While I am uncomfortable with how readily this piece assumes certain facts that are, to say the least, still contested, I think this is an important statement from a major intellectual about the good that could come from this brewing gay-sex scandal in Atlanta. Dig:
At this point, whatever “fight” Long comes up with—the best possible outcome imaginable is that he tries to get by with some kind of “I’m not really gay” explanation based on, shall we say, “Tis better to give than to receive”—these revelations will stick to him forever. They will be his legacy, in the same way that Larry Craig will always be known for the bathroom episode despite his clunky denials (not just the wide stance thing, but “I don’t do things like that,” betraying a certain preset consciousness of the “things” in question).
Eddie Long would do himself and his own race a massive favor if he, shall we say, had a conversion here. “Got the call,” to put it in language familiar in his realm. He should openly admit what he did, disavow his antigay positions, and serve as a beacon to a black community that needs to get beyond an unthinking prejudice especially unseemly in a group positioning itself as a standard-bearer of America’s moral advancement.
He should get with the times—as the NAACP has, with Benjamin Jealous announcing an upcoming “One Nation Working Together” march with gay and transgender groups. America becomes ever more open to gay marriages. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is doing a slow fade. Ever more celebrities are coming out with no detriment to their careers. Call it a new kind of New Birth.
Long likely fears how many parishioners would desert him. Plenty would. However, let’s face it – these people would be the equivalents to the hold-outs against Civil Rights, the people on the sidelines in the photos of Little Rock, the people on Mad Men making casually dismissive comments about the Freedom struggle. Perhaps Long could think about what he would leave behind—or about his afterlife. People change. Leaders help them do it.
Eddie Long could, right now, become a great man. It would be a small thing indeed for him to cave in and “fight” rather than seek the higher wisdom of acceptance—of himself and so very many other souls.
And, as a lagniappe, here is some McWhorter for you: