For a few semesters now, I have been privileged to participate in PRIDE panels which speak before university classes of the Community Health class on human sexuality. This was particularly helpful for me when I had first been asked to leave the church I was in (hereby, we'll call it MoveOn.Church). But in recent semesters I'm now back at the helm, so I continue doing it more to promote the idea to others that gay people mostly just wanna be normal too.
After all, I get up there and I say I'm married ... to a man. That I go to church, at least one that accepts my relationship. That I want to have kids someday. That I miss sharing the same home as my husband. That I just want to have a good relationship with friends and family. My guess is none of this is sounding too radical ...
Today was my first of four panels, performed before an audience of ~200 people. At the end we always offer to stay and talk to people who wish to ask additional questions. Today we had three takers. They were:
1) A lesbian who said "how can I get involved? After all, we need some more gender diversity on this panel!" (Today our one female was MIA, so we had only 3 guys). It warmed my heart to see someone who finds value in what we do and wants to share in the work.
2) A woman who said "Have you been to the United Church of Christ?" Indeed, Jonas and I had been multiple times, visiting because the college pastor is a huge pro-gay proponent. While we ended up choosing the Quakers, it was interesting to hear this woman speak about how the college pastor's first question to her was about whether she was ok with pro-gay. If only more pastors were like that!
3) A woman (Roxanne) strode up and asked me point blank "that evangelical church you said you were in on campus, was that MoveOn.Church?" I was so surprised that at first I didn't know what to say. I immediately played back what I had said that day, thinking of whether I may have offended her by saying something disparaging about MoveOn.Church. You see, I make it a point 1) to never say the name of the church and 2) to not say uncharitable things about the church. So I told her it was indeed MoveOn.Church that I had left. This launched into a full-fledged conversation about, of all things, how she was leaving the church. No, not because she was gay. But instead because of the inability of the church leadership to adapt in a way that brings about meaningful spirituality for the church members. While this matched what I remembered, it was interesting to hear that two years after I had last been to a church service in that congregation that they were yet hemorrhaging people and their talents. I once again felt torn between rejoicing that people were dispersing to find another church and being saddened that people were not feeling that the church was a place they could experience meaningful growth in their lives.
Overall, quite an eventful panel!