SILENCE = CONSENT

Posts tagged “community

False Witness

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.


Faith vs. Perception

It’s amazing to think that with all the education and information available to us, there are people who still doubt their salvation.
There are people who wonder if they are or aren’t saved because of their sexuality. It’s almost unfathomable that in a day where faith is being preached ad nauseum for “things” people still don’t believe or have faith that they are safe in the arms of the Creator. But with all the bashing and preaching of hate going on in the churches today it’s no wonder.

One friend of mine asked “when are we gonna get past this ‘can I really be saved and gay thing?’ I mean, isn’t it time?” And that’s a valid question when there is so much to do and so much further to travel along this journey for social justice. It’s like we can’t go forward because we are still stuck on this point. This reality leads me to wonder…When will we get over this? And how will
we get past it? There is teaching that has been going forth for years on this issue. Books have been written, documentaries made, sermons preached, songs sung, and the list goes on and on. What is necessary to get people to move forward? Will be able to go toward the necessary healing and empowerment to stop spiritual violence?

The first thing people need to understand is, what the Bible says is true as it relates to faith and salvation. Romans 10.9 tells us “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That formula for salvation is sure and applicable to all people. This spiritual truth being taken in context with the scripture in Ephesians 2.8, if you don’t have faith, no matter what you confess, you can’t even be saved. The Bible puts it this way, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. So the formula for salvation has been given, and it must be believed To drive the point home even further, Hebrews 11.6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. The writer urges us in his teaching that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith. There is no way to please God if you don’t have faith. So I guess for the SGL Christian, the question isn’t “can you be saved and gay”, but rather “do you BELIEVE that you can be saved and gay?”.  And based on that answer, which must come from within, we can go from there.

If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God it is necessary for one to discern whether what they are hearing is indeed the word of God. What does the Bible say about those who have relationship with God? It says NOTHING can separate them from the love of God. Nothing means “NOT A THING”. Not sexuality. Not a preacher. Not a book. Not a Bible verse. NOTHING can separate you from the love of God. And if that’s the case, why not believe it in spite of what people think, believe or say about your relationship with God. The Bible says it like this in Romans 8.38-39, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I tell people who try to speak into my relationship with God that they are committing spiritual adultery. They are trying to get into a marriage that has nothing to do with them. My love affair with God is one that is personal and off limits to EVERYONE except me and God. And if God lets me know that He loves me and nobody or nothing can separate me from His love…I BELIEVE IT without question.

Another thing that has to be explored is the difference in “perception” and “truth”. The best way I can describe this is by talking about the universe. There was once a time that people believed the earth was the center of the universe. And because of their perception, they came up with the theory that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Again, because of their perception,
this was accepted as the truth. But is it “the truth”? NO! Science has taught us through sending satellites with cameras into space that the sun is the center of the universe and the earth is revolving around it, tilted on its axis. See the difference in truth and perception?

Don’t let anyone’s “perception” of you and your relationship with God make you question the truth. The truth of the matter is you are God’s child. You were created in God’s wonderful image and likeness. God loves you with an unconditional love. He created you and knew who you are and would become before you were in your mother’s womb. And when it comes to God’s love for you, NOTHING can separate you from it. Remember, faith is the key to pleasing God. Faith is the key to being saved. Determine for yourself, are you gonna believe “the truth” as God reveals it to you in your life, or somebody else’s “perception” of it?


Operation: REBIRTH

Since 2004, I have been proudly working in social justice ministry.  Being the co-founder of Operation:  REBIRTH (www.operationrebirth.com) has been a joyous (and sometimes frustrating) labor of love.  Over the years, I’ve been blessed to meet hundreds of people, speak on countless panels, conduct workshops, appear at book signings and preach at churches all over the country.  I have been adamant that Operation: REBIRTH would not be an organization, but a movement whereby homophobia is defeated, and justice reigns for all people.

