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During the latest Gatekeeper’s Collective forum Brothers and Sisters participated in a presentation by divinity scholar, Michael Elam titled, GATEKEEPERS IN THE BIBLE: The Terror Texts as the centerpiece of a dialogue on Religious Privilege As A Tool of Same Gender Loving Oppression.

Among other biblical scholars in attendance included Pastor Vanessa Brown, Dr. Cari Jackson, Romall Smalls, De Shannon Bowen, and Ketemah Mason. Over the course of the dialogue, most of these will take up facilitating roles.

Towards contextualizing the ideas propagated in the Bible, Mister Elam’s presentation treats on philosophy, sexology, sociology and anthropology.

Among salient insights he advances include, The Book of Paul was used to keep us enslaved.

Stressing the notion of social location, (reflecting people’s experience with respect to social class and gender and the mores, customs and values of a geographic and historical context,) Mister Elam discussed the documentary film, The Dancing Boys of Afganistan in which, what was termed pederasty in the Bible is still a socially sanctioned practice in certain cultures today.

By 1911, we learn, biblical texts were translated exclusively [or almost exclusively] by White males, suggesting that the cultural and social imperatives observed by the translators are apt to have informed those translations.

In some African cultures…among the Sambian men of New Guinea [for instance]…there was ritual initiation in which, to become recognized as men, youths had to ingest older males’ semen. 

Gatekeepers in the Bible are called Eunuchs, some of whom were born that way (meaning, they were recognized as energetically feminine) and others were created [by castration.]

The reason Ethiopia was not [able to be] colonized because they already had [adopted their own version of] Christianity…Coptic.

Mr. Elam closes with the notions that, Jesus was a revolutionary…And, when you are ready, you will not ask for power, you will take it…We have to stand up…We have to be present…Jesus taught agency to people.

“There was a church in the woods [where] slaves found [the] liberatory voice in the Bible.”

Someone asks, “Does God change from one [religious] denomination to another? …” 
“Everyone in this room has hundreds of people who know you…Are you any different for the different people who you know?...Those perspectives don’t change who you are…”  

A question is asked, “At what point did the [indigenous] rituals and customs involving homosexuality [start being deemed wrong and] become illegal?...”

Facilitator says, {“The points in time when indigenous customs and cultural practices became criminalized, from one culture to the next, were the points when those societies were conquered and colonized by European cultures, which values around sexuality and gender were imposed on the people…In pre-colonial indigenous African cultures, sexuality and gender were more fluid experiences than became the norm following enslavement and colonization…”}

“There is an intersection between what the religion is in the culture and the economic system is at, or before the point at which the culture was invaded and conquered…  Politics, money and the military are the means by which the colonizers colonized [and supplanted their values systems]…”

“Social location [is key]…In North Africa…Egypt… sexuality was fluid…’”

“Let’s be very clear about one thing…In the Bible, marriage was never between a man and a woman…it was always between a man and his father!...because marriages were arranged…and women were property…”

“[The question is] What are we doing today to become sexually and spiritually free?...This is our Divine birthright…”

“I’ve always had a concept of Gatekeepers as homosexuals having some special or Divine intuition…As being Divinely imbued…and I don’t know if I get it…”

“I agree…I think setting ourselves up as Divine is putting ourselves above other people…That’s the same as them [putting themselves above us.]…”

“I come from the Pentecostal Apostolic faith where women couldn’t wear makeup….Couldn’t….Couldn’t…Couldn’t…Couldn’t…and men could do whatever they would…They could be as clean as the board of health……To hear someone say, ‘I am Divine,’ [would require a miracle]…You first have to do it for yourself [recognize your own divinity]…To have come from being told you were less than nothing, [to considering your Divinity may be a big step,] but…when you say you are not Divine, I have to say to you, that you are…We all have Divine nature…”

“I’m atheist…I’m not taking anything away from anybody, but, do you define Divinity?...Where does it come from?...It’s not self-generating…is it?”

“If that which we call God is love, truth, goodness, then all those qualities are aspects of Divinity…”

 “What we often see is our brokenness…how shady, vindictive and petty we can be to each other…And, when we come to spaces like this, where there is affirmation of our Divinity, I can see how there might be a disconnect…JM explained that ‘Gatekeeper’ is a ritualistic thing that one accepts and trains to become…We take on the name Gatekeeper to empower ourselves…To move out of the Eurocentric vision of ourselves…I understand the dissonance it may cause, because, at heart, it speaks to a spiritual being…[The question becomes] How can I recognize and value the humanity in you?...Getting a human being to recognize that you are of worth…a reflection of beauty…Of nature…The reparative work [this requires is a lot to ask of ourselves]…”

“Dr. Cari Jackson has written a book [that speaks to some of this]…”Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt”…”

“We know things on four dimensions, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and kinesthetically…From our families, many times…if they have been hurt, what they teach us is hurt…Often, that which we know emotionally and intellectually, we think is all there is…But, we know some things through our bodies, too…As Black people who come from generational lines of hurt, most of us have not been taught that [we are Divine]…The freedom is a process…The question is, what aspect of me is still in need of some more freedom?...What do we need to release?…”

Challenging a perspective advanced by a facilitator, one Brother says, ’“In Genesis, it talks about how Adam created Eve from his rib…and it definitely pictured Adam and Eve as a marriage between a man and a woman…”

“The original texts were written in Hebrew and Aramaic…When you read it in Hebrew, there is a shift about who and what is being spoken of…What is being said is not necessarily about Adam and Eve as husband and wife [as we understand husband and wife]…”

“I believe in Jesus Christ…I don’t believe it’s right to laugh at someone for Googling the text…And I do believe Adam and Eve were married by God…”

“I have been aware of The Gatekeeper’s collective and The Black Men’s Xchange-New York before it for a long time… and I was told that these were healing spaces… and I hope that [we] continue to remember that we are all connected [no matter our beliefs]…”

Facilitator says, {“Yes…healing…claiming our birthright, [and with it] our human rights are among the charges of The Gatekeeper’s Collective…On the way to successfully achieving those imperatives, some roiling is bound to take place…Among the most powerful suggestions for our consideration moving forward include that Jesus was a revolutionary…that Gatekeeping is a role that one accepts and becomes through training…When we are ready, we don’t ask for power, we take it…and the question, What do we need to release to become sexually and spiritually free?”…”}


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The Gatekeeper

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