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0 comments | Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You may recall reading an interview with Samuel Brown, an openly gay member of Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Church earlier this month on loldarian.com after Brown granted an exclusive interview to BET News in which he publicly expressed his disappointment in Long for not proclaiming his innocence in the wake of sexual coercion charges being brought against him and New Birth Church by four young men who claim Long lavished them with gifts in exchange for sexual favors when they were in their teens.

Brown is the only gay member who has spoken to the media since the scandal broke.

“He was unable to say that he was 100 percent guilt free, and it was insulting to me to not come out and be straight forward,” Brown told BET News.

Brown, a member of New Birth for over seventeen years and a witness to Long’s history of homophobia including the infamous 2004 march in downtown Atlanta against marriage equality left many in the gay community wondering how he and other gay members of New Birth could continue to subject themselves to such anti-gay hatred and vitriol from Long. The questions and criticism were fast and furious.

Brown spoke exclusively with loldarian.com earlier this week to address why he stayed, his critics, and why he hasn’t returned to New Birth since the Sunday Long spoke publicly breaking days of silence.

SB: I was raised in a very large traditional religious family where both my parents were and are ministers in the notoriously brutal homophobic Church of God In Christ organization. I have always loved the Lord and the church & have always had a heart to worship and please the Lord. After years of feeling personally bashed by the church, I continued to fellowship with the “saints.” After moving to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College and finally joining New Birth years later; New Birth was a breathe of fresh air compared to where I came from. In spite of the negative attacks that came across the pulpit against innately born homosexual people; I was finally forced to rely on my strong convictions that my mentor Jesus Christ loved and accepted me just the way that I was made by God. Although I really tried, I could never receive those nasty messages from the traditional organized church that I would be “damned to hell”.

DA: How do you respond to other LGBT people who believe you're willfully subjecting yourself to gay bashing from the pulpit by staying at New Birth? Do you believe you suffer from any internalized homophobia?

SB: You can only bash the ignorant and uninformed. I use the word ignorant in the most respectful manner, which means, “badly informed.” No I do not suffer from internalized homophobia; perhaps I understand that I am my brother’s keeper.

DA: Have you personally spoken to Bishop Long and or his wife about your experience as a gay man at New Birth? Are they aware of how damaging religious sanctioned homophobia is for their gay and lesbian members?

SB: No, I have not had that particular opportunity; I’ve formally requested meetings with Bishop Long on several occasions along with sending a copy of my manuscript and finally a copy of my short testimony (Son of a Bishop, My Testimony) to Bishop Long via a couple of the senior elders on staff; I did receive one phone call from Bishop Long’s office acknowledging that they did receive a copy of my book, however the very brief conversation was interrupted advising that they would call me back; I have never received that return phone call. I have been following up with several phone calls, emails and my blog post emails to Bishop Long and much of his staff ever since.

DA: So you’ve been utilizing your blog as your primary method to attempt to engage Long on his homophobia?

SB: I feel that my blog posts have been effective to the point of Bishop Long changing his course of action on the homosexuality subject matter within the last 3 to 4 years by practically leaving it alone. I don’t know if he has been convicted by what I have been communicating to him and his staff or by his own personal escapades. Change is happening as we speak.

DA: Are you working alone to create change for LGBT members at New Birth or is there a coalition of gay members working collectively to create change?

SB: At this point I feel that I may have been acting alone. I would love to have a coalition of people to stand with me but I understand that it is not easy to put yourself out there against the majority if you have not found that inner peace. Currently, I have not been back to New Birth since Bishop Long’s statement addressing/side stepping the congregation regarding the allegations. I felt that he should have displayed humility since he was unable to say that he was not guilty of those very damning charges.

Since Samuel Brown granted the initial interview with BET News and the subsequent follow up with loldarian.com Bishop Long continues to be in the news. He now faces two new additional lawsuits unrelated to the sexual coercion suits; one involving an alleged $1.9 million loan he and business partners defaulted on for the purchase of a gym and a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former female employee of New Birth Church. Bishop Long is not named directly in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Visit Samuel Bronw's blog Son of A Bishop here.


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