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.
Did he ever come out as gay or bisexual? Did he ever say anything more than, “I was in love with a man”? Is his courageous transparency about his personal life his way of reaching out to young people who are dealing with issues surrounding their sexuality? Is he a trailblazer who is changing the rabidly homophobic landscape of hip hop and R&B music? Is he being forced to be a “gay role model”? Was he simply just creatively telling his story, or is all of the hubbub over this cd a clever marketing plan called “Say you’re bi, and queers will buy”?
Personally, I appreciate Frank’s artistry, his creativity and his courage. I applaud his lyricism. I celebrate his being open and honest about such a personal experience. It takes a level of intestinal fortitude most black men don’t have. In a social climate where hyper-masculinity abounds, and outright hatred and disrespect for anything feminine outside of meeting the sexual needs of irrationally afraid little boys in men’s clothes, Frank Ocean made a move that for many would ruin their careers.
But for me, it’s hard to tell if Mr. Ocean is truly an artist who has a message. I suppose I will just have to wait and see what happens after all the fairy dust settles. I’d like to think this talented young man lives his life with boldness and integrity. It would be refreshing to find out that there are prominent people in the hip hop and R&B music scenes, who when around their fellow artists, will stand up and check them on their ignorant homophobia. He could actually be knocking down the walls that have kept people like Mz. Fontaine. Katastrophe, DaLyrical, Tori Fixx, Deep Dickollective, Deadlee and countless others from experiencing main stream acceptance for being brilliant artists.
Me being me, I have to question if Frank Ocean’s “I was in love with a man” revelation him just being authentically Frank, or if he is being used by a clever marketing machine to pimp the LGBTQ community for their dollars.
It’s been argued that the first time homosexuals, or homosexual acts are addressed in the New Testament is in Romans the 1st chapter (mainly verses 26 and 27). That is if you disregard the two occasions that eunuchs are mentioned (sorry, that’s another Bible Study). And like other scriptures, this one has been misinterpreted, taught in error, and caused much spiritual and emotional harm to same gender loving people.
The thing most people who erroneously teach this scripture seem to forget is, when interpreting scripture, you cannot just take one or two verses of a chapter, build a sermon, teach it as “God’s Word” and live it as a doctrine. You have to carefully see what the scripture (and all others relating to it) is saying. It’s been advised that we read the chapter before, and after the chapter we are studying so that we can get some type of contextual view of what the author was talking about. In this case, we are dealing with Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. In fact, the text in verse 7 says it…”my dear friends in Rome” (New Living Translation). Since that’s who he was addressing, we have to infer that he was dealing with their situation. Am I saying that he couldn’t have any relevant truth for 21st Century America? Not at all. I AM saying that if we are going to correctly interpret what is being said, we need to understand that first and foremost, who Paul was addressing was 1st Century Rome. Let’s take a closer look and find out what that truth is.
The first thing we need to address is the cultural climate of biblical Rome. It was a societal norm for people to be bisexual. And with that being the “normal” sexuality that society ascribed to, it was expected for everyone to be that way. Since now we know that all people aren’t bisexual (in fact most are heterosexual), we can understand how pressured a heterosexual or homosexual person would be to engage in acts that weren’t “natural” for him or her. The definition of the word “natural” in this text comes from the Greek word “phusikos”, meaning instinctive or native disposition. If a person is a native to some place, they were born there. So, a native disposition would be how a person is born. The word “nature” in this text likewise comes from the Greek word “phusis”, which means production or lined descent; growth by germination, or native disposition. Just keep “instinctive/native disposition” in mind.
When Paul talks about the “natural use” of the woman, he is coming from several different places. First from a place of male dominance that thought that the only use a woman has is having babies to continue the man’s lineage. That’s all. A woman was a man’s property (paid for with a dowry)…his “baby maker” per se. So any sexual deviation that would produce offspring was not looked upon favorably. In fact, not until this century did some in the church start teaching that sex had more that just a procreative purpose.
Secondly, Paul was coming from a sexual orientation angle. He was not making a blanket statement of what is and isn’t “natural”. He couldn’t have been. Science has proven that in all species of animals, homosexuality is present (ref. “Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity” by Bruce Bagemihl). So, since homosexuality occurs in nature, it cannot be considered unnatural. And since most people are instinctively heterosexual and that is their native disposition, it IS highly unnatural for one to do otherwise. In this scripture, Paul is telling the Romans that it is unnatural for a person to go against their “native disposition” or what is “instinct” for them and do something else with their bodies to fit in. Now, we can jump on the ex-gay and DL thing right here, but we don’t have the space or time. But do you get the point? If your nature is heterosexual, be that. If you are born homosexual, be that. If you indeed are bisexual, then that’s you. Don’t try to change who you are to fit societal norms. It’s like telling God that He made you the wrong way.
Next, Paul was dealing with some religious issues as well. Paul in fact is saying homosexual activity is not a sin, but a punishment for idol worship and faithlessness. It is a result of heterosexuals not worshipping God but His creation. Turning the truth into a lie. Denying God. His argument is, if a man (being straight) is SO confused and faithless that he cannot discern who God is when creation even tells of His existence, then it’s not so far fetched that that same man (being straight) would be confused sexually and do what is unnatural for him to do. These verses couldn’t be an blanket indictment against homosexuality in that most of the most highly anointed, profound, gifted, talented, and FAITHFUL Christians are homosexual people.