The first thing we did with Operation: REBIRTH was to call the churches who preach and practice homophobia to the carpet in hopes of creating dialogue that would bring the community together so much needed healing could begin.  We learned early on that as marginalized people, if we are ever going to make ground in claiming our rightful places we will have to work together to make it happen.  Unfortunately, the church seems to be uninterested in embracing diversity.  So, Operation: REBIRTH took the stance that we would support the LGBT affirming or “radically inclusive” churches to build.  Once again we found that in most cases, the affirming churches were more interested in building big churches vs. building strong communities.

So, here we are in 2011.  After years of not updating the O.R. website, we are still seeing thousands of hits per month.  We are still getting hundreds of emails from all over the world asking for support, pleas for prayer, and asking if there is anything we can do to help people gain momentum in their communities.  We are proud to say we have helped people and are still regarded as leaders in the fight to kill homophobia and injustice.  Me and my partner in crime are amazed that something started seven years ago is still relevant work.  And no matter how badly we wanted to just let it go and be whatever it has been, we can’t.  The need for Operation: REBIRTH is too great.  This is something that is bigger than we thought it would be.  The work is bigger than us.

So, as co-founder of this profound movement, I would like to reiterate that YOU are Operation: REBIRTH!  I also ask what are you doing… what work CAN you do to help take the movement further?  What can you do to make Operation: REBIRTH a living and breathing organism, and not just a website or group on Facebook?  And since “silence equals consent”, what is your voice saying?

I promised GOD that I would honor the ancestors and the loved ones I’ve lost over the years by fighting the good fight of faith by empowering as many people as I could to lift their voices and cry out against injustice or abuse in any form.  Join with me and countless others all over the world.  Together, we can continue the legacy of those who came before us and make the world a better place for those following in our footsteps.


Realness

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES, AND MAY THE BEST WOMAN WIN!

RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite shows on television.  Anyone who knows me will be able to attest to that fact.  I’m always intrigued by the Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent that most drag queens possess.  Their being able to transform and create the female illusion is the ultimate for me.  One of my favorite contestants this past season was Mariah Balenciaga.  HUN-T WAS FIERCE!!!  Mariah captured everything that is femininity and presented it with class, elegance and REALNESS.  To me, she pays true homage to the feminine.  To me, the realness factor is paramount.

One thing most drag queens have is quick whit and sharp tongues.  It’s really an endearing quality.  And I love the ones who “keep it real”.  Keeping it real, one would assume would be defined as one always having the courage to be truthful, to walk in integrity.  “Realness” would be a good thing.  In a perfect world, whether in full geech or in real life, being able to truly serve realness should be something we all aspire to.  But more often than not, like good drag, what is perceived as “realness” is just an illusion.  For some people, their realness is just as deep as the makeup and costumes they would wear to lipsinc for their lives.

In this day and age, it seems like people actually prefer illusion to realness.  What does it say about us?  Have people become so jaded that we’d rather present and celebrate illusions than living authentic lives?  Has “keeping it real” become an illusion itself?

Too often in gay culture, we see people say and do mean and hurtful things to other people.  It’s normal.  In fact the arrogance and cattiness is expected and seen as just a part of being gay.  But does it really have to be that way?  It’s one thing to read someone for pure filth because they are coming for you and you haven’t sent for them… that’s merely self defense.  But it’s quite another to just be mean and hateful.

Usually the mean and hateful queens are truly insecure little boys (or girls) who are trying to present the illusion that they are grand.  People who are ALWAYS in “reading mode” or are always catty are trying to hide something.  They are trying to hide the fact that what they are presenting is not reality.  In fact, their reality is too hard for THEM to deal with, so they treat others badly trying to make themselves feel better about their own lives.  It’s really sad when you think about it.  When it’s easier for a person to attempt to live their illusion than present a real person to the world, there’s a big problem.  It’s dangerous for the lines of realness and illusion to be blurred.

