D. Marcel photo courtesy of Adam Bouska NoH8 Campaign
Mr. Marcell holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English, a Master’s Degree in Education as well as a Doctorate Degree in multiculturalism. In addition to his scholarly achievements, he is an ordained Christian minister with 15 plus years of ministerial experience.
He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia and is the founder and editor-in-chief of N-convenient Truth, a publication he designed and created to validate, authenticate, and empower same-gender loving African-American men to fulfill their purpose on earth. As an educator he is also a subscriber of liberation theology. D. Marcell believes a part of his divine purpose is to bring health, healing, and wholeness to the SGL community while providing practical information to future generations that was not available to him as a youth. His book “Saved, Sanctified, & Same-Gender Loving” is the first in a series in which he deals with issues pertinent to the African-American SGL community.
PrideIndex: I’m familiar with the term “affirming” in regards to LGBT people who maintain their religious beliefs, spirituality, or acknowledgement of a higher power yet they’re still okay with their sexuality. Is this an accurate description?
D. Marcel: The term “affirming” is somewhat misleading. In my opinion, the term “affirming” refers to the church’s or a religion’s stance regarding the SGL. I equate the term “affirming” with the term “tolerance” – which I hate. Tolerance says to me, “I am dealing with you because I am made to – not because I want to.” There is a lack of compassion – looking beyond one’s self in an attempt to understand another individual – in the words “tolerance” and “affirming.” Every SGL person needs to know that they are “included” and not “excluded” in the family of God. Inclusivity requires a reconceptualization of how we perceive and receive not only the SGL, but all people of other faiths and persuasions. We are all children of the Most High God who are reconciled to God.
PI: Describe to our readers your own affirming experience.
DM: I have been a member of churches that took the stance of being “compassionate without compromise” toward SGL congregants; however, the church of which I am now a member is radically inclusive which means that people – regardless of your culture, gender, sexual orientation, religion (Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, etc.) are recognized as children of God. We are all connected and have reconciled to God whether have knowledge of Christ or not. This is a stark departure from how I was raised and what I believed most of my adult life. I was taught that in order to be saved, you had to confess Christ. PERIOD! But the question in the back of my mind for years was always, “What about the other non-Christians in the world? Are they going to hell simply because they were born to a different culture?” My perception is changing. Being SGL, I was taught that I was excluded from the eternal family of God. As a result of what I was taught and in an effort to become a part of the included, I excluded others. As one who now subscribes to radical inclusivity and liberation theology, I have not only been challenged to see myself as included in the family of God, but I could not see myself included and not recognize that all of mankind is reconciled to God. I tell more about my personal experiences with God and the process of reconciling my sexuality and spirituality in my book.
PI: Were you concerned about backlash that might occur as a result of your writing “Saved, Sanctified & Same Gender Loving?”
DM: Honestly, I did not think about the possible backlash from my book. All I knew was that I had to tell my story in an effort to help other African-American Christian SGL men reconcile their sexuality and spirituality. It was not until I sent off the final proof to the publisher that I realized the gravity of the issue I was dealing with in the book and how it would change my life and how people perceive and receive me. After sending the final draft to the publisher, I remember crawling into my bed and pulling the covers over my head. I realized that I had made myself naked before the entire world in hopes that others might be more compassionate to the same-gender loving. When the book was released, there was immediate backlash from members of my former church in my hometown. Since my move to Atlanta, I have maintained a rather close relationship with my former church. Even though many of them knew I was working on a book, they had no idea about the subject matter. Many did not know that I am SGL. The knowledge that a respected son of the church was SGL and published such a book was shocking to say the least because it seemingly went against everything I was taught. Though a lot of people from my hometown and former church and home are curious about the book, many refuse to purchase it. I guess they feel as if they support me, they are condoning the SGL. I also think they may believe that my book is salacious, and it is anything but that.
PI: How has your family and friends reacted to this book?
DM: My family knew I was working on publishing a book, but they did not know the subject matter of the book. My mother and my brother were the only family members that I made aware of my plans and to whom I have ever confirmed my sexuality. I did not feel any obligation to tell any other family members about publishing the book primarily because I was so focused and so determined to do it, and I did not need any negativity. Through family members who have since given me their support after finding out about the book, I have learned that some family members have expressed outraged and their disapproval to say the least. I plan to have some conversations about my life and my work during my next visit home…if I deem it necessary. Most of my friends have been supportive. Even though most of my SGL friends are supportive, I still suspect there are some who are afraid of the topic of confronting sexuality and spirituality because of their personal relationship with me and the mere fact that they know of someone who had the nerve to write about it.
PI: I understand you’re a self-published author tell us how you did it?
