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September 25, 2009

Two sides: black teen exorcism victim tells Tyra he's no longer gay; gospel singer Tonex comes out

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It’s educational  to feature a contrast between two people, both struggling with their sexual orientation and ending up with polar opposite results in their quests.  The stories of exorcism victim “Jeffrey” and San Diego-based gospel singer Tonex are worlds apart in terms of self-acceptance.



“Jeffrey to Tyra: “I’m healed”

Talk about unbalanced coverage about something that needs in-depth discussion. A few months ago there was a YouTuibe that made its way around the internets that showed a Connecticut teenager being put through a fundamentalist exorcism to rid him of “homosexual demons.” In a “whatever happened to” moment, Tyra Banks featured the young man, who claims the Holy Spirit cast out that demon and that he is now an “ex-gay.” (Rod 2.0):

“Jeffrey” tells Tyra: “I am healed by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit that came into me that day .. and removed the unclean spirit from me. Because I do not want to live the homosexual lifestyle. I have nothing against them if they want to live that way but they have a choice to serve … the Lord.”

The teen says that he has been struggling” with his “sexuality since [he] was five years old” and adds that in his teens he began to “cross-dress” and wear women’s clothing.  The teen also defends Patricia McKinney, the self-proclaimed “prophet” and pastor of Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport, and explains the convulsions and vomiting seen on tape: “That is the unclean spirit moving … out of our body. It tends to shake and move in ways that are not natural.”

The boy appears unsure of himself and coached. He is also concealing his identity and wearing a “beard”. (It probably won’t be the last time, either.) Why did the parents allow the minor to appear on national television?

Good question. This is so sad. And the fact that there is no competent mental health professional to counter the “ex-gay” meme being spouted here is unconscionable.

It is, however, important to expose how fear of ostracism within one’s faith community for minority gays is so powerful. It’s common for many to go back into a padlocked closet than risk social rejection. After all, a black man is not a man, unless he is heterosexual and with a woman. The bible-beating goes on and on, so I’m not surprised at all by this young man’s decision to say he’s cured. Of course some may see this as “curing” works, but all I see is a sad case of a teen whose high-profile exorcism in an oppressive church left him with no other decision in his mind but to comply. But that’s just my 2 cents.

Rod also reports that the teen, after the exorcism, went to a LGBT-affirming church, but then returned under the thumb of Manifest Glory, the family’s church. They were pleased with the results of the exorcism. This is so sick.

***

In the world of black gospel, you won’t find any closet doors kicking open, but you know the genre is full of talented brothers and sisters who are padlocked in tight professionally. One did make the decision to come out strongly in support of his own identity and for LGBT rights. Tonex sat down with Darian Aaron of Darian Out Loud to tell his story.

Gospel Artist Tonex Opens Up About Sexuality

Stellar Award winner and Grammy nominated gospel recording artist Tonex has dealt with rumors regarding his sexuality for almost his entire career.  The son of the late Rev. Dr. Anthony Williams and a minister himself, the accusations of homosexuality have been an enormous threat to his livelihood, ministry, and future as a respected leader in the black faith community in his native San Diego, California.

In 2007 with the release of The Naked Truth and the infamous YouTube video (that has since been pulled) where Tonex’s use of profanity and secular posturing shocked gospel music fans; it seemed  inside this talented singer was a ticking time bomb ready to explode. In that video Tonex emphatically denied being gay, but that was two years ago.

In a recent interview with The Lexi Show produced by The Word Network, Tonex’ boldly opens the closet door in a way that I could never imagine anyone else in the gospel music industry having the courage to do. As a childhood victim of molestation, Tonex’ refuses to blame his same-sex attraction on this experience like many of his colleagues who “struggle” with homosexuality (i.e. Donnie McClurkin) and corrects the interviewer when she attempts to frame the discussion in this way.

“It wasn’t a struggle. And then people like to blame the struggle on molestation. No. Just say you were attracted to men and be honest and quit blaming it on that experience”, says Tonex’.

On homophobia in the black church: “The church has completely faggotized everybody who’s gay, sends them to hell over the pulpit and the church literally screams hooray and are happy about that. And yet, we celebrate the pastor who has a clean record and a clean look, but yet he is still doing the same thing that the same gender loving people are doing. I believe that there’s holy ghost- filled fire baptized gay people.”

Darian’s exclusive interview with Tonex is below the fold.Thanks, Darian, for letting us share this with Blenders. This is essential work. He told me “I believe his story has the ability to empower the black LGBT community or anyone who identifies as LGBT and is struggling to reconcile their sexuality with their faith.” Yes, indeed.

Recording Artist Tonex’ Addresses His Critics, Coming Out, & The Hypocrisy of the Black Church

Recording artist Tonex’ shocked the world and the gospel music industry two weeks ago when he revealed that he was indeed a same gender loving man. After years of speculation and controversy he confirmed his same-sex attraction making him the first and perhaps the last person in the black gospel music industry to do so.  

Was it career suicide?  Well the answer may depend on who you’re talking to and over the past couple of weeks it’s been almost impossible in Christian & black gay circles not to have some sort of opinion on Tonex”. But what does Tonex’ himself think about the fallout from his decision to disclose his sexuality, his personal journey towards truth & freedom, and the hypocrisy and homophobia in the black church?

Loldarian.com sat down with Tonex’ earlier this week in his native San Diego, California and got answers to all of these questions and more. Watch parts one through three of four (part 4 forthcoming) below.

Many thanks to Tonex’, Tim Dillinger, and Tramaine Renee’ for making this happen.


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