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Michael Arceneaux on challenges facing gay black men today

Author Michael Arceneaux wants to make people laugh while they think about racism, acceptance and the political divide in America. He explores those issues in his new book, “I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyonce.” The book is published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS.

Arceneaux told CBSN he didn’t want to write another “sad, gay, black book,” even though he tackles serious topics and even pushback from his own family.

The title of his book is rooted in a talk he said he had with his mother in which they discussed religion and being gay.

“I say this respectfully: there are many brilliant people who are religious. I think religion sometimes makes brilliant people suspend their better senses. In that regard, it’s this idea that, yes, you are born gay, but you shouldn’t act on it because it’s an affront to God and you might go to hell,” Arceneaux said.

He said that message was conveyed to him in his talk with his mom, and that he wanted to respond with, “Well, girl, I can’t date Jesus.”

Arceneaux also shared his conflicting feelings about pop culture. He said it can be alienating, since gay black men can be mocked or pitied.

But he found a place to belong, and gets inspiration from powerhouse entertainers like Beyonce.

“One thing I love about her is that she has really moved the masses to her,” he said. “So often people who are of marginalized communities are told in order to be mainstream, in order to access different types of people, you need to dilute who you are.”

“She brings people to her, not the other way around,” he said.

Arceneaux doesn’t seek to only highlight struggles of marginalized groups. He wants people to confront issues that affect everyone and show the world is not as progressive as some may think.

“The current president is reflective of the electorate, and how much people are willing to either engage in open unabashed bigotry or at least be complicit in it by lending support, and I think people need to talk more about that,” he said.

“I just kind of wish people would stop patting themselves on the back so much,” he said. “If you actually look around and talk to the marginalized people, you’ll realize like no, we’re still struggling.”

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