It's Nice Out!: October 11 is National Coming Out Day and the 20th anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights: on October 11, 1987, 500,000 people marched on Washington, DC in support of gay and lesbian equality. It's not too early to plan how you will observe the occasion. National Coming Out Day was begun in 1988by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary as a comemoration of the 1987 march on Washington.
In the U.S., the Human Rights Campaign manages the event under the National Coming Out Project, offering resources to LGBT individuals, couples, parents and children, as well as straight friends and relatives, to promote awareness of LGBT families living honest and open lives.
Despite its name, National Coming Out Day is observed worldwide. We like the Swiss Coming Out Day website where you can read this injunction to step outside any stereotypes you might still be harboring:
Vergessen sie die Traktor-Lesbe, vergessen Sie Milieumord und den halbnackten Paradiesvogel aus dem TV.
Legislators Don't Get It: The federal Employment Non-Descrimination Act was supposed to come up for a vote in committee on October 2, and the week before Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives (including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Representative Barney Frank) tried to "improve the bill's chances" by dropping transgendered people from the list of those whose rights the bill protects.
The House leadership was apparently not prepared for the backlash that followed. On Oct 1, a letter signed by more than 90 organizations was sent to Pelosi and others. It read in part:
We oppose legislation that leaves part of our community without protections and basic security that the rest of us are provided.
Consideration of the bill has been postponed. If you're moved to express an opinion about this bill, visit the ENDA Action Center of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF> or the Stonewall Democrats' Accept No Substitutes page.
We find it interesting that, as of this writing, the New York Times has not found the ENDA Maneuvering or the backlash newsworthy.
Blame the Facilities: On the other hand, the New York Times is a leading source for information about the fateful Minneapolis Airport men's room in which Idaho Senator Larry Craig was arrested earlier this year in the course of a sex solicitation sting.
On September 19 in Fateful Bathroom Draws Crowds of the Curious by Christina Capecchi, the Times reported that the men's room had become something of a tourist attraction drawing crowds of spectators, amateur photographiers, and curiousity seekers.
And on September 28, the Times reported on the Minneapolis Airport's restroom renovation plans which include the installation of new dividers between stalls at a cost of about $25,000. The new dividers offer "two or three inches" of clearance above the floor. Currently dividers offer about a foot (ahem) of clearance.
Since May, 2007, there have been approximately 40 arrests at the Minneapolis Airport in sex solicitation cases. The new dividers are "intended to make soliciting sex much more difficult." Exactly how the dividers will accomplish this is left as an exercise for the reader.
Inter Mirifica: The Roman Catholic Church appreciates modern communications technology. In 1963, Pope Paul VI issued Inter Mirifica ("Among the wonderful things"), the Second Vatican Council's decree on the media of Social Communications. The themes of this decree were picked up in a 2005 pastoral letter The Rapid Development Extravagance (Luxuria): Who says Lutherans don't know about Luxury? When you want to indulge yourself, nothing else says extravagance as boldly as the Official LutheranConfessions.com BASEBALL CAP! Be the Life of the Party:
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Extravagance (Luxuria): Who says Lutherans don't know about Luxury? When you want to indulge yourself, nothing else says extravagance as boldly as the Official LutheranConfessions.com BASEBALL CAP!
Be the Life of the Party:
Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:
Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.
from Pope John Paul II.
But we believe even John Paul II did not anticipate that there would be a website (linked to the web portal of the Diocese of Rome) devoted to the late Pope's Cause of Beatification and Canonization. The multilingual site allows visitors from all the world to follow developments of the late pontiff's beatification, to offer testimonies of their own, to pray, to request a Holy card with the "ex indumetis" (a fragment of vestments worn by John Paul II), and through the miracle of on-line commerce, to contribute financially to the Cause.
There's also an article on the sacrilege of offering relics for sale.
Magis Mirifica: Not to be outdone with respect to communications media, the ELCA has launched a new series of billboard ads in Denver, CO. The ads focus on disaster relief and other humanitarian projects undertaken by the ELCA. If you're not driving through Denver, you can still see the ads online in the ELCA Video News.
Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie Fortresson, our resident expert on all matters of theology, Lutheran etiquette, and social protocol, answers questions submitted by our readers and occasionally simply volunteers advice when no question has been asked. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Pr. Sophie: I am a 4th year student at an ELCA seminary (I'd prefer not to say which) and I expect to graduate and be available for a call in 2008. When I was in college, I thought I was straight, that I was "just like anyone else". Over the last few years, I've grown less and less sure about that, and this past summer, I don't know how else to say it, I fell in love with another man. I can't even begin to describe the weird mix of anxiety and relief I felt when it became apparent that he was falling in love with me as well.
I think I must be gay. (Just writing that is the closest I've come to "coming out" to anyone, and I'm not absolutely certain I have anything to come out about really, except maybe the falling in love thing.)
Anyway, let's just say that I'm gay and I'm in love. My question is, "Now what?" Should I tell my candidacy committee? I don't think it would go well: they might let me finish the M.Div. program, but I doubt they'd recommend me for call.
On the other hand, I think I could just be quiet for a year or so, graduate, get a call, get ordained and see what happens. If the ELCA's attitude changes in 2009 or so, great, but if not, I think it must be easier to come out to a sympathetic congregation than to a candidacy committee.
Please tell me what you think I should do.
Dear Thesis_96: Pr. Sophie is profoundly grateful to you for sharing something so personal, and whether you are gay or not, the discovery of love is always something to celebrate.
In thinking about what to disclose about yourself, you have encountered an issue that is not often acknowleged: sometimes the "closets" in which our lives are hidden have simply materialized around us. We did not walk into these closets voluntarily. Many of us just woke up one day to find that our lives are not as free as we thought. Sadly, the church is helping to create the closet you're discovering.
Pr. Sophie would not presume to make the "coming out" decision for you, but here are some guidelines worth considering. First, do you understand clearly what you're going to tell people when you come out? You might think that accurate self-knowledge is a given, that there's no way you could be mistaken about yourself, but alas, people often don't know themselves very well. Before you come out to someone else, make sure you have come out to yourself as honestly as you can manage.
Once you've figured out what you're going to say, take the time to figure out how you will know that people have understood you correctly and what to do if you are misunderstood. There is more to coming out than simply declaring that you're gay, and indeed, sometimes saying "I'm gay!" is just a way of retreating further into the closet.
Finally, you may have the option of remaining silent, but saying nothing should be a conscious decision on your part, and you should make that decision very carefully: if you are silent now, will that make it easier or more difficult to come out in the future? If you're silent because you feel unprepared to come out now, what are you doing to prepare yourself to do so?
God's peace be with you always.
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