5 questions with Cornelius Caldwell
Cornelius Caldwell is a 31-year-old college student at Brookhaven Community College and North Central Texas College majoring in healthcare administration. He is currently working in the insurance industry. At Brookhaven he is an active participant in My Gay/Straight Alliance, serving as the vice-president of the group. In the LGBT community, he is a member of Gamma Mu Phi fraternity and a volunteer for Youth First Texas.
What is Gamma Mu Phi and how did you get involved in the organization?
Gamma Mu Phi is a national fraternity for gay men of color, which incorporates the bonds of brotherhood, leadership and service. We focus on promoting the image of gay and bisexual men. I have a good friend in Houston who is involved with the organization. He asked me to become involved with the organization here, and so I did.
What type of activities and events does Gamma Mu Phi do?
One of our missions is to uplift the community, so we do a lot of service projects such as feeding the hungry. We also work with the Legacy of Success Foundation on several of their projects and events. Each month we also hold community mixers to get to know the members of other LGBT groups.
3How do you balance being gay with your strong Christian values?
Well, I have always been taught that Jesus loves me. But it seems many people like to discuss how all gay people are going to hell. I firmly feel if God made everything in His image, then the gay lifestyle was made for a reason. I also believe if He loves everyone as the Bible says, then He will forgive everyone’s sins — that is, if being gay is a sin.
As someone who was raised in Tyler but now lives in Dallas, does location play a factor in how you are treated as a black gay man?
Being a black gay male has many advantages and disadvantages in life. In relation to whether it plays a factor in how someone is treated, it seems as if in East Texas, it is extremely difficult to find companionship as a member of a certain racial group. In Dallas, however, since there is a wide variety of racial mixing, it is much easier to find a soulmate, regardless of color. So race has a big effect on just this one area of my life.
What advice would you like to give to other men of color in the LGBT community?
I would like to tell them when you have your mind made up about something, stick with it. There are many people out there who do not like to see a "BMW" (Black Man Working), as I call it. But I say, stay encouraged and focused and press on. Surround yourself with positive people who keep you focused on your goals and who make you happy.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 5, 2008.
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