Eddie Rabon Crowned 2010 Mr. Gay USA

Congratulations to Eddie Rabon, crowned Mr. Gay USA in Philadelphia last night. The Mr. Columbia takes the crown from 2009 winner Adam Boyles. Before the competition got underway, Village Voice columnist and pageant judge Michael Musto, who was joined by A-List: New York's Ryan and TJ, explained what he was looking for in a new Mr. Gay: "an intelligent and personable guy who happens to be good-looking, not the other way around. I want someone who can represent all gays by being an individual – someone with spunk, spirit and smarts worthy of our community's respect. And I will not allow any pandering or sexual favors!"

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Pastor Plans Rally Against Eddie Long

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The firestorm surrounding Bishop Eddie Long will get some fresh fuel later this month, when a South Carolina Pastor named Prophet H. Walker leads a rally in Georgia calling for Long’s resignation.

“[Long] has no right to assume the office of pastor at any Christian church. A pastor should be above reproach,” said Walker, whose rally against Long will be held on Halloween. Long, a homophobic conservative, has been accused of sexually assaulting four young men from his congregation.

The claims against Long come as no surprise to radio host Reuben Armstrong, who says someone came to him in 2006 and told him, “Bishop Long was allegedly grooming young vulnerable male members of his church for his own personal sexual use.” Armstrong has always been a voracious critic of Long, whom he included in his best-selling book, Crooks and Homos in the Pulpit.

Long, meanwhile, maintains his innocence and refuses to back down.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

More ‘Teachable Moments’ via Bishop Eddie Long

Teachable moments on Bishop Eddie Long provided by Wallace Best, Ph.D., Professor of Religion, Princeton University:

Public denunciations of homosexuality often mask private same-sex desire. Just ask Ted Haggart, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Richard Curtis, and Ken Melman. So, I was not surprised when I learned that Bishop Eddie Long, the Georgia mega-church pastor now facing charges that he abused his “spiritual authority” to win sexual favors, is a staunch opponent of gay marriage and a vocal critic of gay rights. In December 2004 Long led a “Re-Ignite the Legacy” march through the streets of Atlanta to, in his words, “present a vision of righteousness and justice.” Opposition to same-sex marriage was at the top of the march’s agenda, earning Long the title of “Anti-Gay Bishop.”

The charges by four young men have only recently been filed, and it is not yet clear if Long broke any laws. But as we wait for this story to continue to unfold and for the facts to become clear, there is much to learn from it already. If nothing else, the Bishop Long same-sex scandal has provided us with a crucial teaching and learning moment, and we must seize it.

To my mind, one of the most important lessons is this: If your pastor drives a Bentley and wears a watch with a value equivalent to your annual salary, it is time for you to find another church. But the lessons go even deeper, cutting to the heart of black church history and culture, particularly as it relates to issues of sex and sexuality.

Is it me, or is this scandal not being covered properly in the mainstream cable media? I’ve seen scant segments on the continuing story and fascinating observations from African Americans on their perception of the Bishop Long news item.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Bishop Eddie Long: ‘Faith Is Being Strengthened’ By 4 Men Accusing Me Of Sexual Molestation

Once again returning to his favorite topic of sexually molesting four members of his LongFellows Youth Academy, Bishop Eddie Long told his congregation today his "faith is being strengthened" by the scandal. That, and he is "not going to be pulled into a street fight." Dammit, I just bought nunchucks!

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Eddie Long Accuser Jamal Parris Speaks Out: ‘He Was Like A Dad To Me’

Jamalparris

Jamal Parris, one of the four men who have accused anti-gay Pastor Eddie Long of sexual abuse, spoke out about the trauma yesterday.

Here's a bit of what the 24-year old told Atlanta's Fox affiliate about the alleged violations, and how Long "seduced" him into a place of submission:

His presence alone is seduction to a young man without a father. You look at him and he's everything you want to be, he's everything you see and you dream to be and being around him, it's almost like a drug. You can't believe the places you've added to your life and the cars that you're driving and the people that you're meeting, so it becomes 'If I want to continue to feel this love and this power, I'll do whatever my dad wants me to…'

If Parris and his peers are telling the truth, then Long's far sicker than any of us may have imagined.

