Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kim Burrell - The Uncomfortable Applause

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As a young boy growing up it was a requirement by my dad that all of his five children attend Sunday morning church service.    As a single parent there were things that my dad required and attending church was on the top of the list.   I enjoyed going to church as a boy for that was where I got to be with my maternal grandmother.    Big Mama was nurturing, loving and strong and I would fall asleep on her lap every Sunday.  The black Baptist church experience was amazing for it was where I fell in love with Christ.  However, as I got older I would hear various sermons, some more resonant in my memory than others.  I can’t remember when I heard my first sermon regarding what the ministers had determined as the ultimate sin, homosexuality.  As I got older and entered my teenage years I understood that these sermons were about me and how I felt for I began to discover that I was definitely not attracted to women.  My attention and affection was truly focused on the male species.  That time of my life was very confusing and difficult for I knew what I felt and it truly did not agree with what I was being taught.  God and I had many conversations about my feelings and he did not seem fit to “fix” me.   My teenage years were rough and life did not get any easier.  This struggle was real and I honestly saw no way to make my life better and contemplated ending it.  Not sure how I was going to do that but it was a thought on a few occasions.   
As I got older I had to come to the realization that if I was created by God in his image then he knew me and made me as I wanted.  While I had to listen to some family members  that did not agree with my sexuality I made the conscious decision to trust God and live as he had made me.  Once I made that choice, not easy, then I decided to go back to church but to one that did not use the pulpit to abuse you.  

A few days ago after hearing this sermon all those difficult nights of self-doubt and confusion seemed to flood my memories.   Once I heard about Kim Burrell’s demonstrative sermon I refused to give it any credit or exposure to the same old shit I have been hearing most of my life.  However, upon seeing the sermon and hearing the cheers and applause of those in attendance I began to think of how many people were in attendance that were like me.  Feeling totally ignored by God and misunderstood and told that they are surely going to hell for being who God made them to be.  Where does someone like that turn?  Who is going to love that young boy or girl without judgement to make them really feel special?    We will never know the long lasting internal emotional scars and lifelong damage those words will make on those struggling.  Will some of these individuals grow up to embrace all of who they are or will they go off to find ways to hide their sexuality by “adopting” to societal norms and pressure to appear to be heterosexual and living a life full of duplicity.   

I’ve wondered why ministers spew such hatred.  Why is safe sex relationships the only sin that gets major attention and such rousing support from so many in the church?  Have we in the LGBTQ communities made it very easy to be the Christian punching bag?   As these sermons are preached to such support the musical department of the church is being led by a gay man and those wonderful tenor voices are those of gay men.  We have been so conditioned to feel that this our lives have no value that we clap, sing and cheer.       

I think that some of the blame, if you will, can go to those LGBT individuals that sit is silence while the church continues to use the pulpit as a weapon.   It is amazing how some in LGBT community have come to Kim Burrell’s support.  Honestly at some point we have to understand the damage that is being done not only on this issue but several others that have been used to keep people in “their place”.  No one can convince me that this is of God.  The church has used the pulpit as a whipping post to damage so many people and at some point this has to stop.  I hope that the backlash that Kim Burrell has received is a testament that change in attitudes is on the horizon.