The Attack of the Closeted Church Queens

The Attack of the Closeted Church Queens

Written by Sampson McCormick and originally published on The Advocate

I grew up Pentecostal Apostolic, where the saints proclaimed to be wrapped up, tied up, tangled up in Jesus, washed in the blood of Christ, and fire-baptized. They took the Bible literally and summed up their beliefs as “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Everything was about holiness. I spent many Sundays in that church listening to the pastor stand in the pulpit and rattle off a list of things off that could get you tossed into the lake of fire for eternity. Among the long list of “sins” – which seemed to fault people simply for being human – was the greatest of sins, and one that was unforgivable: being a homosexual.

I had no idea that I was one of the people he was referring to until one Sunday afternoon, during Elder Smith’s overly dramatic altar call, with the air stuffy and a broken air conditioner offering no relief from the July humidity. Elder Smith leaned forward over the congregation, tall and mighty from his pulpit, taking inventory of his exhausted but still very engaged congregation, as he bellowed, “I know it’s hot in here, and the air would be fixed if more of the saints paid their tithes and offerings … but if you think it’s hot in here, then you really gon’ be fanning your butt in hell!”

He would reference a “sin” and attach a Bible verse to it, while reminding the congregation that hell was much hotter. We had the chance to claim our salvation while the heat was at least bearable. I remember looking around hoping that folks would take him up on his offer so that they could join the rest of us in heaven, until the pastor lashed out, saying, “And nobody will have a hotter seat in the lake of fire than these nasty, sick, perverted homosexuals. You’re a boy, you don’t have no business kissing no boys!” That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks: Oh, shit. He’s talking about me. Oh, my God, I’m a homosexual.

I was about 13 years old, and I’d never done much sexually, but I knew something was different about me. I couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was, but that thing I knew was different about me made me think about kissing and behaving affectionately towards other boys. I felt ice in my fingertips and stood; my mother tapped my shoulder and nodded toward the pulpit. I remember feeling a certain guilt and shame as I took what seemed like a mile-long journey up to get the “gay demons” prayed off of me. After all, I didn’t want to disappoint Jesus and definitely didn’t want to go to hell.

I’ll never forget that pastor, looking at me as if he were staring at Satan face to face while he slung blessed oil in my direction saying he could see the homosexual spirits on me. A series of prayers were issued over me, and the pastor proclaimed that when I left the altar I’d be healed of homosexuality. During the walk back from the altar, I made eye contact with a very attractive junior deacon and felt the wave of heat and excitement wash over me that always did when I saw an attractive male. I figured that the healing hadn’t kicked in, and I managed not to feel guilty. I was torn for years, knowing I was being gay while praying for and expecting deliverance, until a series of events occurred that assured me I was OK and, most of all, the Lord definitely worked in mysterious ways. Of all those incidents, the most revealing was taking a trip to get an HIV test, where I ran into the pastor coming in for a test as I was leaving.

After sitting there and listening to him preach fire and damnation against folks for not only having sex before marriage but also being gay, seeing him stroll into Whitman-Walker Clinic (which caters primarily to LGBT people in the D.C. area) was telling. We made eye contact, but of course he made sure to avoid a conversation by never coming close enough to me to say anything — but what needed to happen happened, and the truth was revealed. From that day on, I developed an awareness of not only church hypocrisy in general but the fact that you can’t choose who you are attracted to, and that not all pastors practice what they preach despite encouraging their congregations to “give up ways of the flesh.”

Perhaps these are some of my biggest contentions with pastors like Bishop Eddie Long and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin. Long, the pastor of Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, was notorious for his homophobic sermons, where he stood in his pulpit and described gay sex as abominable and that men who used their penises to pleasure other men were violating God’s laws. In 2010 he was caught up in a scandal in which a group of young gay men came forward and shared very explicit details of intimate relationships they alleged they’d secretly had with the pastor in exchange for money, vacations, and gifts. The scandal nearly destroyed the church. However, the congregation rallied around the embattled megachurch pastor and swept whatever they could under the rug.

Not long after that, Donnie McClurkin appeared at the 2011 Church of God in Christ convention (which is basically like a black gay pride celebration) and urged the youth who might be struggling with homosexuality to come to the altar and be delivered. In tears, he cried out to the congregation that “the children are being lost and failed by the people in their generation.” This was in reference to singer B. Slade, formerly known as Tonex, a gospel singer, who had come out as gay. McClurkin, painting himself as the ex-gay poster child of the black church, issued a rebuke and called being gay a perversion of our youth and the church. McClurkin declared that if it hadn’t been for Christ, he himself would still be a homosexual. He even insinuated that young people’s sexuality is affected by fatherlessness. I listened to him and rolled my eyes so hard up in my head that I thought they’d be stuck that way. When they finally came back down, I watched in anger as young gay and lesbian people threw themselves on the altar — similarly to how I’d done back when I was in church, praying for Jesus to make me a heterosexual.