Watch the rest of Parris' statement, AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

GEORGIA: Accuser Of Bishop Eddie “Down Low” Long Speaks Out About Abuse

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Eddie Long Won’t Resign

Atlanta pastor Eddie Long x390 (cnn grab) | ADVOCATE.COMBishop Eddie Long, accused of sexual relationships with four young men,
told a cheering crowd of thousands at his New Birth Missionary Baptist
Church that he won’t resign as pastor.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Bishop Eddie Long left podium after 20 minutes

The big build up in the media was that Bishop Eddie Long was to answer the allegations this morning. He did not. He left the podium in twenty minutes. Typical cowardly self loathing homophobe.

Bishop Eddie Long can spare us the whole, “I’m David up against a Goliath…” Seriously, Bishop?

Oh, and mainstream media, lets stop calling in Ted Haggard to get some kind of ridiculous expert witness commentary on this circus. How about calling in a real expert, like John Aravosis or Dan Savage, to comment on the real story of charlatan closeted self loathing homophobic gay preachers?

Also, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed several members of Long’s church and has made a huge admission that he had been a victim of a pedophile. The church members continue their dogged blind faith in Bishop Long even after the allegations pile up.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

ATLANTA: Pastors To Gather To Pray For Bishop Eddie “Down Low” Long

Atlanta’s pastors are getting together for a “lock down” prayer vigil where they will ask Jeebus to watch over disgraced Bishop Eddie “Down Low” Long, his 22-room/nine bathroom mansion, and his 0K Bentley. Glory! Praise Hi$ Name! And send in another teenage hottie!

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Lunchtime video: AC360 – Ted Haggard On Fellow Hypocrite Bishop Eddie Long


COOPER: Pastor Ted Haggard left his own mega-church after a scandal involving drugs and a male prostitute. This summer he returned to ministry launching a new much smaller church with his wife, Gayle, who’s the author of “Why I Stayed: The choices I made in my darkest hour.”

I also spoke with Pastor Troy Sanders, an openly gay minister at Victory Church outside Atlanta who in 2008 was part of a delegation from the group Soul Force which met with Bishop Long.

COOPER: Pastor Ted, obviously Bishop Long should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but does it seem explainable to you that he would send out pictures of himself in skin-tight outfits to young men in his congregation?

PASTOR TED HAGGARD, SAINT JAMES CHURCH: Well, we know the pictures are there. We’re not sure where they came from. But there was a movement several years ago where people were concerned about the direction of the church. And there was kind of a masculine movement. Pastors are more masculine sometimes in certain churches; that doesn’t mean he’s guilty.

COOPER: Pastor Troy, how closely do you follow what Bishop Long’s church is doing? Because I read, the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007, Pastor Troy called Eddie Long, quote, “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.”

Is that an accurate description?

PASTOR TROY SANDERS, NATIONAL MINISTER, THE FELLOWSHIP: I think that there are a number of church leaders that come down rather hard on the LGBT community. Now, I was part of the Soul Force American Family Outing that actually took lesbian and gay family members into New Birth.

Full transcript is below the fold.
The CNN Transcript:

We begin though tonight, “Keeping Them Honest” with the sexual abuse allegations against one of most influential ministers in the country. The minister is Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church outside Atlanta. Three young men now are suing Bishop Long accusing him of enticing them with money, cars, clothes and expensive jewelry in exchange for sexual favors.

These are just allegations at this point but what makes them so startling is that Bishop Long is leader not just of an African- American mega-church with 25,000 members, but a major opponent of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. Here’s some of what he’s preached in the past about gays and lesbians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BISHOP EDDIE LONG, NEW BIRTH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH: And the problem today and the reason why society is like it is, is because men are being feminized and women are becoming masculine.

And everybody knows it’s dangerous to enter an exit. You cannot say I was born this way. I don’t care what scientists say. You can be converted. You were not born that way.

Let me pray with you. Let me tell you, don’t you be conformed to this world but be ye transformed. I don’t know what I am. Turn and take your clothes down and I’ll show you who you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That’s video from the Southern Poverty Law Center. These are photographs provided by the lawyer involved in this lawsuit, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, two of the men who have filed suit against the bishop. A third man, Jamal Paris (ph), not shown here has also filed suit.

These men were reportedly referred to by Bishop Long as spiritual sons, a special status his accusers say given to young men in his church whom they say he preyed on. According to the Flagg and Robinson lawsuits, Bishop Long’s accusers were 17 and 18 at the time the alleged encounters took place.

