How can I be African American, a woman and lesbian at church?

by D. Young
(Washington, D.C)

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.
Kay says:

"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 Information

What 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.

Original Question:

"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."

Comments for How can I be African American, a woman and lesbian at church?

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Jul 14, 2010
lateral violence
by: Pat

What Kay was describing is called lateral violence. Even if it doesn't include physical violence you can clearly understand the spiritual violence done. It is very common in oppressed communities that instead of lashing out at the oppressors, they lash out at their community members, especially those that can be perceived as different.

I don't know if this is helpful but perhaps it provides another window to understanding what is happening.

Jul 15, 2010
Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thank you all so much for commenting on this subject. The first time that I heard about gay people was at my home church, I was about 11. We were all gathered at the water fountain. When a younger boy in my home church walked over to get a drink of water, some adults and younger people called him faggot, and looked with disgust.

He was in the choir and was the pastor's grand-kid but because he sang in the soprano section in the choir and didn't play like the other guys, he was considered to be the "other".

This has got to stop. Kids leave the church, because they don't want to deal with ugly looks, and would rather get away and never return, without speaking to someone that shows compassion.

Thanks again, this helped me so much.

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