TonexWe are now seeing that the idea of a black president seems to drive some white folks crazy.

In comparison, the quickest way to drive the black community nuts is to mention the subject of the lgbt community.

African-American gospel singer Tonex recently became the first black gospel singer to come out publicly.

Granted, he is not the first African-American gay gospel singer (i.e. James Cleveland and others), but he is the first to have the guts to be honest about his sexual orientation.

These are his words in an exclusive interview with Black Voices:

I’m studying daily on the subject of same-sex matters. I’m tired of echoing what I’ve been told. I want to know for myself the true interpretation of scriptures in Biblical text and well as scientific documentation.

You know, it’s not easy growing up in a Pentecostal/Evangelical church, where everyone is pretty much anti-gay, although it’s common knowledge that some of the most anointed musicians and singer-songwriters have, or have dealt with, same-sex attraction at some point. For me, it was particularly taboo because of my upbringing and the ministerial call on my life. I then had to think about the repercussions of this revelation. But I knew I had to get free.

… There was so much more in that interview that I thought was, unfortunately, overlooked. So much more to my story then the sexuality part, but most church folks are sexually repressed anyway, so they naturally gravitate right toward that type of subject matter. I noticed parts one and three weren’t juicy enough for the church or the public, yet they were the key to the whole puzzle. I talked about my same-sex attraction. I don’t think that there was any new information here. I’ve addressed this issue in my music for years. But for many, I guess, it was a shock of sorts. But believe me, it wasn’t for shock value. The real story is not cute, ladies and gentlemen. Freedom, my friends, is not for cowards.

There is a sad part to this entire situation as far as I am concerned. Tonex says that 96 percent of the responses he received have been positive. That enough confirms a belief I’ve had about the black community.

Approval or disapproval of gays and lesbians in the black community is far more complex than folks realize.

The simplistic belief that the black community automatically does not approve of homosexuality is driven by three factors:

  • The religious right’s eagerness to exploit the ignorance of the African-American community regarding its lgbt members.
  • The cowardice of influential black leaders who tackle the issue with the force of a baby licking the tip of icing off of a cake.
  • And the self absorption of the lgbt community at large which refuses to acknowledge that the lgbt struggle for self-determination is present in some form or another in every ethnic group, every culture, and every country.

It’s a question that deserves far more attention than it is getting (hello Advocate magazine!).

However, I know that waiting for a major lgbt magazine to do a serious story on gay issues in the black community is like waiting for BET or Ebony or Jet to do a serious story on the issue.

I’ll probably be waiting so long for this to happen that my credit will become good.

Still, Tonex should be commended for his pioneering step. It’s not his fault that both of his communities are way behind on the issue.

Crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters