Wednesday, January 19, 2022

LGBT Icon Carl Bean Dead ‘After Lengthy Illness’ at Age 77

Carl Bean
Carl Bean / Twitter

*Gay icon and former Motown singer Carl Bean has died. He was 77.

The Unity Fellowship Church Movement, the church Bean founded for LGBTQ congregants, confirmed his death Tuesday, saying Bean’s “transition to eternal life” came on Sept. 7, “after a lengthy illness.”

“Archbishop Bean worked tirelessly for the liberation of the underserved and for LGBTQ people of faith and in doing so, helped many around the world find their way back to spirituality and religion,” said the Unity Fellowship Church Movement in a statement. as reported by the New York Post

Bean is best known in Los Angeles for establishing the Minority AIDS Project (MAP) in the ’80s. He’s also behind the disco hit “I Was Born This Way,” which influenced Lady Gaga’s 2011 hit song. The singer directly credited Bean during the 10-year anniversary of her second studio album in May.

“Born This Way, my song and album, were inspired by Carl Bean, a gay black religious activist who preached, sung and wrote about being ‘Born This Way,’” Gaga tweeted after the ceremony. “Notably, his early work was in 1975, 11 years before I was born.

“Thank you for decades of relentless love, bravery, and a reason to sing. So we can all feel joy, because we deserve joy. Because we deserve the right to inspire tolerance, acceptance and freedom for all.”

READ MORE: Raven-Symone Rejected Lesbian Storyline For Her Character on Disney’s ‘Raven’s Home’

Bean told NPR in 2019 of being asked to cover the 1975 tune: “I always say the lyric found me, and it was very natural,” he said. The track was originally performed by the singer Valentino. “[It] has just been a blessing to my life. And it’s been a blessing, once again, to even another generation’s life through the take that Gaga did on it.”

The success of “I Was Born This Way” inspired Bean to study to become a minister. After he became ordained Bean founded the first Black church for LGBT+ people in the 80s.. Archbishop Bean’s Unity Fellowship Church Movement has since expanded to more than 17 affiliates in the US and the Caribbean. After quitting his Motown music career, Bean became an LGBT+ activist. 

“I don’t fear being honest about who I am,” he said ahead of the release of his 2010 autobiography, “I Was Born This Way.” 

“I expect to be called upon to speak about it, challenge, probably debated, but I know that it would give a lot of people permission to be honest about who they are. God is love, and love is for everyone,” he continued. 

The Baltimore native moved to New York City after enduring a rough childhood that included sexual abuse by his uncle. Born in 1944, Bean was raised by a neighbor after his mother died during an abortion. He was later kicked out of the house due to his sexuality. He ended up in a mental hospital and after his release, he began performing gospel in Baltimore, the BBC reported.

Bean’s lifetime of advocacy work earned him an NAACP Image Award.

“Bishop Carl Bean was at the forefront in changing the paradigm in how Black people with H.I.V. and AIDs were treated  He did this at a time when the majority of attention and resources went to white Americans,” said Najee Ali, Director Project Islamic Hope..

“In 1985 Bean founded Minority Aids Project  and it became the first community H.I.V /AIDS based organization established and managed by people of color in the United States.  Bean worked for decades to help equal the playing field to ensure equity in the distribution of H.I.V. and Aids  resources to minorty communities,” Ali added. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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