One thing about drag, when it’s done well, it’s very entertaining.  Being able to serve realness is indeed a beautiful thing.  And from what I understand, one can make MAD coins.  But when the music stops, when the deejay and the crowd goes home, and the lights go out, the illusion stops and real life begins.  Sure, we all have a persona that we present to the world.  Thing is, what we present to others should be the real us, not an illusion or a character we’ve created.  If one truly has the courage, keeping it real is more beautiful than any illusion will ever be.  If only more people understood that.

In the classic movie “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, the late Ms. Vida Boheme taught us one valuable lesson that everyone must learn to live… REAL queens always use their powers for good, and in every situation, seek out the opportunity to help others.  THAT my dear, is better than the best illusion.  It’s realness at its finest.


Cabin Trip

This weekend I am out on a retreat in the mountains.  Me and Hubz in a luxury log cabin, and the view outside our bedroom makes me celebrate how BIG GOD must be.  It’s just so quiet out here.  No sounds of the city, no sirens, no trains, no traffic… just peace.

Last night, it was so dark outside with no street lights or anything to illuminate the roads.  In fact, it was so dark it made trying to drive through the mountains to reach the cabins very dangerous.  No guard rails or anything to keep you on the road should you swerve or take one of the too many curves too fast.  And it was so quiet my spirit couldn’t help but be quiet and rest.

This morning, WAY before I wanted to wake up, I went out and walked Lady Savannah, and for the first time, I felt dew between my toes. There must be at least 100 types of trees right out here.  All of them speaking to how glorious diversity is.  If only human beings could learn how to live and thrive together like the trees.  The sun seems to shine a little bit brighter out here than in ATL.  All the colors I see just seem so vivid.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  Breathing and relaxing seems to be a lot easier.

Right now, in this moment, looking at all the trees and the mountains, allowing myself to take in all this nature, I am in awe and asking GOD, “What lesson am I supposed to learn from all this?  What are you going to teach me”?   I am hearing Spirit say, “Uncover your light.  Uncover your light”.

Inside me lies the same power that spoke into darkness and created everything that I am seeing here.  I can create not just beautiful things that speak to the spirit, but entire environments that can inspire and bring peace.  Somehow the light within that makes all that happen has been covered.  Though covered, I’m thankful and relieved to know it’s still there.


Liberation

It’s not an act of liberation to lead a person

From one plantation to another and “call” them free

Yet it seems that is exactly what religion has done so effectively

People put a new spin on old dogma and “call” it liberating theology

The leaders and the people who follow it without question

Are bound in the worst type of slavery

Slaves unaware they live so unashamedly

Thinking they are free living lives without real integrity

Not knowing that if they continue in it

They will be destroyed in entirety

For slavery destroys all who participate in it

Slavery destroys all who participate in it

Slavery destroys all who participate in it

Slavery destroys all who participate in it

 

Truly liberated people do not

Or cannot lord over another

In an attempt to control their

Thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, or money

Truly liberated people understand the essence

Of love and truth

Both are free

Therefore they are free-ing

They exist without bondage

And bring liberty to those who seek and walk in them

Truly liberated people only seek

To free others in the name of God

The Great Emancipator who made them free

From the beginning

 

From “Little Brown Boy’s Blues.”  Get your signed copy at http://www.tuanngai.com

 


Relevance

I no longer feel comfortable with organized religion. It’s nothing against Christianity as an ideal or any religion for that matter.  It’s just, I feel that the black church as we know it is either dead or on life support at best, and there is no need to resuscitate.  I am at a point in my life where after doing research, and living most of my life within the institution, I am beginning to wonder, other than being a quick moneymaker for people with pimp mentality, is the church really relevant?  Is the black church as we know it really relevant as far as building communities of strong people?