The funny thing is, I’d come in contact with two people who’d shown me evidence that this man, although preaching that everyone else should be “delivered,” was indulging in some of the same behavior and having the time of his life. A couple of years after that, McClurkin was still making antigay statements that were so awful that he was disinvited from a March on Washington memorial concert in Washington, D.C., in 2013. When the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality last year, McClurkin issued a statement of disgust and urged his church to “stand against all sin, and not bow [its] knee to it.”

Finally, this month, it was announced on TBN, a Christian TV network that McClurkin was engaged to gospel singer Nicole C. Mullen. Almost as soon as that statement was issued, it was retracted, and several gospel outlets apologized for sharing the information. Donnie released a video explaining that the couple needed more counseling before trying to move forward. I wonder why.

I’m bothered by all of the scenarios that I’ve laid out. First, that there are still women who would marry or even entertain the thought of marrying a gay man, especially a gay man who’s turned his self-hatred into a war on LGBT congregants and believers. It bothers me having friends, who are very aware of their homosexuality, pray for a cure while either abstaining or sneaking around and having sex, indulging in what’s genuinely natural to them, and feeling unloved by God. It bothers me that there are those who are fine with being LGBT and in relationships but still attend churches that bash gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people, staying because the music is good or they don’t want to attend a “gay” or affirming church because it’s too different. That’s like being in an abusive relationship where the motherfucker whoops your ass every week, but you stay because he makes good waffles and the sex is good. Honey, trust me, you can do better. I took my three LGBT dollars out of the tithe basket and walked out of that church a long time ago. I’m more emotionally and spiritually healthy because of it.

There are so many horrifying stories, like Andrew Chad Caldwell, who in 2014 proclaimed that he was “delivert” and he would no longer carry a purse, wear makeup, date men, or wear a bright yellow, frilly bow tie (shocker: he still digs men). Seeing our impressionable youth forced to suppress their sexuality saddens me. Many of these youth live in self-loathing and fear, isolation and terror, while these pastors and gospel singers go to these hotels and sex parties — sometimes held during church conventions — and indulge in the same behaviors. I think about the men who came out against Eddie Long and the pastor I saw when I was leaving from getting tested that day and the fact that any church you go to on a Sunday morning is full of gay men. We are pillars of our communities inside the church and out, while in many religious communities we face a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and hypocritical behaviors are overlooked. I wonder: what is it going to take for everybody to live in truth and all of us to simply be free?

 

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    • Mitch
      August 26, 08:03 Reply

      The trailer manage jam only few people yet you still dey find extra people wey e go jam abi? Winchi winchi ??

    • z
      August 26, 08:07 Reply

      Um……Kirk Franklin????????!!!!?????

  1. ambivalentone
    August 26, 06:21 Reply

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Well well. Ain’t this the proverbial afefe that opened the anus of the chicken. Biko, don’t teach anyone how to live their ‘gay’ lives o.
    As for the writer being bothered for the women who’d marry gay men, Abeg o. “Since the days of prophesy, women will fight over men saying- lay with me. Let me just bear ur child.” Guy our women are nothing but desperate individuals with low self-esteem pre-installed from heaven. As I have been told, so I shall tell you, ‘Mind your business!!!’

    • Pink Panther
      August 26, 07:41 Reply

      That self esteem that is low is reinforced by society.

      • ambivalentone
        August 26, 07:47 Reply

        Reinforced by society, made solid by some religion. I just actually paraphrased a bible verse back there.

        • Pink Panther
          August 26, 08:00 Reply

          Do tell. What scripture, what chapter, what verse? 🙂

          • Tiercel de Claron
            August 26, 09:18 Reply

            ‘And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.’. – Isaiah 4:1

            • Tiercel de Claron
              August 26, 09:27 Reply

              It isn’t just the ladies these days though.
              At the risk of starting a shitstorm here,one is pushed to say such is now found to be increasingly true of our bottom brothers.

              • Mandy
                August 26, 09:53 Reply

                TDC, the bit about our bottom brothers, can you explain what you mean exactly? What parallel are you drawing between them and women?

                • Tiercel de Claron
                  August 26, 10:26 Reply

                  ‘….only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.’
                  This parallel.

                  *sigh*
                  If you guys know how many propose/are willing to sign the Side chick contract,just to take away the reproach of ‘singlehood’ from them.Heck,they even draw up the contracts themselves,with very generous terms for the ‘husband’.Especially,guys in their mid-to-late twenties.Not just the bottoms,even vers guys too.
                  Makes one wonder,what’s this fear of clocking 30 bae-less all about?.Anyone know?.

                  @Mitch,you should know by now I don’t start what I cannot handle.

              • Mitch
                August 26, 10:00 Reply

                Bia, de Claron, you see that shitstorm. It will soon fall on your head. What’s it na? Why are you drawing a parallel between women and bottoms? What do they have in common?

            • Pink Panther
              August 26, 09:49 Reply

              Ah! Very illuminating with that verse.
              But really, dear God! :O

  2. Truth
    August 26, 07:12 Reply

    “We fall down, but we get back up”

    • Dennis Macaulay
      August 26, 07:43 Reply

      Hian Boda Max, I thought I was the president of the flip flop society? Do you wanna run against me in the next election cycle? ???

