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Heroes

Queer Archbishop Carl Bean, Who Inspired Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Dies at 77

Soul singer, activist, founder, and out-gay Archbishop Carl Bean passed away last night, at the age of 77. As the founder of Minority AIDS Project (MAP) and the colloquially named “first queer Black church” Unity Fellowship Church of Christ, Bean was a hugely influential figure throughout the 90s and 2000s. He raised awareness around AIDS and HIV activism, supported queer community, and promised queer folks of color that the gates of heaven were not closed to them, contrary to what most branches of Christianity seem to believe. 

Back in his days as a Motown singer, Bean even released a song about queerness called “I Was Born This Way.” And years later, who do you think took notice of that message? None other than Lady Gaga herself, who has spoken about Bean’s influence on her work and the message behind “Born This Way” in particular. 

 

That’s not all Carl Bean did for us: he actually wrote an autobiography released in 2013. The book takes us through Bean’s early days as a recording artist rubbing elbows with the likes of Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Miles Davis, and Sammy Davis Jr. Bean talks about founding the first queer, Black church and finding his community, and gives us a sense of just how expansive the Archbishop’s worldview truly was.

“God is love, and God is for everyone,” Bean explained. “God is gay, God is straight, God is black, God is white.” 

Rest in Peace, Archbishop. You made the world a better, queerer place. 

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