How can I be African American, a woman and lesbian at church?
by D. Young
Rick Brentlinger Answers -
That's a wonderful question. I hope our readers will add their wisdom and suggestions
to this page. I've invited my dear friend Kay, a radiant Christian lesbian to answer your question after which I'll make a few comments.
"I was raised in a black Methodist church in Columbus, Ohio. Back then to be gay was a crime. There was no way you could come out and be open. I have not been a member or even active going to a black church since I was a child.
I have always gone to mostly main stream churches whose congregations are majority white and whose pastors are white males. My uncle is very active as a deacon and teacher in a black church here in Columbus. I have not been active in black churches for years.
Most black churches believe if you are a woman you should wear a dress, even a hat to church. If you don't you may get stared at. I think sometimes the fact I am a lesbian is fairly obvious. :)
I would not feel comfortable in a black church because I know I do not fit the "black female" church label for a black church. I am not married, have no kids, outta wedlock or in, never been married.
In the black church community I would immediately be suspect. They would know for sure. It would be hard going to a church like that as it is considered a "shame" in the black community to be gay. That's how they look at it.
Black men especially look at black gay men as an embarrassment. I could not freely be around my uncle who is in the black church if I had a lesbian partner. He loves me very much but being part of a lesbian couple would not be accepted.
It will be very difficult to reconcile your homosexuality in a black church. The road to reconciliation is not going to be easy with them. It just is not acceptable to them at all. What's even more sad is that so many black pastors have not studied the subject. They are not open to talking about it either. Hope this gives insight although not much hope of change. -Kay, Columbus, OH"
Thanks Kay for sharing your views. Trying to get an anti-gay pastor and congregation to change their views is a difficult discouraging task. I believe I would place that task in the area of "don't try this unless you feel God has definitely led you into this fight."
And believe me it will be a fight. As Kay pointed out, most pastors have never studied the clobber passages in any depth. They simply parrot what they were taught at Bible school or seminary.
Change only comes about as the Holy Spirit deals with the hearts of God's people. Change occurs over time in response to a more accurate understanding of the scriptures alleged to deal with homosexuality.
And it helps for pastors and Christians to get to know lesbian and gay Christians who love God, believe the Bible and live a recognizably Christian life.
When they see us as Christian sisters and brothers who believe the Bible yet who have a different but Bible-based view on the issue of homosexuality, they will slowly begin to change. Its difficult to hate and disrespect someone whom you know personally who loves God.
In the abstract its easy to dislike "the other." They are strange, weird, bad. They are easily viewed as the enemy because they have no faces. But when we put a face and a heart and a life to it, "the other" becomes a living breathing person, a soul for whom Christ died, a part of the family of God.
One way to bring about change is to be the human face of the lesbian and gay "other." Our walk with God should compel people to take notice of us "that we have been with Jesus."
Additional InformationWhat are practical ways to change the anti-gay bias of evangelical Christians?How can we build bridges of trust with non-gay Christians?Why would a preacher constantly make anti-gay remarks?If you're a gay Christian does God still love you?Are mainline evangelicals becoming more open to homosexual Christians?We've answered the question: How can I be African American, a woman and lesbian at church? Click here to return to Gay Christian 101 Home Page.
"There has been uncertainty and confusion in the black church about homosexuals in the congregation and music ministry and clergy being able to serve or be accepted in the church.
My question is how can we break the barriers of discrimination and condemnation in an institution where black women and men have been oppressed and divided for so many years. And how can we have a healthy conversation without dictatorship but show a heart of openness and acceptance, just as Jesus accepted all of us."