preachers pontificate too much from on High about the sins
of homosexual sex, the cautionary tale is to be careful
of what you say, because your words invariable will come
back to bite you, as we are seeing with Bishop Eddie Long.
by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the most virulently
homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay
movement,” it came as a surprise, sending seismic shock
waves across the African American church community, when
news broke about Long’s alleged sexcapdes with two male
teenagers, followed immediately by a third allegation, while
they were enrolled in his ministry for teen boys.
is a flamboyant man, and he likes to flaunt his gifts. As
one of the Black Church’s prominent
pastors of “prosperity gospel” his “bling-bling” theology
unabashedly flashes not only his Gucci sunglasses, gold
necklaces, and Rolex watches, but also unapologetically
flashes his muscular physique in the latest tight-fitting
spandex workout togs. Long has been rumored, for some time,
to be gay.
for those inside of Long’s stained-glass closet at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church,
they have known of the bishop’s penchant for pubescent boys,
he calls “spiritual sons.”
however, Long, like too many African American ministers
on the “down low”, has erected his bully pulpit denouncing
gays while using his clerical authority to court and to
his infamous anti-gay march in December 2004 titled, “Stop
the Silence,” denouncing same-sex marriage Long stated,
“In essence, God made Eve to help Adam replenish the earth.
Woman has the canal…everything else is an exit… Cloning,
Homosexuality and Lesbianism are spiritual abortions. Homosexuality
is a manifestation of the fallen man.”
is not alone - to be gay or rumored to be gay - in denouncing
example, speaking at the November 2009, Church of God in Christ’s 102nd Holy Convocation
International Youth Department Worship Service, Pastor Donnie
McClurkin told his audience, “God did not call you to such
perversions. Your only hope is Jesus Christ. Were it not
for this Jesus I would be a homosexual today. This God is
poster boy for African American ex-gay ministries attributed
his homosexuality to being raped twice as a child, first
at age eight at his brother’s funeral by his uncle, and
then at age thirteen by his cousin, his uncle’s son. Confusing,
however, same-gender sexual violence as homosexuality, McClurkin
misinterpreted the molestation as the reason for his gay
sexual orientation. McClurkin “testi-lies” that his cure
was done by a deliverance from God and a restoration of
his manhood by becoming the biological father of a child.
example is Bishop T. D. Jakes, the internationally known
African American evangelical star, dubbed as the black Billy
Graham. His ranting against homosexuality came back to bite
him in January 2009, in the form of his oldest son’s, Jermaine
Jakes, arrest in a sex sting for openly soliciting gay sex
from an undercover vice detective in a public park, just
a few blocks from his church, The Potter’s House, a 30,000
member megachurch in Dallas, Texas.
Jakes is now tight-lipped on the topic of homosexuality,
because Jake’s son’s arrest has the African American LGBTQ
community abuzz with rumors resurfacing about his sexuality.
September 2005, activists Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick
kicked off a five-part series, “Outing Black Pastors,” on
their respective websites, querying publicly whether prominent
pastors in the black community, like Bishops T.D. Jakes,
Donnie McClurkin and Eddie Long, who constantly rail against
LGBTQ people, were actually struggling with their own sexual
mess in which Long now finds himself is emblematic of the
Black Church’s down low (DL) “politic of silence”
King, who became the country’s poster boy by exposing the
behavior in his best-seller, On
the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of 'Straight' Black
Men Who Sleep with Men stated, not surprisingly, that
many of his partners were churchmen. “There are gospel conventions
throughout the nation for churches. There is one for ushers,
Sunday school departments, music departments and ministers
. . . These events allow men to meet men and to have sex
while away from their hometowns. Many midnight concerts
turn into affairs where brothers are cruising each other.
I’ve been there, seen it and done it,” King states in his
African-American men on the DL say there are two salient
features that contribute to this subculture - white gay
culture and the Black Church. The Black Church’s conservative
gender roles and anti-gay theology create a hidden homosocial
community of DL male clerics who find camaraderie at black
pastors’ or at all-male conferences, where Long took his
has not created the homophobic climate in the Black Church but he has certainly contributed
a membership of over 25,000, Long’s church is the largest
African American megachurch in the Southeast. And as the
largest it can begin, with his sex scandal, to effect change
by embracing a liberating, healthy and holistic understanding
of human sexuality.
in so doing, Long would be creating a model of pastoral
care not only for heterosexuals or homosexuals, but most
importantly, one for him.
Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion
columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of theAfrican-American
Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and
Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific
School of Religion.
A native of Brooklyn,
Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union
Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served
as a pastor at an African-American church before coming
to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow.
She was recently named to MSNBC’s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author
of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible
Prayers for Not’So’Everyday Moments. As an African-American
feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society
that is frequently invisible. Her website
to contact the Rev. Monroe.