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Annual Report 2016

ANNUAL REPORT YEAR 2016
We began this year with the consciousness that this was the final year of our grant from the New York Foundation. We reduced some our of our program activities and focused more directly pm securing the administrative structure of the organization. We were able to secure two grants (Robin Hood and The Sharing Fund) for program expenses. We affirmed that we would continue to function as basically a volunteer working board using consultants for specific tasks. As we ended the year, we will continue our efforts to secure administrative and organizational development funds. In our upcoming board retreat , we will be developing a long time strategic plan and taking responsibilities for future programs.
Purpose of the NY Foundation Fifth Year Grant: Two challenge negative values, hate speech and hostility that Black LGBT people face in the faith community.
Our goals for the year have been: To develop a plan for moving the organization to the next level of functioning

We developed a job description for an administrative coordinator and website manager. We were able to obtain funds from the Robin Hood Foundation to employ a consultant who would organize our direct work with Black clergy around issues of concern to the LGBT community… homeless gay youth. The person employed organized a group of clergy who engaged in planning and implementing a citywide clergy , providers and youth people to discuss the issues and problems around the care of gay LGBT youth. An chair oversaw this effort. The committee successfully held the citywide clergy with co-sponsorship from the Metropolitan LGBT Gay Youth Clinic. To our knowledge this was the first time that an event focusing on Black homeless gay youth was called for members of our community.

Growing out of the need identified in this event, the committee held a second event as a fundraiser for a local homeless youth center.
Our monies from the Sharing Fund allowed us to transfer paper records to hard drives. All fiscal reports were brought up to date and IRS and NYS Charitable reports were filed up to date. Since we had worked under a fiscal agent for several years, all of our fiscal records had to be created to file required documents. This work had not been done by the fiscal agent.

A treasurer was elected and all fiscal records were removed from the office of the Administrative Coordinator to her care. New banking records were opened with signatures of the new officers.
We accepted two new board members who brought additional skills to our functioning . Our bylaws were also revised and brought into compliance with new requirements. We did this work with the assistance of the Lawyers’ Alliance

 

Goal: To analyze the organizational costs for the last five years and establish discreet costs for programs that we will continue

Based on an analysis of the program expenditures , we have been able to develop a yearly organizational budget that will cover our program expenses. This does not include costs for an administrative person. Using the established budget we will be able to plan more efficiently within the limitations of our monies.
We will continue our fund-raising efforts focusing on raising salary for an administrative person. For the last years, we have functioned with a volunteer administrator. Four of our workers engaged with CRE in refining our goals and work objectives while evaluating the ways in which we are presenting ourselves in proposals. We developed a clear concise draft of a proposal to use for future fund-raising.
Goal : To work with others and establish visibility and legitimacy within our community.

We continue to have strong working relationships with Black LGBT community members . We have been founding members of the Circle of Life Celebration and the LGBT Community 10 Black and Latino Task Force that will become the NYC Equality Coalition. Our ties are strong as members of the Mayor’s and The City Council Faith Based and LGBT Networks.

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Statement Against President Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent joins with other organizations, individuals, and advocacy groups in voicing its opposition on the recently announced decision to, effectively, try to reverse years of discriminatory practices against our transgendered sisters and brothers serving in the military.

Our Transgender and Gender Non-conforming persons are not a distraction; they are valuable, loving, committed, and productive members of this society.

Faith Leaders of African Descent will continue to educate and advocate on behalf of our communities, because hate, discrimination , and intolerance should not, and will not, be tolerated in this “Great Society.”#LetThemServe

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LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent

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LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent is a 501(c)3 organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and same gender loving people of African Descent and their allies formed to serve as ambassadors and educators to oppose discrimination, exclusion or intimidation of LGBT persons in our society and particularly in our church communities.

Who We Are
We are a group composed of clergy, divinity students, and faith leaders who represent diverse interdenominational religious institutions.  As people of faith, we believe in the spiritual values of love, inclusiveness, and respect for all people.

CLICK HERE to learn more about LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent.

