The inclusive House of Rainbow church network celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month. To mark the occasion, Rainbow Gazette published a question-and-answer interview with the church’s Anglo-Nigerian founder, the Rev. Rowland (Jide) Macauley. These are some excerpts from that interview:
Jide Macaulay: ‘African LGBTIQ needs a new direction: House of Rainbow as a path to God’s love’
What inspired you to start House of Rainbow?
The inspiration for House of Rainbow was led by the Holy Spirit. Growing up with the fear and hatred around the idea that one can be gay or lesbian and hated by God pushed me to learn more about what is in God’s heart for sexual minorities.
After many years of trial, tribulation and oppression, my conclusion is that God loves lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, intersex, queer, non-binary, non-conforming, people living with HIV, people with disabilities and all of these culminated into the idea of starting the mission to the marginalised and those on the edge. We simply wanted a house where people of rainbow can praise and worship.
How has the church evolved in the past 10 years?
The past 10 years have been a combination of opportunities and challenges. I list here a few facts and achievements in that time.
- On the 2nd September 2006, 32 people worshipped at the first service of House of Rainbow in Lagos, Nigeria.
- House of Rainbow registered as an NGO in Nigeria in April 2008.
- House of Rainbow appointed 33 volunteer local leaders in 13 countries in the last decade. We currently have 21 active volunteer local leaders, 2 on special duties in 11 countries, we said goodbye to 9 due to various reasons and one passed away.
- House of Rainbow is a fellowship with additional mission on human rights, sexual health, PLWHIV [people living with HIV], pastoral care, support and counselling primarily for LGBTIQ people, parents and all.
- In February 2007, alongside other human right coalitions,we challenged the Nigerian government on the introduction of the anti-gay bill.
- In a decade, House of Rainbow has distributed free of charge over 100,000 copies of resources including Pocket Devotional, I Say a Little Prayer, Real Conversation, The Children are Free, etc.
- Training seminars and workshops on “What the Bible says in favour of same-sex delivered 13 times in 6 countries to over 350 delegates including faith leaders and parents in less than 12 months.
- House of Rainbow has two groups dedicated to LGBTIQ Muslims in Nigeria and Ghana respectively.
- House of Rainbow has performed over 10 same-sex weddings or blessings in the last decade in Africa and Europe.
- House of Rainbow co-sponsored the UK Black Pride and PrideUganda 2016.
- House of Rainbow provided and managed a Safe House for LGBTIQ people in Nigeria between 2012 and 2015.
- House of Rainbow is very active on social media with a massive audience and followers estimated at over 300,000.
- House of Rainbow works with other multi-agency organisations providing immigration advice and support, child rights, information and referrals etc.
What was your parents’ reaction at the time you started House of Rainbow? What was the most uncomfortable part of the conversation?
My mission with House of Rainbow was not subjected to my parents’ approval. Their reactions were not part of the consideration at all. I was focused on the work that was necessary for the LGBTIQ people: we were on the race for redemption, salvation, inclusion and reconciliation. My father’s behaviour was nonetheless ungodly as he supported the Nigerian government on the criminalisation of homosexuality and on the other hand, my late mother provided nurture, support and prayers. …
How did House of Rainbow celebrate the 10th founding anniversary?
We celebrated with a service themed “Testimony, Grace & Glory” in London on the 2nd September 2016. Our guest speakers were husband and wife Pastors Paul and Maureen Bailey, radical and inclusive black ministers in London, who have both made sacrifices for the LGBTIQ people. The celebration will continue until the eve of our 11th Year. Our plan is to continue growing the work and visiting our committed leaders and members around the world.
How do you stay so optimistic and faithful when there is so much hate for LGBTIQs?
God is love and ever so faithful. Christ is the only reason for my hope. The hatred of LGBTIQ people is a reflection of the haters’ desire and desperation for love. We stay optimistic and faithful because we know who we are and whose we are. We are “Dearly Beloved, children of the living God”.
As 1 Peter 3:9 advised us, ”Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” We have to remain optimistic in the face of adversity. …
Witnessing what happened at Pride Uganda, what do you have to say ‘about and to’ African leaders?
African leaders need to wake up and keep up to the times. They travel and are well exposed. They are also well educated. Pride in Uganda was both a protest for LGBTIQ rights and also a celebration of LGBTIQ pride. If your citizens are proud, why are you not supporting them? African leaders have nothing to be afraid of except their own prejudices and promotion of degrading and abusive ideologies in the guise of protecting tradition and their religious beliefs and teachings.
What is the biggest misconception about Rev. Jide Macaulay?
I think people think I am scary and dangerous. I work from a place of sincerity and hope that the world will be a better place when we just take a moment to know our LGBTIQ neighbours. Millions of LGBTIQ Africans and our families are truly looking for a new direction and I hope we can lay aside all misconception and focus on that which is good.
For more information, read the full interview in Rainbow Gazette.
- LGBT Christians in Africa: A prime focus for new videos (March 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Two victories over Ghana’s violent homophobe (August 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Nigerian safe house might close without your help (February 2015, 76crimes.com)
- African LGBTI activists unite at Nairobi conference
- Nigerian church welcomes, supports LGBTI people (December 2012, 76crimes.com)