H. Alexander Robinson

Black LGBT History Profiles: Dr. Horace Griffin

Filed By H. Alexander Robinson | February 03, 2008 10:05 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media
Tags: Black Gay History, black history, black LGBT

Horace Griffin.jpgHorace L. Griffin teaches pastoral theology and is Director of Field Education at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. An ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, USA, Griffin also serves as an associate at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Glen Rock, N.J.

In 1990, Griffin began his professional career as a college professor at the historical black Fisk University while completing his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt.

At Fisk, he chaired the Department of Religious and Philosophical Studies from 1993-1996, becoming the first openly gay Department chair in the University's 127 year history. In 1992, he received the "Professor of the Year Award" for the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts. During this period, he also co-chaired the Lesbian and Gay Coalition for Justice, a civil rights organization for gay citizens in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

Griffin has a Bachelor of Arts in Religion degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.; a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology in Boston, Mass.; and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University Graduate Department of Religion in Nashville, Tenn.

As a graduate student concentrating in gender and sexuality issues, he developed a slide presentation addressing black pastoral issues and the AIDS epidemic. Called "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," the presentation became a teaching tool for black pastors at conferences and in black faith communities. As a result of his AIDS work, Griffin was invited to serve as a board member (1994-1996) of Nashville Cares, an AIDS agency for the Greater Nashville community.

In 1996, Griffin joined the religious studies faculty at the University of Missouri-Columbia as Assistant Professor of African-American Religions. He taught courses on African-American religions, religion and human sexuality and religion and homosexuality. In 1999, Griffin resigned, in part, because the university president and administrators refused to include sexual orientation in the university's non-discrimination policy.

Later that year, he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., where he taught courses such as Pastoral Care and Congregations, Sexuality and Pastoral Care, and Cross Cultural Pastoral Care. He also directed the Chicago Collegiate Seminarians Program, a Lilly funded grant for college students considering ordained ministry.

Griffin has published numerous articles and essays in peer journals and anthologies, including Revisioning Christian Ethical Discourse on Homosexuality: A Challenge for the 21st Century in the Journal of Pastoral Care, and Toward a True Black Liberation Theology: Affirming Homoeroticism, Black Lesbian and Gay Christians and their Relationships in Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic. His most recent work, Black Machoism and Its Discontents will be published in 2008 in Face to Face: A Discussion of Critical Issues in Pastoral Theology.

His first book, Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians and Gays in Black Churches (Pilgrim Press 2006) was awarded the 2006 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT studies in the spring of 2007. This groundbreaking work also received a Stonewall Award nomination. The LGBT African American Roundtable convened a panel of scholars and clergy offering a critical examination of the book at its 2007 annual meeting. In its second printing, Their Own Receive Them Not is a useful text currently being studied and discussed in college and seminary classrooms and black faith communities.

[Editor's note:] This post is part of a series celebrating Black History Month and the Black LGBT experience. The information in this profile was gathered by the National Black Justice Coalition.

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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 3, 2008 10:10 AM


Thanks a lot for putting all of this great info together. I am learning quite a bit from it.

Ye Olde Fart | February 3, 2008 4:32 PM

Yes. Thank you for posting the information. As an RC priest, I was not aware of it.