Black Women, Faith, and Sexuality

An Interview with Coach Yeamah

Christian Sexuality Coach (focus on LGBTQ+ people of faith)

Describing the Work

The work that I do as a Black woman isn’t specifically for Black women. It is for a type of audience who are believers, people of faith, who are also LGBTQ+. So, helping them navigate their sexual orientation and their faith. So really dealing with the emotional effects of being told that “you’re an abomination” that “you’re going to hell” and how to really reintegrate into your Christian faith and know that God isn’t going to send you to hell. That you are not rejected. That you are not an abomination. To really relearning and unlearning the theology around sexual orientation that the church has recently adopted and been propagating.

The Journey to This Work (Content Warning: Mention of Substance Abuse and Suicidal Ideation)

For me, this is my story. I didn’t grow up in the church, but I am from West Africa, Liberia, and our nation for the most part is Christian, so it’s sort of just assumed that you believe in God. And so, it was in the end of my high school years that I was baptized and fell in love with Jesus. I really did. And then went to college and got away from all of that and learned some new things about the higher consciousness and all these other things in my intellectual heritage class, and then I had a dramatic, traumatic event that happened to me personally and that forced me to get closer to God. And by the time I was doing that in my mid-twenties, I had already come to terms with my sexuality as being bisexual and rededicating myself to my relationship with God.

At that time, I believed those things were not in alignment. Those two things did not go together. So, I went to Bible College. I went and got my Master’s in Biblical Studies. I did all the things and then found myself in love with a woman. And so that was very destabilizing for me, especially for the community I was in because at the time, I was waiting for my husband and doing all the things that they told me to. And looking at the relationship I had with this woman, it was everything that they said would happen if God was bringing that person that God had for you, but because we were two women, we were not allowed to experience the answered prayer or the blessing. And so, dealing with both the rejection from that community, and it wasn’t even an overt rejection, it was just that we understand, and we could tell, and we could say what was happening, but we couldn’t even name what was happening until the end when everything fell apart. And so, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts, and all the questions you have of God forced me to really dig deeper and to say that “these people are reading it this way, but is that really the truth?”

And it began with something very nonthreatening, with God and I having this conversation. It was just the understanding of their preaching salvation, but Jesus preached the Kingdom. Something is not in alignment. So that was the open door. We call it deconstruction now but that was the open door for me to finally be comfortable asking God what is really happening. How come I was able to love this woman purely? It wasn’t sexual and devious. It wasn’t all of these things. It was just pure love you told us we’d have, and here it is and now, I’m not allowed to have that because of what reason? And so, now I know almost all of the pitfalls and questions and pains my clients go through to get to this place of where they have peace. Now it took me fifteen years to get to this place of where I feel amazing and wonderful and invite God into my conversations about my dating life, with men, with women, whoever, but I don’t want people to have to go through that. So, the work that I do is to compress that time so that you can like get to living. That it doesn’t have to be full of fear and shame and doubt.

On the Unlearning/Relearning Process

It is the unlearning, but the relearning of it is learning that your body can tell you; like you know when you’re hearing truth. And so, it’s really building a trust again with yourself because growing up in the church, we’re really taught how not to trust ourselves and how when things feel good, it must be wrong. It’s learning that when your body, and it’s in scripture; Jesus talks about this, that when your body hears truth, it feels like freedom (John 8:32). So, we have to learn again to connect back with ourselves. If I’m hearing something that’s causing me fear, it’s probably not truth because that’s the antithesis of love and God is love. So, if I’m hearing something that’s inciting fear, I’m not hearing God. So, it’s just the basic things that we probably should have heard in Sunday School about truth feels like freedom. Truth is expansive. And so, I can trust that. I don’t need to look outside of me to really learn that.

If I’m hearing something that’s causing me fear, it’s probably not truth because that’s the antithesis of love and God is love. So, if I’m hearing something that’s inciting fear, I’m not hearing God.

It’s really me walking people through trusting God and trusting themselves again, and it’s always the most amazing, “Ah ha,” moments that people get where it’s like “wait a minute, God hasn’t been mad at me the whole time?” No honey. Now, they’re in a good mood. God loves you. God is inviting you to ask questions. God is inviting you to engage. That’s the process. They’re not going to get on a call with me or sign up to work with me if they’re not ready, so the blessing is that they do come ready to be open-minded. They’ve gotten to the point where they’ve done all the things and for some reason, it’s not clicking. They’re not getting it. All these people around them are like, “I’m gay. I’m Christian. I’m wonderful and everything is amazing,” and they’re like, “yeah I am too,” but deep down inside, there’s still that persistent doubt that’s saying these people might be wrong. This might be the devil. God’s going to come, and I might end up in hell. So, they do come ready because they’ve done all of that…they may feel a little guilty about it too. Like what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get it? Well, everybody else seems to move through so easily, so why is it such a big deal for me? They come open, and that’s also a blessing from God because this is also not just my story, but this is my calling, so that helps a lot.

