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