Anthony Flagg, the lawsuit alleges, had to share a bed with the bishop when they traveled together when Bishop Long allegedly took Maurice Robinson to New Zealand for his birthday. This is what his lawyer says happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B.J. BERNSTEIN, LAWYER FOR MAURICE ROBINSON: On that 18th birthday, Bishop Long engaged in the act of oral sodomy with this young man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Bishop Long’s third accuser, Jamal Paris, says the bishop would quote, “discuss Holy Scripture to justify and support the sexual activity.”

Now Bishop Long denies all of the allegations. These photos of Bishop Long in tight gym clothes which appear to have been taken by the bishop himself were reportedly sent to another one of his so- called spiritual sons and released by B.J. Bernstein, the attorney involved in the lawsuit who you just saw moments ago.

Bishop Long’s lawyer says the photos do not corroborate the charges and in a radio interview, the attorney said that Bishop Long is a health advocate and a weight lifter who wears muscle shirts.

Again we stress, these are allegations; three lawsuits by three men.

Earlier I spoke about the allegations though with two ministers with deep experience in the intersection of religious, sexuality and in the case of one of the ministers, national scandal.

Pastor Ted Haggard left his own mega-church after a scandal involving drugs and a male prostitute. This summer he returned to ministry launching a new much smaller church with his wife, Gayle, who’s the author of “Why I Stayed: The choices I made in my darkest hour.”

I also spoke with Pastor Troy Sanders, an openly gay minister at Victory Church outside Atlanta who in 2008 was part of a delegation from the group Soul Force which met with Bishop Long.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Pastor Ted, obviously Bishop Long should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but does it seem explainable to you that he would send out pictures of himself in skin-tight outfits to young men in his congregation?

PASTOR TED HAGGARD, SAINT JAMES CHURCH: Well, we know the pictures are there. We’re not sure where they came from. But there was a movement several years ago where people were concerned about the direction of the church. And there was kind of a masculine movement. Pastors are more masculine sometimes in certain churches; that doesn’t mean he’s guilty.

COOPER: Pastor Troy, how closely do you follow what Bishop Long’s church is doing? Because I read, the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007, Pastor Troy called Eddie Long, quote, “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.”

Is that an accurate description?

PASTOR TROY SANDERS, NATIONAL MINISTER, THE FELLOWSHIP: I think that there are a number of church leaders that come down rather hard on the LGBT community. Now, I was part of the Soul Force American Family Outing that actually took lesbian and gay family members into New Birth.

COOPER: Right. You actually, you met with Bishop Long back in 2008.

SANDERS: Yes.

COOPER: What was your impression?

SANDERS: Well, the first impression that I had was very hospitable to us but it was very clear that there was a difference in theology. Like there was a very clear difference between what we believed and the oppressive theology that the church is known for.

COOPER: Pastor Ted, do you — has there been a — do you think this pastor was particularly homophobic?

HAGGARD: Well, the times I met him I didn’t get that indication. But I do think it’s important that churches be able to embrace the type of theology that they believe in and be able to communicate it with clarity. When a church embraces a certain theological slant, then people join with that, that’s why we have freedom of religion.

COOPER: Pastor Troy?

SANDERS: Anderson, with all due respect, I agree wholeheartedly that we have the right to believe what we believe but it is absolutely hypocritical if you’re going to stand in any pulpit across this country and preach against homosexuality when you have homosexual tendencies.

The gospel of Jesus Christ hinges on truth. And any message — I’m a preacher — and message — I’m also a same-gender loving man and as a requirement I cannot preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and not walk in truth around my sexuality. I cannot do it.

COOPER: Pastor Ted, what about that? I mean you weren’t one of the leading figures among evangelicals who preach anti-gay rhetoric but you made a number of comments over the years about homosexuality being a sin. You campaigned in support of the Defense of Marriage Act saying that it would be devastating for the children of our nation and for the future of western civilization. Did you feel like a hypocrite?

HAGGARD: Well, I think every Bible teacher struggles with some issues in the scripture. We’re responsible to teach the Bible. We teach pray continually, but every one of us are growing in our prayer lives. We haven’t achieved that. We all teach sexual fidelity in marriage and the Bible teaches that, we encourage people in that. But there are some times when adultery or different things come into the pulpit and come into the church.

