Thursday, April 26, 2007

'Inside a secret society': An interview with an anonymous African-American gay Freemason

I found a rather strange and interesting "interview" with a Mason today. Titled "Inside a secret society: A gay African-American Freemason's story," it purports to be a discussion with an African-American gay Freemason.

No name or location is given for the Mason, who wants to remain anonymous. The person who posted the article appears to live in the San Francisco Bay area. Halfway through the interview the Mason admits he's not a Master Mason, but has attained "the second degree."

The strange and interesting parts of the interview are not that the Mason is African-American, or that he's gay. It's in what he says.

He says he was invited by letter to become a Freemason. I've heard this is the way it's done in England, but it's the first I've heard of it in America. He suspects he was on a mailing list of charity donors. When he asked a Mason at the lodge he eventually joined why he'd received the letter, he was told, "It could be the kind of wines you like, it could be places you like to go, your taste, your station in life."

When asked why he joined the fraternity, he told the interviewer, "The most important reason for joining is the networking benefits. I do not think that I would have the opportunity to meet the people that I am meeting otherwise. The men at my lodge, who are 35 to 45 years old, are at the top of their fields — they are active, they are getting things done and they care. I think that is hard to find."

The interviewer asked if he felt discriminated against in his lodge because he was gay. The anonymous Freemason replied, "These men have been to my home. They have gone into my bedroom to get their coats and have seen pictures of naked guys on my walls, and then they have come back again afterward. I have not seen any evidence of discrimination in my lodge."

Interviewer: "Do you plan on using your membership in the Masons to further
gay-related causes and/or causes that benefit people of color?"

African-American gay Freemason: "The cause I am most interested in furthering is my own."

Interviewer: "Are there levels to achieve within the Masons?"

AAGF: "Yes. There are 33 degrees. I have just made the second degree."

Interviewer: "Are you required to contribute money to the organization?"

AAGF: "Yes, but less than four figures annually."

At one point, the AAGF says "everything I'm telling you about I've either read online, or seen on TV."

When asked "Wasn't someone kidnapped and supposedly murdered in the 1800s for threatening to reveal Masonry secrets?", AAGF replied, "Yes, his name was Captain Morgan. There was another incident in Long Island, where someone was shot a dozen years ago or so in a Masonic lodge." [Note: The shooting in a lodge basement happened just over three years ago, in March 2004.]

Like I said. Strange and interesting.

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  1. We had a gay EA join our lodge, but the hatred and looks by the elders in the appendant bodies who met in our building made it so uncomfortable for him, and then spread around the district that the young guys of Lodge were all Fa&*%$s!

    This was spread around our district. as well as NI&*%R lovers for raising a black man as well....
    ahhhhhhh, brotherly love and tolerance is a beautiful thing!

  2. There must be something wrong with 'Masonary' in Conn, because I just don't run into the same stories that some of you seem to have.

    I know several gay men in the fraternity. And while I've heard a few comments from some of the brothers - and not necessarily the old-timers, I've seen only good and brotherly actions. To me, this suggests that most of the members are subduing their passions and working toward that noble emulation thing.

    A few years ago, when I was a new Mason, Conn was in the middle of some legislation for same-sex partners. It was politically very hot, and I expected some of the older members to voice some opinions. They did, almost all of them suggesting that what people did in private was their own business. I was most impressed.

  3. Bro. Tom,

    Sometimes I think we live in different countries. The South and the Midwest are as "conservative" as New England is "liberal." Two different worlds.

    — W.S.

  4. So much for being uninfluenced by solicitations or unbiased by mercenary motives....

  5. im not sure i believe anything this guy wrote.

  6. I don't think this guy checks out. The black/gay thing is irrelevant. What is strange is his un-Masonic views, his being solicited into Masonry according to his buying habits/station in life, the average age of his brothers, and even the fact he's in the second degree. How long do ya'll stay in the second? In the Droit Humain we spend a year in the second, but this is rare in the US.

    All in all something is fishy. The nature of the article is so un-sensational that I don't see how the writer would benefit by making up the interview. So I wonder if the so-called Mason is a pathological liar.

  7. Well, I suppose he might be a relatively new Mason, in which case some of the things he says might be a bit suspect. I am a gay Mason in London, and when I was interviewed I was told that the committee had looked at my website (where I am out) and they were happy to have me. I've been IG for the past year and am about to be jumped up to SD. I have even been asked whether my partner is interested in joining (He's an agnostic, so isn't interested).

    What I find bizarre about this story is the letter of invitation. It sounds like something that one would find in a prep school or an upper-crust university: all of a sudden someone taps you on the shoulder and asks you to join the premier secret society on campus. I know that in UGLE this would be frowned upon: if you wish to inform someone about Masonry, you're allowed to invite once, and remind once, but the implication is that this is to be done personally, not by letter, and certainly not anonymously. I don't know whether I'd want to join a society that sent me an anonymous letter inviting me to join.

