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Why ‘They’ Don’t Do Church.

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I have heard a lot of sermons demonizing lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders but none as offensive and spiritually defunct as the message given by Dr. Earl Carter at the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) 107th Holy Convocation. The video has gone viral and even has a part 2 that shows a young gay man claiming deliverance after hearing the rant. I try to remain neutral as it relates to matters of religion and politics but after viewing the video I am forced to speak out and against all he said. For 23 minutes the COGIC Superintendent shared his views and thoughts about gays and their need of banishment from the church. He judged, labeled, and added to the stereotype. He used big words to sound educated and received applauds from those who had no idea what those words even meant. It was a disgrace and the COGIC community should be both humiliated and ashamed.

I am sure there will be some who are going to say I took offense because he spoke ‘truth’; and they will be wrong. I am disgusted because his ‘message’ (for lack of a better word) lacked intelligence and sensitivity. It was an uneducated rant about homosexuals that highlighted his ignorance, as well as those who cheered in agreement. Nothing he said resembled the spirit in which Christ ministered. He was haughty and arrogant in his approach using a tactic that has been shamelessly accepted by the church for generations. He was an embarrassment and despite how many accolades he received from the crowd there was not an ounce of love, compassion, or empathy in anything he said.

Understand that my purpose in writing this is not to defend homosexuality. I believe that everyone should be allowed to believe what they believe. I do not know all the answers; no one does. I love God and do my best to live my life according to my calling and purpose in Him. Yes, I am gay. Yes, I am Christian. Yes, I am a minister. What I am NOT is a scapegoat to make another ‘sinner’ seem more saved. The mere fact that this COGIC Superintendent believes it is his God given assignment to ridicule others in the name of Christ makes me doubt his calling in ministry, as well as his character as a man. Yet, there are countless out there who will disagree with me.

I will admit that at one point in my life this message would have broke my spirits and caused me to walk to the altar for another attempt at ‘deliverance’. It was very dark season for me because I was made to feel unworthy by the pastors and preachers I looked up to. By constantly hearing that I would never be fully used by God kept me in a suppressed mental state. I was depressed and my self esteem was beyond low. Wanting to be closer to God I decided to be ‘straight’ and leave the gay lifestyle altogether. As a result I climbed the ministerial ladder but internally there was an ache. I felt dishonest and although my exterior looked the part I was suffering inside. But what could I do. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted people to respect my anointing. I wanted to continue receiving invites to preach and minister at churches; none of which would be possible if I were openly gay, right? Additionally, I hated that I was pulling beautiful, loving, perfect women into my confused head-space. They were giving 100% and I was giving far, far less than that: unfair but I was doing what the church said I must in order to be accepted. I thank God that he has blessed them all with wonderful loving husbands and beautiful children.

After years of living in their ‘truth’ for me I had to pause and ask God what was ‘my’ truth. It was one of the scariest conversations I ever had because I did not want to lose my Father, but I could no longer lie to myself and those who loved me. After reflecting on how elated everyone was when I told them I was straight, I took a deep breath because I was now about to come out of the closet…again. However, this time I had renewed vision, a renewed mind, and a renewed relationship with Christ. I knew -without argument or debate- who I was in Him and understood that my calling was greater than my sexual orientation. God did not partially fill me with His spirit; I am completely filled. He knew who I was all along but needed me to be OK with me. I can honestly say that I finally am.

Surprisingly enough those in ministry whom I thought would disappear are some of my closest allies. In my life are loyal and dedicated men of God who understand that God is more than a cliché and greater than a catch phrase. I surround myself with people who actually study Gods word. No, we don’t all agree about homosexuality; but we are mature enough to know how to discuss it and remain in affirming relationship with each other. Gay bashing should never acceptable in ministry. We need to let God be God and refrain from using bullying tactics to make people feel less than loved.

The video is a perfect display of how NOT TO share the love of God. There are no redeeming qualities in his words, nothing about the love of God, nothing that would make a person want to know Jesus. All he did was shine the light on an easy target in effort to get the biggest response from a room filled with people who have been victim to that style of preaching for years. Guess what: it worked.
I really wonder how many of those men on the platform are 100% heterosexual? How many went along with the crowd because they did not want to look suspect if they sat down. How many mothers (and fathers) of gay sons and lesbian daughters were disgusted by his message but clapped anyway? Worse than that; how many gay men (who did not fit his stereotypical description) were in the audience?

