I was told that standard attendance for this class is about 20 to 25. We had seating for sixty, and almost all the seats were filled. A few familiar and friendly faces were in the crowd, including Abe’s.
I had set up a resource table with displays of books from my own library and handouts of articles pertinent to the topic of the day. I included a bibliography of books, DVDs, and websites. There was a lot of interest in the materials; I will have a different selection at every class in the series.
I sat at a table in front with three other speakers, all of whom were parents of gay children. We took turns telling the story of our family members, their lives, their coming out, and the impact on the family. As you might expect, the stories were powerful.
The subject matter didn’t lend itself to questions. How do you question someone’s story? The response was overwhelmingly positive, but I wonder if dissenting audience members felt that their comments were not welcome. I think the next class—“Gay and Christian”—will bring about some differing opinions.
The memory I will take from this happened after class. A longtime church member approached me to say thanks. I had figured out he was gay some time ago, and I was eager to hear his feedback. He told me that he was no longer working, and now that he was 66 years old, it was time for him to speak up. He said he wanted our church to start a support group for its gay members. It took me a second to realize he was coming out to me.
I smiled and reached for a hug. He was trembling. What a gift that he would trust me with his honesty. We talked for a few minutes more, and he said I was the first person he’d “said something to” at our church. I promised him that I would address his request to our senior pastor.
I am thrilled, grateful, hopeful, charged, and I feel like jumping around like a fool, whooping and pumping my fist in victory. Yesssss! I will do that in my head and on the outside appear to be the calm and confident person they want leading this class.
Next Sunday: “Gay and Christian.”
Image courtesy of Christ First Church of Gainesville, GA.