OK, I am a worrier. I admit it. Well not all the time do I admit it. Most times I like to pretend I’m relaxed. But I have the badges: sleepless nights and lots of wrinkles. I am glad kids growing up today have Mark Zmuda, a gay administrator in Seattle, to look up to. But even in an era of Ellen DeGeneres, Neal Patrick Harris (and his very cute twins) and the out Mayor of Seattle, I do not think the time is over for gay kids and gay adults to feel totally accepted. I worry about the drunken sports fan or even the celebrity or politician who proclaims his intolerance of gay people. These people often self-righteously couch their beliefs as part of their religion. Scary!! Just look at that oddball from Duck Dynasty, whom I never heard of before the kerfuffle about his anti-gay remarks. And what about Michael Sam, the football player who came out last week? Yes he received lots of positive feedback, but also lots of horrible hate speech on social media as well.
While I know you are a confident man I worry about your kids, about your brother Mark’s kids, about your cousin Lillian’s kids. Those kids love their gay dads and gay uncles. How awful for them to be placed in a position to feel their family disrespected. And sometimes when you travel out of the safe zone of liberal Seattle I worry about your physical well-being. I shouldn’t have to worry about that at my age. I should worry about cancer and heart attacks, about global warming, and the do-nothing Congress but I shouldn’t have to worry about some bigots harming my children and grandchildren. I remember the mother of one of my wonderful African-American high school students said to me years ago, “ I worry about him every time he goes out the door.” Now I am in her shoes. Your skin color does not call attention but your family does. When you and Patrick go out with your kids you announce who you are. You are proud of that and so are your family and friends, but what about intolerant others?
When you told me about the firing of the Seattle Catholic school administrator, Mark Zmuda, over his marriage to a man, it touched lots of old wounds. It plunged me right back to my high school days. Yet again the Catholic Church is obsessing about sexual behavior just as I experienced it in the past.
As a kid growing up in the 50’s I remember clearly the strict rules taught us girls in my Catholic high school. Our nun teachers and the priests stressed the grave “sins of the flesh”, just at a time when we were discovering we had flesh!! We agonized over which kind of kissing was venial and which kind was mortal sin. Sometimes we forgot in the heat of the moment with a boyfriend. No one I knew would ever consider “going all the way.” That for sure would get you sent to hell and to the home for unwed mothers.
In reading the New Testament many times I am struck by how little Jesus had to say about sex, but how much he had to say about the “good news” of love and acceptance. In spite of the wrongheaded decision by the board of trustees, that message seems to have connected with the students at Mark Zmuda’s high school. They seem appalled by the firing. Right from the time when they learned about it, they have held sit-ins and have publicly protested both the school’s action and the archdiocese’s defense of it. I want to believe the message of Jesus got through, despite the damaging messengers. The students seem to know what’s right. Too bad the administration doesn’t.
So there is some hope for my worrying. Even the President and the First Lady supported Michael Sam. In addition, there are many out gay celebrities. Ellen DeGeneres’s popularity seems undimmed. Neil Patrick Harris and his husband very publicly post photos of their twins. The Mayor of Seattle and his husband led the march for the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl parade. Yes, encouraging to say the least. But, still, can you blame a mother for worrying?