Spirited: Affirming the Soul and Black Gay/Lesbian Identity.
Edited by G. Winston James and Lisa C. Moore
RedBone Press, 2006
IN A SOCIETY WHERE EVERYONE IS USUALLY ASSUMED to be heterosexual, it's natural that introspection would come with awakening to your queer identity. In this exciting collection of essays, readers walk alongside Black queers as they recount their paths to self-love in the context of religion and spirituality.
For those who have been told that homosexuality is "an abomination before God" in the Black churches of their youth, it's refreshing that Spirited features the first-person narratives of several Black lesbian Christian ministers. With sharpness and striking vulnerability, they detail their discovery that sexual minorities are not an exception to God's love. Tonda S. Clark, for example, in her essay "The Journey to Myself," has been successful at finding a safe space within a religion that largely rejects same-gender-loving people.
In many of the essays, like Clarence J. Fluker's "A Nation Divided," decades-old anger against homophobia in the Black Church and subsequent internalized shame for one's queerness has now found an outlet on the page, poured through a filter of self-acceptance that revisions a God who accepts all and finally allows old wounds to heal.
Not surprisingly, many contributors to the volume have gone in search of and claimed spiritual traditions outside of mainstream Black Christianity, including Buddhism, New Thought, Shamanism, Voodun and Yoruba. These mostly intriguing narratives of healing practices that honor the Black queer's search for authentic spiritual expression widen commonly held perceptions about Black religious practice in the United States.
While Spirited is successful in helping strip away yet another layer of forced silence and shame from Black same-gender-loving people, it's also obvious that this is the first time many of these writers are trying to make sense of their sexuality and spirituality in written form. In some instances, the essays sound like teenage diary entries, while others like Earthyn Manuel's "Still Waters Run Deep" are digested vignettes written in solid prose.
Ultimately in Spirited, all roads lead to self-blessing. "Coming out" as Rev. Beverly Saunders Biddle describes in her essay "Answering the Call," is not just about coming out as queer, it is about coming into one of the gifts of the spiritual life: a complete self love.
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|Date:||May 1, 2007|
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