Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gay, Christian, African American

You do know that I am not of any faith....

Of course you do. I say that often enough, so that I am not confused …. or others not to be confused by my take on things. I don't like the walls that thinking puts round one's mind.

But, at the same time, I am acutely aware of the role of religion in other kuchu's lives. Whether it is in Uganda, or elsewhere.
Anyway, I accept the fact that I may not believe, but others believe. And those who are gay like me find lots of problems reconciling their beliefs with their sexuality. Good news, there are not mutually exclusive, as the likes of the Catholic, Pentecostal, and Anglican churches and mosques in Uganda would have one believe.

But, it is a huge but. Growing up in a place like Uganda, you hear what the 'men of god' preach with little thought that they may be wrong. So, many will go through this journey again, and again.

They come to me, asking the questions. I know my answers. I do not know the answers that they will find. But, I know the poison from the real food. Or, at least I think I know.

So, when I saw this article, of an African American, conservative, and yes GAY man, I was really thrilled. His journey is not mine, nor do I hope for one like it. But, his thinking was good. And, he had the charisma which the likes of Orombi and Ssempa use to gay bash Ugandan Kuchus.

The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard minister, theologian and author who announced that he was gay a generation ago and became one of America’s most prominent spiritual voices against intolerance, died on Monday in Boston. He was 68.
One can read into the Bible almost any interpretation of morality, Mr. Gomes liked to say after coming out, for its passages had been used to defend slavery and the liberation of slaves, to support racism, anti-Semitism and patriotism, to enshrine a dominance of men over women, and to condemn homosexuality as immoral.

And, Apartheid in South Africa.

He was a thundering black Baptist preacher and for much of his life a conservative Republican celebrity who wrote books about the Pilgrims, published volumes of sermons and presided at weddings and funerals of the rich and famous. He gave the benediction at President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration and delivered the National Cathedral sermon at the inauguration of Reagan’s successor, George Bush.

And the moment of coming out.

Then, in 1991, he appeared before an angry crowd of students, faculty members and administrators protesting homophobic articles in a conservative campus magazine whose distribution had led to a spate of harassment and slurs against gay men and lesbians on campus. Mr. Gomes, putting his reputation and career on the line, announced that he was “a Christian who happens as well to be gay.”

When the cheers faded, there were expressions of surprise from the Establishment, and a few calls for his resignation, which were ignored. The announcement changed little in Mr. Gomes’s private life; he had never married and said he was celibate by choice. But it was a turning point for him professionally.
And, that moment of coming out, like for most of us kuchus, was a turning point.

it was a turning point for him professionally.

I now have an unambiguous vocation — a mission — to address the religious causes and roots of homophobia,” he told The Washington Post months later. “I will devote the rest of my life to addressing the ‘religious case’ against gays.”

He was true to his word. His sermons and lectures, always well attended, were packed in Cambridge and around the country as he embarked on a campaign to rebut literal and fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. He also wrote extensively on intolerance.

Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant,” he declared in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 1992. “Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert.”

In his 1996 best seller, “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” Mr. Gomes urged believers to grasp the spirit, not the letter, of scriptural passages that he said had been misused to defend racism, anti-Semitism and sexism, and to attack homosexuality and abortion. He offered interpretations that he said transcended the narrow context of modern prejudices.

The Bible alone is the most dangerous thing I can think of,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “You need an ongoing context and a community of interpretation to keep the Bible current and to keep yourself honest. Forget the thought that the Bible is an absolute pronouncement.”

But Mr. Gomes also defended the Bible from critics on the left who called it corrupt because passages had been used to oppress people. “The Bible isn’t a single book, it isn’t a single historical or philosophical or theological treatise,” he told The Seattle Gay News in 1996. “It has 66 books in it. It is a library.”

Oh yes, he was a radical conservative. A thinker, challenged by his sexuality, and willing to put his brains to work on that question.

And, I hear it is tough being gay and African American...... ! He had risen from his humble beginnings. But, he didnt abandon his faith.

Makes me think that there is still hope out there.

Have a great day.



Leonard said...

It´s the way that see things that makes the world be things.


Karen said...

I am thankful that I was able to hear him speak a few years ago. His death is a great loss.

F Young said...

"Makes me think that there is still hope out there."

I'd be a lot more hopeful if I had actually heard of Rev. Peter J. Gomes.

Why are gay-friendly Christians so damn quiet? By their silence, they let the loud hateful preachers speak for all Chritianity.

Erp said...

But who gives them a podium to be heard? They aren't the televangelists or the prosperity gospellers raking in the money and using it to give themselves a yet bigger voice. I know of Peter Gomes and of Gene Robinson and of Desmond Tutu (not gay but gay-friendly). I've heard Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (the largest Lutheran group in the US) speak in support of gays. Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, has also spoken and acted in support and been denounced by others (including Henry Orombi, head of the Anglican Church in Uganda).

I know of local clergy who stand in the protests in support of gay rights or preach it from the pulpit. But their pulpits are not in the mega-churches.

If you know where to look you can find them (though it takes a bit longer if one is a humanist such as myself instead of a Christian). Just as you can find those willing to speak out against creationism or for rights for women or immigrants (legal and illegal).

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