The Church is an important institution in Black communities and for many Gay Black men, the reconciliation of faith and sexuality is part of the price one pays toward acceptance. Rev Jide Macaulay knows better than most the many challenges faced by those who walk this road. He is the son of Professor Augustus Kunle Macaulay, the Principal and Founder of United Bible University in Lagos Nigeria. Rev Jide was born in Islington, London, but left the UK to live in Nigeria from age 4-18. In 1991 at 25 in accordance with expectation and his distinguished lineage he married. Two years later he became a father to a son.
Marriage, even fatherhood needless to say didn’t dissipate my feelings for men. I came out as gay in 1994 after a troubled heterosexual life. My coming out was a disaster of, you might say, Biblical proportions.
Since then, Jide did more than most to help LGBT people in the UK and numerous African countries to navigate this journey and find peace. For many Gay Black men, Rev Jide is a bright light that led to a deeper understanding and a strengthening of their connection to God. For this and for so much more; Rev Jide Macaulay Slays It.
The church can only offer a safe space if and when we show up and take ownership. There will always be objection unless we are present and we offer our own theology and narratives.
Many who struggle with their faith and sexuality are on a journey of reconciling. On his journey Rev Jide found support in the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) a Christian community that accepted and welcomed LGBTI people of faith. He went further in his theological training with the MCC and in 2006 returned to Nigeria to establish The House Of Rainbow Fellowship, the first Christian denomination to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people in a country hostile to all of these. His return also enabled him to continue a fruitful dialogue with his father.
After a newspaper reported on his church, ramifications lead him to leave Nigeria in 2008. In the UK with The House of Rainbow Rev Jide embarked on a long journey of spiritual growth and activism to raise and address issues of social justice and to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In June 2013 at 47, he was ordained into the Church of England. Now with the House of Rainbow growing strong, earlier this year Rev Jide met in Uppsala Sweden as part of a convening team of international leaders set up to support the organization INERELA + EUROPE, the international network of religious leaders living with or affected by HIV. The idea and a dialogue about forming such an organization started over 15 years ago in South Africa. The main aim is to support faith leaders living with HIV and to provide information from a faith perspective to minister to effected communities. Rev Jide sees work to support people living with HIV as an important part of his calling as a gay man.
Rev Jide acknowledges how work to enable and facilitate reconciliation for LGBT people of faith can be a battle at times in the UK in Nigeria and throughout the African continent. Nevertheless his persistence enabled House of Rainbow to grow to support networks of LGBTIQ people of faith in 18 countries. Rev Jide sees the interfaith dialogue as key.
In Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, and Botswana, Rev Jide works with Christian and Muslim faith leaders to help them understand that scriptures do not dehumanize and discriminate against LGBTIQ people. Beginning later this month and into November, Rev Jide and Pastor Paul Bailey, a Black heterosexual Pentecostal will lead workshops in London to help those with faith understand what the bible says about same sex relationships.
At the start of October after a short tour of South Africa where he led a review of the impact and gains in existing House of Rainbow projects Rev Jide returned to London and met up with BlackOut. He told how in Pietermaritzburg he took part in a interfaith dialogues and presented an academic paper on the challenges and opportunities faced by LGBTIQ people in the church. In Johannesburg, he met with influential and inclusive theological colleagues, including the Rev Phumzile Mabizela, Director of INERELA and Toni KrugerDirector of Global Interfaith Network. However Rev Jide seemed most pleased when he described the Joy Divine Christian Fellowship, a church consisting of a small community of LGBT people that included elders and children in Ekurhuleni District near Kempton Park. Rev Jide gleamed as he told how just before returning to the UK, he was honoured by Senior Pastor Joshua Mosuoe’s invitation to preach Sunday service.
Rev Jide’s Top Tips …..
Book: With dozens of Black gay and transgender voices who are media personalities, scholars, activists and other thought leaders, Keith Boykin’s edited collection For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough shows that we are resilient. Plus he signed it for me.
Film: Raoul Peck’s I’m Not Your Negro because it teaches us that we should fight for human rights in every area of life.
Play: La Chocolat Gateau in the production Icons because it was and he is just plain hilarious.
This year I hope……
To enhance the work of House of Rainbow by finding ways to provide support for clergies who are facing challenges in their support for LGBTIQ people.
And I heard the preacher say:
This Is How You Slay!!!