Carl Bean Went From The Dance Floor To The Worship House

Gospel artist, minister, and disco anthem pioneer Carl Bean (‘I Was Born This Way’) passed away this week after a long illness, and according to the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, Bean “made the transition into eternal life”. Bean was born in Baltimore and ended up changing the face of both disco music and the LGBTQ community. Among his other lofty accomplishments, Bean founded the Minority Aids Project in 1985, had an intersection of Los Angeles renamed “Archbishop Carl Bean Square in 2019, and even published his memoir, the aptly titled I Was Born This Way in 2010. 

After a move to Los Angeles and grabbing the attention of Motown, Bean recorded the future anthem ‘I Was Born This Way’, an instantly infectious disco track that was an ode to self-acceptance  written by Chris Spierer and Bunny Jones. Between the message of true gay pride and the countless remixes, Bean turned to connect with his own Christian faith, where he decided to study to become a minister and was ordained in 1982. He went on to found the Unity Fellowship of Christ (for Black LGBTQ parishioners), a denomination that has gone on to expand to close to 17 affiliate churches throughout the country (and the Caribbean). In what is perhaps a nod to the song that made Bean famous, the mission is to “proclaim the ‘sacredness of all life’ thus focusing on empowering those who have been oppressed and made to feel shame”.

As recently as this past May, Lady Gaga herself tweeted a small tribute to Bean, where she indicated how her anthemic pop track ‘Born This Way’ was inspired by Bean as well as his music, “11 years before I was born”. In her tweet, she lovingly paid homage, saying “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.”

For more information on Unity Fellowship Church Movement check out their website

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