To make mockery of a person’s worship style in the manner in which he did was totally unacceptable and it’s sad that no one from COGIC or otherwise has stepped up to public correct him. Maybe I am expecting too much from my fellow Christians. I’m not looking for acceptance from the church. All I want is for someone on a level higher than Superintendent Earl Carter to step up and say ‘How you delivered that message was totally wrong. You need to apologize to the people of God.” Am I asking for too much?

My fellow Christians, be careful who you crucify because you never know who God has called according to His purpose. Psalm 105:15 (NIV) Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm. Hopefully you remember that the next time you lift your hands in worship as one of your favorite gospel artist ministers in song.

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Truth-B-Told: the series.

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Beginning in June 2014 seven young Black gay men under the leadership of Dontá Morrison (center) implemented an HIV testing initiative called R3VNG (Reshaping 3 letters through the Voices of the Now Generation) at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) Health & Wellness in Los Angeles, CA. The strategy was created to meet the HIV testing needs associated with program funds received from the Centers for Disease Control. The young men conducted outreach throughout Los Angeles urging people to ‘wear the red scarf’ in effort to promote HIV awareness and testing. The campaign was well received yet they desired to do more….much more.

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Listening to the plea of the young men Dontá created a series that would expand their audience and take their HIV prevention work to the next level. Realizing that the positive voices of the now generation are oftentimes overshadowed by images and actions that depict them in a less than favorable light, Dontá challenged the young men to step up and speak out about issues they find most challenging. The result is a 10 episode web-series that is insightful as well as entertaining.

After receiving a grant from the Goodwin Family Trust he reached out to Bawn Media Group, Inc. in hopes of acquiring their support in taking the idea to the next level. They excitedly agreed, believing that their message deserved to be shared with the masses. The filming of the series was an extraordinary opportunity for all involved. Current messaging about young gay Black men can be one-sided but Truth-B-Told provides another perspective. One that can hopefully shed additional light on how to best reach and understand young Black gay men.

The series launched on Friday October 24th and is already receiving great feedback. A new episode will air every Friday night at 7:30 (PST) on YouTube. With your support the voices of these young men can go viral and spark additional conversations about methods and best practices for increasing HIV prevention, education, awareness and testing with communities (gay and straight) nationwide.

Click here for the R3VNG YouTube page

Click here for more info on Bawn Media

Click here for more info on R3VNG

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Reshaping 3 letters through the Voices of the Now Generation

Instagram: @R3VNG

Twitter: @R3VNG

FB: R3VNG

Diggin’ Deep with Dontá

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There is nothing like facing a fear and conquering it. For the longest time friends have been encouraging me to do something beyond blog writing. They would always say ‘we love your writings but people need to hear your live voice’. I never really understood the push because I feel that my words are just as much my voice as anything else. However, I would resonate on the suggestions and then file it way back in my mental Rolodex. It was not until a recently sharing dialogue with a close friend that I accepted the fact that ‘yes, deep down I really did want to do more, but I had a fear.’ You may be asking what the fear is/was, and I will gladly share it.

Growing up I always felt different. I was able to ‘fit in’ because of a chameleon like gift I was blessed with but there was always an awkwardness I felt whenever around too many people. I didn’t feel like an outcast, nor can I say I was a victim of bullies (yet, there was one kid in particular whom I loathed with every fiber of my being) but I do know that there was a difference in me that I was not fully understanding. During adolescence there was one thing I hated about myself that haunted me well into my adult life. For some odd reason my speaking voice never seemed to change. In high school I still had the voice of an elementary school kid. No depth, no bass, no hard resonance when I spoke. It was soft, simple, non-intimidating; and I hated it. I wanted to walk in the room and speak with authority like King Jaffe Jaffur from the film Coming America. Instead, I sounded like a softer version on an 8-year-old Michael Jackson (an over exaggeration of course, but it’s how I felt at the time). I was teased incessantly because of its softness and built up somewhat of a complex. The one good thing I could and still can do with my voice is sing. I have a phenomenal range and once I embraced that gift it was all good. But, who sings their way through life: as far as conversations are concerned.

Let’s fast forward twenty plus years to my current life. Although I have spoken on platforms all across the country, sharing information about HIV/AIDS, sexual health, and other topics relating to sex, there was always a hint of fear at how my voice would be received. Yes, it has deepened but still not to the depths I thirsted for. What is even funnier is that I am a minister. What do most ministers do? They preach…to the masses. As much as I love preaching, teaching, educating and such, one would think I love hearing the sound of my own voice: not. To top it all off I have been singing (alto) with the same gospel group -Min. Victor Bell and Halel- for almost twenty years. Check us out on the Oxygen T.V Show ‘Fix My Choir’ airing on November 5th (shameless plug).

