Sunday, May 27, 2007
This week's posting features a young ordained minister by the name of Rev. Tommie Watkins, Jr. in whom I am privileged to call a new friend. After reading this posting and an excerpt from his book entitled "Living Out Loud" you will understand why I am impressed by this young man and why I am featuring him on this blog spot.
The Foreword to Rev. Tommie's book reads:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Living Out Loud is a Black ordained Baptist minister's story of discrimination he experienced from the U.S. Government and his own religious community because of his sexual orientation. Rev. Watkins' life shows by case and example that equality for "non-heterosexuals" IS a civil rights/human rights issue.
Genesis 1:27, 2:25, 3:8-11a (New Revised Standard Version-NRSV-The Bible)
"So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them(1:27). And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (2:25). They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, Where are you? He said, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. He said, Who told you that you were naked?' (3:8-11a).
This story was the most influential in helping me recognize, accept, and negotiate with various matters in my life, particularly my sexual orientation. The fall of humankind was, as I was taught, a story of original sin, the invention of shame, and how the serpent the Devil, tempted the woman, Eve, to eat the fruit, give it to Adam and they became to know good and evil. They then became ashamed of who they were because before this incident, as the story goes, they existed in the garden totally exposed, naked and felt no shame.
This story also came to have new meaning for me in light of my failed attempt to live without acknowledging my sexual orientation.
"Damn,"I thought, "How can I be gay (the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual attraction for someone of the same gender) and have a relationship with God, be a faithful member of a congregation and be an ordained minister?"
For me, like Adam and Eve, I was made uniquely and authentically by the Divine Creator, to be and to live a healthy life just the way God made me. Like Adam and Eve, I allowed the logos, or words and opinions of other people to become gods and and superlative to the Logos or Word of God, allowing certain circumstances and people to convince me that I was naked. I believed that I could not be my true authentic self. And again like Adam and Eve, I hid myself among the trees of unhealthy pretentious relationships and friendships, self-righteousness and alcoholism because I was so AFRAID to be who God created me to be: totally exposed, naked, true, open and feeling no shame, never realizing that "playing the game" and manipulation was not required of me.
God said, "Tommie, do you think you can hide from me in the trees? I made the trees and can see through them. Do you think I do not know who you are? Before you were born I created you as well."
Thus began the process of accepting my sexual orientation-the Divinely orchestrated, natural, emotional, mental, physical, sexual and spiritual connection I have with persons of the same gender.
The following story articulates my plight of not allowing society to force me to live my life silently, secretively, deceptively and manipulatively because I am gay and black. The prayer that has been the most liberating and effective for me: "God, please deliver me from the opinion of other people, Amen," has also broadened my relationship with God for now I no longer live by the word or opinions of others, but by the will of God for me. So when I behave in certain ways, I frequently go back to this fundamental request for God's openness and ask myself, "Am I acting out of fear, shame, and/or denial because of other? Am I afraid to be naked and totally exposed? Am I fooling God or trying to fool humankind?
If you would like to read more about Rev. Tommie Watkins, Jr. and perhaps purchase his book, just click on Living Out Loud, by Rev. Tommie under My Favorite Links.
If you have an experience that you would like to share and you would like to have it posted/featured on this site, email email@example.com This should be healing and a lot of fun. Please let me know your thoughts about this new blog spot by leaving a comment below; I will appreciate your feedback.