Sunday, December 5, 2010
If you can try to take yourself back to late September early October, you may remember the scandal that shook New Birth Baptist church here in Lithonia. You know, the one involving Bishop Eddie Long and four students’ suing Long for allegedly forcing them into sexual acts. The evidence is startling; the boys have text messages, pictures of Long in tight fitting clothes and not to mention his summer camp he hosts for the male youth of his congregation. What is even more startling is the cultural stigma that has oppressed many Queer black people. Some of our communities openly claim their homophobia and teach their children to do the same like Bishop had done for many years. Jamilah King requotes Julian Bond the former NAACP Chair from his Georgia Voice interview:
“[Long] said that homosexuality is worthy of death. He is a raving homophobe,” said the civil rights legend and former longtime Georgia legislator. “If [the allegations] are true, it’s just sort of typical of people who are raving homphobes who are secretly homosexual. And who are homophobes because they are filled with so much self-loathing and self-hate that they’ve got to let it come out in some way, and it comes out in homophobia.” ( King, Eddie Long Scandal Forces Taboos to Surface in Black Church)
Bond has always been a supporter of queer civil rights and even refused to enter Long’s church in 2006 for Coretta Scott Kings funeral because of Long’s homophobia. In this quote Bond introduces the concept of self hate as the underlying cause for Bishop’s possible double life.
It isn’t something new right? The term DL has been one of the few queer labels talked about in the black community. Men who partake in same sex relations but who won’t call themselves gay. Why? Perhaps because the term does not in fact encompass their identity or perhaps its because many of the pillars of their community and racial identity condemn anything outside of the heterosexual identity. Thus we have developed a black homonormativity that is perpetuated by black heterosexuals. Most times the story line follows that of the Lady in Red as portrayed in the For Colored Girls movie adaptation. (Sorry for the spoiler.) In which Janette Jackson’s character contracts AIDS by her husband who is on the DL.
The Long case gives light to how the being on the DL can lead to harming others. If the allegations are true this young adults where targeted in their early teens specifically because of their naiviety. Kai Wright’s article reflects on Jamal Parris’ personal suit and notes:
“As in other suits, Parris charges that Long used his role as a “spiritual mentor” to establish a unequal sexual relationship, which began with a “Covenant Ceremony” in which Parris was made into one of Long’s “Spiritual Sons.” It’s as if Long was building a cult around the pantomimed power and masculinity in which he had already trapped himself; he plotted to pull those he believed to be weak into that abyss with him.” (Wright, Bishop Eddie Long and the Lessons of Self-Hate)
Whether the allocations are true aren’t as important as the need for dialog to commence. I think Jamilah King worded it best in her article: “The case against Long is shedding much needed light on issues of faith, sexuality and childhood sexual abuse—all issues that black churches have too often refused to address.”