By Ryan Velez
Gospel singer and pastor Kim Burrell is not a stranger even outside of the gospel music community, having appeared with mainstream collaborators like Missy Elliott and Frank Ocean. However, as The Old Black Church points out, her music has recently taken a back seat to her words, specifically, a hateful anti-gay sermon that has provoked widespread condemnation from others in the Black community.
While preaching in Houston at a Pentecostal church where she serves as senior pastor, Burrell explained that she “came to tell you about sin,” adding, “That perverted homos*xual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women. You as a man, you open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face, you are perverted. You are a woman and will shake your face in another woman’s breasts, you are perverted.” She also made a reference to the recent illness of Bishop Eddie Long, connecting it with homos*xual activity. Adding an ironic layer to these words is the fact that Burrell is scheduled to appear on Ellen with Pharrell Williams on January 5th in support of the upcoming movie Hidden Figures.
Burrell addressed her words and the backlash in a Facebook Live message on December 30th, but it is not likely that those offended will find any relief from her words. “There are a lot of people that I’m aware of that struggle or deal [with] or have that spirit,” she said on Facebook Live. “Have I discriminated against them? Have I ever outright told them that I don’t love you and you going to hell? Who gives me the right to say that I’m telling someone that I’m going to hell? I don’t give that call.” This non-apology will likely only add fuel to the flame, including some of the big names that have already stood against her.
Yolanda Adams took to Instagram to express her displeasure. “As a Person who has Gay Relatives and Friends, I had to put these Words in the Atmosphere to combat the unwarranted and unproven attack on My Friend #BishopLong. Hateful Words are never profitable to the Cause of Christ in the World. Jesus said “They will know you by your Love.’ LOVE YALL,” she posted. Chaka Khan tweeted that love should be the message being put out by Christians rather than judgment. A similar statement came from Questlove, who posted a Twitter rant simply beginning with “I want Christians to focus on actually being Christlike and compassionate to their fellow man.”
Even Pharrell himself made a statement regarding this, prior to their scheduled appearance together. His simple response was that “I condemn hate speech of any kind. There is no room in this world for any kind of prejudice. My greatest hope is for inclusion and love for all humanity in 2017 and beyond.”