I attended church with my mother Sunday. It was my Mother's Day present to her. I was also curious to see what her anti-gay pastor would say about President Obama's support of marriage equality. But before he spoke, during prayer ministry a female associate minister mentioned the President indirectly, stating that "it doesn't matter what a President says" in regards to what Christians believe.
Later, the pastor indirectly referred to the President as a sinner, when he inadvertently mentioned gay marriage in a sermon about families. Many ministers focused on Mother's Day Sunday, but others have been very vocal about their disappointment in a man 95% of African-American voters supported in 2008.
Why? Because of their firm belief that homoexuality is a sin. "So are adultery and fornication," I said to my father, a Baptist minister, when he denounced my gay brother. I've never understood why homosexuality was so taboo among so many black church goers when it's quite often gays and lesbians who're responsible for many of those spectacular gospel choirs black churches are known for.
The black church is also known for pretending not to know some members, deacons, and even pastors are closeted gays or bisexuals that usually have wives and children. It's their dirty little secret and the real reason some denounce homosexuality, I suspect, and its the reason Toledo, Ohio, once had the largest number of African-American women per capita with HIV/AIDS.
I address these issues in my full-length play, B.R.AIDS (Black Response to AIDS). An earlier one-act version, directed by my brother, James, won the 1990 Kool Achievement Award for HIV/AIDS education. James used the $10,000 award to go to New York where his historic choreopoem, "Our Young Black Men Are Dying and Nobody Seems to Care" was staged at the Castillo Theatre.
Thanks to a dispute he, his business partner, and I had over B.R.AIDS, resulting in them plagiarizing the play, he finally got the confidence to stage his own work and, wounded and hurt, I rewrote mine.
It took three years for me to forgive James and even longer for me to forgive my parents who went to Louisville, Kentucky, to see my brother get an award for my play after stealing it. My re-writes capture some of that hurt in the main character, an openly gay man that comes home to live with his mother when he contracts AIDS, only to have his sexuality condemned by her and rejected by nearly everyone else.
The lesbian minister of a gay church and her members become the only support system for him and his mother. He's visited by his mother's homophobic pastor and a former lover living on the down-low, both of whom denounce homosexuality. Religious beliefs about this issue are addressed directly in the play.
I talked about B.R.AIDS with local renown playwright, Dr. John Scott, during a discussion at a local bookstore nd he encouraged me to produce it. But it was the 1990s and I told him I wasn't going to be tarred and feathered and run out of town!
However, I was informed yesterday that B.R.AIDS didn't win the political play contest at Castillo with which James connected me, I guess in an effort to make up for taking all of the credit and money for B.RAIDS (Oh, he and his partner did pay me nearly $800 once, but that was the only time I got paid for B.R.AIDS and two other plays I wrote about HIV/AIDS their company produced. They're both dead forgiven now, but the hurt never goes away.)
I'm more frustrated about not winning the contest than sad.
Now that African-Americans have discovered Broadway, there's a real market for black plays. If ever the timing was right to do B.R.AIDS, it's now after the President's historic announcement supporting marriage equality.
The Village Church here in Toledo, which has a transgender outreach, thanks to Pastor Cheri Holridge, might host a production.
I can't think of a black church here that would.
So if you hear I was tarred and feathered and banned from Toledo, you'll know why.