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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Gay and proud: Is there a good reason to celebrate?
As the LGBT movement progresses, the debate over acceptance continues
 
Published Wednesday, June 12, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

clientuploads/v38n13photos/black_gay_couple4 by healthyblackmen.jpg
WWW.HEALTHYBLACKMEN.ORG
Although young people are more accepting of gays, pockets of resistance remain, especially among older Black folks in the church.

This month, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals across the nation are celebrating their sexuality and being proud of who they are.

It’s Gay Pride Month, a time of honoring LGBT individuals who have contributed to society and remembering those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS or hate crimes.

Gay Pride has traditionally been held in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which are credited with galvanizing the gay community to mobilize and collectively fight for rights and equality.

It’s a movement that has gained significant ground over the past decade, most notably with the repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, legalization of same-sex marriage in a handful of states and recent repeal of the ban on openly gay males being allowed to join Boy Scouts.

While some see these historic changes as progress for the nation, others disagree.

Last month, Michael Stevens, pastor at University City Baptist Church, set off a firestorm when he took to Twitter criticizing President Barack Obama for calling to commend NBA player Jason Collins for having the courage to be the first openly gay professional basketball player.

Stevens tweeted: “This is a sad day for America...and for the Prez to call this homo.”

The pastor later clarified that he did not intend to use the word “homo” as a slur but as shorthand for homosexual, just as he abbreviated president as “prez.”

Stevens has explained that he believes it was a sad day for America because he disagrees with glorifying the gay lifestyle and praising individuals for having “courage” to openly live in sin.

William Singleton, 29, agrees that having an openly gay athlete isn’t necessarily something to celebrate, but for different reasons.

“I was not as excited about it as other people because I think it should be the norm not an exception,” he said. “I’m a huge sports fan, and the thing that baffles me is that it took this long… He’s definitely not the first gay player.”

Singleton, chair of the Charlotte Black Gay Pride board, said everyone should be proud of who they are and have the freedom to embrace it. So he questions the need for all the “hoopla” over Collins.

Shifts in popular opinion

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William Singleton

As a nation, Americans have become more accepting of LGBTs, but Singleton said a larger percentage of African Americans remain opposed, particularly the older generation.

“They’ve never believed in it,” he said. “They may never believe in it, just like many will never believe in interracial marriage. There are some things you can’t change people’s minds about, but the ground is shifting in a lot of areas.”

Attitudes about the LGBT community have definitely shifted on a political level.

“If you are against the gay lifestyle and you are publicly saying that you are against it, I feel like right now you will be politically lynched,” said Singleton, who majored in political science at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.

“You get persecuted,” he said. “It’s what is popular at the moment, and if you are against it you are [perceived as] a bigot or a homophobe. And I don’t think it’s fair. Actually, I’m one of the few gays who think that if you believe this is wrong, then you should stick to your beliefs.”

The black church

Singleton said despite progress being made in the political arena, the relationship between the gay community and the black church is one that remains strained and complex.

“It’s the funniest thing that I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “With gays, they run the church in so many instances. They are the choir. They are the musicians. They are the directors. And a lot of times, they are the pastors.”

He said in many ways, black churches depend on the contributions of LGBT individuals.

“The gays are definitely active in church,” he said. “The church needs them. They use them for everything and then they turn around and talk about them… You don’t like the lifestyle, you don’t like who they are and you feel they are not real Christians, but however you use their gifts to your advantage, it’s really a Catch-22 type of situation.”

It’s one that Singleton experienced firsthand. When Singleton came out 11 years ago, he was a sophomore in college. He said he felt he had to do it twice – once publicly and once in church.

“The church one was a little bit harder,” he said. “I grew up in church my whole life… People were very supportive of me as a person and my gifts but not so supportive of the way I choose to live my life.”

He recalls a lot of side conversations and anti-gay preaching against members embracing the LGBT lifestyle.

“I remember being in church a few times and people would just come up to me and say, ‘Can I pray for you?’” he said. “In the middle of praying, they would just start rebuking demons of homosexuality out of me to the point where now if someone walks up and asks if they can pray for me, I’m like, ‘no, thank you. I’m good.’”

Sin is sin

Pastor Eric Miller of Trinity Park Baptist Church said the role of the church is not to demean homosexuals, but to “love the Hell out of them.”

Miller has been studying homosexuality for several years. He lectures and is writing a book exploring what the Bible says about homosexuality titled “What does God approve of: Gay or Straight?”

“It’s like a sex education class,” he said. “I cover both sides of the issue. You can look down on homosexuality if you want to, but when I finish talking about being straight, let’s see who leaves the room without any bruises.”

Miller said that from a biblical perspective, no one sin is greater than another.

“Gluttony is a sin,” he said. “We have a lot of rather large people, extremely fluffy people in church and they are eating themselves to death… You may have folks in church that look like they are in good condition but they are smoking crack or smoking reefer. So we should not sensationalize any one particular sin.

“When we are looking at humanity through the eyes of God, all of us have sinned and come short of His glory.”

He said any church that is willing to take on issues of homosexuality, should be just as prepared to deal with fornication, lust, adultery and a host of other sexual sins, even in the pulpit.

However, he does not believe acceptance of homosexuality in America is a good thing because he believes it is a sin. He argues that if a society is OK with homosexuality, then we must approve all other sins as well.

“It’s unnatural,” he said. “If that feels natural, and you feel like you were born that way, then you need to be born again.”

Comments

I just have one question. Why did the God of Abraham destroy the city of Sodom? Genesis chapter 18 and 19. I belive the men wanted to know the men and would not accept the virgin daughters of Lot. Read it. It appears as though tbe city was infested with gays. Is that's the reason why?
Posted on June 16, 2013
 
Are pastors supposed to hate "other" people? Now that's a sad day.....smh
Posted on June 15, 2013
 
I read the article bout gay people. And it was moving and I agree about everything about what had said. You are right bout gay people are not born gay, If they choose that lifestyle that's on them us christians we don't have to accept it but we can still show them some love. "The church where prayer is essential and application is the key".
Posted on June 15, 2013
 

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