Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where Next?

I have written here quite openly about my frustrations about the Sudanese Archbishop's comments and what that may mean for my continued relationship with the Diocese of Lui (in southern Sudan). I was caught short and breathless by a comment that a friend made to me personally. She said:

Why I think Missouri should stay in relationship with Sudan – I read your friend the priest - letter – think of 2 people – I immediately thought of that gay or lesbian person in the Sudan who might receive a glimmer of hope meeting you – you might not even know she shook your hand while you were there – but she knows and holds that moment as a ray of light in a very scary night.
That comment took my breath away. And I'll confess it made me realize I had been focusing too much on "me-me-me." My hurt. My anger.

It felt very weird for me to spend time in southern Sudan. I wasn't overtly gay. God knows I desperately tried to fit in. But I know I'm a lesbian. Throughout my time there, I kinda felt like I had a purple "L" on my forehead. No matter how much I tried to fit in, I knew I was different.

And the people of Lui continually reminded me I was different. They were forever asking me, "Where is your husband?" or "Who is your husband?" I kept saying I didn't have one. They would ask me if I had children. I had to say I had none. They were unfailingly polite, but it always felt to me like they went away shaking their heads. How could a 50-year-old woman have no husband and no children?? Because I wanted to honor them and not cause a ruckus, I never took the conversation further. Maybe this is my fault. Perhaps I should have told them who and what I am, rather than saying I have no husband and no children. At the time, I was just trying to avoid being scandalous.

Thank you for reminding me of the larger scope.

Our bishop has already agreed to squeeze in a meeting with the Companion Diocese Committee right after he returns from Lambeth. I am truly grateful. Many people in our diocese are feeling angry now. I am committed to finding a way to make it not "either/or" but "both/and." We have to find a way to continue to support our friends in Lui while also honoring the gay men and lesbians in our diocese. How to do that? I do not yet know. But I believe that both the friends in Lui and my friends in Missouri deserve to be honored and respected.


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