A few observations about the show Preachers on Oxygen ("Preachers of Atlanta"), premiering tonight on the Oxygen network...
First of all, I couldn't be more proud of Judah Benjamin Swilley for rising to the occasion of this opportunity.
All of my kids have been completely supportive of me through my coming out and living my own truth, they all love my husband, Ken Marshall, and they’re all coming over to our loft tonight for a viewing party (Judah is co-hosting his own event, but he’s going to stop by, too). All four of my kids live 5-10 minutes from us, and they really are all my best friends.
But because Judah is the one who is in ministry, he is the one whose professional life has been the most (negatively) affected by my journey. His public support of me has closed countless doors for him in the church world, but ironically, it’s also the main reason he was chosen to be on the show. The very thing that has closed doors for him has now opened a huge one for him!
‘POA' actually approached me a couple of years ago about being a part of the ensemble cast that they were putting together at the time, but decided to move in a different direction. It would have been an obvious choice for them to make the ATL part of the franchise sort of a Pastoral “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”...they could have made it about wealthy megachurch leaders and their mansions and Bentleys (sort of a “'CRIBS' for Jesus’), but they opted for going with a younger cast of charismatic individuals who were a little more urban, a little more “street", and a little more in touch with the grittier side of ministry.
As you can see from the clip, the show isn’t afraid to deal with cutting edge topics, and they certainly don’t make it easy on Judah, particularly about me.
As soon as I posted something on my FB page the other day about the show, the religious, homophobic hate mail started back up almost immediately, and several people said to me “I hope it’s worth it for you to go through this all over again.”
The answer to that is yes, it’s worth it!
Judah knew what he was getting into when he took this on, and he and I discussed it at length before he signed a contract with NBC/Universal (the parent company).
He can handle the pressure from the religious fundamentalists, and the exposure from this show will be a national platform for his own unique ministry. It’s really a way for him to be proactive with the hand that life has dealt him, and it’s a good thing. His experience with the production team has been very positive, and he was paid handsomely for doing the show, so what’s not to like about it?
As far as the negative things that people say on Social Media, there’s nothing that we haven’t heard a million times, and for him, as it is with me, that stuff is like water off a duck’s back. We don’t even pay attention to it or notice it any more. When you’re an iconoclast, that kind of thing just comes with the territory.
The entire “Preachers of…” franchise is mostly an African-American series, geared to an African-Amercian audience, and the conventional wisdom has been that homophobia in the Black Church is more extreme than it is in other parts of Christendom. You can’t prove that by me because I’ve experienced just as much vehemence from white church people as I have from anyone else, but I do believe that it's part of the reason they found Judah’s story compelling. The conflict makes for good TV.
But, all in all, this is a good thing, and we're excited about it.
i am grateful that Judah’s gift has made room for him.
Should be an interesting ride...