Much Ado Over Outing
Jasmyne Cannick

No single article that I have ever written or protest that I have participated in has garnered as much attention as the “Outing Black Pastors” campaign that I did with my colleague Keith Boykin.

It was a simple idea hatched in a casual conversation of Black gay activists while in Washington D.C. Frustrated with the increasing number of attacks on same-gender loving people by Black pastors, we decided to take action. The action in this case was calling out Black pastors on their hypocrisy as it relates to the gay community and their relationship to the current Bush Administration.

The outline of the campaign was straightforward. Each day for one week Keith and I profiled a Black pastor highlighting his relationship with the Bush Administration, recent homophobic gay comments, and ending with the question, is this pastor gay? Starting with mega church pastors Bishop Eddie Long and T.D. Jakes, we included profiles of other prominent pastors including Los Angeles' Noel Jones and Bishop Charles Blake, D.C.'s Reverend Willie Wilson, Chicago's Reverend Gregory Daniels, New Orleans' Bishop Paul Morton, Georgia's Creflo Dollar, and ended with a joint profile of ex-gay gospel singer Donnie Mclurkin.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with asking a question. My experience has shown that the people who are the most adamant on certain issues also tend to be dealing with their own issues. People who are comfortable with who they are usually don't care as much about what other people are doing. Which lead me to an obvious question, are these pastor's gay?

Remember that despite all of his racist rhetoric, Senator and former segregationist the late Strom Thurmond fathered a Black daughter to everyone's surprise. Conservative pundit and frequent Republican candidate, Alan Keyes caused a stir during the 2004 Republican convention by labeling Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter a sinner and calling homosexuality "selfish hedonism." Alan Keyes' daughter Maya is a lesbian.

Being able to point out the hypocrisy that exists in our community is why we have a democracy.

To date, I have received over 1,000 emails regarding this campaign and they still continue to come in. While a good number of the responses that I have received regarding this campaign are positive, I will say that I have received many threats against my life for “bringing harm to a man of God.” And if the email wasn't a threat against my life I was blasted for speaking badly about men of God, not notifying the pastors ahead of time and put on notice that I was going to be on a direct path to hell, as opposed to a more scenic view.

Do I have remind you that anyone can claim to be a man of God? Jim Jones said he was a man of God and because of him 913 people, many of whom were Black are dead. President Bush claims he is a man of God and was called upon by God to lead this country and look at where we are today. Reverend Craig Ward of the Brookins African Methodist Episcopal Church considers himself to be a man of God, but he was still arrested in Oakland for trying to negotiate a 20-dollar oral sex act.

So you see, claiming that you are a man or woman of God does not automatically elevate you to sainthood, at least not in my book.

The other issue that people took offense to was not notifying the pastors ahead of time that they were going to be the subjects of a vicious attack.

Well, I don't recall a memo ever coming across my desk saying that this Sunday's sermon was going to condemn me and those like me to hell. But I am supposed to send them advanced notice on what I plan to do. Seems like a double standard to me.

Depending on what you believe, heaven and hell are both up for interpretation as is religion period.

I find it hard to believe that someone who has never been to hell and does not know for a fact who's in hell, knows that I am going to hell. Until you can send me a link to a Mapquest with clear directions on how to get to Lucifer's lair, I reserve the right to question your claim that I am going to hell, or even heaven for that matter.

To date, the campaign never specifically “outed” anyone as it pertains to his or her sexual orientation and possible secret sex lives. However, we did expose in depth the ties that certain Black pastors have with the Bush Administration, which is equally dangerous and harmful to Black communities.

In order to institute change, sometimes you have to deviate from traditional methods. That was the case with this campaign. We pushed the envelope and brought the discussion of homophobia in the Black church and President Bush's Faith Based Initiative to mainstream Black America. Had we done just another article about yet another Black preacher spewing hate against gays, we probably wouldn't have garnered as much attention as this single campaign did.

In the words of the great Malcolm X, “ usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”

This campaign was a way to fight back and to challenge the validity and authority of people using God and religion as a way to oppress a group of people. It sent a clear message that there are those of us in the community, gay and non-gay that are tired of the hypocrisy and double standards where it concerns same-gender loving people and took this conversation out of the Black gay community and introduced it to mainstream Black America.

Personally, I feel that it is my right and my responsibility to get up each and every day and fight oppression in all of its many forms, government, big business, and yes the church. I feel especially duty bound to take up the issue of homophobic Black pastors so that they can redeem themselves before it's too late and go to heaven with me and everyone else, including lesbian and gays that have earned a place up there.

Our campaign may have been the first of its kind, but it is a part of a much larger movement of oppressed voices beginning to speak up for themselves. The days of silence on these issues are long gone on the Black community.

Copyright © 2005. Used by permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

About Jasmyne Cannick
Chosen by ESSENCE Magazine as one of 25 Women Shaping the World, Jasmyne Cannick is a social and political commentator and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Based in Los Angeles, she can be reached via her website at

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