The church has become a social network I’ve often called a “religious country club/cult of personality.  I think one of the easiest ways for a black man with any type of charisma or leadership ability to get credibility is to say he’s a pastor.  Nowadays is not just good enough to be a pastor, you have to be a Bishop or Apostle.  That’s where we get into the danger, because if all these young men and women who are “called” to be bishops and apostles, and they are not going to do anything different, but continue the sickness they’ve been taught, what good is it to anybody to have a church on every corner, led by bishops and/or apostles who have twelve members each?

And this is not just a problem with the mainstream church.  It’s the problem with these so-called gay affirming churches as well.  They look like Church of God in Christ, they sound like the Apostolics, they behave like Catholics and Baptists, they have your methods like the Methodists, but the only thing different is, “over here it’s okay for people to say that they’re gay.” You can come to church with your lover and not be judged.  Other than that, they’re just like the churches they came from.   So are they really doing any good?  Or are they just continuing the same emotional and spiritual damage that the mainstream church has been perpetrating for so long?

For many of us who have fled the mainstream church to find sanctuary in the churches on the margins, the most hurtful experiences we’ve had in church is at the hand of gay clergy. When the oppressed becomes the oppressor, they are more dangerous than the person who oppressed them.  It’s sad to think we’re no different from the white slave owners who oppressed and abused our ancestors in the name of GOD.  And we think we are really doing a good thing!

I think the church at its core, at its very foundation was evil from the get-go.  Don’t think for a moment that you can get good fruit from a bad tree. The things that are taught, and how scripture is manipulated is so damaging that the effects are irreversible.  The organized church has had every opportunity to evolve into a place of social responsibility. Clergy has had every chance to preach and live the truth.  Ministers have Sunday after Sunday to teach how we ALL are inextricably connected to GOD as our life force, and that is what makes us equal.  Yet consistently we hear false religious rhetoric while people die hungering and thirsting for the truth.

All my life, I’ve tried to be that nice, politically correct Christian guy that that tried to work within the system. I wanted to be a part of it, but the more I tried to fit in, the more they push back and say I don’t fit in.  In fact, the only way I could fit in is to do what they say, as they say it, how they say it, and deny myself.   What I got from the mainstream church is that I’m going to hell.  Yet I could serve in the church, and I could sing in the choir.  But in the end, because I’m openly a same gender loving man, and I refuse to “turn from my wicked ways,” I’m going to hell.  In my experience, the affirming Church has been even more elitist. It’s more classist.  To some extent, it’s worse than the mainstream church because you can’t even go to an affirming church and serve in ministry unless you are “qualified.”

Can the church really preach liberation without living social justice?  The church really doesn’t believe that everybody is created equal, and everybody can experience liberty in Jesus as they are if it doesn’t.  Look at how they don’t want to engage either the unchurched or people who don’t necessarily believe like they believe.  Church folks often don’t want to have seemingly difficult conversations with people who at their core that gays and lesbians are going to hell.  They are more comfortable preaching to the choir and surrounding themselves with people who think like them, act like them, and talk like them.  If the church is going to make any ground toward true liberation for all people, it cannot be afraid to engage people who believe differently.  If we could learn to communicate with one another, we might discover that our differences are not meant to separate us, but be teacher to us.  We may find that we are more alike than we are different.  Then we will be able to work together to heal the ills of our community and continue in the great legacy our ancestors left for us.

There is just something my grandfather used to say when I asked him I told him that I was called to preach.  He said, “you know when you are called to ministry when you cannot help it.  You try to run from it like Jonah but something inside you won’t let you go.  Your desire is to serve people and show them the love of GOD.”  The church has to go back to the place where we are asking the world, “How can I help you?” instead of saying “you’re going to hell unless you convert.”  Sometimes, I think we miss our blessing by standing in judgement in an attempt to make ourselves feel important and trying to be right.  The real joy of ministry is having the opportunity to serve people.  Our joy is in trying to enrich the lives of everyone we meet by showing them the love of GOD.  The church, affirming churches and mainstream alike, has the opportunity to really change the world for the better.  Hopefully, it will not die before realizing its true calling.