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[HoB/D] Passing the Peace



> "If an openly gay man touches your arm in a public place and you
> feel uncomfortable, that doesn't make him a pervert.  That makes you
> homophobic."
>
> Jimmy Kimmel, referring to the exaggerated charges brought against
> Episcopal bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson, in his monologue on Jimmy
> Kimmel Live, August 5
>
> ADVOCATE September 16, 2003

One of my students in a prep school in Georgia in the 1960s now
directs the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.  He and his wife
invited Ernest and me for dindin a few years back, and both our
spouses had to put up with heavy doses of reminiscence.  "We all knew
he was gay, of course," he told Ernest.

"Now that's as much an anachronism as the clock striking in
Shakespeare's _Julius Caesar_?"! I exclaimed.

"How so?" he asked, straight-faced.

"Students back then would never have tolerated a gay teacher. Nor
would I!  You're reading your adult understandings back into yourself
as as teenager"

"Louie," he said gently, "you're wrong on this one.  You know that you
were a favorite teacher for many of us.  We loved you, and WE DID
KNOW."

"How could you have known?  I was in hiding, ashamed of my plumbing,
not out to anyone but God," I pleaded.

There was one tell-tale giveaway."

"What?" I asked, still shocked at that 'discovery' decades earlier.

"You never touched us," he said.

"Of course I didn't!  What has that to do with the price of tea in
China?...."

"That was the giveaway.  It is natural for male teachers to touch
students on the shoulder, on the arm, in the camaraderie of sports,
walking through the halls together.  All the obviously straight
teachers did, but you?:  Never.

"We noticed.  And that led us to your secret.  We liked you.  It made
no difference to us."

My parents were demonstrative, and they taught me to be.  No friend
ever entered our home, or left it, without a hug.  Not hugging, not
touching was the perversion thrust upon me, exacted as a price for who
I am.

I never had the least concern about where such touch might lead:  I
have always been interested in students' minds, not their bodies.  I
was inhibited by a concern at what the touch might mean in retrospect
to a kid who later discovered my secret.

		My very chains and I grew friends,
		So much a long communion tends
		To make us what we are:-even I
		Regained my freedom with a sigh.

                   -- The conclusion of "The Prisoner of Chillon"
	              by George Gordon Lord Byron [closeted]

Hug me, Bishop Robinson.  Hug me.

Lutibelle/Louie, L2 Newark, Member of Executive Council





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