Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
“Your job is to get up every day and be grateful to God for your DNA. It took an artist divine to make this design!”
These words were spoken by the Rev. James A. Forbes in his address to a roomful of black gay and lesbian worshipers this week in New York. His message to the congregation before him was that discrimination has no place in this world and that gays are not scorned by God just because of who they love.
This message was in stark contrast to the words of another preacher, the Rev. Willie Wilson, who denounced gays and lesbians before his predominately black Baptist congregation in Washington D.C. at the beginning of July (see pages 9 and 12).
Anti-gay speech from the pulpit is nothing new and it is not limited to black churches. Preachers of all races have used their forum to vilify gays and lesbians and to justify discrimination and hatred. They stir up fear and dehumanize us all.
But there seems to be a special brand of homophobia coming out of black churches. It is a homophobia that allows black preachers to take up the cry against gays and lesbians at the expense of attention to the real problems so many black communities are facing today: racism, affordable housing, transportation, education, poverty. The list goes on.
This has led to some unusual alliances between black religious leaders and predominantly white anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association who have been largely absent in addressing issues of racial inequality but are all too happy to stand beside black leaders in opposition to gay families.
It is especially discouraging to see black preachers like Wilson blame the ills of his community on lesbians, as he did in his sermon. Preachers have the power and influence to be great unifiers between communities whether they be communities of color or the LGBT and straight communities. To squander their opportunities to make the world a better, more livable place on divisive hate speech is shameful.
Keith Boykin posted a response to Rev. Wilson’s speech on his blog on July 18. “If Rev. Wilson’s church is like almost every other black church I’ve been to in America, there are plenty of gays and lesbians in the pews and on the stage on any given Sunday,” Boykin wrote. “The truth is it’s not the black gays and lesbians who are causing the disunity in our community. It’s the homophobic black ministers who are dividing us. I can only speak for myself, but I refuse to sit on my hands while black ministers berate and denigrate me. And I hope I am not alone.”
The opposition LGBT people face from religious leaders like Rev. Wilson makes events like last weekend’s Hotter Than July more relevant and necessary than ever. We congratulate the Black Pride Society for successfully pulling off the best HTJ yet. The event continues to get bigger and richer each year and is a testament to the power of a community standing together and being proud in the face of multi-faced discrimination.
“Like our slave ancestors we are being spiritually, psychologically and physically abused,” the Rev. Cari Jackson said during the same LGBT-affirmative revival meeting Forbes spoke at.
Despite the shadow of bigotry, HTJ demonstrates a community’s ability to keep its collective face turned toward the sun.