By James A. Merritt
According to Benjamin C. Evans III, managing director of BMe Community, the year he turned 30 was the year he decided to become openly gay. “I was ready to stop fighting my truth, embrace who I am and love whom I want to love,” said Evans, “I came to terms with three words that would change my life completely: I am gay.”
Now more than ever, the climate in America is ripe for members of the LGBTQ community to openly express who they really are and how they identify. Ripe in America, but not so ripe in the Black community. Because of their religious nature and generally conservative belief system, the Black community has been slow to accept the advances made by openly gay men and women.
“I learned to be ashamed of myself at a very young age,” said Evans. “The church taught that homosexuality was wrong and that anyone who had succumbed to these feelings ought to be delivered by praying and should ask God to take the desires away. So I spent most of my teen years pleading with God.”
Evans even went to the extent of praying for deliverance. “I ran to the altar to be delivered,” said Evans. “Imagine how upset I was when, before I even got back to my seat, I was eyeing a beautiful brother in the third row and he was eyeing me back.”
Soon Evans realized that who he was was not going to change and he decided to embrace his real self. He has largely been accepted on his journey.
Today he is an openly gay Black minister. But, the journey is not easy even though it’s the decision he had to make.
“I was born this way, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with who I am,” said Evans. “Walking into the light was scary, but I was willing to walk.”
Today, Evans works toward an America that works for everyone. “I want America to be a place where respect and equality triumph over intolerance and oppression,” said Evans. “We can learn to love despite our differences.”