      • Mandy
        August 26, 07:47 Reply

        *holding my breath*
        *waiting for DM to be dragged by his edges*

      • Mitch
        August 26, 08:05 Reply

        Jisox! Mmadu ruo o na-achoghari okwu. When they come for you, Uncle DM, no run oh

        • Dennis Macaulay
          August 26, 08:31 Reply

          I will lift up my eyes to hills, from where cometh my help……???

  3. Mandy
    August 26, 07:49 Reply

    Werreminute though, the delivert guy has admitted that he’s still attracted to guys? Lmao. Oh wow. Good for him though. Better that confession coming from you than people catching him being so undelivert.

  4. Mitch
    August 26, 08:00 Reply

    This was on point. I remember 5th January 2014 when I came out for prayers in church fully decked in my choir robes. I was so conflicted and scared and all I wanted was to get delivered. Well, I did get delivered. I was delivered from my self hate, my self-loathing and most of all, looking up to the hypocritical fucktards who were leaders in church. Right now, I see all the politics and debauchery they’re involved in and all I do is shake my head and roll my eyes so hard whenever they come touting their anti-sin gospel.

    Bikonu, people should learn to love themselves for who they are, warts and all. That way, it’ll be very hard for anyone to play them or push them into the labyrinth of self destructive emotions.

    • Pink Panther
      August 26, 08:10 Reply

      People really should love themselves for who they are.
      Even society believes this and frequently touts it.
      The thing is, society believes people should love themselves the way society approves.

    • Delle
      August 26, 10:57 Reply

      Mitch the witch, I biakwa! How do you think someone can love himself with warts? Hian!

      • Mitch
        August 26, 11:24 Reply

        Save me, Jesus! Eez han hespreshon, Delle oh.

        But you already know that.

        • Delle
          August 27, 01:56 Reply

          Yes yes yes. It’s just so much fun pricking your backside…

  5. Mitch
    August 26, 09:10 Reply

    That, I believe, is the point of this post. Who gives one the right to choose or decide how best I can live MY LIFE? Look well, you’ll discover that the selfsame leaders of society that expect you to live your life by their set standards are actually flouting these standards. So who is fooling who?

  6. Delle
    August 26, 10:03 Reply

    That’s it- internalised Homophobia. The bane of our problems since 1073

  7. Klaus
    August 26, 11:17 Reply

    lmao! reminds me of a pastor back in a compound i stayed in school, he saw me watching straight porn on my laptop one day, came in and took everything, over 3gb worth of porn on his drive, the next two days, he came and started preaching how bad it is, and that he has deleted them and i should too….. wait for it.. few days later, he still came , and requested i send him these porn videos again!! lmaooo! that was the most shocking day of my life..

    or another gay guy i know, that’s always preaching and saying homosexuality is a sin, but still have gay sex at random… without condoms!

    or the married pastor i know that’s openly dating a widowed deaconess and no one sees anything wrong in this, my mom will say, they’re going to church to serve God, not the pastor, that whatever he does isn’t anyone’s business!

    or is it the alfa that was stalking me few years back? the hypocrisy called religion ehn! it’s just a big messy joke!

    • YOU-KNOW-WHO
      August 26, 13:54 Reply

      “or another gay guy i know, that’s always preaching and saying homosexuality is a sin, but still have gay sex at random… without condoms!”

      LMAO!! I don’t know why this cracked me up

  8. Klaus
    August 26, 11:21 Reply

    oooo, and did i say I’ve seen Donnie twice at experience concert and man!! he can twirl his hands like a diva! he’s a QUEEN!

  9. Viera
    August 26, 12:02 Reply

    Incase you meet a gay pastor or gospel one thing one thing be it singer,evangelist. Do your self a favor RUN AWAY
    They are yucky and demonic you will be shocked that hoes are better than them
    I’m talking from experience
    🙁 :d

  10. Viera
    August 26, 12:06 Reply

    ……
    One of them I know uses jinx to convert cute guys…
    another wants to get sucked anywhere
    another does threesone for a living apart from preaching of course
    the list goes on
    they think God’s grace covers them because they are chosen by him to preach his word
    I asked one are you sure God called you he said YES!..His only sin is being gay
    and hr commits the sin in a gross way even babalawo sef no get dat kind mind
    😮

  11. YOU-KNOW-WHO
    August 26, 13:58 Reply

    We all have our struggles.. Let he without sin cast the first stone. Don’t judge want you don’t understand.

    I serve God. I love God.. I’ll do anything for God. I am homosexual. I love boys. I can’t control the feeling. It’s a natural feeling. But I love God.

  12. GRÏM
    August 26, 15:23 Reply

    One thing’s sure, you can’t pray the gay away.

    • tame
      August 28, 00:11 Reply

      So true. Tried it once and I’m still gay. I jusy concluded no prayer can change who I am. I like boys!

      • EDOM JOHN
        August 28, 11:01 Reply

        i fought it so hard but I’m still the same. thank God i realized i don’t need to cos it’s just who I am

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