Sikivu Hutchinson tells an important story at Religion Dispatches.
On Sunday morning I went to a church service for the first time in decades.
I was there as a community member to support Pastor Seth Pickens of Zion Hill Baptist church in South Los Angeles. A few days before, I’d received an urgent plea from Teka-Lark Fleming, publisher of the local Morningside Park Chronicle newspaper, encouraging progressive black folk to show up at Zion Hill in support of Seth’s pro-LGBTQ stance.
After publishing a column entitled “The 10 Reasons I Love LGBTQ folk” in Fleming’s paper, Pickens came under fire from church officials. The controversy erupted on the heels of internal criticism he’d received for performing a marriage ceremony for a lesbian couple last year.
Well yes; that would be a compelling reason to go to a church service.
The controversy at Zion Hill is emblematic of a national climate in which traditional black churches are increasingly being challenged on their homophobic policies. Nonetheless, the rhetoric that homosexuality is a white European phenomenon artificially imposed on African descent peoples is still a recurring theme in some black churches. Recently the ATLAH church in Harlem made headlines for a viciously homophobic marquee sign equating homosexuality with whiteness. And terrorist anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Nigeria (sparked and endorsed in no small part by the anti-gay crusades of white American evangelicals) has heightened the stereotype that both African and African descent people are inherently more homophobic than other groups.
Leo Igwe and Yemisi Ilesanmi have both written about this “homosexuality is un-African” bullshit. Props to Sikivu for doing what she can to support Pastor Seth Pickens.