Herndon Davis was recently in Chicago to talk about a new book he has written, Black, Gay and Christian, An Inspirational Guidebook to Daily Living. Upon reading it and understanding why it was written, I developed an awesome respect for what Mr. Davis has accomplished.
This book is unique. It is written on three levels. First, it inspires same-gender-loving people to stand up for ourselves: to improve our emotional and intellectual mindset in the direction of self-acceptance. That is to say, it seeks to completely reconcile being both a born-again Christian and a person involved in a sexually active lesbian or gay male relationship.
Secondly, Davis encourages us to walk with faith. He provides Christian faith-based approaches to dealing with such issues as; dating, forming LGBT relationships, adopting and parenting children, being out of the closet at work, and overcoming emotional difficulties associated with homophobic or AIDS-phobic family members and neighbors.
Additionally Davis says 'this book seeks to reach out to the mainstream African-American heterosexual and church population in an effort to assist them in gaining a clearer understanding of the homosexual lifestyle in an effort to broaden the inclusion, reconciliation, and acceptance of our lifestyle as part of the overall rich and vibrant fabric of our community.' Once the African-American community overcomes its homophobia, a higher level of sexual and emotional honesty can be achieved. Then pressing issues such as poverty, crime, education and racial profiling can be addressed much more effectively.
A reader of this book does not need to be particularly religious or familiar with the Bible. It is written in an easy-to-understand style. Numerous examples of bogus irrational anti-gay arguments are given with logical and reasonable responses to each one. It is a perfect book to read before coming out to family, co-workers and especially church-goers.
In 1971 author Saul D. Alinsky published Rules for Radicals, A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. The Book-of-the-Month Club News called it a 'classic text for organizers bent on greater social and political justice.' This new book by Herndon Davis can empower voices to counter conservatives with their 18th Century understanding of LGBT sexuality.
Davis acknowledges that some people dread the notion of confronting conservative Christians, even though their attitudes are the foundation upon which homophobia is built. It's a case of no pain, no gain. Suppose lots of LGBT people read this (and/or similar) call-to-action texts, then win over the hearts and minds of conservatives. Our community would then enjoy a future in which we could be able to say: the first 40 years after the Stonewall revolt was when Black churches used to oppress same-gender-loving people before they became better informed!
Clearly it will take lots of optimism and the patience of Job to bring about a community-wide change from internalized homophobic self-oppression to self-acceptance. But this book gives you mega-doses of optimism and hope on every page. The further into this book you read, the more empowered you will feel.
By the time you get to page 124 you will be prepared for the author's direct challenge: 'We must begin to stand up to the Black Church.' Davis says, 'Yes, I know this is much easier said than done, but it MUST be done or we will forever suffer.' Davis further admits that to bring the battle for LGBT affirmation into Black churches may mean you will be singled out and berated, it could also cause individuals to be targeted for a change in sexual orientation, through a flurry of scriptures, prayer circles, and verbal intimidation. Davis makes it plain that, 'If you attend a church whose pastor, bishop, ministers or staff openly express belligerent and homophobic beliefs, then you have three choices. You can either take the abuse every Sunday with a smile. You can leave your church for a more gay/lesbian accepting environment. Or you can confront your church pastor, bishop, ministers and staff and initiate a dialog of understanding.'
Over the next six pages the book gives a very detailed, step-by-step journey into how to effectively confront homophobic conservative Christians.
Black, Gay and Christian is an excellent read. It helps you envision a future 21st Century African-American community in which LGBT people are respected and spiritually uplifted. It will inspire and empower you to join others who want to root out homophobia from where it is most deeply entrenched: in the 18th Century attitudes about same-gender love in so many Black churches.
Davis effectively makes the case that now is the time for spiritually grounded, socially conscious LGBT people to meet the challenge of: standing in faith with self-esteem, walking in faith with honest affirming relationships, and ultimately running in faith as we build up our community. This book is available at Open Door Books, 5954 S. Albany, (773) 778-3030.
Herndon Davis can be reached at BlackGayChristian@yahoo.com or at BlackGayChristian.com .