On being a Black lesbian Baptist bishop: Allyson Nelson Abrams speaks candidly with ELIXHER

ELIXHER, the GLAAD Media Award-nominated blog that covers stories pertinent to the Black female LGBT community, interviewed Allyson D. Nelson Abrams, who resigned from her position as Baptist Bishop after she and her wife got married in 2013.

Throughout the interview, Bishop Abrams describes her journey with the Baptist tradition and since her resignation, her take on theology in the Black church, and more. Take a look:

When you talk to Bishop, you get the sense that you’re sitting at the feet of a stage and getting a one-on-one lecture. Your thinking is challenged and you soak in the knowledge that this woman of God has—that seems free from agenda, and instead coming from a place of love, affirmation, and confidence in the Spirit

ELIXHER: What would you say to same gender loving people about being accepted or finding a church that reaches them?
BISHOP ABRAMS: That’s the problem I’m having now. I’m finding that so many people are out of the church and refuse to go to church that are in the LGBTQIA community, so I try to tell people that you don’t have to be ashamed. I do a Bible Study conference call every Wednesday, and one of the things I told the young people that were on the call is that God loves you and God created you in God’s own image. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you the way that you are. You are talented, beautiful, just as you are. There is some purpose in life for you. I have people who said they have never heard a pastor tell that God loves them the way that they are and that they were created in God’s image. I was totally shocked because that to me is Church 101, but so many people are wounded and hurt because they love God, they feel that God doesn’t love them, that they’re going to Hell, and that they cannot be in the church unless they change. 

ELIXHER: Where can someone find information about all of your various ministries and services that you offer?
BISHOP ABRAMS: We have a website, www.empowermentliberationcathedral.org. When I came out, I established a GoFundMe because I needed people to assist me and try to make sure that I was still a voice. I haven’t had a lot of support with that. But I do know that in order for the LGBT community to have representation in the pulpit, sometimes you have to step out and help those who are representing you because I have seen that the people are okay with the LGBT person sitting in the pew, but they have some serious issues with the pastor, the leader, the bishop being LGBT. [T]here are LGBTQ [faith] leaders. We have to support those leaders because if the LGBTQ community doesn’t support them, who’s going to support them?

Check out ELIXHER's full interview with Bishop Abrams here.

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GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism