EBONY.com's 10th edition of their original series "The Coolest Black Family in America" features Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen III and Rashad Burgess and their daughter, Caylee. Bishop Oliver and Rashad met in 1999 and became a couple in 2002. They had a private marriage ceremony that year and were legally married, in Washington D.C., in 2009. When the bishop wanted to start his own congregation, he didn't have many role models to look to.
"I knew that God loved me," he said, "but being an openly gay man, what does that look like in terms of ministry? I had never seen an openly gay man with a thriving ministry."
Instead of an example to follow, he had the support of his husband. When they opened their doors, they had 12 congregants. That number has now swelled to 3,500, with about 600 people coming every Sunday. Oliver says he has received some bitterness from closeted faith leaders or those who came out after feeling oppressed by Christianity. He doesn't wish to defend them but he says he can understand.
"You've been a minister for 30 years, you're married but you've lived in the closet. … Then here comes this pastor who is openly gay, married to his partner, in the public eye, being who they are and built a ministry? It can create resentment," he said.
Three months ago, Caylee was born, a surprise only in that the dads had been told they were having a boy. As soon as the men saw their daughter, they "felt like she was divinely sent."
At the end of the article, EBONY.com asks the men what they hope their daughter will say about them when she is a teenager.
Rashad answers, "I would want her to say, 'My fathers are extremely loving, socially conscious people who love the Lord and each other.'"
The description for The Coolest Black Family in America series reminds readers that "family doesn't always mean mother + father + kids. What defines family is connected hearts and supported souls."
We applaud Ebony for highlighting diverse stories about family. GLAAD encourages other media outlets to follow Ebony's strong example of including stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color that spotlight the rich diversity of our community and the issues that affect our lives.