Archives for posts with tag: LGBTQ

I’m pleading with you. Please do me this solid! Today is perhaps the most important day in the life of our nation. Just as today, we need women and blacks and latinx and millennials to stand up for democracy, we need you. We need you to come out in droves to vote your conscience. I know I have debated, and I have been snarky, and I have been crude…but today I am begging: Please do me this solid.

Please vote our values:

On Immigration…

I appeal to your conscience, please do me this solid. Please, please don’t accept the lie that caravans of terrorists and gangs are storming our borders. Please decry the notion that brown people are a threat to white people and want to take our jobs and rape our women. Please vote on the side of the poor and destitute. Please give those poor and exploited South and Central American men, women and children the opportunity to find a better life. Please fulfill the Matthew 28 mandate by going out to vote for those seeking asylum and refuge to be allowed the basic dignity of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Please go out today and vote against ripping children out of the arms of their parents. Jesus would never be for this, but has indeed damned anyone who would harm these little ones. Please do me this solid and vote not against immigration, but for comprehensive immigration reform…for asylum seekers, for refugees, for the thousands of undocumented Americans who have not other country to all home…that they might be grafted in to the blessings of our great nation.

On Racism…

I appeal to your conscience, please do me this solid. Please, please don’t align yourselves with this vile and racist rhetoric that is coming out of the most powerful seat of power in the world. The God of love resents and resists white supremacy. Christ died for the sins of racism and bigotry. Jesus was literally killed because of religious bigotry. The Christian gospel is what freed the slaves. The Christian gospel is what empowered the Civil Rights movement, that God in the person of Jesus sees no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, the Roman citizen and the Palestinian Jew, between the White American and the African-American. Please do me this solid and vote against nationalism, antisemitism, and white supremacy. Please do not allow your vote to be counted among the hateful, but on the side of love.

On Women…

I appeal to your conscience, please do me this solid. Please, please don’t align yourselves with this misogynistic impulse to silence the voice of victims of abuse. Those who find the courage to speak their truth in the face of power, skepticism, risking their own reputation, ought to be believed. We have witnessed a historic breakthrough in the willingness of women exploited in the workplace to speak their truth to power by holding those accountable, who misuse their power for the sake of sexual conquest accountable. Also, we have seen credible accounts of sexual abuse by our president go ignored. Please do me this solid by being on the side of the marginalized and oppressed by standing up for victims, as Jesus did when he refused to allow the woman accused of adultery to be shamed by her accomplices. Please vote against this shaming of woman and victim blaming.

On The Poor…

I appeal to your conscience, please do me this solid. Please, please vote for the poor. According to Jesus, taking care for the poor is a kingdom credential. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and give a drink to the thirsty are what identifies us with the ministry of Jesus. In an era where the eight richest men in the world hold more wealth than 50% of the rest of the world’s population, the wealthy should not have been given a historic tax cut. In the United States, 47% of Americans are living below the poverty line. Poverty is not a sin and most who are poor are poor due to no fault of their own. Please do me this solid and vote in protest of this Trump tax cut. The poor are not asking for a handout, but to simply be allowed to meet their own needs in an economy that rewards wealth while punishing poverty. Please vote against economic injustice and vote for health care, nutrition, and housing.

On Freedom of Religion…

I appeal to your conscience, please do me this solid. Please, please vote against any legislation that privileges your faith over the faith of others. All people have the right to worship however they want. Please do not allow your faith to be exploited for political gain. Please don’t allow politicians to write legislation against women, LGBTQ+, Muslims, and Palestinians in the name of Jesus. Please resist the temptation to legislate morality in the name of religion. Please allow the preeminent ethic of grace to be the testimony of Jesus and not law. Please do me this solid and do not allow our Christian faith to be a tool of harm. The Word of God teaches, “they will know we are Christians by our love.” Please do not let hate define your faith.

I pleading with you, on behalf of the radical, poor, resurrected Jesus, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy,” (Proverbs 31:8-9) by voting against a government that would:

  • Deploy its military against poor men, women, and children who are risking their lives to escape exploitation, poverty, and gang violence….and rip children from the arms of parents seeking a better life for them.
  • Use racist dog whistles as red meat to get white supremacist to the polls and harken us back to a time when blacks, Jews, and women were a subservient class to the rest of America….a time when many of them risked their lives exercising their right to vote.
  • Mock and ignore the credible claims of women and minimize the erosive effects of sexual assault.
  • Oppress the poor by filling the pockets of the rich, leaving them to fend for themselves by working low wage jobs, unaffordable housing, and lacking healthcare.
  • Exploit the Christian faith by misusing our call to moral wholeness to hurt those who live and worship differently.

The very foundation of our beautiful democratic republic is at stake. The testimony of your Christian faith is at stake. Please, please do me this solid…and vote your decent values…of love, charity, justice and freedom.

Please vote to make American beautiful again!

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Arrested for Justice!

They explained what to do and what not to do. Everything seemed so “organized.” It all made sense. I thought I understood how it was supposed to go. But my heart still pounded and my throat had a lump. They warned us about prior convictions. My mind kept wondering if I had any convictions…or even had been arrested. I couldn’t remember whether or not I had. My deep-seated distrust in the criminal justice system as a black, gay, HIV-positive man was beginning to show. All the reassurances in the world could not soothe the butterflies fluttering in my stomach.

