I’m Not Normal — And That’s Okay

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By Christian Brown // February 16, 2016

I remember very clearly the first time I got called a nigger.

I was in the third grade playing in an evergreen field when a lanky white boy decided that teasing me would draw a laugh from classmates standing nearby.

He was right, and in an instant what I already suspected was reinforced.

I wasn’t like everybody else. I was different.

For the last 16 years I’ve tried my best to not stand out, to fit in and adhere to the homogeneous standards placed on me, but I’m starting to realize that God may need me not be normal. In fact, he never uses anyone normal.

Whether you know it or not, I’m a triple minority.

Yup, I’m black, gay, and disabled living in a predominantly white, straight, able-bodied country. There’s nearly ever a moment that goes by without me thinking of one of my anomalies. While I’m undoubtedly blessed to live in the United States where I have many opportunities and privileges, I often wonder which anomaly will kill me first.

As a black man who has faced unjust discrimination from police in the past, I am always on heightened alert, careful of my dress attire, my demeanor, and response to white authorities.

In fact, a friend recently asked me why I’m always dressed nicely. His face turned somber when I revealed that I’m afraid of what would happen if I’m ever pulled over and not dressed nicely.

It’s an unfortunate reality as a minority in this country, always pandering to the highest power, unable to express yourself freely without the fear of retaliation.

I was prepared for maltreatment as a black man by a black mother, who spoke (and still speaks) in real terms about the setbacks and challenges awaiting me simply because of the color of my skin.

However, nothing prepared me for discrimination my sexuality brought.

Last June, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, I came out as a gay Christian man. The punishment was swift as 90 percent of my friends walked away from me and/or never stood up to defend me.

My ministry collapsed and I had to start my life over from scratch.

Maybe that’s why I ran from my sexuality for so long. I didn’t want another minority mark on my forehead. I wanted for at least once to be in the majority.

However, God has revealed to me in recent months that He always uses special people, outcasts, weirdos, freaks to build His kingdom. Let’s not forget, the Jewish people are the minority group in the biblical narrative, constantly oppressed by larger, richer nations.

Esther was an orphaned woman that saved her people from almost sure genocide.

Abraham was an immigrant who traversed foreign lands on God’s command.

Hagar was an African handmaid and concubine who eventually became a single mother to Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael.

Sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph went from being a Jewish prisoner in Egypt to second in charge of the entire city-state.

Daniel and his friends were prisoners of war in Babylon, forced to serve an unjust king.

Mary and Joseph were refugees in Egypt for nearly two years as King Herod, a Roman, sought to murder Jesus.

The woman at the well that Jesus later redeems was also a Samaritan with no husband.

And Philip baptized an African eunuch who wanted to know Jesus despite his darker skin and odd sexual identity.

I repeat, God never uses anyone normal.

So while the world gives me every reason to fear my minority status, I’m thankful that I serve a God who celebrates my diversity and never intended for it to be a crutch of fear and oppression, but rather something that adds color, character, and courage to His kingdom.

 

Christian Brown is an award-winning multimedia journalist, specializing in print and radio reporting around topics of politics, faith, and emerging communities. In 2015, he graduated from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism with an M.S. in Journalism. 

Five Ways Christians Can Support The LGBTQ Community Without Affirming Same-Sex Relationships

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By Christian Brown | Oct. 5, 2015

In July, I attended a screening of David Thorpe’s documentary “Do I Sound Gay?,” which explores the etymology of the gay voice in American pop culture and film.

In one particular scene, Thorpe revisits the history of the early 80s AIDS crisis, highlighting comments made by politically-conservative evangelicals at the time. As you can imagine, most of the opinions were not flattering, but when former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms‘ face appeared on screen, an audible hiss rang out across the theater.

The audience, mostly comprised of gay men, sneered and jeered as Helms quoted Romans 1:27 on the Senate floor.

“…They are receiving the due penalty for their error,” he said in his signature southern drawl.

The reaction, while surprising to me, was not unmerited.

It’s clear that the Church has unfortunately taught believers through the years that embracing LGBTQ people is synonymous with “approving their lifestyle.”

That’s incorrect, and must be addressed if the Church is ever going to effectively bring Christ to a community that needs His love, hope and peace.

