Monday, June 06, 2005

I Remember When

I remember when I was a kid, we'd have these "lessons" about race. The upshot was always that we're all a little different, and it's the differences that make us cool (remember, I was raised in the 70's; cool was something to aspire to). Some of us were Black, some were White (no one really cared about or spoke about Asians or Latinos as if you couldn't tell they weren't White, or their "difference" as it were, wasn't as "different" as Black), but we were all precious in His sight, yada yada.

So, we've sorta conquered the race thing, or at least as far as Black evangelicals are concerned. Racism has become the sin that has officially been reconciled. Reformation has taken place. Blacks have forgotten good ol' Barry Goldwater and how he shaped the new Republican Party, the one that sits in office now. The ones who attend the evangelical churches that work actively to deny gay & lesbian people anything that implies ordinariness; protection from bullying in schools, the rtight to adopt children, protections for same-sex couples, protections against education and job description (don't get me started on the beauty school that put out a student after he publicly admitted he was HIV-positive). Yes, yes, White evangelicals have started to let go the ol' curse of Ham (Legend has it that Ham, one of Noah's sons, was cursed by God for disobedience to his father by fathering dark-skinned children) and fallen hook,line, and sinker, for acceptance by America's current ruling class, the Christian conservative.

Blacks in the church quietly ignored the gay man and lesbian serving in the church, putting money in the plate, or helping to bring money into the church. Black lesbians & gays contributed to our own crappy treatment by remaining silent when the preacher launched a diatribe on the sin of Sodom, rather than remind the preacher, the trustee, and the congregant that while the splinter of homosexuality was dragged around, the log of so-called sins including greed (a rich pastor driving a luxury car and building a million-dollar church in the middle of a burned-out ghetto), gluttony (let's get real about the number of fat people, especially women, in the Black church), infidelity, lack of hospitality, and all-around what=were-you-thinking and you-call-yourself-a-Christian scripture regurgitation that supposedly passes for Biblical scholarship, was ignored.

The White House throws a little money at struggling churches, and suddenly everyone has the same rallying cry: homosexuality is a sin! No gay marriage! Don't let gays teach your kids! Don't let them serve in your churches! And my favorite, so far, comes from Dwight McKissick, a pastor in Arlington, Texas, who says:

"Don't compare your sin with my skin."


What a gem. So, what would his response be to Black lesbians and gays? Are we okay as long as we're not gay, or is it that gay is less confounding that Black? Does he, or any other heterosexist preacher (like Eddie Long, who led a march against same-sex marriage to the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, whose song "Suddenly" is incredibly hot right now among Black gospel choirs), or that buffoon who would rather march with the Klan than support same-sex marriage, really think their Blackness is acceptable?

I keep promising not to write or talk any more about how irritated I am with the whole "you're a sinner if you're gay," wedge-driving nonsense that should be driving Black queers in droves from the church, but isn't. I keep promising myself that I'm going to make my voice heard by returning to the Methodist church that prohibits openly-gay clergy from serving. Instead, I seek refuge in a predominantly-gay, predominantly Black gay populated and led church because I'm weary from the fight. I'm tired. I'm tired of the growing list of gospel artists whose records I won't buy anymore. I'm tired of the knot in my stomach I feel every time I come out in a Black church environment, usually as a musician (and usually as the only female musician), only to await the inevitable "you know the Bible says" blather.

I remember when difference really was okay, when we as a society didn't try so hard to create a homogeneous glop. Will we ever get back to it?

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