Pastor Antonio Rocquemore of Chicago’s Power House International Ministries is standing his ground in choosing to kick out a man dressed in drag on Sunday night.
In a Facebook video posted on Monday by Christian James Lhuillier, the pastor is heard telling an unidentified man to leave the church.
After asking the man to step into the aisle Rocquemore said, “Can you leave my church and go put on man clothes? And don’t come back like that no more.”
“I hold a standard in here. Whatever you do on the outside is your business, but I will not let drag queens come in here,” he continued. “And if you’re gonna come in here, you’re gonna come in here dressed like a man … If you’re a man, dress like a man. If you’re a woman, dress like a woman. I’m not going to allow it. My salvation is more important, and God is holding me accountable.”
Although many people in the congregation cheered the pastor on, Lhuillier shared his disgust with the demonstration.
“In a place that is supposed to be a place of change a place of deliverance whatever you want to call it why would you destroy someone in front of a room full of people,” Lhuillier wrote on Facebook. “This is the kind of bulls**t that causes people to go home and commit suicide. S**t like this is the reason that the church has no power in 2018 because they are so worried about the wrong things.”
The video clip went viral and amassed nearly half a million views. After Pastor Rocquemore was met with backlash from the LGBTQ community, he later posted a response calling for people to understand the full story.
In the church leader’s post he clarified that the young man in question was a member of the congregation.
“He is not a stranger off the street” Rocquemore said. “He is a full member of the Powerhouse International Ministries. He joined earlier in the year.”
The pastor also claimed that the young man came to the church to learn to be a “man” and was told several times not to dress like a woman while at church.
“I said, ‘You cannot dress like a female coming to church,'” Rocquemore recalled. “If that’s what you chose to do outside of the church, I’ll just pray for you. That’s between you and God.”
There is also reportedly a rule that women cannot wear leggings into the Powerhouse Ministries. Even with the rules in place, the pastor tells the ushers to excuse visitors who do not know the guidelines.
The pastor alleged that the young man adhered to the rule of “dressing like a man” but slipped up many times before Sunday.
Rocquemore felt he was being challenged publicly so he “challenged [the young man] back publicly by asking him to leave.” He denied ever bashing anyone for being gay and revealed he offered “blessings” to the young man when he was “hungry.”
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.