Diggin’ Deep with Dontá is my new project that I am so excited about it. It is a long overdue venture that I pray garners the momentum and support it deserves. I am talking about things that others shy away from. I don’t want to have a fluff show because there are enough of those out there. I also don’t want something that is so heavy people leave feeling waited and tired. My desire is to have a show that people can listen to, comment on, laugh about, and grow from. No judgment, no finger-pointing, no off-putting comments that create guilt; just a show that will promote accountability in an each-one-teach-one style manner. Hopefully you will listen in and be a part of my ‘fearless’ experience.

Once a week I allow people from all over the world to hear me, sight unseen. I am not in front of them trying to balance out my image with my voice. I am open and vulnerable for them to create any type of look they desire. But you know what? For the first time in my life I don’t care. I am fine with whatever perception they have of me based upon how ‘soft’ my voice may sound. The hilarious part is that my voice only may sound ‘soft’ to me. Others listening may quite well be like (insert base) ‘wow his voice is deep!’

The show airs every Monday night at 10pm PST on Blogtalk radio. I am proud of myself for shaking off the past and seeing that my future depends on my abilities to face my fears head on and press past them.

Click here to go to: Diggin’ Deep with Donta on Blogtalk Radio

HIV Test? Nah….I’m good.

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Believe it or not, no one really wants to have HIV. Yes, it is a virus you can live with and we see wonderful billboards of people living healthy lives but,  does anyone really want to contract the virus. As a HIV test counselor I am responsible for informing people if they are HIV positive or negative. It is never an easy task letting someone know they have HIV but I would rather they know than walk around unknowingly infecting others. However, I always come across those who have reasons for not taking a HIV test. Below are some of the reasons I hear. Which one is your excuse?


I was just tested last week. 

It is amazing the amount of people who were just tested the week before I offered a test. What are the odds of that? Maybe I should have asked a week earlier; oh, but guaranteed I would still be week too late.

I’m not gay.

You’re also dated in your thoughts about the virus. HIV being labeled as a ‘gay disease’ is so 80’s. In case you haven’t noticed, people from all walks of life are contracting the virus: gay, straight, Black, White, Brown, Christian, Atheist, scholarly, and street. Pick a genre and I guarantee they have a HIV positive representative.

I only top dudes, I’m never the bottom.

Sooooooooooooo being a ‘top’ is your safer sex practice? Anal sex is anal sex and whether you are the giver or receiver you’re still at risk. HIV infection can occur during sexual activity. Sex is safe only if there is no HIV, no blood or sexual fluids, or no way for HIV to get into the body. That being said, YOU -unprotected- inside any sexual orifice (anus or vagina) is a risk.

I don’t like needles.

That’s funny, because you are covered in tattoos and you even have your tongue pierced. However, just for clarity, the device used to obtain blood for the test is a lancet. Although it is similar to a needle the feeling is closer to getting your ears pierced. The lancet has a rapid fire feel to it, whereas the needle must go into the arm and withdraw blood, a lancet merely pricks the surface causing a droplet of blood to form. Trust me when I say that you would rather be tested via a lancet than walk around unknowingly infected.

I don’t feel sick.

Neither did a majority of the people who found out they were HIV positive. There are little to no signs of HIV infection. The best way to know your HIV status is to get tested.

I don’t have a lot of time right now.

The rapid HIV test takes 20 minutes. Better yet, the Insti test (the one I administer) takes 60 seconds. That being said, are you still short on time? I mean, the time it took you to think of that excuse was longer than the test time.

You guys are not offering any incentives.

WHAT?!?! I need to pay you to find out your HIV status? I cannot even begin to elaborate on how asinine this mentality is. However, it is no fault of the client that we have created a system that makes them think they are doing us a favor by finding out the status of their health.


 

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Of course there are lots more but these are the top used. What is your excuse for not getting tested? Does it make sense to everyone, or just you? Remember, there are no signs or symptoms and everyone needs to know their status. Before engaging in intercourse with a new partner, KNOW THEIR STATUS. This is not about judgment, it is about staying healthy. I don’t care if you have over a hundred partners, or just two solid ones; get tested.

Click here for more info about HIV and AIDS