It has the power to wound yet the capacity to heal. It has the power to kill but the authority to resurrect. It is the most powerful weapon used to tear down a child of God yet the most influential tool used to uplift him, enabling him to fly. It is the human tongue, the pink tornado; a curse for many and a blessing for others.
The Bible repeatedly speaks to the misuse of our tongues and its unruly nature. These scriptures speak volumes but unfortunately are often overlooked by as our uncontrollably pink tornados spins out of control into the lives of many.
In James 3:8 the tongue is described as an “unruly evil, full of deadly poison” and in the 10th verse it states that “out of the same mouth proceedth blessing and cursing.” In James 1:26, it describes that a man who “seem to be religious and bridelth not his tongue but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is in vain.”
In other words, no matter how much you shout hallelujah in church and can memorize and quote scripture; if you cannot control your tongue, everything that about your praise and worship is false, phony, and in vain, all because of that tiny member (James 3:5) called the tongue.
We already know that black folks can destroy and decimate one another with our critical tongue far quicker and more intense than our racist enemies. The same holds true for the black gay/lesbian community as well. As a minority of a minority, we often call each other everything under the sun but a child of God.
In fact some of us take great pride and joy in our abilities to “read” people; hence the term snap finger queen comes into play. There are many of us who use our tongues to pull down each other as if we were crabs in a pot of scalding water.
Consequently, as black gay/lesbian Christians, are we truly representing Christ with our tongues? Can Christ truly be seen in us and shine through us behind the flapping of our pink tongues?
Is it really necessary for gay brothers to refer to one other as “bitches and hoes??” Is it really necessary to judge and ridicule another brother because of the smallness of his penis? Is it really necessary to place negative labels upon someone who is a bottom, older in age or even physically unattractive by calling him a “slut, a troll, or a whore?”
Did Jesus use similar words to the woman at the well who had been married five times and was currently living with another man who wasn’t her husband (John 4:11-29)? Did Jesus call her names? Did he call her a “whore?” Did Jesus ridicule her by telling her she can’t keep her legs closed? No, he did not. Jesus offered water that would give her everlasting life.
So is it really necessary to refer to a masculine lesbian as being a “bulldager or a pit bull” and an effeminate gay man as a “punk, queen or a faggot??” Must we also refer to an overweight gay man as either a “cub or chub” and a person who’s smaller than he who dates him as a “cub or chub chaser?” Even further, if a gay man is super- committed to church activity or sings in the church choir, why is he labeled as a “church queen??”
Why do we also viciously attack those who interracially date, referring to them as “snow or vanilla queens??” These are human beings we’re speaking about, spiritual beings who were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) as a “workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (Ephesians 2:10).”
So when we refer to one another other as bitches, sluts, and whores, we are actually saying that what God has created and ordained in his image and in Christ is whorish or sluttish. In fact, we absolutely refuse to see the Jesus in that person. All we see is what we want to label them as being.
Sadly, we often forget that as gays/lesbians that the majority of society refuses to see the Jesus in us as well. They absolutely refuse to see what God has ordained in and for our lives too. Instead all they desire to see is what we do in the bedroom and thus view us only as debased sexual deviants.
Do any of the words we use to label one another reflect Christ? Do they uplift and heal?? Do they encourage and inspire?? Do they bridge the gap of understanding between each other?? The answer of course is no!!
A typical excuse used by some is that “when I call you a bitch or a hoe, I really mean it as a term of endearment. I’m only playing, I really don’t mean it.” Well words are sharper than any sword can be. If you really are a friend, why do you take the risk of hurting another and then smiling in their face? Did Jesus do that?? No he did not, so why do you?
So what’s the cause??
What’s behind the acid tongue of the black gay/lesbian community? What are the root causes behind our vicious labeling, stereotyping and irresponsible tongues? Well, there are three major reasons:
1. From childhood we quickly learned how to physically and verbally defend ourselves from bullies who taunted us for being everything from fat, skinny, poor, ugly to gay/lesbian.
There are so many of us who had to constantly fight our way out of childhood, that we learned how to verbally attack before being attacked ourselves. In fact we either anticipated or reacted so viciously with our tongues that it became a self-defense mechanism in order to shut-down, embarrass, and hurt our attackers. We learned how to say hurtful things with such a convincing facial expression and tone of voice that we too became bullies in our own right.
Sadly, far too many of us have taken on the same self-defense mentality well into our adulthood and inflict the same type of pain we felt as children onto others. There’s an old saying that states that “hurting people hurt other people.” The wounded will wound other people. Mostly this happens unintentionally and without any planned forethought.
2. Another reason why many in the black gay/lesbian community have trouble with their unbridled tongues is a direct result of homophobia. There are far too many who struggle with their sexuality. They do not have the peace or joy that others have found through their spiritual reconciliation.
When we don’t feel secure with ourselves, we lash out at others. We also lash out at the “church queens” who are forever in church. We lash out at every person who seemingly has reconciliation or is happier living their gay/lesbian lives. In actuality, we want what they have, but inwardly it still feels wrong to us. We needlessly toil and suffer because we don’t feel whole, complete and truly accepted before God.
3. Finally, we often lash out at those who remind us of ourselves, because we hate to see the truth as it stands before us in the mirror or as a reflection from somebody else. Homophobia or the simply put, fear is a spirit of the Enemy. It is not of God (2 Timothy 1:7).
So what’s the solution??
The solution is humble prayer, mediation, and study. We must ask God for his guidance in controlling our tongues, our emotions, and tempers as they are reflected in what we say with our tongues.
We must also pray for a healing. Remember that “hurting people will hurt other people.” We must heal our past wounds and hurts to ensure that only a scar remains and not the infection or the pain.
Jesus is the healing ointment. He provides the path and direction for us to follow, but we must yield, bend, given in, and submit our lives, our hearts, but most of all our tongues to transformation.
It will not happen overnight, but it can happen if you desire for it to happen. You must want the change to occur and seek it out for it to happen. We must let go and let God. Let go of bitterness, un- forgiveness, pain, and the tears of yesteryear to fall forward in Jesus.
Finally we must remember that although the tongue is a “fire, a world of iniquity . that defileth the whole body and setteth on fire the course of nature; (James 3:6)”, we as Christians have power to control it!! That’s wonderful news and its news that we all need to share with one another!
Herndon L. Davis is author of the book Black, Gay & Christian: An Inspirational Guidebook to Daily Living, published in 2004.