Sex, church and singing the glory down

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Chauncey Greer is a successful, bisexual, black man living in Atlanta, Georgia. He owns his own business – Cute Boy Cards (a line of gay greeting cards which has successfully found a niche in the gay market).

Chauncey is a former boy band member who, after his singing career dried up, moved into the business world. Because of his bad luck with past relationships, he never lets a man who is serious about a relationship sleep on his sheets more than three times. This opens the door to many men who are on the DL (black men who are seemingly straight to everyone they know – including girlfriends and wives – but have homosexual relationships on the “down low”). These men work out well for Chauncey (even with all their drama), as he doesn’t have time to mess with relationships.

Chauncey was a member of Reunion, an all-black boy band, when he was a teenager. This is where he learned his passion for singing and where he found his first love in his band member – Sweet D. Sweet D. is the man that ultimately broke Chauncey’s heart and left him jaded.

The book begins with Chauncey at the brink of mega success in his card business. He’s extremely handsome, sexy, successful, and has his choice of men or women. However, there is always the desire to get back into the music world. This leads Chauncey to pursue his dream of a music career as an adult. At the invitation of his pastor, his first performance in years is at his local church, which is on the brink of becoming one of the biggest black churches in Atlanta. After “singing the glory down,” he is asked by the pastor to sing for a very important guest who is coming to help with fundraising efforts for the church. Only after doing some research does Chauncey find out that Bishop Upchurch and his wife are the guests. Staunch anti-gay activists with links to conservative politics, their rhetoric preaches everything Chauncey is against. He is faced with a dilemma – sing at one of the most important events in Atlanta or stand up for something in which he believes. This is only more complicated by the discovery that Bishop Damien Upchurch and his first love Sweet D. are one and the same.

E. Lynn Harris does a good job in describing the social scene in Atlanta and giving an insight into black men who are on the DL and the struggle that many gay black men find in their churches. The story is a little lacking and predictable in places but overall, a good read. I found sometimes that Harris gets so bogged down in describing local restaurants or the exact shade of someone’s skin that he loses the momentum of the story. However, I did enjoy the book and tore through it rather quickly. It’s a fun summer read.

“I Say a Little Prayer,” E. Lynn Harris’s ninth novel, is available at local bookstores, online, and at your local library.

“I Say a Little Prayer”
by E. Lynn Harris
Doubleday, 320 pp., $21.95