Bishop Eddie Long, head of the megachurch New Birth Missionary Baptist Church who is being sued by two men for allegedly coercing them to have sex with him, is making local and national headlines. But for LGBT activists, the news may not come as too much of a surprise.
In 2005, black gay activists Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick wrote a series of profiles of anti-gay preachers titled, “Outing Black Pastors.” One of those preachers was Long.
Eddie Long was target of ‘outing’ campaign by black gay activists in 2005
Long was targeted by Cannick and Boykin for leading a march of some 10,000 people through the streets of Atlanta on Dec. 11, 2004, from the Martin Luther King Center to Turner Field to support the state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The march, titled “Reigniting the Legacy,” also focused on three other issues: “wealth creation,” including home ownership for minorities and small business support; “education reform” addressing charter schools and how to lessen drop-out rates; and “health care,” to bring awareness that higher disease and mortality statistics are higher in minority communities.
Long also has publicly stated that gay men and women can change their “lifestyle” through faith and prayer.
The purpose of the “Outing Black Pastors” series by Boykin and Cannick was to present the anti-gay rhetoric many of the most popular and recognized black preachers were preaching each week in their churches. While the profiles did not specifically say the preachers were gay, Cannick and Boykin stated at the end of the profiles, “people who are comfortable with their sexuality usually don’t care as much about other people’s sexuality” and then posed the question whether each pastor could be gay.
“We’re presenting the facts,” Cannick told the now defunct Window Media news company in September 2005 when the online series launched.
“Most gay blacks go to black churches rather than gay churches, so it’s not as if we’re not already in the house. We have heard for years that this pastor and that pastor is gay. We know that some are leading double lives. It’s time to lay it out in black and white,” she added.
Boykin also said at the time when the profiles were written that he was not a fan of outing for the sake of outing.
“But I do believe in targeting homophobic ministers. We knew a lot of people — gay and straight — would be upset [with the series]. But we have been too nice for far too long.”
In addition to Long, Cannick and Boykin profiled other high-profile preachers such as Rev. Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., T.D. Jakes of Potter’s House nondenominational church in Dallas, and Rev. Gregory Daniels of Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago.