An open letter to Darrel Walls: In anticipation of your healing

LGBTQ+ advocates and faith leaders rally in support of Darrel Walls of the gospel group, The Walls Group, after his sexuality becomes church fodder.

Darrel Walls of The Walls Group attends the 49th Annual GMA Dove Awards at Allen Arena, Lipscomb University on October 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

You are likely receiving this message in a cloud of despair, embarrassment, or shame. Because those are some of the consequences that many of the Christian-faithful will have you believe are just responses to your desire to love authentically and freely. 

Some people, Christians included, would prefer that we remain locked up, and unfree, stuck in the supposed “cages” of our desires. Personally, we know that breaking free from that which has imprisoned us requires bravery. But you are brave — an abolitionist, even — who likely knows and senses that true freedom will never come by way of the lies we tell ourselves and others for the sake of everyone’s comfort but your own. 

Read More: Black LGBTQ people of faith have been forced into the shadows for far too long

Rhea Walls, Ahjah Walls, Darrel Walls and Alic “Paco” Walls of The Walls Group attend the 49th Annual GMA Dove Awards at Allen Arena, Lipscomb University on October 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Some of the loved ones in your life may be reminding you that you are loved. We hope that their love is not the type that is only offered conditionally — the type of love that is directed at a version of you that is crushed and flattened. We hope that people in your life are not repeating the ways they “love you, the sinner” even as they hate “the sin” in you.

Your attractions are not sin. Your desires are not sin. Your love is not sin. Your longings for touch and affection and giggles and comfort and hugs and intimacy and kisses are not sin. They are as natural as the longings for touch, affection, giggles, comfort, hugs, intimacy and kisses that are accepted and celebrated by the so-called “straight” believers in your life. 

Read More: Mental health programs cannot ignore Black LGBTQ/SGL youth

This brief note of support and affirmation can never do the work that is required after having been socialized over the course of years to hate parts of yourself that people have taught you to war against. We pray that you find your path on the journey to holistic healing from self-hatred. But we do want you to know that for every person who desires you to feel shame, there are two or more who ardently want you to feel freedom.

You deserve the same love that you express to God whom you call love. And why would God demand otherwise? Why wouldn’t God want you to be free, and free indeed?

There is a beloved community and a God who loves and embraces you as you are. Your life. Your ministry. Your gifts. And your light shines with effervescence and cannot easily be dimmed. Your truth only makes your anointing more brilliant and radiant. And how fitting that those the Church outcasts and discards are exactly whom the Divine so often uses to free and heal others.

So as you journey in your freedom, may you feel the beckoning call of Spirit to lay aside every weight. And “may every tongue that rises against you in judgment be condemned.”

With love,

Darnell L. Moore is the author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America and the host of the Being Seen Podcast. Follow him @mooredarnell.

Ahmad Greene-Hayes is a PhD Candidate in Religion at Princeton University with concentrations in African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Follow him @_BrothaG.

Andre G. Brown is an educator/filmmaker living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him @andregbrown.


The Rev. Paul Anthony Daniels is an Assisting Priest at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City, and a PhD Student in Black Theology and Queer Studies at Fordham University. 

Rev. Elder Kevin E. Taylor is the Senior Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church NewArk in Newark, NJ (and Elder with UFCM, Inc.) and is an author, television producer, activist and parent.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!