Gay marriage, and the African-American community’s reaction to President Barack Obama’s endorsement of it — has become a political issue, an election issue, and a topic of discussion in the media.
For gay and lesbian African-Americans, however, it’s also a personal one — one that can separate people from their community, their church, or even their own family.
In the essay below — part of a weeklong theGrio series on homophobia in the black community — a reader speaks directly to those leaders of the black church who focus on what they call the “sin” of homosexuality, sometimes to the exclusion of other issues of importance to black communities.
I love the black church, but the black church doesn’t love me.
I love God and I believe God loves me, yet the people in God’s church don’t love me because I am gay.
My sexual orientation is “known” but never openly discussed. “I think she is one of them” is what they’ll say. The invisible nature of my existence and the routine condemnation of me for being something other than a child of God, ultimately forced me leave the black church. As a gay person, I was made to feel that I was the only sinner in a land of saints. Well, at least the ‘saints’ were guilty of committing ‘acceptable’ sins. Me? Let the stoning begin!
Many in the church judged me as “electing” this life of sin. Perhaps that is why it is easy for Christians to join Bishop Eddie Long in his march of hate against gays in Atlanta. (Yes, the same Eddie Long who in the wake of his gay sex scandal was raised up as ‘king’ before his congregation.) We as a people can forgive and still follow the Long’s of the world, yet now many say this President has “lost your vote” over his support of gay marriage.
We know people in the church who sin openly, and even have children out of wedlock. We are there to shout ‘amen’ for our church leaders and wish them well as they move from one failed marriage to the next one.
We accept that the most important people in the church and their children are “only human” when they fail to abstain from evil. And yet President Obama is called evil for being human enough to recognize love when and where he sees it.