Monday, March 5, 2018


Back in the fall of 2011, I attended the New Students Orientation with my classmates from the Lancaster Theological Seminary. It was a “memorable” weekend (actually 36 hours) for several reasons, but two of them stick out. The first was my roommate for the event told me he was homophobic, and I responded that he had no need of worrying about my being interested in him, for he was not old enough, rich enough, or white enough to attract my attention. The second was a team-building exercise, and each team had to decide who they wanted to be in the tribe.

I decided that I wanted to be the secret-keeper. I chose that role because it was one that I was very accustomed to, because friends have, for as long as I can remember, have told me their secrets, and I have kept them for the most part. Actually, I have only violated a confidence once, and it was between two people who were secret lovers (or so they thought), and I said something stupid. We’re all friends again, thank goodness.

I wanted to be the secret-keeper because, as I explained to my classmates, knowing others secrets gave me a sense of power over those who were above me in the political/social strata during this exercise. And I believed that. I practiced that. It worked. I was able to help undermine the leader of my tribe (who needed to be undermined, I must declare).

And while that may be admirable in soap operas or team building exercises, being in possessions of others secrets does not convey power, but is stressful and, if I am honest with myself, draining. Having people tell you their deepest, darkest secrets, because they can no longer bear them alone, weakens you, for you can’t tell anyone, especially when it is damaging to the person who tells you.

But that’s what I signed up for when I accepted the call to ministry. And it’s a burden, but it is one that I can bear, for I honestly believe that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

But, for real, it ain’t easy.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Thanks, But I'll Pass

So I am going to probably lose my black card over this*, but I don't want to see the Black Panther movie, for one specific reason - there is no one who looks like me in it.

Now, when I say that, yes, there are all black folks in it, but once again, queer black men are erased on the screen. I get that it is a movie that is good for black folks overall, but at the expense of deleting  people like me.

So before you say "But 'Moonlight'"...yes, amazing film that represented some gay black men won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It only took nearly 75 years for a queer black movie to get any traction in the world of Oscar. Yay...and the movie was a coming of age movie with a drug dealer as a secondary protagonist. Yay.

However, in this movie that is supposed to be so uplifting to all black people everywhere, gay men like me - or gay men in general - are conspicuously absent from this story. Maybe we don't exist in Wakanda. Maybe we just don't exist. But I DO exist, and I want to see some positive depictions of people who look like ME on screen.

So, I will send the children in my world to see the film, because their mothers have said they need to see it. My nephews will revel in a movie that makes them the hero. They will see a movie that empowers their mothers. They will see a project that is good for their self esteem.

Too bad they won't see their uncle on the screen. So thanks, but I'll pass.

*I actually lost my black card for listening to yacht rock, but I might lose my "invited to the cookout" or "he can't have any of the brown liquor at the party"card. Thank goodness I own my own grill and am more than able to pay for my own Henny.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Totally Unacceptable!

I have made no secret about my dislike of the current occupant of the Oval Office. I have been genuine of my dislike about his personality and actions, and like many others, have questioned whether he is playing a part in the Wizard of Oz, specifically the Scarecrow ("If I only had a brain.")

As of today, however, I realize I have miscast him in my reimagined telling of Frank Baum's timeless tale. This man is the Tin Man - he has no heart.

I have watched as he systematically picked on people he believes occupies a lower status than he, whether it's a disabled reporter, or a political adversary, or a former business associate, or a close trusted aide. I winced as he has turned the political process into a literal mud pit, and has shown signs of becoming a second rate replica of a third world despot. I witnessed, I noted, and I bemoaned. However, what he proposed today makes me ill, and sad, and worried - not just about others who would be impacted, but for me.

The Administration formally announced on January 18, 2018, the formation of a new "civil rights division" within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allows discrimination against LGBT persons and pregnant women.

According to the Washington Post, the newly created division will be "responsible for handling complaints from health-care workers who do not want to perform a medical procedure like an abortion or assisted death because it violates their religious or moral beliefs... The new office called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, is seen by many as a win for conservative religious groups that complained President Barack Obama's administration did not prioritize religious freedom concerns. Critics, however, worry that the language is broad and could lead to discrimination."

That's the understatement of the year, and is totally unacceptable.

Imagine, if you will, an EMT refusing to provide critical assistance to a person because the injured is transgendered, and the person (and their body/identity) goes against their sincerely held religious beliefs. The person dies and their family files a civil rights complaint. If this office were to receive the  complaint, the EMT would be exonerated, because they were standing in their religious freedom.

A woman needs to terminate a pregnancy because she's been raped by her father, but her doctor believes that something good can come out of rape, and refuses to perform the legally available medical procedure. He will be perfectly fine, because, well, Jesus.

I call bullshit.

If you are a medical professional, then do your job. If your religious beliefs force you to deny service to people you don't agree with, then you might want to find another position. And for the love of all that is holy and righteous, PLEASE leave Jesus out of this, because I think he would tell you to "love your neighbor as yourself" and, I would hope, to "mind your own damned business."

And if you don't believe that the two scenarios I described could happen, talk to the families of Tyra Hunter, Shaun Smith, or any person denied treatment at Georgetown Medical Center because of their trans status. If you don't believe me, former Indiana State Treasurer (and US Senatorial Candidate) Richard Murdock believes that "God Intended Rape Pregnancies."

Be blessed, but more importantly, be a blessing.