When I first heard that Sherri Shepherd had offered some sort of variation of “the love the sinner, hate the sin” soundbite regarding homosexuality in a recent interview, I assumed she conveyed the sentiment in some asinine way—just another stop on her “Damn, I Did I Say Something Stupid Again?” tour. Then I actually watched the clip in question and had no desire to tag myself into her online pouncing. If anything, I saw it as an opportunity to have meaningful dialogue that might help the Jesus Freak and Hedonist Homosexual sects of humanity come together.
But then I remembered what planet I lived on and what field I currently earn a living in. Having a conversation that might actually move us forward is cute and all, but nobody’s clicking on that. Hell, I’m surprised some of these sites didn’t go with the header: "SHERRI SHEPHERD SAID GAY PEOPLE AIN’T S**T AND NEITHER IS BEYONCÉ! #BEYHIVE”
So what did Sherri Shepherd say that caused so many people to want to beat her with her Bible?
Well, when asked what she felt was the biggest misconception about her, she said, "I think people don't know my heart. I think people feel I'm very judgmental. I think people feel I'm very homophobic. If they knew me, and knew my heart… You grow up being a Christian and you grow up believing homosexuality is a sin (and that) you're going to hell if you're a homosexual. This is something that they teach in churches. So it's something that I grew up believing."
Heavens to Murgatroyd: Sherri Shepherd just described the majority of our experiences.
She added: "I might not agree with your lifestyle, but I love you. You may not agree with my lifestyle, but you love me…I don't say it's a choice. If you tell me, 'Sherri, I was born gay,' OK. I'm not gonna argue with you, because I can't tell you how you feel and what's going on inside. I'm trying to make it into heaven by the skin of my teeth…I don't know who I'm gonna see. So if you tell me you're born [gay], I'm not gonna argue with you. And I absolutely respect you for that. I just ask that people respect how I feel, [I] respect how you feel and and we can have a great dialogue."
She’s since apologized in light of how her views her presented, but I’m not sure if that was necessary. Now had Sherri said something to the effect of, “You booty chasing mistakes of God, may you and your cooter for cooter like minded abominations spend all of eternity in Satan’s sauna,” then perhaps I might’ve had the urge to shake the table. However, this is probably one of the more thoughtful explanations I’ve ever heard her give, especially when it comes to her faith.
Sherri Shepherd sat there and said she was raised a certain way, but doesn’t challenge people on whether or not they were born gay as it is not her experience, and then followed that with a call for respectful dialogue. So what did she get in response? Much of it was “you had a baby out of wedlock,” “you are on your second husband,” blah, blah, blah, “you’re going to hell with me, heifer.”
Although I understand and share the occasional urge to hope a lightning bolt hits the forehead of a so-called Christian who uses their faith as a weapon, I also believe that some people have to accept that another person’s point of view on dogma is not necessarily them calling for a certain kind of sinner’s total damnation.
Sherri reminds me of so many people in my life, including my own mother. I love my mama dearly, but she does not agree with my “lifestyle choices” either. We do not discuss my sexuality, and for the foreseeable future, it’s best that we don’t. She wants me to go back to being a regular churchgoer who goes on to fall in love with a woman (other than Beyoncé) and produce grandbabies. Meanwhile, I called Sunday’s Seahawks vs. 49ers game the “Bae Bowl.” (Hey, Russell Wilson, and good morning, afternoon and night to you, Colin Kaepernick.) Needless to say, this particular prayer of my mother's shall go unanswered.
In any event, while I don’t agree with her or Sherri, I genuinely believe neither hates me. Both of them are like many Christians who have not figured out how to reconcile what they've been taught to believe with the gay people who they care for or who are a major part of their lives. And while Americans are now more tolerant of gay people than ever before, there is no immediate mobilization to have this great spiritual debate on how to reconcile Christian doctrine with “the gay.” At best, there are only some progressive clergymen and Christians here and there doing their part.
If I knew Sherri Shepherd, I’d advise her to start her search for a better understanding with the documentary For The Bible Tells Me So, which challenges the perceived conflict between homosexuality and Christianity. Then she can go seek out more knowledge with our BFF, the Google, where I’d hope she got a refresher on allegory and metaphor along with one of my favorite terms, “Biblical literalist of convenience.”
You would think a Black woman would figure out that it’s probably not the best idea to be a Biblical literalist considering its support of slavery and shade of her gender, but that is conditioning at work and it takes work to shake that off. We can’t necessarily carry the load for the Sherri Shepherds of the world, but if they’re asking for help in understanding, why not offer it?
Oh, and for those White people who sensationalized Sherri Shepherd’s commentary: Spare me your righteous indignation. Some of you may have evolved, but don’t act like us Black folks came over here with “WWJD” bracelets. Playing the role of pedant isn’t helpful either.