Vision Community Foundation founder and senior pastor of the Vision Church of Atlanta, Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen is leading his congregation with love and an open heart. The Atlanta church is LGBTQ-friendly and Allen himself is part of the community. Allen has been married to Rashad Burgess for more than 10 years and they’ve now entered the realm of fatherhood as they raise their 3-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. Allen is embarking on a journey to create social change, not just for LGBTQ persons, but other communities as well.
Allen is gearing up for Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride Weekend on Sept. 2-7 featuring performances from Chris Brown, Lil’ Kim, Monica, Teyana Taylor, Dej Loaf and many more.
“This is really about a celebration of unity among people of all races no matter what their sexual orientation may be,” he says.
The weekend is not only a time to dance and sing but will also be used as a platform to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS in the Black community.
We had a chance to catch up with Allen to discuss his thoughts on the final Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, Atlanta’s advancement with social progress and the significance of Black Gay Pride Weekend.
What was your initial reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage?
It was overwhelming! I remember we were in the middle of a church conference. One of the speakers had his iPad out during his presentation and the CNN announcement popped up on his screen because of his Wi-Fi. Honestly, it couldn’t have happened at a better time than that. For us to be in a room full of people who are faith-based and free spirited was monumental. It is sad commentary that people have to continue to fight for their God-given rights like love, voting and family affairs. We also realized that there’s still work to be done, because the transgender community is not in the inclusion. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. We have to fight for everyone’s rights and not just our own.
How did you become affiliated with Black Gay Pride Weekend?
We are excited about Black Gay Pride Weekend. I got together with Avian Watson, the deputy director of the Vision Community Foundation; and Melissa Scott of Traxx Girls to come up with a way to celebrate and provide empowerment for the Atlanta LGBTQ community. We want to create an environment for them to have fun and dance, but also provide resources for people to get tested. This event serves as a platform to promote unity in order to overcome the obstacles we are facing in this country. This is an opportunity to empower the Atlanta Black gay pride community and people of color, as a whole. We have had so many sponsors and corporate businesses that have reached out to help and support the movement.
Why do you think Atlanta is so welcoming to homosexuals?
This event gets bigger every year because Atlanta has had such great political, social and educational progress. This is the home of Dr. King, the Civil Rights Movement and the Atlanta University Center containing three prominent historically Black colleges. I think Atlanta has always been a hub for social change. There is a culture of hospitality that exists here in the city and people from all parts of the country are moving to Atlanta because of it.