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.
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.