Growing up attending church from Sunday school to after church dinners, homosexuality is nothing new in the midst of it all. No, it’s not an official addendum to the church covenant but if you participate in church regularly like me, you know it’s an unspoken truth. Simply put, institutional acquiescence. Despite the Bible’s clear and absolute rejection against homosexuality, it still exists. Pastors, deacons and blood-bought Christians alike have even developed other phrases to soften the blow when referring to this “alternative lifestyle.” I never heard the word homosexuality uttered from the pulpit.
However, after President Obama made his announcement in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts saying he was “absolutely comfortable” with gays and lesbians getting married—and enjoying the same rights as any other Americans, Obama’s “evolution” diverted much attention back to the black church.
Since religion has been a place where African Americans felt safe from oppression, the church has always been a luminous guiding light causing it to be the most influential institution within the African American community. Many facets of how I viewed my culture were developed in the church. However, this guiding light has adversely shaped the lives of African American homosexual males and females.
As anticipated with the President declaring his stance for same-sex marriage and more states slowly beginning to legalize gay marriage, how will minority institutions like the black church and their congregations react? Will the church finally begin recognizing same-sex marriages?
The negative reactions to homosexuality deals with the history of discrimination still affecting many African Americans. African Americans attitudes toward the gay, lesbian and transgender communities tend to collide with the convenience of picking up the Holy Bible and quoting a few scriptures. I wouldn’t proclaim to know all of the teachings and preachings of The Good Book; however, I think we forget sodomy is not the only sin God condemns.
Coming out is something many homosexuals – especially those who are African American – deem as courageous, even by those stuck in the closet. Being comfortable enough with your sexuality to expose your sexual preference is something African American homosexuals confront. Being gay is about the worst thing you can be within the African American culture; at least that’s what is taught at some churches. Even when I attended church, I was taught at a very young age that I had to be a man; I had to be masculine.
I can only believe that soon the religious argument for homosexuals will become a personal choice. Many times we fail to remember that church is a private institution with personal missions, values and guidelines. Even with the endless debate of whether being gay is a choice or not, at the end of the day you have a choice as to what religion you affiliate yourself with. I insist government should not create polices inspired by religious beliefs.
With a hopeful outlook for change on the support for same-sex marriage, I anticipate that this will continue to open up the discussion about homosexuality and equal rights – not just among African Americans, but for everyone. Besides the constant blows against gay marriage being put up against a majority vote, as a minority group we continue to seek equal rights under the law – not the Bible. Because the African American church is an easy media target for perpetuating homophobia, please don’t think homophobia is race specific. Homophobia is prevalent in all cultures. Maybe one day homosexuality won’t be viewed as a defective social behavior or plague. The separation of church and state must be present and not dependent on holier-than-thou teachings.