At the Intersections: On Being Black and Queer at a Black Baptist Church

At the Intersections: On Being Black and Queer at a Black Baptist Church February 24, 2015

mblgtaccMany good people live and work at the intersections, and I occasionally invite someone to tell a story from where they stand. Today’s piece comes from Brittany Spaulding, a Chicagoan who will graduate from Illinois College this May.  Brittany looks forward to starting work on her MFA in Poetry at Columbia College Chicago in the fall.  She is a Chihuahua enthusiast. When she’s not writing poetry, Brittany spends her free time volunteering at a local animal shelter.  I travelled with Brittany and several other Illinois College students to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference a few weeks ago (which I wrote about here), and asked Brittany to read this poem as the opening for my workshop on responding to religious homophobia.


On Being Black and Queer at a Black Baptist Church


Today’s sermon is about keeping faith,

but somehow my pastor masterfully weaves in

Leviticus 18:22, I Corinthians 6:9-11, I Corinthians 7:2,

Romans 1:26-27, Jude 1:7, Leviticus 20:13,

I Timothy 1:10, Mark 10:6-9.


God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve

is a part of his creed.

He believes the puzzles of sexuality

can only be solved the way

he has been taught

to solve them.


This system allows for one answer,

no crookedness, no unstraightness,

no queers

although there are queers.


And he thinks he knows

exactly where to look

during this sermon:

at the choir director,

the flamboyant little boy

my grandmother gossips about,

at me out in the audience.

He noticed my mouth did not utter

an Amen with the rest of the congregation.

Their hearts: hardened like the stones

the Pharisees did not have the audacity

to throw.



I remember being in the closet

too, too

afraid of what church folk thought of me

so I never was myself, fully.


They say only God is omniscient;

can be in more than one place,

can be more than one being

at once.

Well, so am I.

I have been in the closet

and at the church, simultaneously.

Closets are the best hiding place,

especially when the monsters thrive

in pulpits,

behind podiums,

in congregation pews,

waiting to devour you.

I, too, have been

the abandoned piece of gum

stuck to the underside of a pew:

there, but forgotten.

I, too, have been

the cold marble floor:

lying still while they rejoiced

and trampled on my existence.


Lying still

like a church marble floor.


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