Darryl L. Foster was near suicide after leaving the church.
He was gay, black and Christian.
“I was left thinking I was going to hell with no other options,” he said. “The gay community is attractive when the church turns its back on you.”
Years later, he went on to found Witness Freedom Ministries in Atlanta, which attempts to lead men and women out of homosexuality.
Foster says the loneliness he suffered in those years was a product of the pervasive denial of homosexuality in black churches.
The Rev. Charles Goodman, the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta, has never preached on the subject, but says he might have no choice now that Bishop Eddie Long, the pastor of a mega-church in Lithonia, Ga., has been accused of coercing four young men into sex.
“It’s birthed out of our community, where it’s taboo. We’ve just taken a position that we would rather not talk about it. We know it’s there,” Goodman said. “Now we’ll have to talk about it. The church ought to be involved in the conversation.”
In the mid-’90s, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice organized the National Black Church Initiative to break the silence in the church surrounding sexuality.
The group conducts an annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality, which draws hundreds and sometimes thousands , said Marjorie Signer , the director of communications for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
One program of the initiative, Breaking the Silence, challenges black churches to move from a state of denial into healthy, inclusive, faith-based dialogue.
“There’s been this real tendency in the community to reject the idea of homosexuality because it undermines the family, and it undermines men. It threatens masculinity,” Signer said. “There are so many factors reinforcing the silence.”
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