What's Your Role?
In a day and age where Donald Trump can run a campaign riddled with disrespectful and uncensored tweets, homophobic remarks, undiluted racism, mocking and bullying people all while standing behind a podium stamped with the United States of America crest and still be elected president. No doubt the mask of America has been ripped off and underneath lies a grinning, ugly truth. And that truth is: HATRED FOR THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT IS ALIVE AND WELL.That hate is encouraging people to stand up and express their dislike and hate for other human-beings and being confident that they can get away with doing so. (In my best Iyanla voice) “NOT ON MY WATCH!”
Unfortunately, this ugliness has trickled down and landed in the lap of Kim Burrell. Now, she may not be standing behind the presidential seal but she is standing in a place just as important-- the pulpit of the Black church. For those of you who haven’t heard on December 30th, 2016 a cellphone video was released of the popular gospel star Kim Burrell preaching a sermon that has got her more views and recognition than ever before. The video is a two minutes and twenty second clip featuring Burrell preaching what seems to be blatant homophobia and hate speech. All this takes place just days before Burrell was to appear alongside Pharrell Williams on the Ellen DeGeneres show, “Ellen.” Without question Burrell was disinvited. Pharrell goes on the Ellen Show and a talks about acceptance and understanding saying, “She’s a fantastic singer. I love her just like I love everybody else.” And he’s right and since we love you, Kim Burrell, we have to turn the mirror in your direction. The internet has exploded with articles, tweets, and commentary on the many subjects Burrell’s video brings to surface, which is absolutely a good thing. Because now that it’s in the light we can properly address it. And “it” is blatant homophobia in the Black church AND the internalized homophobia and self-hate that swell in its pews.
Now, as a Black, male who identifies as both openly gay and Christian; my first reaction to the video was, “Why is this getting so much attention?” I mean, surely you know this isn’t the first time a popular gospel singer has made comments about homosexuality. The internet is bursting with videos of popular Black preachers and singers preaching and singing against homosexuality. So what makes this one so different?-- Timing! This video came to light exactly when it needed to. With Trump’s election riding high; hate and division are rising from the dark corners of America with confidence and thanks to our cellphones we can share it with the entire world. Don’t you love what cellphone recordings have done for the Black community? Much like police brutality, Burrell’s sermon is nothing new… it was just caught on camera.
Many traditional Christian followers believe the Bible preaches against homosexuality. That it’s a sin and you will go to Hell because of it. But there’s something about the language and tone of Burrell’s sermon that leads me to believe she has stepped away from the Bible and is preaching out of her own basket of homophobia and hate. Saying things such as: “Anybody in this room who’s filled with the homosexual spirit beg God to free you and play with it, in 2017 you’ll die from it… That perverted homosexual spirit is a spirit of delusion and confusion and has deceived many men and women” She also adds, “...and those homosexual spirits, their angry and they come up in here saying, ‘you gotta love everybody’ come out of there, you serpent!” – Now Kim, from this I can only wonder what you had planned to say on the Ellen Show. And you know what, those homosexual spirits are angry and they are confused because they’re sitting right across from you boiling on the inside and applauding your every word. They are singing your backup and styling your hair. They’re protecting you when you travel and finding comfort in your songs – all while you damn them to Hell.
Consider this-- A single, Black mother takes her young son to church every week. He hears sermons about the sin of homosexuality in the same manner as Burrell’s, which is mother affirms as well. He grows older and mature and decides to sing in the choir and help around the church. Until this point, he knows nothing but love from the church and considers them family. Until one day he realizes his attraction to boys his age. And learns that he is gay and the very people he received so much love and support from now seem like unfamiliar mountains where at their base he lies facing his own civil war. Because throughout his entire life he was taught to hate the very thing in him that wants to take flight and lift him pass jagged mountain stops, right to God’s unconditional love. Instead he will become closeted, learn to operate in the shadows, restrain his natural mannerisms and even aid in bullying openly gay people. He might even defend Kim Burrell and/or become a preacher himself. All this at the cost of never actually knowing and loving himself fully. And THAT Kim Burrell is where the sin is. Because, yes we do have to love everybody and if Kim Burrell doesn’t believe that she is not preaching the word of God – come out of there you serpent! I want to leave you with this. Black, gay people are suffering and the Black church plays a major role in that suffering. Black, gay men are afraid to be vulnerable and everyday battle an unyielding civil war. And everyone plays a role. My role is to get them over these mountains.
Guest blog written by J.C. Brown-Adams
J.C. Brown- Adams, born and raised in Peoria, Illinois uses writing as a self-reflection and self-elevation tool.
Born to a loving and accepting family he was allowed to be and express himself at an early age. At the age of 16 he came out as gay and has lived a proud and open life ever since. J.C. preaches self love and through his poetry wants to connect to the deepest parts of the human heart. His life motto is: "you can't pour into others with an empty cup. Take care of yourself."