So let me give non-affirming Christians a little advice. Here are five ways you can support the LGBTQ community without affirming same-sex relationships.

  1. Become an advocate for people with HIV/AIDS

Since the 1980s, churches have remained reluctant to get their hands dirty ministering to those affected by AIDS.

Sure, Christian organizations like World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse do raise funds to treat people with AIDS in foreign countries, but the American church has yet to accept the challenge of touching and healing those sick here at home.

SEE MORE:Steps Every Church Can Take To Care For Those Affected By HIV/AIDS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV infection, the most severely affected being gay and bisexual men of all races, but particularly young black men.

For years, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church has advocated for people with HIV/AIDS, inviting other churches and organizations to join in his fight of not condemning these people, but reaching out to heal them by removing the stigma, offering free HIV testing/counseling, and helping pay for medical treatments.

SEE MORE:Rick Warren And Elton John Partner Up To Fight AIDS

Jesus showed us in Mark 1:40-42 that while everyone else avoided the lepers of society, He wasn’t afraid to bear the burden of the outcast and make them whole again.

Will you?

And what better way to show the LGBTQ community that you truly care than to reach out in love to those who are most vulnerable.

  1. Stop using social media as a place to bash LGBTQ rights

I think we can all agree that Christians shouldn’t bash period. But whenever the topic of gay rights and religious freedom are in the news, Facebook often turns into a war zone, filled with snarky, inconsiderate posts and memes.

The problem with these is that more likely than not they come across as flat out disrespectful to LGBTQ people, totally thwarting what should be your goal: introducing people to God’s grace.

As Pastor Dewey Smith said in his viral sermon on church hypocrisy, “You can’t evangelize and antagonize at the same time.”

Have you posted anything like this lately:

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Any social media post that delights in the destruction or ridicule of LGBTQ people is neither godly nor Christ-like. Instead it only promotes an increase in animus against a group that has already experienced its fair share of prejudice and discrimination.

Please don’t misconstrue my point, I am a big advocate of healthy dialogue and conversation around the sinfulness of homosexuality, but good theology should never inspire mockery, hatred, and bigotry.

  1. Join forums dedicated to dialogue between LGBT-affirming and non-affirming Christians

This might be difficult for some of you, but if the Church is going to get pass the fixation on homosexuality, it has to talk about it.

For some non-affirming Christians, even debating whether or not LGBTQ persons can possibly be Christians is a sign of too much compromise. But I would exhort you to rethink that position.

There are organizations in Southern California, like Level Ground, the Gay Christian Network, and OneTable, which are solely interested in fostering conversation about this subject in order to create some sort of middle ground.

SEE MORE:Two Women Start First LGBT-and Bible-Friendly Film Festival In Pasadena

If you are truly interested in healing this schism in the church, why wouldn’t you be willing to attend a gay lesbian forum, read a pro-LGBTQ inclusion book, or listen to a gay Christian’s testimony?

If you are solid in your stance on homosexuality, these forums will only sure up that stance. In the meantime, however, your participation will break down barriers of animosity, ignorance and tension that don’t need to be there.

SEE MORE:Former Ex-Gay Ministry Leader Writes Book About Experience

Jesus was never afraid to dialogue with people his culture said were unworthy. In John 4, Jesus even encountered a double minority — a Samaritan woman. His disciples were shocked to find Him chatting about spiritual things with such a person, but Jesus didn’t care. He treated her like everyone else — a person He wanted to have a relationship with.

Are you treating people differently depending on what sin they’ve committed or status they have?

  1. Be a safe space.

Shortly after I came out, I was invited to lunch by a young pastor friend of mine. As I gleefully chowed down on my tacos, he dropped a revelation on me.

“Homosexuality might be a sin, but if you can’t see me as a safe space then I’m in sin,” he said.

In other words, if an LGBTQ person can’t feel comfortable around you, can’t talk openly with you, or feel accepted in your presence, you might be the problem.

No LGBTQ person should ever see your judgment before they see your love and acceptance.

SEE MORE: “Eliel Cruz Breaks Down How The Church Perpetuates The Phrase ‘Gay Lifestyle'”

Unfortunately, church culture today feeds presumptions about gay people that are false and divisive. Rather than promote openness around sexuality and gender, many churches encourage silence on the subject and shut down anyone who challenges the norm.

That is not a safe space.

