Movement 162: Blackness, Queerness, and the Missio Dei

Like every marginalized group, Black communities and LGBTQIA+ communities have safe spaces. They are spaces of inclusion that foster safety, belonging, and sometimes family. These two groups often experience similar rejection and discrimination but at the same time can fiercely be opposed to each other. Many Black churches and communities feel an uncomfortable resonance when the Queer community uses the fight for gay rights and equates it to the fight for Black rights. At the same time, queer communities often exclude or do not engage Black people because they have already made up their mind on their personal views about their personhood. When you add the Christian community in with the Black Community and the Queer community it then becomes muddy water of complication and complex identity. Father Jerel Robinson-Brown, an Anglican minister in London, writes about this intersectional approach to identity in a chapter in the Book of  Queer Prophets.  

Imago Dei

For many Black Queer Christians, this balancing act of understanding their identity can feel overwhelming, if not traumatic. A feeling of constant rejection and in a world that people desperately want to feel cared for, loved and accepted. A sense of identity is something that we all crave. This is a part of our humanity and how God has created us to be.  It’s the same sense that the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures continued to cry out for. It is the acceptance that Esther looked for in her leadership and it’s the acceptance that we all look for with our friends, families, and faith communities. The Psalmist tells us that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made”. This image of the Creator of the universe handcrafting each of us to be who we ought to be is the doctrine of Imago Dei. Augustine taught that true freedom is not a choice or lack of constraint but being what you are meant to be. Humans were created in the image of God. True freedom, then, is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it out. This acceptance is something that, if you have been around the Church long enough, you know God desires for you. The question is, does his people? 

Missing Colours of the Rainbow 

The Queer community at times can make Black folk feel inadequate. Statements on media platforms for gay men saying, “No Blacks or no Chocolate” can attempt to make a Black man feel unwanted and dehumanized. At the same time, statements like, “She is pretty for a black woman”, is so normalised that I doubt a reader has never heard that statement, and it is in our queer vernacular. Black trans women are being murdered without mass protest or even a column in Gay mass media. Queerness should not be hostile to the experiences of Black folk or blackness. But in the mainline queer practices in media, relationships, and friendships, Blackness overall has become identified with otherness. Preferences have become a normalised euphemism for discrimination. The rainbow cannot be a sign of joy and peace if it doesn’t recognize the missing colours. It ceases to be a rainbow. Queer people need to examine the onslaught of anti-blackness not just in the overall culture but in their homes, night clubs, and brunch clubs. Blackness is polyphony. It’s multi-textured and free from one dominant voice and way of being. Blackness moves and creates. It bends and shapeshifts and resists normativity. It’s queer. 

To read the full article, see Movement issue 162.