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A Note to Kim Burrell: We All Have a Seat at God’s Table

KB Post Burrell
By F. Romall Smalls
A version of this Op-Ed ran on Religonnews.com
What do you say to your aunt, parent, fellow fraternity/sorority member, or neighbor who thinks you are perverted and going to hell for being Same Gender Loving, Bisexual, Trans or Queer (SGLBTQ)?
By now many have heard about and/or seen the homophobic rant expressed by the gospel singer Kim Burrell that grabbed headlines and set Twitter chirping recently.  The backlash to her comments was swift- with canceled national television appearances and the termination of her local public radio show. It is important to note however, to those of us in religious communities that even if the controversy of Ms. Burrell’s statements, which were made during what was supposed to have been a preaching moment, may recede from the national spotlight the issue of what goes on in the vast majority of American churches remains open like a festering wound. I say this because the truth of the matter is, that what Ms. Burrell said is not unlike what is preached from pulpits on any given Sunday or said with fervent conviction in the choir loft or in the church van after Bingo Night anywhere in the USA. Homophobia has been the prevailing theology not only within the African American church, but also in white, Latino, Asian and Native American churches alike for decades- and that’s the real problem we must face as we seek to talk and think about faith, God and humanity.

So how do we live together and worship in the same communities where most believe that the bible and their faith stipulates that being Gay is an abomination to God and guarantees eternal death? Never did I imagine that Beyoncé’s little sister, Solange latest work of art, “Seat at the Table” would have the prophetic answer to such a vexing issue, but she does.

I believe God has exclaimed for generations that we ALL have a seat at God’s table.  Yes, all of us no matter the human definitions, boxes or labels we may use, we ALL have a seat at God’s table. I noticed something powerful and different in how this latest example of homophobic hermeneutics was met from times past. This time it do not go away quietly like a soothing baby in the back of the church. No, this time those of us who are often on the receiving end of pulpit pronouncements of eternal damnation stood up and said NO MORE! We, the preverbal outcasts and rejects (the kind of folks Jesus said he came to liberate) are tiered of sitting by passively as our own people castigate and seek to disconnect us from God. No misguided, biblical literalist can distort or destroy the sanctity of our lived lives and salvific testimonies as children of God, crated out of divine, unconditional love with a purpose.

You may not understand this and that’s OK, but please know that many SGLBTQ people have heard and received the full gospel of Jesus the Christ, not just the letters of the Apostle Paul, and we have truly been set free from shame, self-doubt, and fear of ecclesiastic retribution. Instead of worrying about the particulars of how we express our love sexually, I kindly ask that you speak with us about our testimony of how we live and still find joy even in adversity.

Ask us what motivates us to live instead of speaking death into our lives. Take the time to make the word “love” an action verb and not a doubled edged sword of affliction. We may not be able to stop you from how you read the bible but will not allow you or anyone on this earth take away our seat at God’s table.

The invitation has been sent to whoever will come to the table and many SGLBTQ folks have gladly taken our seat. Because we have found our station at God’s table, we now stand up and speak out because we know the toll of living a life burdened by depression, silence, suicide, and desperation has on anyone. Your un-Christ like words, actions and beliefs ravage the spiritual and physical health of so many of us, and we say no more.
We stand at the gates of God’s holy estate, pointing to all those tricked by the lie that, “God loves you but hates your the sin,” proclaiming the good news that the wages of sin have already been paid by the One who is our redeemer. We will let all of God’s children know that no matter how you may feel about yourself or what you have been told, you STILL have a seat at God’s table because God provided it- not humankind or the church. You have a home and a resting place in Christ Jesus not because any of us earned it, but simply because it was freely, graciously prepared for all of us out of unconditional love.
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F. Romall Smalls, M.Div. is the Associate Minister for Social Justice at Grace Baptist Church, in Mount Vernon, NY, is vice chairperson of the LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent (FLoAD) and also the Spiritual Care Counselor at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)  in New York, NY.  Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @romall06.
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Who is to receive God’s love? A Response to Kim Burrel’s Homophobic Sermon

By Dr. Wilhelmina Perry

Dr. wilhelmina-perry

 

Dr. Wilhelmina Perry holds a masters in social work and a doctorate in human behavior and leadership. She has been a social work faculty, administrator of not-for-profit institutions and community educator. Dr. Perry currently serves as Administrative Coordinator of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent.

 

Within the last weeks, there has been quite a bit of discussion on social media in reference to the statements made by gospel singer Kim Burrell. Burrell was heard, on a video, making strong negative remarks about gay people. There are those who spoke in favor of her remarks and those equally opposed to what they judged to be hate speech. I, as an Afro-American lesbian, heard the remarks as hate speech endangering the lives of all members of my community, including the gay children and youth.

Some folks consider that we, same-gender-loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer folk are being overly dramatic and horribly cruel when we push back on the religious singer. We are told that she is a “woman of God” and she is exercising her free speech and religious freedom to call out the “sins” of gay people. We are being accused of defaming her with charges that she is using her public platform to spread hate and harm. For us, our actions are not dramatic or misplaced. This is a matter of life and death for our lives and the lives of the young people of our community.