    Also, this thing about liking fine wine doesn't ring true to me.

    I wonder if he has joined another non-regular Masonic body (it wouldn't be the PHA, as the racial issue wouldn't have come up).

  8. The GL o Ohio had ad's running on movie screens about joining the fraternity.

    we have one day classes were one is made a member in one day with no work.

    anything to get someone to join unfortunately has some merit here in the states. desperate times will enduce desperate measures.

    I have never experienced such bigotry, possesiveness and hatred than I have since joining masonry :(

    but we are trying to change things by having a locked west gate and keeping men who care about human distinction out!

  9. To Chris from the UK: I'd heard that in England Masonic lodges do sometimes send an unsolicited letter to a prospect inviting him to visit a particular lodge to see if he's interested in joining. Is this not the case?

    To all: I have doubts about the legitimacy of the article, too, or rather about the Mason involved. He just doesn't sound "Masonic," and that's the reason I pointed out the article. Boasting that he joined only for the networking, and being only concerned with his own needs, made me wonder if he's even real, or the story itself is true.

    I received an email saying that the article may have originated from, but that site has no search engine I can find so I can't confirm that.

    While at that site I found an article posted yesterday about recent vandalism to billboards put up by a Christian group urging tolerance towards gays.

    Here's the link to the article on

    And here's the link to the original story in the Indianapolis Star.

    And while we're on the subject of gay Masons, here's a link to a story on Burning Taper from last October about a lodge in Seattle that openly accepts gays.

    — W.S.

  10. Re: The Brokeback Lodge topic

    For me, the thought of men having sex with other men conjures mental images that are every bit as repulsive and disturbing as humans having sex with animals, or with children, or corpses.

    What sort of a man would say: "I'm totally disinterested in having sex with that woman, but I'd sure like to go a few rounds with her dog, or her 6-year-old child, or her dead grandmother, or her husband?"

    What kind of a world considers ANY of those attractions "normal," and how have we allowed our society to reach a point of "accepting" such things?

    If homosexuality is a morally acceptable "lifestyle choice," why isn't bestiality, or pedophelia, or necrophelia? Morally speaking, what's the difference?

    In the case of pedophelia, it can be argued that it's wrong because children are developmentally harmed, but what about bestiality and necrophelia? Who's "harmed" by those, yet, would a sexual relationship between a human and an ape (or a dog, etc.) be "normal," even if the animal seemingly was a willing participant?

    Now, to a different, yet related issue. Do gay men perceive the "lodge experience" the same way straight men do?

    If gay men feel the same "attraction" for men that straight men feel for women (which is the very definition of being "gay"), wouldn't that change their perception of lodge? Wouldn't it be like a straight man joining a sorority, where he could reasonably be expected to be "attracted" to at least a few of the members? Even if it was a lesbian sorority, and the straight man knew he had no realistic chance of "dating" any of the women, wouldn't the natural element of attraction still change the usual dynamics of the experience?

    Why haven't women traditionally been welcomed into "regular" Freemasonry? I'm not sure I'm "qualified" to answer, but I think at least one element is that when men are alone with other men, they act differently than they do when women are present. They're less inhibited in many ways, from discussing emotional issues and personal problems, to passing gas, and they're less inclined to try to "impress" each other than they typically are when women are present -- especially attractive women.

    In many ways, wouldn't having a gay brother in lodge be a lot like having a woman there, or perhaps more accurately, wouldn't a gay man in lodge be in essentially the same position as a straight man allowed to join a sorority?

    It sure seems that way to me, but homosexuality seems "abnormal" to me as well, so what do I know?

  11. maybe the lodge is where a gay man can work on circumscribing his dersires and try to keep his passions within due bounds?

    Is he not allowed to work on himself in that environment?

    Two adults doind things together is differentfrom a child , animal or corpse. They really cannot decide for themselves, but two adults can.

    Maybe a gay man needs to join your lodge so you can work on yourself in the area of tolerance?

  12. Anonymous:

    If the "thought of men having sex with other men conjures mental images that are... repulsive and disturbing," then just don't think about it.

    Just because you meet someone who is gay doesn't mean you have to imagine their sex life.

    If I bothered to think about it at all, I'd find the image of a grossly obese man having sex with a grossly obese woman "repulsive and disturbing."

    So I don't think about it, no matter how many grossly obese couples I see waddling around Wal-Mart. Their private lives are of no concern to me, just as the private lives of gays — Masons or not — are none of your business.

