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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tempest in a Teapot

Sorry I've been MIA for a week--I've had a lot on my mind. My little group, the one I joined to get involved in my new community when I moved to this itsy bitsy corner of Ohio, is currently in a bit of a flap. And it's all my fault.

Last Thursday I threw down. At my very first meeting as an elected member of the board of this group, no less. The president came to us and told us that a new community group had been formed, and was looking for a place to meet while they applied for grants and gathered money to rent their own clubhouse. They'd tried several fraternal organizations before ours, and been turned down.

The group looking for a home is called RAY. Stands for Rainbow Alliance Youth, a support group for gay and lesbian teens.

As soon as the president says this, heads start to shake. Perfectly legitimate obstacles (liability, the conditions of our lease agreement) are brought up. The board is fairly unanimous. Definitely not. There's too much risk, what if something happens? Someone falls down the stairs on the way to a meeting, and we're liable! And of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that it's a gay/lesbian group. We'd feel just the same if it were any group looking to use our clubhouse.


I don't think I've ever gotten so worked up in public before in my life. When one of my fellow board members, someone I've considered a good friend, said, "I just don't get why we should do this. What's in it for us?", I almost launched myself across the bar at him. What's in it for us? How about the satisfaction of providing a safe place for young people to go and discuss difficult issues about sexuality and tolerance with their peers? How about giving back to the community, the WHOLE community, just like our mission statement says? How about being Christian, in the very best sense of the word--specifically, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

I argued and fumed, and finally allowed the conversation pass on to the next topic when the president agreed to check on our lease and find out what the actual problems might be. My next brainwave was to offer up the hall of my little Episcopal church to RAY. I haven't talked to the minister (rector, whatever, I grew up Methodist, so the terminology still trips me up) yet, but she's very liberal and open-minded. Not to mention the official stance of the Episcopal church, which is pretty much as inclusive and accepting as can be. So I have hope that RAY will find a home in our conservative little town, one way or another, if I have anything to say about it.

But after all this, can I say the same? Do I even want to?


Keep up your dream; it may tarry but it will come to pass.

Sorry for the stress.

Thanks for the support!

Ugh, I am so mad at these people. It's scary, discovering how latent prejudices can be; you'd think you'd know by now, two years in, if the people you were spending time with were the type who'd react this way.

Re: the Episcopal church, it's pretty tolerant, but I'd give my eyeteeth for official, church-wide sanction of both same-sex unions as religious marriages and gay and lesbian bishops. That said, individual parishes are basically given permission to do whatever they want in those areas, which is great.

Good for you, Louisa! It's always hard to go against the majority, but when you feel strongly about something, then you just have to speak up. I hope RAY finds a home soon.

That's the thing, I wonder if I would've fought so hard if I hadn't been the only one fighting. Something about the situation really fired me up, that's for sure.

I am so proud of you. This is not an easy fight to fight. Of course, if they know what's good for them, they won't cross Louisa again. LOL

Man, I get fired up just reading your post. Discrimination of any kind makes me mad, but homophobics are one of the worst kind in my book. What does that say to those kids who are looking for understanding and acceptance? I hope RAY finds a home. I just don't get when groups formed to "help others" decide to only help who they want and ignore those who need help but they don't agree with. Fight the fight and continue to be the voice of reason. Let us know how it turns out. I'm proud of your too. It's hard to stand up to others especially when your new!

Good for you, Louisa.

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