Black Church Leader Opens Up About Preaching From The Closet

"You can be a lot of things in the black church, but, Lord, do not be gay."

Reverend Derek Terry is a 30-year-old man who is incredibly devoted to his ministry. He was raised in a traditional Southern black family, becoming involved in the church at a young age, and by 19, Rev. Derek was ordained and pastoring a church himself. But this man of God has also been living with what he always considered a shameful secret, a secret that has finally become too much for him to bear: He is gay.

For years, Rev. Derek had done everything in his power to keep his closeted life from being exposed, disguising himself as the man he thought he was supposed to be. But now, burdened by all that time living a double life, Rev. Derek has reached out to life coach Iyanla Vanzant for help standing in his truth. He feels it is time to come clean to not just his God-fearing family, but also his beloved congregation.

The first step, Iyanla tells Rev. Derek, is to acknowledge what's making his heart feel torn. She immediately hones in on the common struggle between religion and homosexuality, especially within the African-American community.

"I know that you can be crippled, you can be a liar, you can be a whoremonger, you can be a thief. You can be a lot of things in the black church, but, Lord, do not be gay," Iyanla says.

"Not openly gay," Rev. Derek adds, nodding.

Iyanla asks the pastor to look deep within himself and articulate how it truly feels to acknowledge his sexuality.

"When I hear myself say I am a gay man, I feel hurt," Rev. Derek says quietly. "It makes me feel substandard. It makes me feel petrified."

Further exploring his fear, Rev. Derek admits that he worries that telling the truth will alienate him from those he has deceived, leaving him entirely isolated both now and in the long run.

"I feel lonely," he continues. "The loneliness I feel is [that] no one will love me."

Iyanla's work with both Rev. Derek and another secretly gay pastor airs on the emotional season premiere of "Iyanla: Fix My Life," this Saturday, Sept. 19, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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