By Tara Cavanaugh
For many, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the often-used nickname for the military’s ban on openly gay service that will officially be history as of Sept. 22. But “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is also the name of a discussion series at Agape Spirit Life Ministries that addresses the hidden black LGBT members in the spiritual community.
“The dialogue takes on a life of its own,” said the Rev. Darlene Franklin, founding minister of Agape Spirit Life Ministries and the series that began this spring. “The dialogues are designed to bring about community awareness. It gives the community a chance to ask questions about topics that nobody else is talking about – well, that are rarely shed light on in the context of our spiritual community and the black community.
“It’s taken off really well,” Franklin said proudly, “and we hope to keep adding to it as necessary.”
Franklin has high hopes for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” brand: she wants to expand the discussion series into a conference and support groups and to even travel around the country, sharing the message that it’s not OK for LGBTs to be invisible in the black church.
Franklin makes sure that those who attend the discussion groups are aware of their resources. “We uncover a lot of things that are going on in people’s lives, and so we have to have somewhere to direct people to,” she said. “That’s the purpose of the church, to me.”
The next event in the discussion series is titled “Silent No More: Transgenders Speak!” It takes place at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, located at 2930 Woodward Ave. on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. Franklin encouraged anyone who is interested to attend, regardless of race.