When I hear of the many Black youth who are homeless, thrown out of their families’ homes because they are gay, it is a matter of life and death. When I hear of the homeless young people who are sleeping on buses and subway cars, in doorways and on friends’ couches because they cannot access the limited number of shelter beds for homeless gay youth, it is life and death. Too often, these young people are ill prepared to function independently. Some are as young as 13 years of age. Clearly, they have insufficient formal education and they have no marketable skills. Frequently, they are literally thrown from their homes with only the clothing on their backs and with no birth certificates or other legal papers. As the record shows, most of them will continue in an adult life of chronic homelessness.

Why is the bible used as a justification for condemning these young people and providing a rationale for this kind of parental neglect and abandonment? Why are these young people said to be excluded from God’s grace and love? We are challenged by some religious people who say that they are not homophobic, that they do not hate us, but they love us and so does God. They claim to “hate the sin but love the sinner.” I say to them, “If yours is not hate and prejudice intended to harm, why is your use of scriptures followed by graphic expressions of what you believe to be our sexual behavior? These descriptions do not come from the bible. These characterizations are from your own minds and mouths.”

Many same-gender-loving people have been raised in religious homes and in spite of the harm caused, we continue to be faithful. We support financially, and we serve as ushers, choir members and directors, cooks, servers and other roles of stewardship. Even so, we have only been allowed to participate with limitations and restrictions. Yet, many of us remain. Others have walked away bearing the hurt in silence.

Over the years, there have been many who have publicly objected, but there has been little or no change in many houses of worship. Time has passed and now, as individuals and organizations, we have joined together to push back and object to what we have experienced. LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent is one of these organizations. We were formed in 2011 to actively advocate and educate for the rights, protections and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Black community. The movement for human rights and LGBT rights cannot be stopped. One day we will see the total rejection of the use of scriptures to justify homophobia, harm and hate.

This article first appeared in ElixHer.

 

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 There Is Wonder In the World

By Ronald Lonesome

Ronald Lonesome, M.D.

Ronald Lonesome, M.D.

 

Ronald just celebrated his 75th year on this planet.
This celebration has led him to take stock of formative events in his life.

He is a member of the LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, and has served on the board for several years.
He is a retired psychiatrist and an addiction treatment specialist.
He continues to be open to the wonders of our universe.

 

 

 

 

 

By Ronald Lonesome, M.D.

Sometimes wonderful things happen to me.
It comes totally out of the blue and quite without my request.

When I was 5 years old living in Little Ferry, New Jersey, my Aunt Nora and I were waiting for the bus in Hackensack to take us back home. I looked down and saw a blue and white Cushman’s Bakery box unattended near the building. Bakery boxes were a wonder to me.

I wondered what was inside. I wondered why no one was attending to this treasure. I said to Aunt Nora, “Look at that cake box…who’s is it?” She looked around and then said, “I guess someone forgot it.” I asked, ”Can we take it home?” There was a long pause, then the bus arrived.

“O.K., bring it along” she finally said. I was so excited and curious, wondering what we would find in this wonderful box. When we got home Aunt Nora cut the thin white cord wrapped around the box. When she opened it my eyes were wide and my heart was thumping. In the box was a beautiful white coconut layer cake. We had a real treasure!

For several days, Aunt Nora, Uncle Louie and I enjoyed this wonderful surprise treat.

To this day, I have a sense of warmth and joy that we were so blessed to have found this delicious cake. I have wondered about the person who forgot this treasure. It was then that I began to believe in the magic of good fortune that comes into  my life.

Fifty years later, while I was in a low point in my life and sitting alone on a bench on a  great lawn of a mansion serving as a rehab program. I looked up and felt the presence  of a healing spirit that gave me a new hope. The spirit that told me, “It was time to come in out of the rain…Let these people help you.”

Here was a special treat that led me to begin my healing journey and my reunion with God. Here was another gift, un-earned and not sought.

It was grace…without the coconut icing. I am full of gratitude.

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I Am Angry and My Faith Tells Me I Can Do Something About It

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By Charles Shorter
Charles Shorter is Chair Person of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent.  This article also appeared on Believe Out Loud. On Oct. 22, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent in Harlem, NY, held a conference entitled “Is Your Faith Keeping You in the Closet?