    Your comparing sex between two humans to bestiality and necrophilia, I'm afraid, says more about you than about others.

    And questioning what is "normal" would make each of us abnormal in some way. Please describe a normal person. Conservative or liberal? Black or white? Gay or straight? Tall or short? Fat or thin? Hairy or bald? No one falls under the bell curve (the true definition of "normal") on everything that can be measured.

    And homosexuality may not be a "lifestyle choice." Some research indicates homosexual tendencies and traits may be genetic.

    But whether it's nature or nurture isn't important.

    What's important is liberty, equality and fraternity.

    You worry that having a gay sitting in lodge with you would be like having a woman there, that there would be an undercurrent of sexuality and goo-goo eyes being made at each other.

    Does this happen at OES meetings? Are the women there sizing up the men, imagining them in the sack? Are the men paying no attention to the meeting because they're trying to look up the ladies' skirts?

    I doubt it, but I don't want to think too much about it. Just the thought of some of those overdressed, aging couples going home together and having sex might be, in your words, repulsive and disturbing.

    — W.S.

  13. "Boasting that he joined only for the networking, and being only concerned with his own needs, made me wonder if he's even real, or the story itself is true."

    my thoughts exactly. i could care less that hes black and gay - in fact that doesn't matter at all. I am just shocked at his perspective on Masonry, and if it is real - it's quite obvious that he's barely an EA, despite whatever degree he has passed through in the lodge.

  14. not only him, but many of us may have joined masonry for the wrong reason(selfish,titles,network, or can there really be a wrong reason) but since comming to light and having fellowship, we may have changed our minds and hearts?
    is that not what masonry is about?

    So whether he joined for networking, or another because grandpappy was one and you were forced, once a man decides to join, wjatever the reason may be, it is up to the lodge, the craft and the brothers to show this individual the light of masonry and tranmute his dense dark being into a being of light and tolerance.

    so the question should be, what is this man's mind set after 5 years in the craft? Did the craft and the brothers work with this man, or will he be another lost to the wayside?

    Will he see the light of misguided motives and reaaly strive to work on himself instead?

    blah blah blah...
    judge ye lest ye be judged.

    oh, yeah WS, excellent post.
    the thought of the OES procreating is more offensive than brother Billy Bob romancing his sheep!

  15. The Widow's Son writes:

    "If the 'thought of men having sex with other men conjures mental images that are... repulsive and disturbing,' then just don't think about it."

    I usually don't, except when the subject is introduced by someone else, as was the case with this topic.

    "Just because you meet someone who is gay doesn't mean you have to imagine their sex life."

    That's true, and just because you meet someone who's an astronaut, doesn't mean you have to imagine flying through space, but I'd bet most people probably do.

    "..... the private lives of gays — Masons or not — are none of your business."

    As much as I respect you and your opinions, that might be an issue where we must "agree to disagree." I think all people have some legitimate interest in the "private lives" of their associates, because by association, the things their associates do affect other people's perceptions of them.

    If a Mason is a crook, or an alcoholic, kicks his dog or beats his wife, someone who's familiar with THAT Mason's "private life," will believe he's representative of ALL Masons, and the perception of all Masons will be tarnished accordingly. That isn't "fair," but it IS the reality of human nature.

    Masonry is not defined by the things Masons do in lodge, it's defined by the way Masons live their lives. If they're pillars of their communities, known for their honesty, charity, and morality, the public perception of Masonry will be positive and the institution will thrive. Unfortunately, if Masons are known for amorality, the institution (which depends upon the public for membership) will suffer in direct proportion to public opinion. Good men won't be attracted to the lodge, they'll be repulsed by it, and the only applicants will be men who probably aren't the sort of role models most Masons would prefer.
    "Your comparing sex between two humans to bestiality and necrophilia, I'm afraid, says more about you than about others."

    I hope it says that I've thought about the subject logically, instead of just blindly buying into the "political correctness" that pervades American society today. Sometimes the herd is wrong, and I think this is a clear example of that.

    If the comparison between homosexuality and bestiality or necrophelia doesn't resonate with you because of the lack of choice on the part of animals and corpses, consider adult homosexuality compared with adult incest. In each case, the sexual relationship would be between consenting adults, and an equally valid argument could be made that in each situation: "what people do behind closed doors is nobody else's business."

    Unfortunately, that leaves you with an unpleasant question: "What material difference exists between adult homosexuality and adult incest?" It seems to me that both are examples of consenting adults succumbing to their animal instincts, and allowing themselves to engage in behavior that deep down, they recognize is "morally wrong."

    Would you be proud of attending lodge with a Mason you knew was sleeping with his own sister, or his daughter, or his mother? If not, then why buy into the idea that it's "acceptable" for men to have sex with other men? Why will you insist on "tolerance" for one "lifestyle choice," but not the other? What's the difference?

