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.
Operation: REBIRTH has asked the Coalition of African-American Pastors to attend a September 5th meeting to discuss unifying the Black Community and how Marriage Equality is being used to split the Black vote. A petition is also in circulation to raise awareness about the issue.
It is important now more than ever that we, the African-American community, not be divided over our diversity, but that we unify on the issues that make us the same. The significance of this meeting is crucial in that it will show those who are profiting from sowing seeds of discord to further their own political agenda, that they will not be allowed to manipulate our community in this manner.
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.
Who knew that having a black President of the United States would wake up Amerikkka’s true feelings? For years, where racial slurs and “off color” comments about race were consideredpolitically incorrect and downright ignorant, to speak hate speech is now allowed because it’s our “constitutional right”.
Now that the Congressional Black Caucus and other supposed civil rights organizations have had their fill of the racist kool-aid, what’s next? I’ll tell you… the senseless killing of black men in the streets of the “greatest country on earth” and not even leading blacks are saying anything about it.
According to police, early on the morning of June 26th, James Craig Anderson, a 49 year-old African-American auto plant worker in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, was set upon by a group of white teenagers who beat him while screaming “White Power.” Then one of them got behind the wheel of a Ford F250 green pickup and ran Anderson over, killing him. And what did the the 7 white boys get? NOTHING! The ring leader is out of jail on house arrest AFTER an area pastor told police this sort of thing would happen if he wasn’t taken off the streets. The 2nd hatemonger was charged with only simple assault. And the rest? Well, we have yet to hear about what will happen to them.
Where the hell is Al Sharpton, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, the CBC, NAACP? I guess the kool-aid they’re drinking is spiked with some BS that has them asleep now. Or maybe the photo ops aren’t big enough for them to say anything about this case. They sure didn’t think the POTUS being referred to as a “tar-baby” was important.
But then again, why should they? They have arrived. They are the leading blacks. And no matter how passionate or apathetic they appear to be on camera, black folks will eat up whatever they say. It wouldn’t surprise me if they are being paid by Republikkkans to say nothing. And they have the nerve to wonder why this generation coming up has no respect whatsoever for them or what they claim to stand for.
I’m not discounting the work they’ve done. I’m not even saying they haven’t done good for Black America or the country as a whole. I AM saying that the struggle isn’t over. And since these people have been elected and/or anointed “black leaders” they are OBLIGATED to continue to speak out against hate speech and violence against people of color. If not, they need to pass the torch to people who can and will stand up for justice. My late grandmother would say “shit, or get off the pot”!
To the CBC, NAACP, NAN, NBJC and all the other “civil rights organizations” who have a national platform I ask, “How many more James Craig Andersons have to be run over and murdered before you say anything? Or does your silence equal consent?
SEE THE VIOLENT VIDEO OF THE MURDER HERE… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbMsZM-eO4