Pastor Kevin E. Taylor is one of the most exciting preachers I’ve ever heard. He’s an author, activist, teacher, inspiration and overall genuinely great person. Listen to our conversation and find out for yourself.
I CAME OUT ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! It was November 2001 and I’d published my first book, “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma.” A week after I’d launched my first website, I got a phone call from T. Faye Griffin of BET’s talk show, “Oh Drama!” I was SHOCKED. She told me they were doing a show on homosexuality and the Bible and she’d heard of my book and wanted to me to be “the gay guest” on the show.
She informed me that there were three hosts, Kym Whitley, Mari Marrow and Vanessa Bell Calloway. There would be other guests on the show (Patrik Ian Polk and Rockmond Dunbar) promoting a new movie called “Punks” and there would be an actor on the show (Chaz Lamar Shepard) who believed homosexuality is a sin. We would both have the opportunity to present our views, and that’s how the show would work. I was EXCITED!
I asked her how did BET hear about my book as it had only been out a week. She said they’d asked a local pastor in Los Angeles to do the show (let’s call him “L.A. Pastor), but he was already booked elsewhere the day of the taping. He told her, “I can’t do it, but there’s a young man who just released an exciting new book called ‘Will I Go To Heaven?’, I think he’d be an asset to the show and would do the subject justice.” So she researched and found me.
To this day, I don’t know who the pastor was, but I’d like to say, “Thank You!” I don’t know how you even knew about me or the book, but you changed my life. I thank GOD for you. I wish I knew your name because I’d try to find you, take you to dinner… SOMETHING to express my gratitude. I wonder where I would be had you referred someone else to the show. Eleven years later, I wonder if I’d be who I am had things been different? Would Operation: REBIRTH be the movement it is? Would I be seen in some circles as a leader and activist? Would I have had the opportunities that have been afforded me?
The most memorable thing about the show was after we finished taping, Kym Whitley came to me and said, “Thank you for humanizing the gay community for us today. You weren’t the stereotype we see all the time. People will see black gay men differently because of you. You taught us a great deal. Good luck with your book.” I’ll never forget that moment or how it made me feel. I realized not only did I just come out, but I opened a few eyes by doing so. I walked away from that experience feeling like I really could make a difference in people’s lives.
In the past I’ve said had i known what the show was about, I wouldn’t have done it. But today, I realize that experience was a part of the plan for my life. In hindsight, after all the backlash, including losing dear friends, after family members choosing to have “nothing to do with me because of my sin,” my coming out the way I did freed me in the most profound way. It laid the foundation for the work I do today. I’m able to be “Tuan N’Gai” because GOD used Mr. L.A. Pastor to create the platform for me.
So once again, on National Coming Out Day, 2012 I’d like to say to the “L.A Pastor” who wasn’t able to appear on “Oh, Drama!” that day, I’d like to say “Thank you so much!” I hope one day I can say it in person. You changed my life and I’m forever grateful. You made it possible for me to come out. Because of you I have been able to say or do something to make a difference. I pray to be used to open the door for someone much like you did for me.
What used to be one of my biggest fears is the discovery that I’m organically not what I hope I am. When I’d think of myself, I’d wonder if who I think I am is really antithetical to who I was created to be; that there’s a possibility I’m spending all my energy doing the wrong things. One day it came to me that my fear was actually rooted in what I thought people thought of me. What would my family and friends think if I ever expressed what I was really felt or was thinking? What would happen to my support system if I was ever authentically “Tuan?” In fact, what did being authentic mean for me at any point in time?
Being worried about the thoughts and opinions of others was the root of my spiritual paralysis. To break the stagnation, I had to do some hard work. I had to find what relationships, food, sex and alcohol couldn’t give me… knowledge of me. I needed to confront the pain relationships, food, sex and alcohol pacified. I had to start thinking about myself. I had to challenge and explore what I thought of me. After thirteen years in ministry, I had to break open my spirit and calculate what I had, who I was, where I was going, and what all that meant. It all started with my thoughts of me.