    I may like my neighbor's car, but if I take it for a spin without his permission, he probably won't be pleased. Likewise, I may like my neighbor's wife, but if I take her for a spin, both my neighbor and my own wife probably won't be pleased, and things of that nature cause conflicts in society. "Morality" helps avoid such conflicts by introducing the idea that people shouldn't do absolutely everything they might impulsively (or instinctively) want to.

    Animals have no concept of "morality." They act on every impulse without any conflict of conscience. A female dog in heat will mate with any male dog, and any male dog will mate with any female dog in heat. Human beings have the same instinct for reproduction that dogs and all other animals have, but if we allowed ourselves to succumb to those desires without intervention, people would be doing it on the sidewalk!

    "And homosexuality may not be a 'lifestyle choice.' Some research indicates homosexual tendencies and traits may be genetic."

    That may well be true, but similar research reveals genetic factors for alcoholism and pedophilia, etc. Does a "genetic predisposition" to be a pedophile, excuse the expression of such behavior in responsible adults? Personally, I don't think so, and I don't believe I'm wrong for feeling that way.

    Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for "self improvement," and helping people when they want and/or need a helping hand, but as I understand it, Masonry is supposed to "take good men and make them better," not "take men of questionable character," and do anything with them at all.

  16. Anonymous:

    I think our discussion is as much about what certain words actually mean as it is about the morality of homosexuality.

    By "private lives" I meant sex lives. You may well have a "legitmate interest" in whether someone beats their dog or wife, as these would be acts of violence against other living creatures, but I cannot imagine any legitimate interest you may have in what sort of sex play is going on between two consenting adults that you don't even know. You may have an interest, but it's curiosity, or judgment, perhaps, but it's not a "legitimate" interest.

    However, I think the bigger issue here is how you, and I, are defining the word "morality."

    The dictionaries say that morality is "conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct," and that morals are "principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct." The word "moral" means "of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong."

    Morality is not universal. It can either be an acceptance of the will of some group, or it can be a personal set of beliefs. Right and wrong, though often agreed upon, are also non-universal concepts.

    Is kissing someone on the cheek wrong or immoral? It is in India, apparently. An arrest warrant has been issued for Richard Gere for kissing a woman on the cheek on stage.

    Some Muslims find it immoral for a woman to appear in public without covering her head.

    Likewise, you and many Americans (and Freemasons) may consider homosexuality, or incest, or any of the other things you used as examples, to be immoral.

    But that doesn't mean all people, or all Americans, or all Masons, would agree with you on what is or is not moral.

    In your crook, alcoholic, dog-and-wife beating example, you worry that these activities would tarnish Freemasonry's reputation, and in some people's minds, it certainly would. In a like manner, I grant you, that some people would think less of Freemasonry for having a homosexual as a member.

    But not everyone would think less of Masonry for having homosexual members. Other people's morality may not agree with yours. Most states have laws against being a crook, or beating your wife/dog, so you can apply your morality = legality beliefs if you want to. But these days, few states still outlaw homosexual activity, or if they do, it's usually not enforced. So on that issue, you can no longer use the moral = legal defense.

    You're simply left with an "I don't like it, so it's immoral" argument.

    When you ask "would you be proud to attend lodge with someone who was sleeping with his own sister, or his daughter, or his mother?" you're still using the "I don't like it, so it's immoral" argument. There's nothing inherently immoral about incest; laws and taboos against it are based primarily on the need to protect against genetic defects caused by inbreeding. Even fundamentalist Christians (see Kent Hovind's website) answer the question of where Cain got his wife by saying he slept with his sister, because it was okay then because inherent genetic problems hadn't yet cropped up (yeah, I know it's a ludicrous explanation, but it shows that even "moral people" like fundie Christians define morality to suit their beliefs and/or needs).

    I was raised as a Mason at the same time a young man of 22 was. He lived with his girlfriend. A fundie Christian past master later told me that had he known that, he would have blackballed the young man, as he was "living in sin." While I agree that the PM had the right to have that opinion, I have the right to think he was a jerk for thinking that way, or more especially, for telling me how he felt.

    In that case, it was none of his, or the lodge's, business. Certain Masonic code sections about pornography and alcohol sales and use in Georgia notwithstanding, morality isn't defined by the lodge or by Masonry; it's defined personally. If that 22-year old brother was treating his live-in girlfriend well — following his own moral code by treating her well — what business is it of the lodge or the judgmental PM if they're married or not?

    To (once again) quote Robert Heinlein, one of my favorite authors: "Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other 'sins' are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful — just stupid)."

    — W.S.


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