'I Was Born This Way' Singer Archbishop Carl Bean Dies at 77

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday September 8, 2021

If you've ever bopped along to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," then Archbishop Carl Bean, who recently passed away at 77 years old, deserves your undivided attention.

Bean was an LGBTQ community AIDS activist, founder of the LGBTQ-friendly Unity Fellowship Church Movement and the gospel voice behind the gay pride disco anthem, "I Was Born This Way."

As reported by the Guardian, Bean died after a "lengthy illness," but his impact on the LGBTQ community is legendary.

"Archbishop Bean worked tirelessly for the liberation of the underserved and for LGBTQ people of faith," shared Unity Fellowship Church in a statement announcing Bean's death. "And in doing so, helped many around the world find their way back to spirituality and religion."

From Baltimore, Maryland, to New York City, Bean had a rocky childhood and began singing gospel at 16. Relocating to Los Angeles, he signed with Motown Records and soon recorded "I Was Born This Way" for the record label. With its passionate lyrics about acceptance and gayness, the song quickly became an LGBTQ anthem.

Following the success of the song, Bean was ordained as a minister and founded the Unity Fellowship of Christ Church to continue the song's message of acceptance and openness for LGBTQ people in the church.

A prominent activist, Bean also founded the Minority Aids Project in 1985, providing care for low-income Black and Latinx residents of Los Angeles who have been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.

"Our hearts go out to all as we mourn the loss of this trailblazing leader and legend in the worlds of activism, advocacy, AIDS, community outreach, faith, liberation theology, and so much more," says Unity Fellowship. Amen.

Listen to Bean's "I Was Born This Way" below, and tell us what you think in comments.