A safe space is openness and freedom to love anyone no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or mental health status.

SEE MORE: “VIDEO: Tips On How To Guide Your Congregation In An Honest Discussion of Sexuality and Gender Identity”

If you are a non-affirming Christian, you must ask yourself, “Would I be comfortable taking an LGBTQ co-worker to lunch?”

“Do I have any LGBTQ friends?”

“Has an LGBTQ person ever confided in me?”

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it could be because you’re not being seen as a safe space. Change that, honey.

5. Pray for the LGBTQ community

When I came out, there were a lot of things people shared with me, but perhaps the most prevalent phrase was, “Praying for you.”

Months later, I often wonder if these Christians really meant it. While the church is quick to condemn people over homosexuality, I don’t see the same level of passion when it comes to praying for the LGBTQ community.

Instead, I see churches willfully forgetting this community, avoiding places where they think LGBTQ people might congregate.

SEE MORE: “Christian Parents Talk About Tragic Journey To Convert Their Gay Son”

The gay community should know that God’s people are praying for them because Jesus loves them and cares about their futures just as much as he does anyone else’s.

When interacting with a member of the LGBTQ community, pray for them in person. Touch their hands. Hug them. Let them know that you care no matter where they are in their spiritual walk.

And after you finish praying, listen to what God has to tell you.

SEE MORE: “Dr. David Gushee Discusses How God Changed His Mind On LGBT Inclusion”

We are all guilty of doing way too much talking when praying. Listen next time. God might just give you an assignment. He might just challenge you to be more affirming and love outside your comfort zone.

And if He does, obey Him. In the end, you might just discover that you’re not as different from your LGBTQ brothers and sisters as you may have thought.

Three Things I Learned Since Coming Out As A Gay Christian

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By Christian Brown | July 22, 2015

Someone asked me last week if I regretted my decision to come out as a gay Christian.

While my answer was “no,” I do mourn the fact that choosing to chronicle my 16-year journey of sexuality and faith has altered my life permanently.

Good friends no longer text me. My worship ministry has been sidelined. And overnight, I’ve become a polarizing figure to many of the Christians I know.

Since my blog post was published in June, I’ve received more than 100 personal messages via text, Facebook, and even WhatsApp that have expressed everything from praise and approval to shock and disappointment.

As I expected, the most passionate responses came from fellow Christians who accused me of “growing weary in well-doing,” “intently defaming the Church,” and “trying to change an immutable God.”

One person even told me that my choice to come out was synonymous to “Adolf Hitler saying that it’s morally okay to kill millions of Jews.” Ouch.

But perhaps the most interesting response in all this has been my own.

While I posted the blog with joy and anticipation, it didn’t take long for feelings of fear, anger, and resentment to spring up in that order.

Bearing my soul in public put my heart on a roller coaster ride that is still hurdling upside down. But with each day, my choice to come out is vindicated as people’s reactions have proven to me why more transparent conversations need to happen around this topic.

So let’s start a conversation right now. I’ll begin by telling you the three things I learned since coming out as a gay Christian.

1The word “gay” is a loaded term that Christians interpret differently.

And it’s not surprising. “Gay” has taken on many meanings in its fairly young life. A word that once referred to the state of being “happy” and “carefree” (Remember the Gay Nineties?), now signifies much more.

We all know what “homosexual” means – a person who is sexually attracted to the same sex. Duh. But on the day I came out, I found that many Christians believe taking on the moniker “gay” means you are not just attracted to the same sex. It means you are actively pursuing sexual relationships and choosing your identity as an LGBT person over your identity in Christ.

“You should have said you struggle with same-sex attractions,” one person told me. “Because you’re not gay.”

Interestingly enough, they weren’t the only Christian who took issue with the label I used.

SEE MORE: “Matt Jones Dives Deeper into the Controversial ‘Gay’ Label”

For those outside of the Church, this may seem like a petty argument, but for Christians the word “gay” is a complicated, monolithic term that defines how you’ll be living, not just who you’re attracted to.

But in an era where coming out is a norm in middle school not middle age, I believe the Church can no longer assume that “gay” equates sexual activity. In fact, it’s possible for a homosexual Christian to accept the label of gay and be completely celibate.

