Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Voices of Witness (part 3)

Part 1
Part 2

Kelly : You know, I usually get up at 6, 6:30, and get ready, and one of my favorite parts of the day is to give everybody a kiss before I head out for work. I tend to get up earlier so that I can try to get home at a decent time, but I go to Lissa's bed and give her a kiss, I go to James' crib and give him a kiss, and I go to Bill, still asleep and I give him a kiss on the check. You know, it's such a simple act, but just a very important part of my day, to love my family.

Bill: I'm really thrilled that my children will grow up in a place where they see their family has always been welcome. Not just welcome--embraced, loved--that it's just not an issue. It's never been an issue. It's not anything that's special about us, we're just another family, and that's amazing.

Jane and Lori: I love going to worship. I love the magic and the mystery of the Eucharist and the Body and Blood, and I know that I would just be missing that. I love the singing, I love the liturgical year, I love the Book of Common Prayer. Everything about the Episcopal Church just completes my life.

Malcolm: Well, I came out in 1965 in Are You Running with Me, Jesus? I think I was unaware I'd come out.

Jane: CFLAG started a couple years ago when I began to realize as the mother of a gay son, that the Church was acting just like families do when someone comes out. And I just thought, well, Gene's consecration is just like a child coming out in a family--now there's no denying that gay people are members of our beloved family. We can't pretend they're not there, and so now everybody has to deal with it. Whether we thought about it or wanted to deal with it before, now it's the reality.

And as the church started having its discussion about that, and there was so much angst, really, I wondered, as a family member and as the mom of a gay son, where were the voices of families in this debate? I heard a lot of theology, I heard a lot of church politics and the Anglican Communion structure, but wasn't hearing about real people. Wasn't hearing about families who'd gone through this process of having someone come out and understanding what that meant. And so, as the wife of a clergyman, I wondered especially where the clergy were in the church. If you realize how many family members there are of gay and lesbian people in the church, there are many many clergy members in the Episcopal church who have gay family members. We were not hearing from them. So we started a network of clergy families who were ready to talk to each other about their own family members, and begin to explore how we could exert some kind of leadership on this issue.

Rachel: I went through a period of time where both my mother and my sister died, my father came out. My father and I worked very hard, and now with his partner, to restructure our family. To put our family back together again. And it was hard and it was difficult just as it is working through any grief and life changes. But that is a family that supports me, that lifts me up, that encourages me, and that tells me I can do what it is that I've been called to do.

And so when I hear the religious right say that my family, my family who would go to the ends of the earth for me, and I would for them, doesn't count because my father and his partner are gay, and doesn't count because we have some immorality in our house, and doesn't count because of these reasons they've put on there--they've clearly never had a dinner at our dinner table. So quit telling me that I've been damaged by the family that's raised me!

It's like I almost want to run around and wave a flag and say, "I'm not damaged! I'm okay!" Because that wasn't the case.

Jan: I remember at one point I was standing in the kitchen, and I just had this--out of the blue this thought came to me, "Oh my God--maybe he is gay!" You know, it was this little thing, out of nowhere, and I thought, oh my God, and uh...hmm! At that moment I felt really sad, I thought, "Oh my God, this is going to be really hard!"

I think my husband's attitude is, "Well, we'll just wait and see." I don't think he's quite ready to totally 100% accept the fact that Alex is a gay young man. My daughter has--it was hard for her because she got teased at school. My daughter is 11.

I have five siblings. One brother just kind of doesn't want to talk about it, another sister doesn't want to talk about it. One brother is a Southern Baptist down in Dallas, Texas, and he's very unaccepting of this kind of thing. Their son is studying for the ministry, and his reaction to Alex in an e-mail was, "How can you be gay and call yourself a Christian?"

Jane: No child should ever have to go through wondering, at age 8, 9, 10, 12, when they discover they're attracted to the same sex--no child should have to wonder if they're an abomination in the sight of God. That's what we're teaching them when we don't speak about this in a positive way.

Jan: Alex is a child of God, and if he is a child of God and he is also gay, then that should be just the way it is. At Alex's baptism, the priest put her finger on Alex's forehead--she pressed it against his forehead and said, "..and you are marked as Christ's own forever", and was, that was, (in tears) I thought, "God has you Alex, and he's never going to let you go!"

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