Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tongues Untied: Black, Gay and Sanctified?


Darnell: I think that it is fair to say that you and I are what some might call "church boys." I know that some Christian folks tend to place "God" and "gay" in the same sentence when they are referencing "sin" and "hell," but faith and spirituality are important to a lot of LGBTQ folks. The fact that the two of us are connected to faith traditions shouldn't be a surprise, then. I thought about this while we were preparing for the Mississippi LGBTQI2-S 2012 INFusion Conference a few weeks ago. We both had our perceptions of how conference attendees -- folks who live within the Bible Belt -- would respond to conversations on LGBTQ issues. I thought that it would be a challenge, and they proved me wrong. Interestingly, before we left our hotel room, we were listening to gospel music, and I was struck by the fact that we non-church-going, "progressive," gay black men, who have often critiqued Christians who espouse violent theologies, were still moved by gospel music and the communal worship that we experienced in churches. That fact alone tells me that people of faith don't all think and behave the same. Do you agree? Where are you now in terms of your own faith journey?
Wade: Yes, being in Mississippi made me realize how much I missed the church, especially given that I'm such a fan of the Mississippi Mass Choir. And though I do not participate in organized religion, my relationship with God is personal. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that fact, but it is where I am in my journey right now. Religion, or the church, was something that was a huge part of my adolescent experience. Part of me believes I "did my time." I went to church three to five times per week until I left for college, yet I felt as if I'd be judged for living in my truth by people who really hadn't or wouldn't take the time to get to know all of me. So I decided to stop attending. I wanted to protect my family from having to answer questions about my sexuality behind my back, and I didn't feel that my sexual orientation was anyone's business, to be frank. I wanted to go to church to enjoy and enhance my relationship with God and not think about whether anyone was whispering about the "gay ex-football player." Thankfully, I've gotten to a place where I understand that my relationship with God is just that: my relationship. How has your relationship with God and religion changed over time?
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