Wesley Hill, author of “Washed and Waiting,” is a celibate gay Christian who encourages any believer wrestling with homosexuality to remain chaste. Nevertheless, he believes it’s healthy for individuals (and the Church) if homosexual Christians call themselves what they truly are – gay.

SEE MORE: “Wesley Hill Answers Questions on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality”

Likewise, Pastor Tim Otto is the author of “Oriented to Faith”  and is a celibate gay Christian that speaks on this topic at his church in San Francisco. While he does not engage in homosexual behavior, he is comfortable calling himself gay and is working to end the cultural war over sexuality by building common ground between LGBT-affirming Christians and non-affirming.

I spent 16 years tormented over labels.

Because of fervent Church teachings and the loaded connotations of the label “gay,” I told myself for 16 years that I was a straight man struggling with same-sex attractions. While it’s laughable to think of now, I spent countless days facilitating a war of identity that pinned myself against — myself.

I’m not talking about lust here, but an internal conflict between my label as a Christian (which demanded I not identify as gay) and my sexuality (which said I liked other men.)

SEE MORE: “Stop Comparing Your Lust to My Sexual Attraction”

That constant wrestle was neither healthy nor did it aid me in growing closer to the Lord. My advice? Let’s end the old stereotypes around the word “gay.”

The demographics of the LGBT community are beginning to change around us. It’s time for the Church to reevaluate the stigmatization around this three-letter word and embrace it as an identity that many devoted followers of Christ accept.

2. Christians carry around a lot of secrets. And it’s killing us.

I expected to hear a lot of things after coming out. Outrage. Pride. Remorse. But one thing I didn’t anticipate hearing were secrets.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of guilt and shame from many people I consider close friends. I have not adequate time to detail the frustrations I read regarding addictions to pornography, struggles with past molestation, and honest realizations of homophobia.

A few people even shared that they are bisexual, but are afraid to tell other Christians for fear of rejection.

SEE MORE: “7 Ways to Be Inclusive of Bisexual Christians”

What I said to all of these men and women, I will also state here:

“Shame and secrecy are silent killers in the Church today.

Unfortunately, we promote a Christian image that doesn’t show the reality of true life for many people. We preach hard against sexual sin to the point where those dealing with these issues fear to come forward and receive the true healing they need.

James 5:16 says “Confess your faults to one another and pray for each other, that you may be healed.”

Instead of encouraging a culture of confession and openness about all the faults we struggle with, the rhetoric of many preachers today disparages us from even bringing it up.

The Church has become a war zone over social issues. But the sad reality is that innocent people are being caught in the middle of it.”

SEE MORE: “Beth Moore: Secrets Disable Healing and Damage Healthy Community”

Whether Christians agree on these issues or not, let’s agree that our churches must become safe spaces for people to talk freely about their lives without gossip, backbiting, and mockery.

Several weeks ago, I attended a Friday night bible study for Christians who say they are “struggling with same-sex attractions.” It was less of a church service and more of an open forum for people to talk openly about their lives. While I did not share my story during the meeting, I sat back and listened as people talked about isolation, loneliness, depression, and frustration.

“Why is this meeting happening in a back office?,” I thought. “This dialogue should be happening on Sunday morning in front of the congregation.”

I’m learning more now than ever that Christians are hurting alone. And the Church must recognize that the only way forward is to pull the hurting out of the shadows and bear these burdens together. It’s the only way we’ll all be healed.

3. True friends always got your back.

And it’s probably the most Christ-like response you could have after someone comes out to you.

The night before my blog was published on Facebook, I met privately for six hours with my closest five friends.

They had already read my blog and this was a time for them to hear more of my story, ask questions, and consider the status of our friendship going forward.

Sitting around on comfy sofas drinking Dr. Pepper and eating Pronto Pizza turned out to be the best coming out party I could have asked for.

They did not pelt me with scriptures or yell in my face. There were no heated arguments or signs of homophobia. Instead, I felt a resonance of regret.

My Christian brothers cried because they weren’t there for me.

They wept knowing that their best friend was living a life of emotional torture beside them and they didn’t know about it.

Did they agree with my theological arguments? No. Would they find it acceptable if I dated a man? No.

But, they didn’t let that stop them from loving me.

I was afraid of disappointing my five closest friends, but found they operated in love and grace. In June, we all celebrated our friend Andrew's wedding.