On Pushback

There’re different levels. When I first began my work from the community that I used to work in because I was part of an evangelical ministry before, that’s where I got my Master’s and all that and fell in love with a woman and things fell apart, and there were people that sent me messages very concerned. Like maybe something happened. Are you okay? Did something go wrong? What’s going on? It wasn’t any of those things. Like I was finally free. And so, trying to help, not really working too hard to help them understand, but like speaking what was happening because the one thing that I’ve always been very confident in is that I know the voice of God. And God was able to develop, I call it your God voice imprint, my God voice imprint really outside of the church because back to my mid-twenties when I had that traumatic event that happened to me, I had to know God outside of the church. I couldn’t wait until Sunday to engage with God. I needed God to live literally for every second, and that’s not an exaggeration. So that voice was very much clarified for me in that time, and so moving forward into these difficult times of trying to reconcile my faith and sexuality, when God called me to do this work, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was God speaking to me. So, when the pushback came from that community, it was very easy for me to say, God told me to, and it was very easy for them to accept it because they had seen me follow the voice of God and God confirming and showing up.

With my family, it’s been some people who are like, who cares? We’re moving on. Whatever. And some people are welcoming but not affirming. And I have my family members who are like “Hooray” affirming of it. Then because my business is online, you have the social media people who are not affirming who will come into the comments or come into the inbox and want to engage in debate. I tend not to do that because my goal isn’t to be an apologist when it comes to queer theology. My role is to heal the hearts of the people who are hurting, so that’s my main focus. So, if there’s been pushback, I have not probably experienced it to the level maybe other people have experience it just because it’s not my focus. I don’t put my attention in that direction. We all know what you put your attention to increases and magnifies for you, and so my attention is not generally in that direction for it to be so much of a problem or become something that I need to overcome on a daily basis. It is not at all.

So, when the pushback came from that community, it was very easy for me to say, God told me to, and it was very easy for them to accept it because they had seen me follow the voice of God and God confirming and showing up.

The thing about it is that we have Jesus as a very good model. And then we have, if we really understood Paul and how heretical, either this man is really hearing from God or is bat crazy, and so all of the pushback there that happens. But the thing from Jesus, and I love this scripture from Jesus, he did not commit himself to the heart of man because the heart of man is very fickle. One day they’re saying “Hosanna,” and the next they’re saying, “Crucify him.” So, I’m not gonna lean on your testimony. I’m gonna lean on the testimony of the person who knows me, which is God. If I’m secure in that, I literally can’t be moved. I could be Peter and get my eyes off Jesus and sink in the water or I can keep my eyes on it and walk through that adversity. I won’t be moved. I won’t be shaken. So, it’s like we do the work, and it can seem like its ministry but it’s really us walking in the fullness of when Paul says imitate me as I imitate Christ. That’s what that is. If I stop doing my spiritual practices…I could get shaken. I could get moved. I honestly don’t care. Even doing some advertising, I put something on a Black media page, and someone went in the comments and said You need to stand on a tall building and like kill yourself or fall of or something like that, and my older sister who is welcoming but not affirming was very upset and went in the comments like “how dare you speak to my sister like that?” And when I read things like that, it doesn’t bother me at all because I know who I am, and I know what I’ve been called to do, so you have grace to do what you’ve been called to. If I wasn’t called to this, if I was doing this for some sort of money or gain, I would probably have to have some sort of medication or be talking to some sort of therapist every single day. I don’t need to do those things. I sleep very well at night. I sleep a lot. I sleep very good.

Cultivating and Creating Space/Developing a Platform

It’s been by the grace of God because my intent, and yes, I’m someone who studies business, not formally but because this is my business and my ministry, I listen to Tony Robbins. I have coaches. I’m always doing the work to ensure that my business is running properly. But I forget what scripture it was (Psalm 127), if you’re staying up all night and you’re building the house and God isn’t building the house, you’re building it in vain. Like if God isn’t helping you build this thing, you’re building it in vain. And so, I will say for me, the building and the nurturing of the platform and the brand came from number one, prayer and number two, being about service. It wasn’t about I’m going to go and do this thing and I’m going to be super famous and awesome. I’m not super famous now, but it wasn’t about me. It was really about service and so, energetically, regardless of what you believe, if you’re Christian or not, being in the vibration of service will open doors for you because people aren’t feeling like you’re coming to get something for them. Scripture says it is more blessed to given than to receive, so if you’re in the attitude, and not in a fake way, but in a heartfelt way that this is my motivation, that I’m here to serve, and I really feel like the work that I do is lifesaving, I’m here to do that,” people will notice, and that’s what happened.

