I will use my column this month to give an update on what is going on in my life, since I've gone a few months without doing that. I missed contributing to the December and February issues, and my article for the January issue was fiction, despite it being about me.
Back in August of last year, I had gone to a conference called WOW2000. It was for gays, their families and friends and was sponsored by several different groups within the larger "Welcoming Church Movement." I had met a woman named Dotti there who was also from Lexington. When I got back, we stayed in contact and she invited me to one of her local Soulforce meeting.
The first meeting that I went to was held at the home of the lady who Dotti was dating. Her name was Angie and she had grown up in the Catholic faith. There were about six or seven people there for the meeting. The only person who was not gay was Jean, who is seventy-eight and has a gay granddaughter. I was the only guy!
We meet every other week and go through the Soulforce 17-step journey. I think they were on week 12 when I first went. I didn't really study the material, I just shared my story, listened to what they had to say, and watched the film Romero and a video on Martin Luther King, Jr.
I liked what the group was trying to accomplish, but I was somewhat skeptical considering that Soulforce (the national group) has a history of getting arrested and going to jail. However, I found out that everything they do is based on nonviolence. Plus I started reading about the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's and discovered that many black people and their white allies went to jail for nonviolent protest. I was amazed by my general ignorance of what happened in our country just forty years ago! I mean, I knew about the civil rights movement and the struggle to end segregation, but I didn't know what all had happened.
The similarities between their struggle and the struggle of GLBT people today are many. For example, most of the Christian church (white Christians, obviously) opposed the end of segregation, while a faithful minority stood up and called segregation an evil separation of God's children. One picture I saw showed two women standing in front of a government building holding signs that read "Governor Faubus -- Save Our Christian America" and "Race Mixing is Communism." How sad that the tradition of racial oppression was linked with the name of the person who had said the second most important thing to God was that you love your neighbor as yourself!
So save our America from black people who think they can be as good as whites and now save our America from homosexuals who think they can be as good as heterosexuals. Really, you should read a lot about the civil rights movement that changed the United States, which was segregated just 40 years ago. Two books I'm reading are titled Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle by Sara Bullard and Bearing The Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference by David Garrow.
Anyway, the Soulforce group is cool. On February 25, we are restarting the 17-step journey from the beginning. We hope to get a good turnout, so we have been putting up flyers and all. I came up with the idea of making laminated tags that announced the meeting date and had a piece of lace tied to it with rainbow beads attached. Basically, it looks like a little kite with a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple bead at the tail. Plus it has a strip of magnetic tape on the back.
Well, what I have to do is cruise the parking lots of the mall and department stores looking for gay cars (you know, like a Camry that likes another Camry instead of an SUV or something.) If I see a car with a rainbow sticker, then I hop out and put the magnet thingy next to the keyhole on the door. On the first day, I found two cars after driving around for over an hour. One of the cars had the bumper sticker Girls Kick Ass! - so that was a clue before I spotted the rainbow over in the corner. The next day, I didn't find any in the various parking lots, but as I was driving back to my apartment, a car passed me with a rainbow triangle. Somewhere in my head, the theme music to Mission Impossible started playing and I darted into a driveway, threw it into reverse, and headed after them. After discreetly chasing the car down a few roads, the thought occurred to me that this was borderline stalking. Finally they stopped at a computer store and I put a magnet on the car.
Now, before I came up with this idea (even before I was out to anybody a year ago) it seemed like I saw a car with a rainbow every day or so. It was probably more like once a week. After cruising the mall parking lot several times, I can safely say that one in ten cars are definitely not gay. It's more like one in one thousand! Actually the correct conclusion would be that most gay people don't put a rainbow sticker on their vehicle. I'm thinking that I might put one on mine now.
Well, I probably can't wait another day to get this turned in since it is already overdue, so I guess I will end it here. Next month I will write about going to hear Judy Shepard speak and also tell you how our big Soulforce meeting went. The cool thing is that one of the local churches, Woodland Christian, is letting us use their building for this meeting. If you want to take a look at the 17-step journey, go to www.soulforce.org/17steps.html. It was developed when Mel White and his group went to Lynchburg, Virginia to meet with Jerry Falwell.
Jamie McDaniel lives in Lexington, Kentucky. If you want to e-mail him, his address is firstname.lastname@example.org.