July 24, 2012
1. A little over 12 years ago now, I was about to graduate from high school. And my church’s brand new pastor, Brian, thought it would be awesome if, for a spiritual rite of passage or something, me and the other graduating seniors–my childhood friends Jess and Nicole–had to plan an entire Sunday worship service and give the sermon. And I’ve never been reticent about saying “hells to the no” to things that I really, seriously don’t want to do…but I’d been in acting class that year past, and so this idea was not as petrifying to me as it might have been only a short time previously. In fact, I’d been half-wondering whether I felt a calling to the clergy myself, and so I thought this might actually be a good, challenging experiment. And so I said okay.
I wrote my sermon on how trusting in God often means being open to unexpected possibilities, including unexpected discoveries about ourselves. I remember sitting outside on the front steps of the church on a warm spring evening for a planning meeting, Brian approving of our sermon outlines and hymn selections, joking about what more humorous though inappropriate choices might have been. It wouldn’t be so bad. There was an order of worship; I knew how it went. I only had to actually speak for five to seven minutes, from prepared text; I’d done scenes longer than that. Jess and Nicky had to do it, too. If I could act, I could do this. And it would tell me something about myself.
And I did, and it was actually pretty awesome; even though I was fairly sure I wasn’t meant for the ministry, I wasn’t sure at all that I wasn’t destined for some kind of life in performance.
A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my father when he asked whether I’d gotten Brian’s resignation letter in the mail.
WHAT?!?! I said. No, I had not. What was going on, what happened?!
But the news was good. Brian was leaving to become the executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, a national organization working to encourage better welcoming and inclusion of LGBT people in the church. And he’d been in a committed relationship with his partner, Troy, for the past nine years.
Given my own past couple of years, I know what it takes to decide that being open about who you really are, whatever the fallout may be, is just worth it. I don’t think I ever imagined that one day I’d get to be so proud of someone who I already liked and respected a lot and who had been a gentle and encouraging influence in choosing to do something immensely difficult all that time ago. I’m fairly sure I cackled for joy when I got off the phone.
2. This has already made the rounds of Facebook, and now it’s up on BoingBoing: earlier this week, my high school friend Chris returned his Eagle Scout medal in protest of the Boy Scouts of America’s recent decision to continue the organization’s ban of gay, bisexual or transgender scouts and leaders, joining a growing number of men who have done so.
I’ve always had a visceral dislike of the Boy Scouts on multiple levels, but the Eagle Scout award is the culmination of years of incredibly hard work, of which men who achieve it are rightfully proud. I didn’t realize until today that only 2.1 million scouts have earned Eagle Scout status…since 1911. So it’s, to say the least, not a trivial decision to give up the award, in order to uphold what it’s supposed to teach.
“Gay scouts and leaders have the right and obligation to be true to themselves. Homosexuality is not a moral deviance, bigotry is,” Chris wrote.
Maggie Koerth-Baker’s article and Chris Baker’s and several other men’s entire letters are here.
I think I agree with a friend who said this week that I clearly have good taste in friends. ; )