Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Friday, December 08, 2006


    The talented gospel group Mary Mary (Erica and Tina Atkins) have experienced a huge amount of mainstream success since they hit the music scene in 2000. Their first single "Shackles" hit number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and their debut album Thankful peaked at number 59 on the Billboard 200. Their self-titled third album was their first album to crack the Billboard's top ten this year and spawned the hit single "Yesterday." Currently, they have a Christmas album, A Mary Mary Christmas, which came out in October.

    Another interesting fact about Mary Mary is their enormous gay following. Their songs are constantly played in gay clubs and many claim without the support of the gay community Mary Mary would not have achieved such mainstream success -- not sure if I agree and obviously that could be debated. I interviewed the Christian duo this afternoon (not sure who the interview will be for yet -- possibly Blackplanet.com or Rockacandy.com). I asked them several questions, but I wanted to share a small excerpt from the interview.

    I could not help but ask how they feel about their legendary gay following. Since they are supposed to be "young and hip" I wondered if they had a bit more of a progressive attitude. Lawd knows if you want to see a whole bunch of gay folks just turn on Bobby Jones Gospel! I took an "informal survey" and many people (straight and gay) said if they found out Mary Mary is anti-gay they would definitely not support them. Many said Mary Mary is truly on the borderline of secular music and receive airplay on urban radio right after a Beyonce song -- so they obviously love God, but hopefully they did not think anything was wrong with homosexuality. I doubted it -- and I was right.

    Clay: I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but you have an extremely large gay following -- how do you feel about homosexuality and having a massive gay following?
    Erica: We are aware. Ummm... how do I feel about homosexuality? I feel how God feels about it, but I still love them. I don’t agree with the lifestyle, but I love them. They can come to the concert; I’m going to hug them just like I hug everybody else. They have issues and need someone to encourage them like everybody else -- just like the murderer, just like the one full of pride, just like the prostitute -- everybody needs God. What your struggle is may not be what my struggle is, but we all need Him. So, that's what our music is about giving and God, not to condone the lifestyle or to say, Oh it's okay, but not to bash -- but just to give them God. I mean, I’m appreciative of all of our supporters and fans. Hopefully what their hearing in our music is my love for God.

    Tina: You know, I think the fact that our music is very upbeat and works well in clubs -- you know, I think that's something that makes more people gravitate to it. Like Erica said, we don’t necessarily agree with the lifestyle, but we don’t pride ourselves on bashing. Everyone has things in their life that they need to correct, everybody has struggles, everybody has things that, maybe I should’ve done it this way, maybe I should’ve made this choice, you know, or whatever. Even though that's the way we feel, we don’t bash, we don’t do that kind of thing and we embrace everybody who enjoys our music. Hopefully our music is impacting them in a way that if they see there's some things in their life that's not quite right and doesn’t align themselves with what the Bible says -- hopefully our music impacts them in a way that makes them want to change it.

    Interesting comments. Firstly, I applaud them for giving an honest answer – regardless of how hateful, hypocritical, foolish and an unwise business decision it might seem – at least they are honest. Secondly, what they probably don’t realize is in a sense they are “bashing” by saying, "Hopefully our music inspires people to change." What many of the straights don’t realize (as I’ve said several times) homophobia in the black church is a massive reason why HIV/AIDS rates have skyrocketed in the black community as the “peanut congregation” sits idly. They feel the way God feels? Murderers? Prostitutes? They are basically minstering conversion -- I can only imagine the young LGBT people who are grappling with their sexuality that Mary Mary will damage as they give them a "hate the sin love the sinner" hug.

    Is Mary Mary saying, You are going to hell, but you can still buy our records!” Not every gospel artist is anti-gay, not all Christians are antigay -- Cornell West is a great example. Al Sharpton is a legendary Christian and he is pro-gay -- he believes in gay marriage. Being black and Christian does not automatically equate you are antigay, or anti anything else. Also, this is THEIR opinion and it will probably help them sell records. However, please don't tell me they are not “antigay” – comparing homosexuality to prostitutes and murders is not pro-gay, or even neutral! Let me stress, I am not surprised -- they were a little self-righteous than I thought, but I am not surprised.

    Full interview to come in the next month.

    CLICK HERE FOR MY RESPONSE TO THIS INTERVIEW

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 141 comments

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