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” opened my eyes to a great deal of things. It taught me that it really doesn’t matter what other people think of me. The important thing is what I think of myself. And whatever I thought of myself, IS who I am. So when I thought of myself as unloveable, unattractive or not good enough, I wasn’t. That thought pattern lead to me being depressed and self-destructive. Not only was I self-destructive, I was subconsciously destroying everything and everyone around me. I couldn’t see good in me, so I couldn’t see it in others. I was hypercritical, judgmental, catty and downright mean.
Eventually I had to ask myself, “Tuan, what are you thinking?” The only thing I thought was good about me was based on the opinions and thoughts of others, so in reality I wasn’t thinking.
To get a good view of who I am, I had to break down every wall that I thought was protecting me. I had to become open. I had to crack open all the things I had bottled up and look at them; deal with each and every issue, positive or negative. Only when I became open was I able to see my own potential. While I had a closed mind and spirit, I wasn’t able to get a true calculation of all the things that make me who I am; my talents, my insights, my background, my dreams, and so much more. I couldn’t even see the infinite possibilities. Confronting all my crazy helped me see not just what I have, but helped me realize what I want. I now understand what I want isn’t impossible. What I want for my life is what I deserve.
So, what are you thinking? What are WE thinking? Are we really seeing the big picture about who we are individually and collectively? Are we passionate enough, courageous enough to brea open that which keeps us isolated, take inventory and open ourselves up to what is possible? At this very moment, you are… we are the precise expression of what we think.
Tuan N’Gai is an activist and co-founder of Operation: REBIRTH. He is the author and publisher of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma” and “Little Brown Boy’s Blues.” He is also a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” Tuan currently lives in Chicago, Illinois
I would like to report our progress to you. I was supposed to be hand-delivering the 1000+ signatures we’ve collected on our petition to William (Bill) Owens and the Coalition of African-American Pastors this weekend. Unfortunately, plans have changed. Over the last couple days, I have gotten some information that exposes Rev. Bill Owens and the Coalition of African-American Pastors as nothing more than a fraud.
First, we’ve discovered that Rev. Owens’ “Metropolitan Institutional Church” does not exist. He isn’t a pastor. There’s no church to where we can deliver the petitions.
His claim to have been a civil rights leader is false. There is no evidence nor personal remembrances from long term Nashville residents that he participated in any civil rights demonstration in Nashville from 1958 – 1961.
Rev. Owens’ claim that CAAP has 3800+ members can not be substantiated. Research has shown that there are only 20 members of this so-called organization. Most of the members are independent churches that aren’t affiliated with any reputable denomination.
Rev. Owens’ reported ties with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church are false. The AME church disclaimed any knowledge of Rev. William Owens, and alluded he was not a real pastor by publicly stating, “Contrary to the report, neither the AME Church nor its leadership is involved with or partnering with the Coalition of African-American Pastors.”
CAAP’s claim that they aren’t affiliated with any political group is false. Not only is CAAP funded through such organizations as the National Organization for Marriage, but they are also tied to The Arlington Group, who describes themselves as “a coalition of leaders from the pro-family community, that develops and executes national and grassroots strategies to: protect the traditional institution of marriage, increase respect for every human life, limit judicial activism, and act on other moral issues of concern.”
Other questionable information given by Bill Owens is whether or not he truly earned his degrees in education and theology, and if so, from where? Lastly, exactly how much money DID he and other black pastors get paid to LIE to the American people in effort to split the vote?
This new information does not change our goal to continue reaching out to refocus our collaborative energies toward healing the divide in the community and not allowing our diversity to be used as a wedge issue. Operation: REBIRTH will be sending a letter to all the ministers involved with CAAP with every signature on the petition attached. This letter will ask all of them to participate in a meeting with LGBT leaders from across the country. We will also be sending a hard copy of the petition to the post office box listed on the CAAP website via Certified Mail, requiring signature confirmation. That way we’ll know they have received all the signatures. We will keep you updated on our progress.
Tuan N’Gai is Co-Founder of the Operation: REBIRTH Movement. He’s the author of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma,” “Little Brown Boy’s Blues,” and a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” He lives in Chicago, Illinois.