I am very angry, and I am usually the consensus builder. The racial tension, violence, and the growing backlash to marriage equality and trans visibility makes the everyday life feels like a powder keg.

There needs to be some kind of release from all the pain, anger, suffering and injustice.

This summer I reached the age of 60. I have seen a lot change in New York City and in this country since my days growing up in crowded tenement housing in Harlem in the 1950’s. Ever since I was kid, I have always wanted people to play nice and share their toys.

Being a social worker for the past 25 years, I have been more of a behind the scenes person, where I feel most comfortable. But in light of this “powder keg moment” I am stepping up my advocacy and being more visible because if there is any chance to have peace and to resolve our nation’s long-standing traumas, those of us who normally sit things out will have to stand up and speak out. None of us who really believe in peace, fairness or justice for all, can sit by in silence.

I grew up seeing chaos and violence. I wanted to keep the peace as a kid in the inner city where I could be attacked for just being Black or if anyone ever figured out that I was Gay.

I see an urgent need to address the root causes of the escalating chaos and violence that seem to be sweeping our nation.

One way to end the racial tension and violence in this nation is to support and link movements for justice that seek to bring liberation to the oppressed and disenfranchised. Systemic racism is at the root of the senseless killings of black people by the police, and misguided religious dogma promotes attacks on anyone who is different or feared by the majority.

Recently I visited two historically Black Baptist churches in Harlem. Both were lead by women pastors. That in and of itself is a big change from the days of my youth where I only saw male ministers. One pastor, from her pulpit, acknowledged the male partner of the church’s former music director who had recently passed. She publicly recognized them as a couple, not “just as friends” or roommates, but as two men who cared and loved each other in partnership. She said that she was happy to see him worshipping in church with his community.

I was touched almost to tears. I was raised in the traditional Black Baptist church where no one ever dared recognize the presence of Same Gender Loving, Bisexual or Transgender folks. If we want to stop the pernicious violence against LGBT/SGLBT brothers and sisters then we have to rid ourselves of this passive religious and social silence when attacks on SGLBT people occur.

We need more affirming messages from the pulpit.

Affirming messages acknowledge that SGLBT do exist, and they help breaks the cloak of silence that suffocates both the mind and spirit.

What can a minister tell me? It’s nice to pray, but help me deal with my anger. What can we do? What is our next step? Something has to give or the violence is going to continue.

I am an eternal optimist, and my spirit has been lifted by witnessing recent changes such as the Black Lives Matter Movement. Seeing young folks coming together, serving as the genesis for change, it’s energizing. It is time to stop the rhetoric and come together. We really need to come together. We need to support and bolster this powerful and beautiful movement and broaden our reach to bring peace and justice to all in this nation. We must make sure Latinx and Native Americans are in the mix and I am also insisting that the lives of Trans folks of color to be better valued and championed. The tragic killing of Islan Nettles, a Trans woman, a few years ago in 2013 in Harlem still haunts me and the countless other murders of Trans women of color around the nation are all examples of why all Black Lives Matter.

Faith communities have a unique opportunity to build on the message of acknowledging our common humanity.

The barrier to seeing our common humanity is the fear that we have of those who are different. But the unique advantage of a faith tradition is that it can allow us to navigate our way through fearful situations. The LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent (FLoAD), a New York City-based organization that provides support to faith leaders and congregants so that they can affirm their SGLBT/LGBT members, is launching a hashtag campaign, #FearisNotFaith, to encourage those from all faith traditions (or no faith tradition) to take the lead in crossing the differences that divide us through initiatives that bring us together so that we might change the direction of nation.

If you’ve had an experience crossing boundaries, post about it on a social media platform using the #FearisNotFaith hashtag. We also encourage faith leaders, seekers and all those who believe in peace and fairness to attend our up-coming forums and events.

I am angry, but I want and need to do something about it. Join me and declare #FearIsNotFaith.

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RSVP For Our Annual Forum on October 22, 2016

Join us for our 2016 Annual Forum on Saturday, October 22, 2016.
This year we explore the theme of “closeted religion”, thus our forum title is:
Is Your Faith Keeping You in the Closet: Are You Bound by Your Religion?

 Be Sure To RSVP Below!

Is Your Faith Keeping You In the Closet: Are You Bound By Religion?

 Registration is closed for this event

 

 

 

October 22nd, 2016 9:00 AM   through   4:30 PM
163 West 123rd Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10027
United States

Help spread the word

Please help us and let your friends, colleagues and followers know about our page: Is Your Faith Keeping You In the Closet: Are You Bound By Religion?


 

 

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