How Gay Gospel Artists Left a Tainted Legacy- From Holy to Not At All [Part Three]
This is Part 3 which we will explore a gay gospel artist and minister and his part in starting a gay revolution in the black church by pure disobedience.
This is presumably the last part of our series: How Gay Gospel Artists Left a Tainted Legacy For Today’s Generation. We do not plan to add to this series as we feel this may complete the subject… for now. We will discuss a very important issue about how gay gospel artists emerged. We will specifically focus on one corner of the country that made a huge impact on gospel music and the gay culture in the church.
We have interviewed four individuals who were involved the black holiness church back in the late 1960’s and on in the San Francisco Bay Area, namely Oakland, Ca.
They were associated in the same church circle environment and they followed the people in this story. A couple of them were once members of Love Center Church and knew the happenings from day to day.
NOTE: Again, we will be speaking about some individuals who are no longer with us and we offer no disrespect but we this article is a very important link to how the church has been corrupted in secret gay liaisons. We are not endorsing the story of our sources but they are very similar in context and the purpose for this article.
Our Oakland Bay area sources will remain unnamed but their story will reveal so much. In the 1960’s, a very popular gospel singing group received rave reviews as one of the first trendiest singers in the industry. They would be the Edwin Hawkins Singers and their hit gospel song, “Oh Happy Day”.
Edwin Hawkins is an older brother of the late Bishop Walter Hawkins and his Love Center Church in Oakland, Ca. The Edwin Hawkins Singers celebrated gospel music after the “flower children- free love” era and the start of gay rights which was very popular in the Bay Area. The casual dress of bell bottom jeans, Tye dye t- shirts, platform shoes and Afros were in style. Oakland’s gospel legend Tramaine Hawkins was a member of the Edwin Hawkins Singers as well.
The following is according to our sources:
It all started at Good Samaritan Church of God in Christ in Oakland where the Hawkins family attended under the leadership of Bishop Ross in the 1960’s. Walter Hawkins and his siblings were a part of the youth choir which collaborated with a very known church in nearby Berkeley, Ephesians Church of God in Christ under the beloved Bishop E.E. Cleveland. Consequently, singer Tramaine Hawkins was Bishop Cleveland’s granddaughter.
The Hawkins family found themselves under the leadership of a strict pastor at Ephesians who preached holiness and was against homosexuality. According to our source, the young people in the church in the early 1970’s were becoming annoyed with the ‘holiness’ preaching and wanted out. They no longer wanted to be ‘fussed’ at and sought out a new kind and loving type of church experience. Apparently, this was true of Walter Hawkins so he decided to recruit members from the church to join his new church ministry. Soon after, Walter Hawkins married Tramaine and they moved forward in building his church ministry, Love Center.
Walter Hawkins and his Love Center choir would produce many memorable albums along with Tramaine and her own solo career. The black church was proud of the music that was coming from the Hawkins family and it made a great name for Walter Hawkins, the Love Center Church and other gospel artists that came out of his church. But there was more than just singing going on in this particular church; much more than most knew about.
A book we read many years ago, provided some interesting information about Walter Hawkins and his wife Tramaine Hawkins. The book, Black Gospel: An Illustrated History of the Gospel Sound, stated that Tramaine and others allegedly said they would attend gay clubs and gay parades. Though we believe they went for some other reasons, according to the book, she allegedly claimed they attended those events to bring people to Christ. Surprisingly, she allegedly also stated in the book they were invited to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion and would go there to witness to the sinners.
Our source stated Love Center Church was known for young people to flock there because it was an atmosphere where they could be themselves without the strict teachings of other elder church pastors. Love Center was also known for how well their choir could sing and many young people from all over the Bay Area came to sing for the famous family. But what many didn’t know was they were entering a totally gay environment in the form of a church and many of them were ‘turned out’, so to speak.
While Bishop Hawkins provided a laid back environment for the ‘young people’ and the like, he was also a gay man even though he was married to Tramaine Hawkins. Between 1981-1982, word got out in the church community that Tramaine Hawkins caught her husband in their house with another man. Soon after they separated, Walter Hawkins started preaching it was “a blessing to be gay” in 1983.
