It has been one year since I left NC and moved to my new/old home state of OR. I was actually born in Brooklyn, NY and raised from ages 4-12 in Maplewood, NJ, but teenage years were in Portland and Beaverton.
After 25 years in Chapel Hill, it is good to be back in OR. Though I miss friends and family, the land, the culture, of NC, I do not miss the politics and the sense of "stickiness" in my life. I felt stuck and unable to grow any further. My sense of well-being was not advancing but slowing down mightily.
Oregon has been a place where I have thrived because of family, friends, the work I do, the people I work with, and the surrounding culture, both land and the arts.
Thankful, I am, for the good people of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. While I am still the only out gay Presbyterian pastor in the state of OR, it is not so lonely here with great people, and a good group of gay men I hang out with from time to time.
For the longest time, I thought I was the only gay person in my mom's or dad's family tree. None of my cousins on my mom's side of the family tree-Ferguson-were out and gay. They were either hiding or they are conservative and heterosexual for the most part. On my dad's side of the family, he had no sisters and brothers, so that was that.
I just discovered today that my mom's brother's daughter's (my cousin's) son is gay. Out and gay. Fiercely so.
There are two (2) of us in this crazy tree.
It is biological, after all.
Neither of my kids are gay.
But a second cousin IS gay.
Of course, no one talked about it openly. My second cousin was told by his mom, my first cousin, that I'm gay. She, my first cousin, has never talked to me about being gay. Heck: none of my cousins or aunts or uncles on my mom's side of the family have talked to me about being gay or if I'm gay or happy being gay or...you get the point.
As a Presbyterian pastor who is gay, and a dad, let me quickly say that I am not surprised at all about the latest dust up regarding this Pope meeting with Kim Davis, of Rowan County, KY fame, who denies same sex couples marriage licenses whenever possible.
The reason I'm not surprised? The Pope, like his predecessors, is conservative and a traditionalist. He understands that marriage is only between a man and woman, for the purpose of pro-creation. It is natural law theology/philosophy, made part of the canon thanks to St. Aquinas.
His comment, "Who am I to judge?" was just a nicer packaging of the same old trope.
The PCUSA opened up the definition of marriage to include BOTH same sex couples and the language of "traditional one man and one wife," though the pastor has discretion over whom she or he will marry, and the Session discretion over whether or not the space will accommodate a wedding of a same sex couple:
The Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill/Carrboro area feels so constrictive compared to Portland/Multnomah County. I've enjoyed hanging around various places in Portland with no feeling of fear for being gay. I meet more LGBTQ daily in my life in Portland than I do in Chapel Hill or Durham. I feel accepted for who I am more in Portland than I did in the RDU area.
In the last few days I've gotten to know Adam Philips and his wife, who with his church, Christ Church, an Evangelical Covenant Church plant in Portland, OR, has been kicked out of the denomination because of their support of LGBTQ people. Crazy buy true.
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Adam via emails, hope to have coffee with him next week, and read all about him in the mail. I support him as a pastor, regret that they have to find another space, lost the money from Evangelical Cov. Church, and will be with him and his church in terms of solidarity of support.
Yesterday at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Rev. Jeremy Watson, Assoc. Pastor, preached. The first sermon illustration he used was the protest of the Westboro Baptist Church while he was attending the Gay Christian Network gathering a few weeks ago.
I smiled outwardly and inwardly. I wasn't preaching about it (though I used the reference earlier in the month): Jeremy was preaching about it.
There is something empowering when the two ministers--one gay and one not-gay--show solidarity in that preaching moment, talking about it slightly differently but nonetheless using the story as an affirmation of how we should follow Jesus.
Imitation Game, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, had me transfixed toward the end of the film as I watched "Turing" twitching from the effects of the medication he was taken after he was sentenced with "gross indecency" in the UK. He eventually killed himself rather than go through further pain of the medication and the depression of having to deny his humanity. This sentence "gross indecency" was also the bane of writer Oscar Wilde's life.
That's what the public in the UK and the US wanted those of us who are LGBTQ to feel: that we and our lives were guilty of "gross indecency."
The group from Westboro Baptist Church and their minions want to actually go back to the day and age in which I too could be sentenced and found guilty of "gross indecency." That I would be shamed. That I would be given medicine to dull the God given testosterone in me. That I would eventually kill myself. Die of cancer. A heart attack.
The signs of Westboro play in my head. Hopefully the songs like "We are one in the Spirit" will play in their heads.
I know, I know: I am SO behind on blogging. Bad blogger. Bad. Yech.
So: this is the news:
* Got here on Nov. 28, preached on Nov. 30;
* Dean introduced during worship! A first!
* Made it through Advent AND Christmas BEFORE taking off to HI;
* HI was a blessed time of rest and letting the body be healed.
* Back in the saddle again in OR.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina, United States
I am a dad, who happens to be gay, with two amazing young adult children who have taught me, my partner, and their mom what grace, faith, hope, and love are all about. I am also an ordained clergyperson in the Presbyterian Church (USA), involved in congregational life, sometimes preaching here and there, and an oblate of St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, MN. I taught at Duke Divinity School at Duke University for over a decade, and I currently teach at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. I teach Ethics, World Religions, and English. And I am the Director of a religious non-profit, "School of the Pilgrim" (www.schoolofthepilgrim.com), in which I take people on actual pilgrimages to break out of the religion of rush hour in order to find their inner spiritual path. I am also glad to work with and be an advocate with people living with disabilities in faith communities, who teach me more about life in all its wonders and quirks. Enjoy the blog! And for more information about the book ON BEING A GAY PARENT, go to www.onbeingagayparent.com. Email contact: email@example.com, and phone is 919-444-9111