And the platform was really built for me. People started inviting me on their podcast. One of the most beautiful moments was this full circle thing happening to me where I was invited to interview with Dr. Caroline Leaf, and I didn’t make that happen. It wasn’t like I was pursing it. It was someone on my Instagram that was really blessed by the work that I did and when she was asking for people to interview, they put my name in the comments, and that’s how that happened and then it really just snowballed from there. People started reaching out to me and wanted to talk to me. Practically, also another layer of it is that I’m a Black woman in a space where there’s not a lot of Black women talking about this topic, so in all of the ways, when God calls you to do something, all of the intersections make sense, so you can’t always explain it away. I could say I’m an extremely intelligent person. I could say that I’m very personable. I love to be on camera. I’m that person, but all of those things were given to me for this moment. I could say all of these reasons is why I’ve done this, but I was created to do this by God. So, it is God first that I’m able to be positioned so that the platform and the brand can be developed.

It was really about service and so, energetically, regardless of what you believe, if you’re Christian or not, being in the vibration of service will open doors for you because people aren’t feeling like you’re coming to get something for them.

Preparing to Do This Work

The fact that I am licensed as a minister, and I do have a Master’s in Biblical Studies. And in school, I did biology, but I took a lot of counseling, psychology, and neuroscience classes, and I’ve been trained since I was in my mid-twenties to peer counsel and work with people and so, with all of those things, it’s been…and then with my work I did before transitioning into my business, I was the head of human resources with all of that, and I’m certified as a human resources professional (passed the test the first time). So, I am certified and licensed, having the Master’s, and when I finished college, I was on my way to do a clinical sexology program in Philly and so in preparation for that, I worked in the industry that would help me get accepted to the PhD program and you do need research for that. So, all of that cumulative work and preparation for that and of course the ongoing work that I do, and I always do have a coach or someone that is mentoring me through the process because there’s always so many levels to it. I’m very careful that I’m not in any way a therapist.

On my way to do the work that I was doing to become the clinical sexologist which would have been a Master’s in Human Sexuality and a clinical psychology PhD, God told me not to go do that. God didn’t want me to learn the clinical side of things where it’s very problem focused. And so, that’s been a blessing that I’ve been able to come at it from more of a joy and pleasure perspective to pull people into that instead of trying to identify everywhere you’re wrong and need fixing. I don’t do that. It’s a mind work according to Romans 12:1-2, you renew the mind. I could be considered a Biblical scholar, but it happened in a place of trauma that I had to become someone who knew the Bible very well. But also, it is my favorite thing to do in the world to study and hang out with God. I was telling God the other day, everything I learn, I get bored so easily because I learn it, I master it and move on and learning who God is and knowing God, it’s like, what does the scripture say, the spring of water in you that’s never gonna run dry, and it’s always overflowing, and there’s always goodness and good stuff to learn. And so, part of it is that my number one strength is that I’m a learner. Because I have taken that StrengthsFinder test, and that’s my number one is that I’m a learner and so that’s implemented in all areas of my life, and so that’s really the crux of it. That’s the thing.

Advice For Those Hoping to Do This Work

If you want to do this work and if you feel called to it, just start because clarity happens in action. And it’s going to look different for you than it does for me. There may be some similarities because when you’re doing work that you’re called to by God, it requires you to be in relationship with God because you can’t go off and do it on your own. There’s a scripture that says eyes have not seen and ears have not heard what God has prepared for you, so if no one’s seen it, and no one’s heard it, there’s really only one place you can get it from. You’re required at that point to have an intentional relationship with God where you can hear God to do different things and all of that and invest in yourself. It’s going to require time and some money. Probably a lot of money to be the best you can be in the work that you’re doing, but God is going to provide all that as well. And of course, my last thing would be to have fun discovering and doing it because it can get overwhelming when you start thinking about it. The truth is that I was called to do this work back in Philly when I was in my early twenties, but I just started doing it in my early thirties. So, it took me about ten years to get around to saying yes to God.

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