Carl Bean (born 1944) is the founding prelate of the Unity Fellowship Church Movement,a liberal protestant denomination that is particularly welcoming of lesbian, gay and bisexual African Americans. Before founding the first church of the denomination, the Unity Fellowship Church, Los Angeles, in 1975, Bean was a Motown and disco singer, noted particularly for his version of the early gay liberation song “I Was Born This Way”.
In 1982 Bean became an activist, working on behalf of people with AIDS. Bean’s autobiography, I Was Born This Way, came out in 2010.
From Matt & Andrej Kowalsky:
Unity Fellowship Church, Los Angeles (UFCLA) was founded in 1982 by Rev. Carl Bean for primarily openly Gay and Lesbian African Americans. The first meetings were held in the private residence of Rev. Bean, on Cochran Ave., in Los Angeles, California. In 1984, a reorganization took place in the last residence of the late Archbishop William Morris O’Neal, which is located on South Burnside Avenue in Los Angeles, which was also the ordination site of Rev. Carl Bean.
The Unity Fellowship Church Movement, now has congregations in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Washington, DC and Philadelphia. Bean is the Chief Executive Officer of Unity Fellowship Ministries, which includes the Minority AIDS Project.
“My ministry … will always be a continuum of dealing with the disenfranchised, providing for the poorest of the poor, the undocumented person, persons who can’t speak the language, persons in and out of the prison system, kids out of the gangs … to tough those who are considered the untouchables.”