“You can be a lot of things in the Black church, but Lord, do not be gay.” -- Iyanla Vanzant
LOS ANGELES -- Truer words were never spoken by talk show host and self-help guru Iyanla Vanzant: “You can be a lot of things in the Black church, but Lord, do not be gay.” Although society is becoming more accepting of gay people, gay rights and even gay marriage, there still lingers the stigma of being gay in the Black church. And it’s because of homophobia in the faith community that many African Americans in the LGBT community suppress their truth and hide in the closet for fear of religious shaming and rejection.
Because of the homophobia in the Black community, gay pastor Mitchell Jones of Richmond, Va. launches a new LGBT advice column, called “Ask Pastor Jones” on his Facebook fan page. Using the tools of social media, Pastor Jones will address questions about faith and sexuality as well as other LGBTQ-related question from friends and followers on social media platforms through videos and written responses. The “Ask Pastor Jones” advice column was born out of the need for Pastor Jones to address the thousands of friend requests and questions after his appearance on the OWN network award-winning show, “Iyanla: Fix My Life.” “I hope the ‘Ask Pastor Jones’ advice column will be a resource for those struggling with their faith and sexuality,” said Pastor Jones. “I hope I can ‘fix’ a few lives with affirming and inspirational messages for people who need guidance in coming out, and dealing with family, friends and the church. This is my way of paying it forward.” For now, questions can be submitted to Pastor Jones through Facebook and Twitter.
On September 19th, OWN kicked off the season of its award-winning show, “Iyanla: Fix My Life” with an emotional, three-part episode, focusing on the coming-out stories of two gay pastors. With Iyanla's help, Pastor Jones took bold steps toward confronting and confessing his truth after years of keeping secrets and infidelities from his now ex-wife.
“I want to thank Iyanla for having me on the show, and tackling the touchy issue of homosexuality in the Black church,” said Pastor Jones. “Even though I’m a faith leader, I am also a flawed human being who’s had to come to terms with past transgressions, and ask for forgiveness from loved ones that I’ve hurt. The emotional cleanse has been a cathartic release for renewed steps toward leading an authentic life.”
PASTOR MITCHELL JONES ON IYANLA: FIX MY LIFE
If you missed Pastor Jones on “Iyanla, Fix My Life,” here’s a clip from the show: http://www.oprah.com/own-iyanla-fix-my-life/Iyanla-Fix-My-Life-Returns-September-19-Video#ixzz3lqLUBISW
GOT A QUESTION? GET SOCIAL WITH PASTOR JONES:
- Visit the Facebook page of Pastor Jones at https://www.facebook.com/Pastor-Mitchell-Jones-1569020366712006/
- Follow Pastor Mitchell Jones on Twitter at @AskPastorJones
- Follow Pastor Mitchell Jones on Instagram @AskPastorJones
- Follow Pastor Mitchell Jones on Periscope @AskPastorJones
ABOUT PASTOR MITCHELL JONES | To thine own self be true!
Pastor Mitchell Jones, 43, grew up in Virginia in a large, God-fearing home with six brothers and two sisters, and loving parents, who celebrated 56 years of marriage this summer. At the age of 5, Jones knew he was attracted to a boy and a girl in his kindergarten class. By the age of 11, he began experimenting and exploring his sexuality and attraction to the same sex. But, his sexual proclivity posed a problem since he was raised in the church under a strict Southern Baptist upbringing. In fact, his mother was a church organist, and at 9 years old, he began playing the piano/organ by ear, without any formal training.
Because Jones’s sexual tendencies were in direct conflict with his religious beliefs, he repressed his feelings, thinking he was going through “a phase.” Plus, more importantly, his faith dictated that being gay would condemn a person to hell. At 23, he began preaching and pastoring a non-denominational in Richmond, Virginia. Years later, Jones married a mother of three, and the couple had two children of their own. (In an act of full disclosure, Jones discussed his past attraction to men prior to getting married.)
After 13 years of pastoring, counseling and teaching, Jones began to have new interpretations of the Word. He discovered other facets of his spirituality, which shifted his sermons from traditional religious teachings to a more progressive approach to spirituality. This shift resulted in a mass exodus by members of his congregation, and for now, Jones has stepped away from the pulpit. For the past six years, he’s led small Bible-study groups, helping others to understand their spiritual path for optimum personal growth in living a purposeful life.
With a renewed sense of clarity and personal acceptance, Jones ended his 5-year marriage to live an authentic life. He’s embraced his true self through years of self-discovery and self-actualization. Gone is the feeling of shame and damnation. Jones realizes the power of God’s love in his life. Today, he’s in a committed and loving same-sex relationship, accepted by family and friends.
ABOUT IYANLA VANZANT
Iyanla Vanzant is the host and executive producer of Oprah Winfrey Network’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning series “Iyanla, Fix My Life" and one of the most popular teachers on "Oprah's Lifeclass." She is a mother, survivor, spiritual life coach, empowerment orator, minister, two-time NAACP Image® Award winner and five-time New York Times best-selling author whose focus on faith, personal development and loving relationships has captivated and inspired audiences around the world. In addition, Iyanla is also a regular contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine and has been featured in numerous publications as well as on the cover of Essence magazine. A prolific writer, she has published 16 books that have been translated into 23 languages and sold millions of copies. Her most recent book is “Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything.” When not writing or appearing on television, Iyanla lectures and facilitates workshops nationally and internationally. With her no-nonsense approach and underlying message of, “live better by loving yourself,” Iyanla has ignited a universal spark of self-discovery.