What do you do when your religious beliefs begin to evolve and you find yourself at a crossroads? Do you abandon your Faith? Do you stay where you are religiously different but culturally the same? Do you go where you are religiously the same but culturally and racially and ethnically different?
What did I do?
I mistakenly believed that I could speak out against the Black Church and religious based heterosexism and homophobia and be welcomed and affirmed in churches that were welcoming and affirming but racially and ethnically lacking. There is so much work that needs to be done in the area of racial reconciliation.
I mistakenly believed that if I spoke out against religious based homophobia and heterosexism in the Black Church that the Black LGBT community would welcome me with open arms. It doesn’t work like that. You don’t get brownie points for that. There is justified mistrust of preachers and that has made it an upstream swim at times.
I mistakenly believed that the group of friends I had as well as certain family members would have unconditional love and respect for me after I supported LGBT equality. For some odd reason you can do everything but support LGBT equality.
After occupying many of my hours,days, weeks, months and years as an LGBT equality activist as a straight ally, I quietly walked away January 2013. I am still an ally through and through but I determined that the sacrifice as an in your face and online activist was just too much for my family and I. I took down my facebook page discontinued my twitter and have not heard from my over 2000 or so followers. Not tossing sour grapes. I think it is important for all of us to examine why we do the things we do as well as who are the most important people in our lives. Those people who have our best interest in mind will be there for us through good and bad and even when we say good bye to social media.
I think it is important to speak out for those who are marginalize in our society but we must remember that it is not always valued and there will also be repercussions. If has anything to do with religious thought, you will truly rock the boat of and crash the waves.
Being real, I find myself missing the Black Church experience constantly; especially Sunday mornings. I miss the pulpit, I miss hearing the congregation say “Yes Lord”, in unison. I have personally struggled fitting in to an almost all white progressive congregation not just based on race. I am also dealing with the fact that I am no longer a ministerial leader. That last part has been the biggest transition even though it has been two years since I joined my current church.
There are struggles and yet there are victories.
Although I carry the burden of holding on to my beliefs, I feel blessed to be able to have the strength to exercise those beliefs. Oh yes there is frustration.
Oh yes there is pain.
Beyond the frustration and pain there is strength and freedom.
I believe that Jesus has a place for all of us and we don’t have to wait until we die to have that love, freedom and acceptance that is held in that place. That place is now.
One day I woke up and all my middle class friends were gone
In Sunday’s Kansas City Star, there was an article written about white flight in Kansas City, Missouri after the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education which ordered the end of segregated schools in the United States. The article details the reunion of former students (all white) who attended all white elementary schools in Kansas City. They recount the fear and anger that gripped many of their parents and neighbors as black students entered their schools and neighborhoods. They recount the reactions by their parents and neighbors in response to the supposed end of legal segregation in education. The action taken by many white families during this period of time was leaving the urban core for the suburbs in all directions.
The results of this White flight from many urban neighborhoods (it was during this period when the word urban began to signal black and poor) and the Kansas City Public school district equaled segregation all over again as many of the former all white populated schools gradually went entirely people of color over time. As a child of the 70′s, I remember seeing less and less white class mates as the 80′s took flight.
During the mid-eighties another flight took place in the urban core of Kansas City and the Kansas City Public school district. Beginning in the mid-80′s middle class Black families began to flee Kansas City neighborhoods to suburban neighborhoods once occupied by White families who fled Kansas City during the late 50′s and early 60′s.
I remember this period of time fondly; it was as if I played with my middle class friends one day and woke up the next and they were gone. Our neighborhood went from family safe to crack house invested as the sounds of children playing outdoors was traded for the sounds of gun fire. Giving the option of better schools, families that could move did and those that could not stayed in neighborhoods that lost their socioeconomic balance. Kids like me had no more examples of middle class success. Kids like me no longer had people in our neighborhoods who we could point to and say, “They went to college and so can I”. Instead we had, “They went to jail and made it, so can I”.
Yes, my journey in life took me elsewhere, but in today’s Kansas City, segregation is real and present and there are many children who have no memories or experiences of and with people who not only look different than them but also have educational and financial backgrounds different than their own. This current segregation is one that is both racial and economic and so much more damning than generations before.
In early Christianity, many Christians were persecuted for refusing to serve other gods. Today, many American Christians claim persecution because they can’t legally refuse service to other Americans based on the sexual orientation of those Americans.
We have lost our ways as those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. I believe that all is not lost. The sun is starting to shine on equality. I am praying that racial reconciliation is on the horizon.
The issues of abortion and homosexuality have occupied the Evangelical mind, time and energy so much so that there is no room for anything else.
Even with its challenges, living with bi-polar is still living. We must embrace the day and the road before us.
Over 5.7 million Americans are living with bi-polar. Many stay silent for fear of losing employment, being alienated or the ills that comes with being open about your diagnoses. My fear has always been how will I be perceived as a preacher and an educator. Will I be mocked by those that I have crossed as an LGBT Ally? Will my absence from the pulpit due to me being a Baptist minister who supports LGBT equality now being even prolong due to me being open about my having a mood disorder?
There are so many fears in being public about something so private.
Yet there are others like me who feel alone and voiceless. Not any longer. You are not alone and your voice is no longer silent!!!
What does Christianity do right? That must be the focus.
In a time of counting the wrongs of the church, for my soul, for my health, for myself, I must find what is right as a follower of Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
As a Christian who supports marriage equality and LGBT rights, I have seen a side of humanity and Christianity that I could have done without seeing. I have seen seemingly outstanding citizens turn to vessels of anger and hate when they begin to voice their negative opinions on sexuality and sexual orientation. Churches have imploded and both family and other relationships have been severed because of emotions surrounding this issue.
Those of us who are LGBT and allies who believe in the power of GOD through his Son Jesus Christ, find ourselves in a difficult and painful spot. How do we love those that despise us? How do we give to others what they fail to give to us? How do we hold on to a Faith that seemingly rejects us?