One of the best documentaries ever filmed is called “All God’s Children (2001)”. It is produced by Woman Vision, The National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. I praise and reference it frequently in my columns. This classic film features a godly look at black gays.
Interviewees include heterosexual political celebrities like Dr. Cornel West and Maxine Waters; out gay activists like Phill Wilson and Bishop Carl Bean; beautiful, spousal, black gay and lesbian couples, and many other black intellectuals. Rebel pastors who refuse to preach hatred or banish gays from their churches, like the wonderful and revered Reverend Dr. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, also star in this outstanding documentary.
The highlight of this classic film is a sister I deeply admire. She is Dr. Marjorie J. Hill, a health professional, New York politico, and an out lesbian warrior I revere. She glows in this film, as she recounts a question from a typical moron once posed to her: “Who is the Martin Luther King of the gay community?”. Dr Hill typically replied:“Martin Luther King is the Martin Luther King of the gay community!”. She is always regal and confident as all true African-American queens.
The greatest stars of this film are the parents and siblings of gay persons who appear. They express divine, defiant, and unconditional love for their gay kin. These family members are far godlier than most evil homohating pastors. The mother of iconic black gay author Joseph Beam is especially moving, as she passionately mourns the death and heralds the life of her beautiful and beloved son.
This film should be mandatory viewing for all Christians. It should also be viewed by all teenagers as sexual education to counter the gaybashing sexual suicide mandated by most black churches. It is therapeutic. I watch it often. As I watch it, I am always healed…
I watch this film as religious and spiritual antitoxins. It allows me to emotionally detoxify from much of the blasphemous ignorance that passes as religion in most black churches. It heals me when I am wounded by the poisonous antics of Charlene Cothran and the new Venus magazine
I watch this film often because it dries my hot tears of anger at the droves of black preachers who allow themselves to be pimped by racist neocons, like King Shrub’s (George W. Bush’s) house boy T. D. Jakes. These preacher pimps individually allowed racist Republikkkans to dupe them and their mindless, masochistic, black flocks into aiding and abetting neocons, as they stole yet another election in 2004. They epitomize the audacity of amnesia whenever they dare to lament what we now endure collectively at the hands of an increasingly amoral and ruthless Republikkkan regime.
I watch this film often because it reminds me that some church homes are still indeed sanctuaries for all black kindred souls, even those housed within bodies that happen to be homosexual. This film expertly defies religious lies that blaspheme god and relegate holy texts to be used exclusively as mere primers for holy hatreds.
My soul is saved by many other people and things in my life each day. I am soothed daily by my soul mate who is a fellow African-American queen. Our dual queendom is my truest sanctuary. I am also always soothed by the timeless wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was far more than a global hero. He was a poet, a prophet, and a sage. His words are amazingly applicable to all of the political and social woes that fueled his mission and linger still…
Dr. King was never a gay basher. He bravely battled with gay bashers often as he defended and respected a dear friend, an organizational legend, a fellow warrior, and a gay man named Bayard Rustin. Coretta Scott King was always a great ally to gay activists, and she will truly be irreplaceable as our most recent felled warrior among church folks.
Civil rights legend Julian Bond dared to reprimand the white sheep of the King family, Bernice King, and skip Coretta’s funeral service. Bond admirably and respectfully did so in a dignified protest against the rabidly gaybashing pastor of the church chosen to host the service, a fool named Eddie Long. Sadly and surely Bernice’s curious and equally notorious gay hatred had a hand in desecrating her mother’s service so…
I dream of Dr. King, Coretta, Malcolm X, and Dr. Betty Shabazz, all sharing a heavenly soul food dinner, chatting, dining and resting in peace in a superior, cosmic, eternal place. They dwell in a space where they can be free and forget all of the hateful insanity that we still endure here on this evil earth. (After dinner, they chat about checking that embarassing Bernice King ASAP too!)
I am certain that Dr. King would not condone the gay hatred that is being mandated in black churches today. He would not allow himself to be pimped by Republikkkans. He would not preach sexual bigotry to black heterosexuals. He would not encourage sexual suicide to black gays. He would still be calling out black church folks for all of their social, political, and moral sins, just as he did decades ago. And, he would still befriend and defend Rustin.
Dr. King penned the excerpted letter below just months before I was born on August 10, 1963. It is one of the most timeless and profound pieces of powerful prose and rebel wisdom I have ever read. I read it often. It inspires and empowers me to know that one of the most heroic and truly Christian men who ever lived was equally disgusted by the evil lives and deeds of hypocritical and bigoted church folks. It heals me to know that a man so uniquely brave and intelligent was as disappointed and dejected by holy ignorant hypochristian cowards as I am.
I share segments of this letter below as a literal “Balm in Gilead”. May they soothe your rebel souls as they do my very own. Dr. King loved us all irrespective of sexuality. Coretta did too. May God bless their beloved souls eternally…
For the record, there are those gay haters who will view this column as libel. They will do so simply because they deeply fear the undeniable similarities between racism and homohatred. They pretend that we are equating the entirety of two ancient struggles simply by noting specific glaring equalities. Do not believe the racist hype.
No fool would completely equate gaybashing to racism in scope or history. Likewise, no fool would be so completely blind as to deny their similarities in passion and practice. Like Audre Lorde said, all of the “-ism’s” are indeed related. That includes racism, sexism, and heterosexism always:
April 16, 1963
"MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country.
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the blackness of corroding despair...
But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. …So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?… In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists…
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action…
Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions… I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church, felt that the white ministers, priests, and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities.
In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi, and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God?”…
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators". But they went on with the conviction that they were"a colony of heaven", and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be"astronomically intimidated". They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.
Maybe again, I have been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Maybe I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom… Some have been kicked out of their churches, and lost support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have gone with the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.
I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future… Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. For more than two centuries our foreparents labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; and they built the homes of their masters in the midst of brutal injustice and shameful humiliation--and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.
T. S. Eliot has said that there is no greater treason than to do the right deed for the wrong reason...
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR."
Dear Dr. & Mrs. King: Thank you both so very much…for everything!…