Rev. Jide Macaulay on July 6 met with congregants to discuss the House of Rainbow, an LGBT-affirming fellowship he founded in 2006. Macaulay also spoke at the Colesville United Methodist Church in Silver Spring, which has a number of congregants from Sierra Leone and other African countries.
“It was just interesting to share my story,” Macaulay told the Washington Blade on July 13 during an interview at the Dupont Circle home of Dupont Circle Village President Emerita Peggy Simpson.
Macaulay on July 7 met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Randy Berry, who is the special U.S. for the promotion of LGBT and intersex rights, at the State Department. Macaulay described the meeting as “very, very good” and said Berry and his colleagues at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor “are still very focused on human rights for LGBT people around the world.”
“That is very, very important,” Macaulay told the Blade.
Macaulay had dinner with a group of African clergy while he was in D.C.
He participated the United Church of Christ Open and Affirming Coalition — a group that advocates for LGBT members of the United Church of Christ — conference in Baltimore that took place from June 27-29. Macaulay also attended the UCC General Synod in the Charm City that began on June 30 and ended on July 4.
“I find the UCC General Synod conference enlightening, safe,” he told the Blade. “It’s very inclusive.”
Macaulay traveled to New Orleans on Tuesday to attend a gathering of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, which Bishop Yvette Flunder founded in 2000. Macaulay is scheduled to return to his home in London on July 24.
‘I did attempt to pray the gay away’
Macaulay was born in London but grew up in Ikeja, which is the capital of Nigeria’s Lagos State.
His father is a leading Nigerian theologian who founded the country’s second largest theological institution. Macaulay described both of his parents as “very dedicated Christians.”
Macaulay told the Blade he struggled “a lot with my sexuality” when he was a young adult.
“I did attempt to pray the gay away,” he said. “I thought I was successful praying my homosexuality away and I remember asking God to give me a wife to prove that he has cured me.”
Macaulay, who has dual British citizenship, soon met a woman at the London church he was attending at the time. They moved in together two years after they met and later married after the church pressured them to do so.
Macaulay and his now ex-wife have a son who turns 25 this year. Macaulay said his son “made decisions that didn’t include a space for me” when he became an adult, but their relationship has since improved.
“The table has turned full circle,” he said. “We’re now in a good place. We’re communicating well.”
Macaulay lived ‘Christian’ and ‘gay’ lives
Macaulay joined a Pentecostal church in London in 1996. He became an ordained minister on Sept. 12, 1998, after he studied with his father in Nigeria.
“Doing it under my father was just a great joy for both of us,” Macaulay told the Blade. “But I had a dark secret around my sexuality that I hadn’t actually dealt with.”
Macaulay said he had a “very strong Christian life” and “my gay life” by the time he appeared in a 2000 documentary that focused on LGBT people of African descent.
The film crew that interviewed him at his home recorded him in silhouette in an attempt to hide his identity. Macaulay said people at his church who watched the documentary knew it was him and gave the pastor copies they recorded on their VCRs.
“I was subjected to several weeks of attempted deliverance to exercise the homosexuality and the demon,” he told the Blade. “it was a process of praying for me, making me make confessions about homosexuality, who else in the church might be gay, who else have I corrupted.”
“When they prayed for me they hit me, they stepped on me,” Macaulay recalled.
He told the Blade he left the church after a man at a prayer meeting told him, “’Don’t worry Jide. God will bless you with a wife.’”
LGBT Nigerians face ‘terrible wave’ of arrests, kidnappings
Macaulay told the Blade he did not attend church for two years until two South Africans who he had hosted at his home introduced him to the Metropolitan Community Church London. He joined the congregation as a minister in 2003 and later studied liberation theology in Berkeley, Calif.
“It really changed everything for me,” said Macaulay.
Macaulay told the Blade gay people he met in Nigeria soon began to ask about the possibility of opening a gay-friendly church. He praised Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, as he discussed his decision to establish House of Rainbow in Lagos 2006.
“I thought he had the charisma, he had the energy,” said Macaulay. “He had the convictions that I also saw in myself.”
House of Rainbow initially had more than 200 members, but this number dropped to under 50 during its second year. Macaulay said attacks against him and congregants, death threats and the congregation’s relocation from a hotel in a Lagos industrial area to a private home are among the factors that contributed to the drop.
“It became quite intense for myself and for House of Rainbow,” he said.
In spite of these difficulties, House of Rainbow now has more than half a dozen groups that meet regularly. Macaulay has also emerged as a vocal advocate for LGBT and intersex rights in Africa.
Macaulay in 2007 testified against a Nigerian bill that sought to impose a 5-year prison sentence against anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or officiated one.
“The parliamentarians thought because I was in a dog collar that I was going to be on their side, until I opened my mouth,” he recalled. “They thought, ‘Oh my God he’s really gay.’ It became very interesting.”
Then-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 signed a law that bans membership in an LGBT advocacy group and punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punishable by death in areas of northern Nigeria that are under sharia law.
Macaulay noted to the Blade that LGBT Nigerians currently face a “terrible wave” of arbitrary arrests, blackmail, extortion and kidnappings. He is also critical of Steven Anderson and other anti-LGBT pastors from the U.S. who have traveled to Botswana, Malawi, Uganda and other African countries.
Police detained Macaulay at 2016 Uganda Pride pageant
Macaulay was the grand marshal of 2016 Uganda Pride that took place last August in the country’s capital of Kampala.
He was among the more than 300 people who were detained during a raid on a nightclub — which is across the street from the U.S. Embassy — that took place during a beauty pageant.
Macaulay told the Blade the police officers who entered the nightclub “dragged away” a prominent transgender rights advocate. He said they also pulled out the hair weaves of some of those who were detained and sought to determine the gender of trans men.
“A few of my friends who were trans were so afraid that they thought they were going to die or be attacked or raped or even worse,” said Macaulay.
Macaulay added officers and others who he suspect were journalists also tried to take pictures of him and others who were detained.
“They wanted to get head shots of all the people,” he told the Blade, noting he feared Ugandan newspapers would publish them. “I kept my head down.”
Macaulay told the Blade one of the officers said he “would not accept this abomination in his district” before they released him and the other pageant attendees about three hours after the raid began. Macaulay said an activist picked him and his Ugandan chaperone up and brought them to a taxi stand.
“By the time I got to my hotel I was just in tears,” he recalled. “I was just so broken.”
“It was really that terrifying,” added Macaulay. “Just thinking about it is going to make me angry.”