I was afraid of disappointing my five closest friends, but found they operated in love and grace. In June, we all celebrated our friend Andrew’s wedding.

Jesus taught that “by this will they know you are My disciples, even your love towards one another.”

He didn’t say people would discern Christians based off of biblical knowledge or church attendance. No, love is the indicator. Sacrificial love.

I know it was uncomfortable for my friends to have this conversation with me. It opened up past wounds for some and prompted theological reexamination in others, but I applaud these men because they did not run from the discussion.

Too often today, Christians opt out of the discussion for fear of looking weak or passive. It’s easy to throw stones and mock. What’s tough is putting your reputation on the line to love someone society says is unclean. But when the time came, what did Jesus do?

In John 8: 1-11, the teachers of the law brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus.

“The Law of Moses says to stone her, but what do you say?,” they asked.

Jesus stooped down and at first refused to answer, but they persisted so he said, “He, who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

When no one stoned her, Jesus told the woman to “go and sin no more,” but ensured her that he did not revile her.

Jesus is a righteous judge that always deals in grace before judgment. That’s the line every Christian should walk if someone ever tells you “I’m gay.”

Despite the menagerie of responses I received, I was fortunate to learn that the people placed in my life already had this revelation.

Follow Christian Brown on Twitter here.

It’s Time I Told You I’m Gay

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Photo by: Diana Crandall

By Christian Brown

When my best friend got married in 2009, I was thrilled when he chose me as his best man.

It was an honor to stand by his side at the altar and support him as his beautiful bride walked gracefully down the aisle to wed him.

I’ll never forget the flashes of joy on his face as she drew closer and closer. First, a grin and a giggle, then tears, plenty of tears.

Many things were running through my head at that moment, but there’s one thought in particular that still haunts me today.

“I’ll never get to experience this joy because I’m a gay Christian.”

READ ALSO: “Worship Songwriter Vicky Beeching Comes Out Gay”

I’ve never shared this thought publicly before. Instead, I’ve spent the last 15 years secretly trying to find a way to reconcile my sexuality and my faith. I’ve searched for cures and healings, fasted and prayed, invested in ex-gay counseling, studied the Scriptures, and considered lifelong celibacy.

My conclusion? I’ll never be happy unless I embrace both my sexuality and my Christian faith, even if it means getting the Church welcome mat pulled right from under my feet. I used to believe that being in a gay relationship was a sin.

As a result, I spent much of my young adulthood searching for alternative options, but to my chagrin, none of the Church’s “solutions” worked.

There’s been a lot of coverage of ex-gay Christians who left the “homosexual lifestyle” and much fodder over evangelical churches who have abandoned the conservative stance on homosexuality to welcome the LGBT community.

READ ALSO: “Leading Evangelical Ethicist David Gushee is Now Pro-LGBT”

For years I’ve hidden my true sexuality in order to avoid this conversation. I was afraid of losing friends, family members, and church membership, but even as the Supreme Court provided marriage equality nationwide this week, I feel like I must speak out. I have to tell the truth.

While the issue of affirming the LGBT community is still splitting up Christian leaders, I can say on a personal level, the issue has always divided me.

Taken during a school field trip to Washington D.C. in 1998.

Ever since I was 12-years-old, I knew. I liked other boys. An unsettling discovery for any young black kid growing up with an absent father and a strict, religious mother.

But what crushed me the most was the fact that I knew God hated homosexuality. Although it was never said directly, I learned early on where all these unrepentant people went – hell.

My upbringing in the Pentecostal church taught me that God loved everyone, but sinners who did not know Jesus had their place in the lake of fire. First on the list were atheists and homosexuals.

You can imagine the impact this teaching had on me. I sought every cure I could find. I prayed and fasted earnestly every night that God would heal me of these “nasty attractions.” I watched testimonies of “ex-gay” Christians who overcame same-sex attractions and became heterosexual.

“Lord, please let it happen to me.”

I joined ex-gay ministries online and received counseling from ministers who encouraged me to shed any gay identity and see myself as a “son of the King.”

Along the way, I dated women “in faith,” believing that my attractions would change once I met the right girl.

SEE ALSO: “Is It Possible to Pray the Gay Away?”

The result? Nothing. Nada. My attractions never changed, but one thing did change as a result of me trying to eradicate my homosexuality, I slowly began to hate myself.

