The morning of Sunday, January 15, 2016, I got on Twitter to see that Bishop Eddie Long had passed away. My immediate thought was, “Oh, this is gonna be some mess.” And surely, mess it was.
Especially being that his death is coming right off the heels of Kim Burrell’s intense homophobic rant where she very matter-of-factly singled out Eddie Long and cast a spell of death over the entire community and deemed us all to hell.
As I followed the events on the internet, many church folks, both local church folks I follow on social media and famous gospel recording artists and popular pastors, Eddie Long had an overwhelming amount of support and empathy coming from the Black church.
This puzzled me. I am puzzled.
I am confused because just a week ago, the same people that are mourning Long’s death with such compassion and grace were spewing hate to the entire LGBTQ community and using the Bible to justify it.
Eddie Long is the same man who “allegedly” sexually assaulted five teen boys; four of them being members of his church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
One of the young men, Centino Kemp, wrote a book detailing the abusive relationship between him and Long. It discusses in detail a violent episode between the Bishop and Kemp in 2006. The book also discusses their secretive, sexual relationship, and financial gifts and lavish trips funded by Long, a sentiment that the other victims also claim to be true.
Eddie Long is also the same man who overtly spoke out against same-sex marriage-going as far as to lead an anti-gay march in 2004 in Atlanta. He also held a “Sexual Orientation and Reorientation Conference” for queer Christians at his church titled “Out Of the Wilderness” where he tried to convert queer folks straight in 2005-all the while maintaining sexually abusive relationships with underage members of his own church.
Long is a prime example of the hypocrisy that runs deep in the Black church.
Long is also a by-product of violent patriarchy that allows powerful men to do and say what they want with no repercussions; never having to take accountability for their actions.
It is disheartening to me that the Black church championed around Long while ignoring the claims of the wronged.
It is disheartening to me that no one acknowledges the pain Long forced upon members of his own church.
It is even more disheartening to me that no one acknowledges the pain the Black church, as a whole, routinely forces upon the LGBTQ community.
I think it’s high time that the Black church takes an introspective look and examine our true values and what we’re teaching our children. The Black church has been the cornerstone of the Black community for centuries. Navigating the oppressive nature of this country and this world, the church was and continues to be a source of hope, devotion, and comfort. But what is the message we are sending our kids when the predators are praised and the victims are demonized and disregarded? As Son of Baldwin posted on Medium, “In this country, we love ovum and sperm. We love zygotes and embryos. We even love fetuses. But we do not — no, we absolutely do not — love children.”
I, personally, don’t feel a way about Eddie Long’s death. If anything, I hope that his death leads to a holistic conversation of the hypocrisy running rampant in the Black church that is accompanied by deeply-bedded misogyny and homophobia.