From being upset with Senator Barack Obama to breaking down the broken spirit of Donnie McClurkin, Kevin E. Taylor emphatically speaks about his experience on being a discriminated same gender loving minister, to the truths and contradictions of the Bible, to getting all those wonderful epiphanies that inspire him to achieve anything.
Written by CHUMA
I can remember when I first met Kevin E. Taylor. It was 1994. I was temping at Sony Music in Manhattan, and the late Luther Vandross was there for an interview, arrogantly strutting around the office with that certain “here I am” air about him. He was proudly perusing the platinum albums adorned on the walls, many of them his own. An upbeat man with an attractive luminescence appeared from one of the tucked away offices to greet Luther. He looked at me and grinned coyly, and instantly I felt something intriguing about him. Swiftly, I looked away for a moment. But when I decided to steal a second look from askance, he was escorting Luther away into a private conference room. That man was Kevin.
Later that day he introduced himself to me and immediately I knew that I had discovered a new friend. Throughout the years, we intermittently stayed in touch, and anyone who has been given the honor to know Kevin can attest to the light and purity that encompasses him. He is one of the most genuine people I have ever known, and when I think of him the word love always comes to mind. I have watched Kevin ascend into an acclaimed TV producer at the helm of such shows as Testimony, Access Granted, Lyrically Speaking, Notarized, and other BET specials. And I have witnessed him define himself as a lauded writer, authoring two books: a self-help book entitled, Unclutter – Claim Your Spirit and Claim Your Stuff and a romance novel entitled, Jaded. After proudly adopting a son— Ga’Zelle Qwame, who will be eighteen years old on Christmas—and founding Unity Fellowship Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he is the pastor, Kevin’s life has become extremely full and extraordinary.
Which is why I chose Kevin to interview; he is, in fact, an extraordinary person. I sat down with him and listened to the enthusiastically verbose and devout preacher man talk passionately about being criticized for being a same gender loving minister, non-acceptance from a staunch, anti-gay minister when he a teenager fully aware of his homosexuality, truths and contradictions of the Bible, his annoyance with Senator Barack Obama, and his empathy for Donnie McClurkin’s plight with rape and sexuality.
CHUMA: You are a man of many hats: producer, pastor, author, amongst others. Where does your true passion lie?
KEVIN: I would honestly have to say that my true passion comes from feeling the high off of receiving an epiphany. I feel that people are given the opportunity to get it. I remember being this eleven year old black, heavy-set, gay boy in the projects of Washington, D.C. and seeing Natalie Cole on the Mike Douglas show talking about how she started singing during college. And the epiphany that a black person could go beyond and go to college came to me. For her, to open her mouth and sing a song called Inseparable, a word so big for an eleven year old—that it made me go to the dictionary—was big at the time. That one afternoon I had this epiphany that black people could talk a certain way; that black people could use certain words; that black people could go to college, and that there was something for me beyond the projects. It was like this wow! And to realize that the universe offers us those kinds of “wow” epiphanies when we are looking for them and when we sometimes aren’t is just amazing. Just to realize that somehow because of grace I got them when other people might not have gotten them. But I try to be patient to pass them on. The most brilliant moment for me as a writer, as a pastor, as a parent, is to hear someone say that I have never thought of it like that. It’s really somebody opening their mouth and saying, “Wow, I just woke up. I turned a new corner. Wow, there was something that was there and I just didn’t see it. And now I see it.” (Kevin breaks into song)
CHUMA: How old are you?
KEVIN: I just turned 43.
CHUMA: Have you ever had to deal with someone telling you that it is hypocritical or a contradiction for you to minister the word of God and be same gender loving.
KEVIN: Yes I do; I deal with it all the time. Here is an example. On 4th of July weekend, I did a two-hour interview with Reverend Al Sharpton, and the topic of the show was Should Gays and Lesbians Be Allowed To Hold Leadership in the Church. I was the only guest for two hours. I think I might have received only two calls of support in that time. All the rest of them were from people saying this is impossible; this is an abomination. One woman said that gays could be healed, but we just weren’t praying enough. Just sad, ya know. I hear the discrimination against me all the time. People really believe that a minister can’t be gay. And believe it or not, a whole lot of that prejudice and ignorance come from my own gay people. The level of self-hatred from people in these Baptist churches, standing there with their boyfriends, and saying I would never come to a gay church, you ain’t gonna send me to hell. How contradictory and hypocritical. Yeah, I get it from both sides.
CHUMA: So how do you deal with that?
KEVIN: I love it away. Aretha Franklin once had a song entitled Love All the Hate Away. That is my mantra.