The hypocrisy and homophobia in the black church are baffling to me. These are dirty little secrets that are often overlooked by worshipers. Members of the LGBTQIA community are used as pawns within the church. We are often valued for what we bring to the choirs, the HIV/AIDS ministry, theatrical church programs, and the like, but the entirety of our identity is denied. Worse, homosexual indiscretions among church leaders are ignored and/or excused, adding to the overall sense of denial. This is a toxic situation.
I have long wondered how the issues of hypocrisy and homophobia became so deep-rooted. I was reminded of the hypocritical leadership in some churches when a friend sent me a video clip that had gone viral. In the video, a well-known female gospel singer and pastor went on a tirade about how women should wear a bra in church. The intensity of her words increased as she ranted about their bare legs being greased up. She went on to say that their clothes were so tight you could see their vagina print. The core of her message was that these women were attending church to entice the pastor to “hit it” in the corner.
Her rant was shocking, given that she had been transparent regarding her past indiscretions of infidelity with men and women. Her delivery was more off-putting than her message. It reminded me of the adage, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” To a certain extent, I agree with her. Women should not dress promiscuously when attending church. As an out lesbian, my first reaction was, Ma’am, are you having flashbacks from the temptations of your past? Are you experiencing a moment of weakness yourself? Most importantly, How are you, of all people, judging someone? I thought judgement was not “of God.” And, as a pastor, isn’t it her job to guide those women without referring to them as “ho’s?”
Watching the video made me think of my own experiences with a well-known male pastor who was on the down-low. Like many pastors, he was a very charismatic leader. But I would cringe whenever he preached about the fire and brimstone awaiting same-sex unions. I happened to be a member of his close circle, and once, in a private setting, he hissed that he couldn’t stand sissies. “Sissy” is an offensive and derogatory term used for effeminate men. I was disgusted; as others in our group laughed nervously.
I felt sorry for this pastor, as I recognized the self-hatred I had seen in so many gay men on the down-low. Most of our society, especially “the church,” condemns them for loving other men. I wanted to tell him, Sir, just because you are a masculine gay man who loves effeminate men does not exclude you from being gay. YOU are a gay man who loves “sissies” and yet here you are, breaking the spirits of gay men who live out loud and proud. I was even more disgusted by the single and married women in the congregation who would do anything for the pastor. My stomach turned as I questioned their self-worth. The whispers about the pastor’s “affairs” with choir boys became rumors. Ultimately, the rumors became facts. As the mother of a young son, I cringed at the idea of the pastor having an “affair” with a minor. There is a vast difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. But that’s a whole different conversation that — for personal reasons — members of the clergy are not willing to have.
I became irritated when another video popped up on my thread, this time regarding yet another well-known male pastor and singer who was “cured” of his homosexuality. His so-called “recovery” spread the idea that homosexuality is a choice. To each his own, but to state that homosexuality is something to be accepted or rejected at will only encourages further notions of self-hatred. Who, in their right mind, would choose to be discriminated against? Disowned by their families? Condemned by the church? Beaten, raped and murdered for loving someone of the same sex? Who would choose this?
I found myself shaking my head in disbelief about these ongoing issues. Was I becoming jaded in forming my own judgements of them? Was I losing my faith? I slowly refocused on myself. I prayed that those struggling with their own hypocrisy would ultimately find truth and happiness within. I couldn’t help but think about the words I’ve heard so many pastors preach: Judge not, lest you be judged. Instead of judging others, you had better get right with God.
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