I was lucky enough to find a relationship with God at an early age. My family owned a church, so the majority of my adolescence was spent being hauled back and forth to every church service you can imagine. I can remember sitting in the pews, listening to the minister speak, hearing the choir sing and I can remember a 'rush' coming over me. It was strange, this felt weird. I wasn't able to articulate what it was. I'd look around the sanctuary and see others experiencing the same thing. Though, their rush would send them into some sort of chant. They'd holler, flail, spring from their seats and into the aisles all while screaming a praise to the high heavens! This all mesmerized me, it intrigued me! What about God sent people over the edge like this?
I would hear from church and family members, how, "Good God is" or how, "God stepped in and changed my life" or even, "God made a way out of no way!" I desperately wanted to see this for myself. I took notice to how their faces would light up when they spoke about the Lord and his mercifulness. Their voices would go up in octaves. They would smile from ear to ear. They walked different. Their heads were high and they evoked confidence and peace, and I wanted that! I needed it.
By this point, my relationship with God was extremely superficial and somewhat surface. I would pray each night, mainly because I was told to. I would attend church services because of the guilt my mother would pour down on me, and I would sing in the choir because I started to become enamored with the glorification I would get from the congregation.
I went to my mother, who is a minister, and asked her how to go about building a relationship with God. Looking back, it seems like such a silly question, but I honestly had no idea. I can still remember her putting it to me as plainly as she could, "You can go to God in prayer and ask him for anything, even for him to reveal himself." So, that's exactly what I did. Though, it wasn't until I began to truly love myself and acknowledge my sexuality, did he begin to do so.
I've always known that there was something special about me, always. Even if there was a time when I wanted to ignore that 'something' no one around would let me. I was always made to feel ostracized for simply being myself. For some queer youth this would push them away from social groups or even religious organizations, but not me. Instead of agreeing with the masses and accepting their views on how I should behave, dress, or feel, I instead ran to God. If there was one thing that I've retained from all of those church services, it was that God loves me.
Constantly, I find myself defending my spirituality. Or why I continue to hold God at the head of my life, despite what is said about me and others like me in the bible. My answer to these questions, and the hundreds of others like it remains consistent: his love. God's love is what saved me. God's love surpasses all understanding, there's nothing else like it.
I asked the Lord to reveal himself to me all those years ago and he did in a tremendous way, through me. He revealed himself through love. By showing me what love is, I was able to find love for myself, and this allowed me to accept love from him.
In the Black Community and the Black Church, if you're queer, you're forced to wear a scarlet letter. People don't want to hear about it. They'd rather you suppress your sexuality to accommodate their insecurities, self-hate and comfortability. It wasn't until one day, I realized something: No one is forcing me to do anything. No one is responsible for holding this scarlet letter to my chest, but me. I have the authority to free myself. The same way God gives us the authority to bless ourselves and our neighbors. We have the authority to free ourselves and free our minds, bodies, and spirits of things that are not of him. Hate being included.
I am one of the lucky ones. I am afraid that there are many people who will never accept the Lord into their hearts because they simply won't have the opportunity to be introduced to him. All over, people are being pushed out of churches because of how they lead their lives. The sanctity of a church is not in danger because of the personal lives of its congregation. What really endangers the sanctity of a church is when that church begins to hold moral judgments on those who dare enter.
Black, Gay Christians, do exist, and it is time that we are heard. No longer should the Bible be used as a weapon of guilt and shame to further depress and oppress a minority group of any gender, sexuality, or race. As members of the Christian faith and the Black Community, it is our obligation to accept, love, and lift up those around us, regardless of understanding. It is not up to us to determine where anyone lies in the sight of God and we do our entire communities a disservice each time we take it upon ourselves to do so. Instead we should extend a hand of love and gratitude.
My walk with God is truly just beginning. Each day I find solitude in prayer. Praying for clarity, guidance, strength and peace; clarity, to walk with my eyes wide open and not be afraid of the things that I see and instead witness the magnitude of what God has done and provided for his flock. Guidance, for God to go before me and clear the path. Strength, to be able to endure the trials and tribulations that are sure to come. Peace, to find victories in my struggle, knowing that he will always be with me, never leaving me alone.