New Book Supports Gays in Gospel Music

Gospel historian Anthony Helibut is tired of the black church ignoring its gay parishioners.

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A leading gospel music historian for more than 50 years, Anthony Heilbut told the New York Times he's had enough of hypocrisy in the black church. In researching his 1971 book The Gospel Sound, Heilbut met many "gays in gospel" but he didn't reveal their personal lives in the book. However, as the current discussion of same-sex marriage and the black church continues, Helibut is releasing a new book, The Fan Who Knew Too Much, to give voice to voiceless gay churchgoers in the African American community.

The timing of Mr. Heilbut's book, and the intensity of his argument, has thrust it from the dusty corners of arts criticism into the heat and light of the political arena in a presidential election year. Same-sex marriage, more than any other issue, has forced the black church as an institution to try to reconcile its dueling strains of ideological liberalism and theological conservatism. At the congregational level, it has meant the awkward coexistence of gay musicians and antigay preaching and casual ridicule.

"The family secret has become public knowledge," Mr. Heilbut writes in his book, "and the black church, once the very model of civil rights, has acquired a new image, as the citadel of intolerance." Left unchecked, he continues, the trend "would introduce an ugly but not uninformed term, ‘black redneck.' "

Read more at the New York Times.

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