Saturday, 25 June 2011

From the closet to pride.

Some 32 years ago I attended a four day christian education conference in St. Louis, MO.  There was a huge attendance with folks from all over the United States and Canada.  Just about every “mainstream” protestant church was represented. 

If my memory is correct the conference was organised to launch a new ecumenical church school (sunday school) curriculum.

It was a heady event for this fairly recently ordained priest.

Came the closing eucharist, and in the prayers a man “dared” to pray “for our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers”.

His prayer made me so angry.  “Why”, I asked myself,”does he have to bring this into our worship?”

My anger arose from being deeply closeted and utterly hypocritical.  Truth to be told I had been flirting with a very beautiful Presbyterian man earlier that day.  

 But I had managed to live my life in compartments.

One of the compartments allowed me to flirt with other men.

Another compartment made me angry that “the gay and lesbian issue” should be brought into worship.

It’s been a long 32 years. During that time I have been closeted, semi-closeted, fearful, and risk taking. 

As recently as the year 2000 I accepted a call to be the Rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church, Cambridge, MA having obfuscated in my replies to questions about why I had never married.

On the other hand I had created and enabled a gay and lesbian fellowship at St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield, MA where I had been Rector from 1984 – 2000. 

For you see, I had been all in favour of liberation for my dear parishioners, but I had been unable to accept God’s graceful liberation for myself.

I am sure that some of the parishioners in Fitchburg, Chicopee, Pittsfield and Cambridge had “sussed me out”.  But they and I were content to live in a conspiracy of silence.

In the end closets, silence, and obfuscation are dangerous. They are dangerous for the ones who keep the secret.  They are dangerous for the one for whom the secret is kept.

In my long journey I have not have been always truthful about myself. But I have never allowed gay or lesbian christians to be thrown to the wolves.

In my long journey I did not “come out” in the public arena until (with my Rector’s permission) I outed myself in a sermon at St. Boniface Church, Sarasota FL, about 22 months ago.

Today June 25th 2011 I attended my very first “gay pride” event over in St. Petersburg, FL.  I did more than “attend”.  

Indeed I walked with pride with “the friends of St Aelred” from the S.W. Florida Diocesan Cathedral; and with good friends from my home parish, St. Boniface, Siesta Key. FL

I was energized by the hundreds of “walkers” representing so many religious, civic, political, and social organisations.

I was delighted to see families with children who sat kerbside to cheer us on.

I was amazed to see the thousands of people who lined the streets to wish us well.

All this after a day on which the New York State legislature approved same sex marriage in that State:  - (bravo to those Republican legislators who broke ranks and voted for equal treatment under the law).

And in a strange way I am also glad that I live in a country in which the anti-gay folks can make their voices to be heard, and their signs to be read.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! I'm glad you're out and proud. It's funny, when you started talking online about being gay, I figured you must have been out in Cambridge too, and I had just somehow missed the memo. :)