February 15, 2011

The One Thing

As I sit here in the Sarasota airport watching the sun set on my vacation, I am recalling the conversation I had with David on the flight here. In the midst of all our talk about advocacy, I asked him, "What's the one thing you wish people knew?"

David offered a moving soliloquy about the humanity of gay people. He wished straight people would see him as a fellow human being with one very small difference, a difference that counts so little in the grand scheme of things. He is not an issue, he is a human being who works, loves, and helps those around him. His is a compelling argument.

What about you? What's the one thing you wish people knew?

February 13, 2011

Unconventional Meeting

I almost forgot to tell you about my flight from New Mexico to Florida. I have no idea how long it took or what landmarks we crossed, because I was engrossed in conversation with my fellow seat-mate from before we took off.

It all started with a question about the pin I was wearing on my sweater. The organization Believe Out Loud has a logo that is very intriguing, and I've started wearing it in the hopes people will ask me about it. My strategy has proven to work.

It was a find-your-own-seat airline, and I saw a window seat in row 6. I asked the man sitting in the aisle seat if I could pass him to sit down. He stood and apparently saw my pin as I took my seat. Less than five minutes passed before he asked, "I couldn't help but notice your pin. Can you tell me about it?" I told him that Believe Out Loud is an ecumenical group that encourages supportive Christians to speak up as allies in order to drown out the ugly invective being spewed by the religious right. And we were off to the races.

I learned that David is a training executive for a national bank firm and a partnered Jewish man who lives in San Diego and Palm Springs. We talked until we parted ways at the airport—about the harm done by people in the name of religion, about our relationships and those we've lost, and about aging parents. I've never had such a compelling exchange with a stranger on a plane before. He encouraged me and we traded business cards. He offered to fly to Indy to address my church in whatever way might be helpful in our growth toward affirmation.

Our meeting was just the thing I needed after my disappointment in our convention's lack of LGBT support. It is uncanny the doors that open for me as I move along in my journey of advocacy. I can't wait to see what happens next.

February 12, 2011

Convention


After my day in Santa Fe, I returned to Albuquerque for business: the annual APCE convention (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators). It was a lot more interesting than it sounds. Colder, too.


The ice in the midwest delayed my boss' arrival by two days, but the cold found us anyway. Albuquerque experienced record-setting cold of -10° (a biting -30° wind chill) that kept everyone indoors. That was okay, because the workshops were really good. I've been to other conventions where the presentations were pretty marginal, but this group is comprised of professional educators, so the quality was consistently high. Some groups don't seem to understand that knowing is not the same as teaching; it takes skill to be able to transfer knowledge in a way that can be grasped easily by your audience. It was a genuine delight to watch good teachers in action.

Even so, there was one major disappointment in the workshop offerings: not one workshop addressed LGBT issues. And in a huge display hall filled with vendors, only a single related book could be found: Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church by Jack Rogers. It's a great book, but really, only one? A friend has challenged me to present just such a workshop at next year's convention, but the deadline looms a few days away and I don't have a good core idea for this target group that will guarantee my selection. If I can pull it off, I'll apply, but it may be another year before I can do it.

I came away with some much-needed inspiration for my work at church. I shipped home a bunch of books and then I took off for Florida for some necessary down time. More on that soon!

February 9, 2011

Overheard: Sanibel

Sheba and I were driving on Sanibel Island today and noticed that a lot of the streets are named for shells. We approached an intersection.

Sheba: "I don't care if it is a shell, that's just wrong."

Me: "What? Tarpon Bay?"

Sheba: "Oh! I thought it said 'Tampon Bay.' I should probably put on my glasses."


(I know I've gone from Santa Fe to Sanibel, but there was Albuquerque and Ft. Lauderdale in between. I'll post about those shortly.)