Our source stated in 1984, Bishop Walter Hawkins moved into a new church building and had an inauguration where many of his supporters and church leaders came to share his honor. There, our source stated, they saw disco singer Sylvester and his partner had attended the event as well. According to our source and TV One’s Unsung, Sylvester had become a member of the Love Center Church which was recommended by a friend who said it was more ‘inclusive’ and would accept him.
Sylvester had become a regular member of Bishop Walter Hawkins church and at this time in early 1980’s, a bomb had hit many communities. The community of the church, white homosexuals and gays in general were being plagued with HIV and AIDS. Though people back then thought it was ‘white man’s disease’ in the early 1980’s, this disease was not only spreading amongst the black gay community but black men in the church, like Love Center. Also, many well known bishops and pastors whom were married all over the country, were dying of AIDS.
According to our source, there’s one thing that many people did not know about Bishop Walter Hawkins’ church. We know that it was an open environment for gays, lesbians, transgenders, transsexuals and if you weren’t homosexual before you came in, you might be later. We talk about all the fuss surrounding same sex marriage today and the right to marry whom you want, but many did not know that homosexual marriages were performed in Oakland, Ca. These marriage ceremonies were taken place at the Love Center Church and officiated by Bishop Walter Hawkins in the 1980’s.
So, according to our source, Walter Hawkins was not only performing marriages for anyone homosexual that wanted it, he probably did not count on the next issue. Just as we stated earlier, many gay black men were dying of AIDS after the outbreak of the AIDS virus in 1980. This was true of the men in Walter Hawkins’ church. While he performed same sex marriages for men and women in his church, he was burying and officiating some of those same folks’ funerals. Yes and from what our source stated, people who knew about it knew it was countless funerals he performed of his own members.
Do you see the tragedy in all of this? A man who was a very influential figure in the gospel music industry; one of the most popular family and church choir singing folks the world had heard, was not only affirming gay relationships, living as a gay man, but laying to rest the very people he led astray? Can we say that he, a hypocritical teacher and preacher of the word of God, led many of his members to hell?
Now, the story isn’t over yet. Our source also said when disco singer Sylvester’s partner died of AIDS, he soon realized he would be next. Take a listen to this because it will disgust you. Our source told us that when Sylvester died, there was controversy over where his funeral would take place. Now, after Sylvester found a so called church home he could feel comfortable in, there was opposition to having his funeral at Love Center by the board, members and yes, Bishop Walter Hawkins. All of them felt it would give the church a bad image. WHAT?! Surely, Sylvester gave sizable donations and tithes and offerings while he was living and now his own pastor is ashamed of doing his funeral? Ultimately, his funeral was performed at Love Center but Hawkins did not perform it; instead Pastor Yvette Flunder did, who at the time was his associate pastor.
Though our source stated, through the years Bishop Walter Hawkins preached for and against homosexuality, the damage was already done.
AT2W’s Take: This may come as a shock to those of you who did not know the total dynamics to how Bishop Walter Hawkins played a pivotal role in the solicitation of the gay revolution in the black church. The Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area was partly the forerunners for gay rights not just in the white gay community but we are talking about in the black church overall, as we see it. Now in this story, we concentrated on one man and his associates and the preaching words of God along with lust and desires that have nothing to do with His will. The death of people who were broken and some naive- literally turned out in a gay church environment is unbelievable. Just think- as the young generation in the 1970’s wanted to abandon the holy doctrine of God to adopt new age sinful gospels have changed the course of the church forever. The welcoming of rebellion against God’s word inspired one man to spring forth a gay church revolution that took many lives and covered the community with a ever hovering black cloud of shame and disobedience.
Some of us are so eager to do our own things and abandon the ways of holiness in the church, we can now see what it leads us to. We just want to know: who spoke to those ailing men stricken with AIDS and brought them to Jesus before it was everlasting too late? Did the one who contributed to the fall of so many souls repent before he left earth?
There’s a huge responsibility upon teacher and preachers, gospel artists and the like to TEACH RIGHTEOUSNESS! If we have to shout it, then we must. The gay affirming and inclusive doctrines being taught today will end up marrying and burying more souls and then who will save their soul?