Kim Burrell Reminds Us How the Black Church Uses, Abuses Gay Christians

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Kim Burrell Reminds Us How the Black Church Uses, Abuses Gay Christians

Gospel music undeniably has a queerness at its roots that has not only shaped the genre but it has continued to give gospel music its enduring vibrancy. One of black gospel’s darling and Pentecostal preacher Kim Burrell was ousted from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, sending shock waves throughout the African American community.

Burrell along with Pharrell Williams were invited to promote their duet “I See Victory” from the soundtrack of the film “Hidden Figures”. However, Burrell’s homophobic homily about the “perverted homosexual spirit” has created a tsunami of tweets and comments on social media publicly denouncing her vitriol by a younger generation of African Americans entertainers- both LGBTQ and straight—not seen in previous years.

Rhythm & Soul Music awardee Janelle Monáe stars in the film and R&B and Hip-Hop songwriter Frank Ocean, who both are openly queer, have had visceral reactions to Burrell’s rant. Ocean’s mother wants Burrell removed from her son’s 2016 album “Blonde” and Monáe took her comments to Instagram.

"I unequivocally repudiate ANY AND ALL hateful comments against the LGBTQ community… We cannot sit Idly by nor will we speak silently when we are confronted with such violence against members of our community.” 

What has always made me shake my head in utter disgust is not only how most African American gospel church choirs of any note have LGBTQ singers but how they also actively seek us out as ministers of music.  

“The virtuosity of gay singers, musicians and composers has been the driving force in developing popular gospel choirs — even chart-topping, Grammy-winning acts — that make money for a church, help expand congregations and raise the profiles of pastors,” NPR reported in its 2012 segment titled “Blacks, Gays and The Church: A Complex Relationship.”

Gospel music undeniably has a queerness at its roots that has not only shaped the genre but it has continued to give gospel music its enduring vibrancy.

One of the black church denominations largest influence in the musical genre is the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) that Burrell belong to. COGIC is the largest African American and largest Pentecostal church in the United States. And as the largest denominational black church in the country it is also the loudest in rebuking homosexuality.

With many of the gospel music industry mega-stars-  from COGIC, the church's charismatic worship style shouts to a black