Finally, Paul was dealing with what was going on in Rome from the standpoint of a Jew. There were just some things that were not customary or “natural” for a good Jew to do. Not to say that there are no homosexual Jews, there are. But one must remember that Paul was a very well educated and respected man in his time. He was a good Jew who knew and tried his best to live by “the law” according to the Torah. So to be in another land (not native to Israelites) and submerged into another culture (Rome) trying to live according to how Jews “customarily” or “normally” lived, it must have been hard to do since the society was so different.
So, is Romans 1.26-27 a blanket indictment against homosexuals? With the information we have, we can say no. Paul was more than likely addressing cultural, religious, and orientation issues in this scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, the theme of this text isn’t homosexuality. In fact it isn’t about sexuality at all. It’s about people keeping in mind who God is. It’s about understanding that humanity is without excuse when it comes to reverencing God in that creation itself tells of His glory. It’s about understanding the truth and the fact that it comes from God. And lastly, it’s about not being judgmental or hypocritical. Remember when we said that one should study the chapter before and after the text being focused upon? Well, Romans Chapter 2.1-7 Paul gets on people who are pointing at those who have forgotten God and saying how wicked they are, yet are doing the same things. Bottom line, God judges sin. It doesn’t matter who you are. Make sure you are right with God for yourself. Let God handle the rest in His own way.
Southern Missionary Baptist Church
Attn: Pastor X. Thompson
4678 WestAdams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90016
I am writing you and the entire Southern Missionary Baptist Church family to express my concern about the misinformation that is being spread about California’s SB 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. This act is important to everyone as it gives our children the opportunity to learn that every community has contributed to the greatness of our society in diverse ways. Without this piece of legislation, we are all subject to our future being misinformed about the beauty of diversity.
When I look back over my own life and remember how in the public school system, I was taught that slavery “wasn’t all that bad” and being made to feel the contributions my ancestors made to our society weren’t really great, it makes me sad to think that there are African-American people like you and those you lead who would support the repeal of a law that makes that travesty the norm for our kids. It’s reprehensible that African-American people would support this immoral and racist agenda under the guise of standing up for morality.
As for “sexualizing history”… sir, nobody has said anything about sex but you and those who support your crusade. This law is CLEARLY about diversity in education. It’s important that our children know that our African-American ancestors who were slaves were NOT savages who were saved by the good Christian white people. They should know that the very Christianity you
preach and teach was forced upon our people after they were stripped their identity, language, culture, and religion so they could be controlled and enslaved mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s important that our children know that their Blackness, their Latin heritage, their Asian culture, and any other culture they may represent is not something that should divide us, but it’s what makes us beautiful and it should be celebrated. NOWHERE in this law is sexual behavior mentioned.
Contrary to your statements about homophobia, your stance on this issue IS homophobic. Homophobia is an irrational fear of homosexual people and the things related to theirlives. It is also a fear that one may indeed be homosexual. What’s so wrong
about our kids knowing that the organizer of the Civil Rights March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, was not just black but a same gender loving man? What’s wrong with our children knowing that people who are different from them can also be good people who do great things that change the world? Fearing that reality IS INDEED homophobic. Not only is that, to think and perpetuate the notion that all there is to same gender loving people is what they do in their bedrooms ridiculous. How dare we reduce an entire community to sex! It’s like saying all black people do is play sports, eat fried chicken and watermelon, have children out of wedlock and drain the economy of its resources with their laziness. Please remember that during the Reconstruction Era, black men were considered to be the greatest threat to white women, and black women were categorized as highly sexual. Black people as a whole were once reduced to sexual stereotypes.
Your act of asking those who support SB 48 to leave your church meeting was not only bigoted, and irrationally fearful, but
anti-Christian. When did Jesus (the one you are supposed to follow and imitate) EVER send anyone away from being close
to Him? I can’t find that in any Bible that I read. When did Jesus ever treat people that way?
My prayer for you is that GOD would open your heart and mind to see that what you are doing will have horrible consequences. Without SB 48, what’s to stop the government from mandating that ALL education relating to anything other than “American”
(or white) people is inappropriate and should never be taught in the classroom? What will that do to Native American History, Black History, Latin History, Asian History, being taught in the classroom? Whether or not we believe it, or accept it there are gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersexed and same gender loving people within ALL those
cultures. We all contribute greatness and beauty to our society. Who are we to rob our children of knowledge of that reality?
As co-founder of the OpREBIRTH movement (www.operationrebirth.com), I would like to invite you to further discuss this issue. We at OpREBIRTH are more than happy to have this conversation (not debate) with you in an effort to bring peace, heal this
divide, and to let the community know that we are more alike than we are different. At the end of the day, we all want the same things… to be loved, to be respected, and to be treated with fairness and equity. The only way we are going to grow as a people is if we stop being afraid of people who are not like us in every way. Now is the time that we stop being manipulated into letting our differences be used to divide us. We must stand together on the things that make us the same. It would be foolish for an entire generation to perish due to lack of knowledge, as a result of the fears and prejudice of people who should be teaching them how to love.
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?