Last week, during one leg of my hellish commute, I picked up one of the free tabloid papers that are 50% ads, 23% sports, 23% celebrity gossip, and 4% “news,” digested into its blandest, most thoughtless form. It’s one of the last places I expect to find counter-cultural messages. That’s why I was particularly shocked to see a full-page ad headed:
BLACK & GAY IS BEAUTIFUL
The rest of the page was full of text like this:
God has promised us life, and life more abundantly. At this juncture in our global history, the tide is turning as God’s plan is unfolding for the inclusion of all people based on their divine design as gay, lesbian, straight, bi-sexual, or transgendered. God is by all means up to something, and the day of reckoning is here. The universe will not tolerate bigotry much longer as racism, sexism, homophobia, and ultimately patriarchy are being dismantled brick by brick. So God’s call for the non-straight oriented community is that we LIVE! LIVE truthfully! LIVE courageously! LIVE spiritually! LIVE emotionally! LIVE financially! LIVE romantically! LIVE fearlessly! So come out, come out wherever you are and LIVE. For God is great and life is grand. It’s our time.
I’m tempted to type up the whole thing, which continues in it’s full-throated encouragement to gay and lesbian African Americans to claim their identities and build their lives, despite “the church’s damning stance on homosexuality.” The copy also connects sexual discrimination to sexual violence against women, damaging messages about manhood, and swallowed grief about AIDS, the disproportionate incarceration of black men, and the sexual relationships (consensual and coerced) that happen in prisons.
The ad was written by Pastor Joseph W. Tolton, the leader of Rehoboth Temple Christ Conscious Church in Harlem and GaybyGod.net.
Tolton calls out hypocrisy and homophobia in the black church, and singles out Donnie McClurkin, the infamously “ex-gay” preacher and gospel singer who has gone on the record calling queer people “vampires” and who has performed his bigotry–both musically and politically–for the RNC and President Obama thusly:
We love you brother and in ways the traditional church cannot because we understand your pain…There is so much love in our community for you. We want to see you healed and whole.
That’s some righteous, turn-the-other-cheek, Christ-like love right there.
Although I don’t share Pastor Tolton’s faith, I certainly share his values, and I hope that Rehoboth Temple and his Theology of Radical Inclusivity (PDF) continue the good and much-needed work they appear to be doing.
It makes me wanna pick up another subway rag.