Depression began to set in. I became verbally abusive towards myself using words I dare not repeat here. I knew I was a Christian, a part of God’s family, but I wanted to end my life.

Suicide was an option for me just like it is for so many LGBT youth unfortunately.

This is where I have to thank God. Contrary to what some might think, God does love the LGBT community and His sacrifice on the cross transcends race, gender, and sexuality. The Bible says if we only call upon the Lord we will be saved.

If it wasn’t for that hope, which I found in Jesus Christ, I know I’d be dead. But through the anger and emptiness, God was there – and I found solace in knowing that one day things would get better.

I decided to stop fighting my attractions and just accept them. But what would that mean for my future? I was left with two options: committing to lifelong celibacy or affirming same-sex relationships.

Honestly, neither one felt right initially. And maybe it’s because the Bible and Church doctrine aren’t on the same page.

SEE ALSO: “Largest ‘Gay Cure’ Ministry in the U.S. Shuts Down” 

Both Jesus and Paul the apostle address celibacy in scripture. When His disciples are ranting about the messiness of marriage and divorce in Matthew 19:10, Jesus says not all men can accept the alternative (celibacy), but only “those to which it has been given.”

Likewise, Paul encouraged unmarried Christians in 1 Corinthians 7:9 to remain single if they could exercise self-control. If not, he urged them to marry because that’s better than burning with passion and lust.

Although these scriptures appear quite clear, the evangelical church has had no problem mandating that gay Christians adopt lifelong celibacy because that’s apparently a better alternative to homosexuality. But is it?

Being gay didn't stop the fact that I love to worship God.

Being gay didn’t stop the fact that I love to worship God. And I did it with all my heart.

I’ll be the first to say I do not have the gift of celibacy. As a result, the last 10 years for me as a young adult have been torturous.

I’m of marrying age yet I cannot court a partner, cannot ever fall in love, and must suppress desires I have for a committed, monogamous gay relationship.

It’s not easy, and honestly, it’s not sustainable anymore.

I cannot imagine a life being celibate forever. Is it because I’m lustful and can’t live without sex? No. It’s because I’m human and can’t live without companionship. In recent months, I’ve been reviewing the alternative to lifelong celibacy – an affirming gay lifestyle.

SEE ALSO: “Pastor Tony Campolo Announces Support for LGBT Inclusion” 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of reading the Bible in a very literal way.

Most of the time, that’s a good thing, but there are moments when context is needed.

For example, 500 years ago, all Christians believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. They based this on scripture as the book of Psalms speaks of the Sun’s rotation (it’s rising and setting.)

When famed astronomer Galileo discovered that the Earth in fact revolves around the Sun, the Church excommunicated him and declared him a heretic.

Could it be that the six passages in the Bible that condemn homosexual practice were not directed at the modern-day context of it?

When it comes to homosexuality in the ancient world, both conservative and liberal scholars acknowledge that it had a different context in the Roman Empire.

First, the concept of an exclusive gay orientation didn’t exist.

While some men were known to have sexual encounters with both sexes, all men were primarily viewed as heterosexual. This might be why Jesus and Paul did not think to mention homosexuals in their conversations about celibacy. They both assumed all humans were heterosexual.

Second, homosexuality was viewed as an excess caused by lustfulness and a lack of self-control.

Matthew Vines, the author of “God and the Gay Christian,” explains this point better than me. But many writers of the time used alcohol as an analogy for lust. Just like an undisciplined person gets drunk, an inordinately sexual person commits homosexual acts.

It didn’t have to do with a person’s orientation; the ancient world believed homosexual acts happened when people got too lustful.

Do we really believe that today? Are all gay people just whoremongers driven by lust? I doubt even most conservative Christians would accept that philosophy. In the 21st century, we understand that being gay is something that is outside of a person’s control.

Last point on ancient world homosexuality, it usually involved man-boy relationships, temple prostitution, and the rape of slaves by their masters.

Bottom line, there was nothing redeemable about this practice so it’s obvious why Paul and Moses condemned it.

Fast forward to 2015, and you’ll see that the gay Christians in our churches today don’t want any association with evil lust, rape, molestation, or fornication. We just want inclusion, affirmation, and the ability to have the same loving, monogamous relationships and marriages heterosexuals are allowed.