DM: I self-published because I wanted to learn everything there is to know about publishing. Due to the fact that my book deals with such a controversial and taboo topic, I wanted to retain the right to exercise complete creative freedom. I did not want a publishing executive telling me what I could and could not write. Right or wrong, I wanted the decision to be totally my own. Self-publishing was not as complicated as I had imagined. After writing the manuscript, I contacted my friend, colleague, and proprietor of Color Me Purple Literary Services, who edited my dissertation and asked if she would edit my manuscript. She agreed. While my manuscript was being edited, I researched publishing companies that primarily deal with self-publishers. I learned from my pastor who had just recently published about the company he used. I contacted them for a publishing estimate and established a publishing deadline. I did not want a plain cover with just the title of the book and my name on it, so I needed artwork. I didn’t just want a picture, but I wanted a picture that would capture the essence of the title and content of the book. I contacted another friend, who is the proprietor of Done by Sight Photography, and told him my ideas about what I wanted for the cover. After shooting the picture for the cover, I designed the front cover, back over, and the inside contents of the book and obtained an ISBN number, I sent it to publisher ready to print. It was not a difficult or overwhelming process! However, it was tedious. The challenge of doing this without a publisher is that I was and still am financially responsible for everything! Publishing the book was not terribly expensive; the real cost comes in trying to market the book.
PI: How do you plan on generating buzz around the book without the Rolodex of a publicist, literary agent, marketing or PR specialist?
DM: God has a way of sending the right people into your life at the right time. I had no idea how to do any of this. A very good friend from high school with whom I recently reconnected has been instrumental in helping me make contact with important people in Atlanta’s LGBT community and organizing my Atlanta book signing. Currently, we are working on making connections with other activists and authors around the country. On the recommendation of another friend, I am scheduled to appear on two popular internet shows to discuss the book. I have also sent out promotional copies to other authors, celebrities, members of the media, and will continue to do so. The more connections I seemingly make, the more doors open. Recently, while in the shower praying, I asked God, “How am I going to market this book? I don’t have in any connection on the level I need to be an overwhelming success?” He simply replied, “Just write. I will do the rest!”
PI: What is your earliest memory of being a writer? Under what circumstances were you first published?
DM: I have been in love with writing before I even knew how the alphabet or how to use it to form words. When I was young, I would create storylines using my action figures. My very first article was published in the fourth grade in my elementary school’s newspaper. By the time I was in the seventh grade, I began taking writing seriously. I handwrote stories – many of which I still have today. When I was in the 8th grade,
my parents bought me a typewriter for Christmas and I (albeit incorrectly) taught myself to type. I wrote, produced, and directed my first play when I was in the ninth grade. I was even a writer for my high school newspaper and founded my former church’s newsletter. Recently, I published my first professional and academic piece entitled “Coming in Between White-washed Education” as a section in a chapter of the book “Cultivating Curious and Creative Minds.”
PI: Name at least 3 artists that have most affected your artistic style?
DM: I am a lover of the short story which is why my book somewhat lends itself to the short story format. It is my favorite genre of literature. Even though he was tortured soul and his stories are rather dark, I am greatly influenced by Edgar Allan Poe. I love Poe! I also love Langston Hughes. As a matter of fact, one of my uncles calls me “Langston” because he says that I am so eloquent when speaking and writing. I also love the simplistic yet powerful writing style of the great Mildred Taylor, Maya Angelou, and Ernest Gaines.
PI: Do you believe African American and/or LGBT writers have an obligation to the African American and or LGBT community? Why or Why not?
DM: Yes, I believe that African American and/or LGBT writers have an obligation to the African-American and/or LGBT community. There are so many misconceptions and misperceptions about who we are! Most of what we see in mass media reflects the dominant culture’s perceptions and standards of acceptance, excellence, spirituality, and sexuality, etc. Storytelling gives marginalized group, such as African-Americans, African-American LGBT Christians, etc., a voice through which we can achieve self-acceptance by trusting our own feelings and acknowledging our perceptions of reality. Our stories challenge and/or even contradict the narratives of the dominant culture.
PI: What other projects are you currently working on?
DM: I recently videotaped a book discussion on the book that I am not preparing for release. Look for clips of it on my website and on YouTube as well. It will be available for purchase in late summer. I am working on a devotional specifically for SGL Christians that will be published later this year. Also, I am the founder and editor-in-chief of N-convenient Truth, a publication designed to authenticate, validate, and empower SGL African-American men in spirit, body, and soul. The e-zine is produced bi-monthly.
PI: Do you plan on writing a sequel? If so when?
DM: Yes! I have six story-chapters already outlined for the sequel! I will begin writing it in the fall and release in March 2012.
PI: When/where is your next book signing?
DM: I have several book-signings in the works. In June, I will have a book-signing and discussion in Memphis, Tennessee, on Saturday, June 26th. I will be at the Taste of Chicago in July 1-3. I will be in New York City in August. Please check my website @ www.dmarcelldr.com for specific times and location.