It’s just like any ideal. We have police officers that get speeding tickets. We have — we have people in congress that write our tax legislation that don’t pay their taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But, Pastor Ted, there is a difference between, you know, somebody saying you should obey the law and you get a speeding ticket and somebody preaching something which is completely antithetical to a deeply-held — something that —

HAGGARD: I understand the point you’re making. I understand the point you’re making and I’m sympathetic to it. I just think it’s important to understand the human condition. And this is why Christ died for all of us. It’s because we have people all over the country that have said I’m going to be married to you until death to us part, good times, bad times, et cetera. They end up divorced.

People have ideals that they violate themselves because of things that go on in the human condition. And so I think all of us need to be aware of that before we start name-calling too quickly.

SANDERS: Ok. I’m not — certainly, Anderson, I’m not name- calling but I think that there has to be a place in our religious discourse to critique scripture. Because the same Bible now, the premise that I cannot stand for is that homosexuality is sin or wrong because the same scriptures that we use to lift up that said that women could not preach, that say we could not eat pork or that two twines of fabric could not be (INAUDIBLE) and that slavery was actually instigated and upheld by that same, ancient oppressive text.

At some point we have to re-evaluate what we believe. We cannot couch it in we all are sinners and we all have our shortcomings. No, there’s things we have to give off, we have to let go of around oppressive theology. And homosexuality and homosexual oppression, homophobia in the church is one of those things.

HAGGARD: So you’re promoting one biblical interpretation, so respect the other churches enough to promote a different one.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: But we all do. That’s what we do as theologians, period. That’s what we do as preachers of the gospel. We stand up and present a gospel that is either inclusive or exclusive. We make that choice.

HAGGARD: Well, but that’s what you’re saying and that will work for your church and your congregation. But there may be a congregation down the street that wants to apply some different verses. And so let them work — let them work through that battle.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: If we’re going to apply differences let’s walk in truth, though. We have to walk in truth.

(CROSSTALK)

HAGGARD: Everybody says —

SANDERS: We cannot preach a gospel that we do not live. If we know we are same-gender loving we should not get up in pulpits and preach against it.

HAGGARD: Everybody says they walk in truth.

COOPER: Let me ask the Pastor Ted —

HAGGARD: Yes, well, every — everybody — everybody thinks they — it — it’s — you’re claiming — you’re calling other people names. You’re claiming to have the perfect understanding.

SANDERS: No, I’m not. I’m not.

HAGGARD: And I’m just saying you need to be more inclusive yourself.

SANDERS: I — Pastor Ted, I am certainly not claiming to have any perfect understanding.

But what I am claiming to say is that when we get up, we make a choice as to whether we preach inclusion or exclusion, whether we’re divisive with our theology, and whether we walk in truth.

COOPER: If it turns out this is true, what — Pastor Ted, what do you think it says about this bishop?

HAGGARD: I think every person that loves the Scriptures and loves God wants to be a better man than they are. And everyone is growing from glory to glory to glory. Everyone is in a process under the word of God and with one another and with the Holy Spirit, and that we need to let that process continue.

COOPER: Pastor Troy, let me ask you essentially the same question.

SANDERS: If this is true, then there are internal contradictions that are playing out in the public eye.

COOPER: Pastor Ted Haggard —

HAGGARD: I think —

COOPER: Sorry. Go ahead.

HAGGARD: I think there are internal contradictions in everyone about a variety of things.

SANDERS: I agree with you wholeheartedly, but this gospel of liberation we preach calls us all on the carpet. I’m not excluded. Ted Haggard, you wasn’t excluded. And Bishop Eddie Long is not excluded either.

COOPER: Pastor Ted Haggard —

HAGGARD: But here’s what I’m saying. Those — those who independently chose to call me on the carpet were not helpful. It was those who loved me, helped me, comforted me. And this type of broad- based, generalized analysis of people outside your group is not what’s helpful to him or to the process.

SANDERS: And what I’m saying is, it didn’t take a scandal for me to come out and walk in truth. I called myself on the carpet and others.

HAGGARD: That’s your choice.

SANDERS: So, there are other options, besides waiting until we get into scandal, to be called on the carpet around walking in truth.

(CROSSTALK)

HAGGARD: But that’s every human being’s choice. This is America. You can’t use your religion to tyrannize others.

COOPER: Guys, an interesting discussion.

Pastor Ted Haggard, Troy Sanders, appreciate your perspectives. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

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—  John Wright