While this might sound reasonable, a majority of Church leadership has not been persuaded that this doctrine is worth accepting, making it uncomfortable for anyone to truly own his or her sexuality and Christian faith.

SEE ALSO: “Evangelical Leaders Host Private Discussion on LGBT Inclusion at Biola University”

A recent Time Magazine article by Elizabeth Dias highlighted evolving attitudes on LGBT inclusion in the evangelical church, but it overlooked an important point – most Christians haven’t had a change of heart.

Using statistics from the Public Religion Research Institute, Dias highlighted the growing acceptance of gay marriage among young evangelicals, a bloc that doubled its support from just 20 percent in 2003 to 42 percent last year.

However, that doesn’t mean too much when more than 30 percent of the U.S. church world is 60-years-old and older. In fact, a Duke University study shows that 61 percent of America’s churches are led by a clergyperson over the age of 50.

SEE ALSO: “La Mirada Pastor Switches Opinion on LGBT Rights After Gay Son Comes Out”

Those numbers don’t bode well for LGBT inclusion when just 42 percent of Americans 65 and older think gay marriage should be legal.

That’s the lowest level of support compared to any other U.S. age group.

What does that mean for thousands of gay Christians? Coming out in support of same-sex relationships is a surefire way of being rejected by the American Church.

What does that mean for me? If there are no other solutions from the evangelical church on this, I will consider the possibility of a gay relationship.

(But for the record, I am not actively in a relationship nor am I seeking one now.)

Nonetheless, I’m likely to face immediate rejection from friends and family, but I’m not afraid.

God loves and accepts me. And it’s high time I did the same.

Follow Christian Brown on Twitter here and read his follow-up article “Three Things I Learned Since Coming Out As A Gay Christian.”

To Advocate or Not: The Answer is Unclear for LGBT Journalists

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By Christian Brown

Michael K. Lavers stumbled into LGBT news reporting at just the right time.

The year was 2003 and Massachusetts was an emerging epicenter for the latest lightning rod issue in American politics: gay marriage.

“I was in Boston, covering the first marriages in Massachusetts,” said Lavers, who now writes for the Washington Blade. “A decade ago, it was hard to find stories specific to the LGBT community. Now we’re not the only ones covering these issues.”

Lavers understands the participatory role LGBT journalists have in shaping the discussion concerning gay rights, but unlike others, he stands with those who regard objectivity over advocacy.

“In our news stories, people are very capable of expressing their views,” he said. “We’re journalists, not activists.”

However, high-profile journalists who decide what LGBT newsrooms report, disagree on whether it’s ethical for LGBT publications to openly advocate for gay rights or not.

“We do have perspectives — there are gaps between rights and that needs to be fixed,” said Matthew Breen, the editor-in-chief of The Advocate, the largest and oldest LGBT publication in the U.S. “You don’t act in an ethical vacuum. We’re not at all afraid to report on the negative things that happen.”

Breen, who started off as a publicist, before adopting journalism, cited the history of The Advocate as an example of LGBT news’ roots in advocacy.

“The Advocate started in Los Angeles as a result of bar raids in Silver Lake during the 1960s,” he said. “A lot of young queer people imagine the world as it is now, but that’s not the case. There’s a lineage that’s proceeded anyone alive today.

“It’s not a bias, but it is a perspective. It’s advocacy journalism.”

Similarly, Trish Bendix, managing editor of AfterEllen.com, sees her role as sometimes part journalist, part lobbyist.

“It’s interesting because when I am a queer person anything I do is kind of advocating for queerness because that’s what I am,” Bendix said. “You don’t want to be promoting a gay agenda, but you’re just promoting fairness and equality.

“If that means I’m an advocate because I’m writing that we should demand reflections of us in entertainment and our media then I guess I’m an advocate.”

Owned by cable channel Logo, AfterEllen.com is one of the largest lifestyle and entertainment news websites for lesbian and bisexual women.

“When we first started there wasn’t enough lesbian news or entertainment news to cover just lesbian stuff,” Bendix said. “That’s grown so much now that we almost can’t keep up. It’s a terrible problem to have — no, it’s a great problem to have.”

The Huffington Post had a similar “problem” in 2011 as coverage of LGBT political issues began to skyrocket.

