Looking for a Spiritual Heart Center as a Cornbread Fed Black Queer Man
July 2, 2023at4:00 AM
Growing up in the era of #DontAskDontTell, especially in the church left me furious with God. Realizing I was Black and gay in my eighth-grade year birthed so many questions, desires, and terror. In my decades of memorable learning experiences within the Catholic faith, there was not one sermon or story of anyone having gender-affirming love for one another. So, I took to the gospels of E. Lynn Harris, the Advocate, Men’s Health Magazine (for the articles, obviously…LOL), and the streets of AOL and Yahoo Messenger for safe spaces to unpack the curiosities and anxieties that resided within me.
I could never let go of the fact that Jesus went radio silent during his teenage years. How could the authors of the #goodbook miss those years unless there was some salacious underbelly of a story behind those years? Was Jesus having endless flings in streets of Jerusalem with some Gentile twinks that took a blood pact to hide? Could our main guy leave this world without experiencing wet dreams or a wank off with his boys?
The absence of these critical answers and role models in my biblical lessons left me with feeling trapped with the same terrorism that millions of my gay brothers and sisters have struggled with for lifetimes…that God did…in fact made a mistake when they (yes…I am intentionally gendering God as a he/she/they/them because I believe God shows up to us in an aesthetic we can appreciate on these rough ass non-Lifetime movie streets…LOL) created us.
On the other side of my God-intervened suicide attempt, I still sought safety within communities that were predatory, prejudiced, or just effin scared or aloof. My prayer soaked tears of making me hetero and normal were never answered. And I came to realize that this six foot three cornbread fed Southern gentleman would arise to stardom as a Black queer phenom who gets God laughing and smiling and proud of my decision to be a positive role model to the world we live in.
During my evolution as a Christian adult who has studied within the Catholic, Pentecostal, and now African Methodist Episcopal faiths, I have yet to find community that nurtures the spiritual nerve center of my being. For Black queer men, finding spirituality and a sense of community within the church can be challenging. The intersection of our identities as both Black and LGBTQ+ can often lead to exclusion and discrimination.
As I head into the next season of my life as a fiancée and future first gentlemen of the church (Chile, I am marrying a man of the cloth…I know we need plenty of drinks to unpack all of that, honey!), I carry a deep resistance within me to take space in communities that just tolerate or ignore us. As a networker and connector, I found it important to find community where all of who we are will be embraced and loved.
For those of us who have done some Facebook, Google, and IG searching and have found a brave space where you can authentically lean into the very necessary conversations pulling at the spiritual heart centers of your being, there are resources available to help Black queer men find support, guidance, and acceptance within the church. Here are five resources that Black queer men can utilize to help them with spirituality and the church community:
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM) is a global organization that provides support, resources, and community for LGBTQ+ people and allies within the church. TFAM was founded by Bishop Yvette Flunder, a Black queer woman who has been a leader in the LGBTQ+ faith community for over 30 years. TFAM has over 100 affiliated ministries worldwide and offers training, spiritual retreats, and networking opportunities for Black queer men and other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Believe Out Loud is a program of Intersections International, a nonprofit organization that works to promote justice, peace, and reconciliation. Believe Out Loud provides resources and support for LGBTQ+ people of faith, including a directory of welcoming and affirming churches, theological reflections, and advocacy tools. Black queer men can use this resource to find a church community that is inclusive and accepting of their identities.
The Reformation Project (TRP) is a Bible-based organization that works to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion within the church. TRP provides resources, training, and support to individuals and organizations that seek to create a more inclusive church community. Black queer men can use TRP's resources to learn how to navigate difficult conversations with church leaders and family members, as well as to connect with other LGBTQ+ people of faith.
Queer Virtue is a book written by Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman, an Episcopal priest and LGBTQ+ activist. The book explores the intersection of queer identity and Christian faith, and offers a new perspective on what it means to be both queer and spiritual. Black queer men can use this resource to gain insight and inspiration as they navigate their own spiritual journeys.
Transfaith is a nonprofit organization that provides support, resources, and advocacy for transgender and gender non-conforming people of faith. Transfaith offers spiritual retreats, online support groups, and educational resources for LGBTQ+ people and their allies. Black queer men can use Transfaith's resources to connect with other members of the LGBTQ+ faith community who share similar experiences and identities.
Considered a leader of the next generation of Dharma teachers, Lama Rod Owens has a blend of formal Buddhist training in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and life experience that gives him a unique ability to understand, relate and engage in a way that spacious and sincere. He invites you into the cross-sections of his life as a Black, queer male, born and raised in the South and heavily influenced by the church and its community. Admittedly, I felt seen when I read and re-read this text this year.
In conclusion, while it can be challenging for Black queer men to find acceptance and community within the church, there are resources available to help them navigate their spiritual journeys. Sending you all the love, light, and fairy dust you need to live a life of meaningful liberation.