Prior to today my record was squeaky clean, besides the traffic tickets that keep being hailed as the example of “no big deal.” But reminded me of all the times I thought I might die from a traffic stop. And all the times I thought I might be criminalized because of my sexuality. And all the times my HIV status has been used to dehumanized my black body. Yet, I chose to be arrested.

I chose to be arrested alongside the Missouri state delegate. He is a white, straight, food service worker earning $9 per hour. He is forced to chose between child support payments and healthcare. Because 50% of his pay goes to child support. He is forced to live without healthcare. Our lives could not have been further apart, but we chose to be arrested together today.

It wasn’t that bad. We chanted. We sang. We were warned. We surrendered. What I had feared all my life and sworn to avoid, was not that bad. And maybe that’s the problem. Just maybe the fear of being arrested keeps us from doing the work of justice. Perhaps the system is set up to keep the people just complacent enough to do nothing.

As I sat there on the grassy Capital lawn, behind police tape and steel barricades with like-minded strangers for justice, I thought about those who have not organized, those who did not know what to do. As I looked down at my plastic handcuffs, relieved that they were not real, even though they were….it was difficult not to act out. The meekness of the police was provocative. Their soft spokenness, their generosity of spirit up juxtaposed to the violence of state sanctioned poverty made it difficult to comply. The violence suffered by the least of these, created a deep-seated rage, prompting me to cry out.

What do we want? Justice!

When do we want it? Now!

If we don’t get it? Shut it down!

If we don’t get it? Shut it down!

If we – don’t – get – it?

Shut it down!

moonight-oceanBeing a black gay boy was my worst nightmare. I knew that one day I would need to stand before my family and my world and confess my unpardonable sin. This was the cross that was mine to bear. This was the thorn in my flesh. This was the crimson stain that would never be washed away. And I hated it. I hated it with the wrath of thousand suns. I hated who I saw in the mirror. I hated the sissy who was mocked on the playground. I hated the sound of my voice. I hated my girlish ways which brought on the wanton whispers. I was gay and I hated it. I wanted to be someone else. Anyone else. Just not me. I did not want to be a black gay man. I did not want to be a black gay man because I did not know what that looked like. I did not know what it looked like to be me. I only knew what it felt like. And it felt like hell. It was a living nightmare.

Tonight’s Moonlight Best Picture WIN…is typical of my living nightmare. It’s that feeling deep deep down that knows that you are the best you can be, even if no one else does. It’s that abiding uncertainty of knowing you are better than the mediocrity that continuously passes you by. It’s that never ending nightmare that tosses you into hell, while knowing one day you’ll wake up in heaven. Moonlight is the movie of that life. Moonlight reveals to the world the hell that black gay boys go through. It shows the shame that is so deep that it forces you to absorb everyone else’s pain in order to cover up your own. Moonlight is that silent cry in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep. Moonlight is that deep deep need to be wanted, but too afraid to believe you are.

Tonight, when Moonlight won, black queerness won. Little black gay boys won. Boys bullied. Boys called faggot. Boys touched by men and told not to tell. Boys whose lifeless bodies lie dead in the grave because they were too ashamed to live, too afraid to love. Tonight, Moonlight exhumed those dead lives, those dead hopes, those dead dreams. Tomorrow, black gay boys can go to school a little less confused, a little less afraid, a little more emboldened to live the life that is theirs to live. A moonlit life shining in the darkness, just waiting to be lived.

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Move over Mariah, this Kim Burrell thing is blowing up! As if we didn’t know the black Christian homophobic gospel is complicated. Race, faith, and sex always is. Just an hour ago I praised a beloved Facebook friend for posting solidarity against the black gospel of homophobia. Black Christian homophobia is wreaking havoc on the black community by way of LGBTQ youth homelessness and abysmal rates of HIV infection. At the same time, the black church has always been a sanctuary for bi-curious homosexuals where obvious queers could find shelter from unrequited lust.

So, this Kim Burrell is not new. What is new is that Ellen DeGeneres booked a homophobic gospel legend without understanding the intersections that would be ignited. What is also new is the white mainstream outrage against black homophobia that is en vogue for the week. But, black Christian homophobia is not new. Just as the black masses have taken flight from the threat of the Jim Crow south, antiquated patriarchal norms, and Christian supremacy, black queers have fled black church oppression in all its forms for decades. So, the antics of Kim Burrell and her ally Shirley Caesar are troubling, but not shocking. It’s complicated!

It’s complicated because the black church and gospel music is the cornerstone of black liberation, which is the backbone of queer liberation. The architect of black liberation theology, Dr. James H. Cone, asserts, “But one could correctly say that the spirituals and the church, with Jesus’ cross at the heart of its faith, gave birth to the black freedom movement that reached its peak in the civil rights era during the 1950s and 60s. The spirituals were the soul of the movement, giving people courage to fight, and the church was its anchor, deepening its faith in the coming freedom for all.” (The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James Cone)  As such, bashing Kim Burrell and the black church creates an existential crisis for black queerness. For we know that underneath their hate is a gospel of love that has sustained and liberated our ancestors through generations and centuries of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow, and white nationalism.

So, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. To be clear, Kim Burrell and other anti-queer gospel artists should be condemned outright. But also, their antics must be understood and interpreted within the larger social context of white supremacy, Christian dominance, and systemic classism in the LGBTQ community. Kim Burrell and the homophobic black gospel are the by-product of Christianized racial oppression and is rooted in the myth that the only way to freedom is the black heteronormative Christian way of being. In other words, it’s complicated.