“Huffington Post has a decidedly pro-gay marriage stance and Arianna [Huffington] wanted to embrace that and go with it,” said Curtis Wong, deputy editor of Huffington Post Gay Voices. “We do highlight the triumphs and setbacks of the LGBT community, but we don’t see ourselves as an advocacy publication.”

The reason why may be tied to who’s reading.

Wong said nearly 50 percent of Gay Voices readers are heterosexual. Another 50 percent are based outside of the U.S, he said.

“The Advocate has a gay-centric readership, but we have the main Huffington Post as our platform so a story on Gay Voices can be elevated and someone on the entertainment page can easily click to a Gay Voices story.”

When Wong started writing for the Huffington Post, he assumed his LGBT stories would focus on “a little about Lady Gaga and a little about gay marriage,” but he quickly realized the depth in LGBT news reporting.

“There are ordinary U.S. citizens and it’s our job to highlight things that happen,” Wong said. “Even if it’s not glamorous.”

With acceptance of gay marriage growing across the country, reporting on LGBT topics is becoming more common, but journalists covering gay news agree that more international coverage is still needed.

“The tide is shifting, but there are still other battles that need to be won,” Wong said. “Think about the things that happened in Russia and what happens in the American south and Midwest — LGBT news outlets will have to cover things like that for quite some time.”

In addition to looking aboard for LGBT news, Breen believes it’s time to advocate for people within the transgendered community.

“We’re approaching a point that we can talk about that in a responsible way,” he said. “Informed discussions — not about genitalia. We’re moving past the time when people are viewed as a curiosity.”

As more athletes and actors come out, being same-gender oriented is more openly accepted in the U.S. than ever. Breen said that makes LGBT journalists’ job easier and frees them up to chronicle the community in even more creative ways.

“Our goal is to describe and maintain our culture,” he said. “The achievement of rights is not the end of storytelling.”

African-American Workers In L.A.’s District 10 Clash Over Minimum Wage Increase

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By Christian Brown

LOS ANGELES – Along Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles, reactions from African-American workers and small business owners clash over the consequences to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal to raise the minimum wage.

In a campaign-style rally on Labor Day, Garcetti along with hundreds of supporters, met at Martin Luther King Jr. Park as he encouraged the L.A. City Council to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017.

SEE ALSO: “Business Owners Clash With Business Owners Over ‘Raise The Wage'”

Herb Wesson Jr., president of the L.A. City Council and councilman for District 10, supports the measure as a way to benefit low-income workers, but not everyone in his district agrees.

To see the original article, visit Neon Tommy.

Tito Rodriguez left the world of hip-hop, but never left the streets

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Tito Rodriguez made a name for himself as a skateboarder and rap producer, but now leads charity fundraisers in southeast Los Angeles county. (Photo courtesy of Rodriguez)

Tito Rodriguez made a name for himself as a skateboarder and rap producer, but now leads charity fundraisers in southeast Los Angeles county. (Photo courtesy of Rodriguez)

By Christian Brown

DOWNEY − Being raised by a single mom on the streets of Long Beach wasn’t easy for Tito Rodriguez.

“I grew up on 15th street. My mom sold Nikes at the swap meet [to make a living],” he said. “My big brother took care of me and told me to do the right thing, but I was a little punk kid.”

However, Rodriguez harnessed the lessons he learned in the heart of LBC and translated them into a music career that not only produced hip-hop beats and rock jams, but also notable charity work in low-income neighborhoods.

Rodriguez first made a name for himself as a street break dancer and skateboarder, but ultimately found a niche in music production when friend and rap artist Goldie Loc introduced him to the west coast hip-hop scene in the mid-90s.

“That’s how I started working with The Eastsidaz and Snoop Dogg,” Rodriguez said. “I produced the song ’20 Minutes’ on Snoop Dogg’s album ‘No Limit Top Dogg,’ which sold like 8 million copies.”

The four-minute song featured Goldie Loc and opened up more doors for Rodriguez to produce music for the 2001 film “Bones,” starring Snoop Dogg and Pam Grier.

By the late 90s, however, the luster of the hip-hop/gangsta rap industry started to languish for Rodriguez as the reality of what he was producing caught up with him.

FOR THE FULL STORY: “Former Rap Producer Finds New Calling Helping Others”