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Posted: 06/13/2012 5:04 pm There is an Internet story gone viral about “Angry Queers” breaking historic stained-glass windows in the old Mars Hill Church in... Not So “Bitter” Old Activist Looks Back

Not Bitter – Old Activist Looks Back

After my last Huffington Post Blog, “Angry Queers” Break Stained Glass Windows, I received this email: “Always enjoy reading your words and hearing your thoughts but sometimes I think you’re trying so hard to make your point that you come across bitter.”

Me, the happy homo, bitter? Corny…preachy…bombastic…boring, maybe, but “bitter?”
Today is my wedding anniversary. How could I be bitter? In fact I woke up this morning celebrating what happened on June 18, 2008 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. Who would have believed it possible that Gary and I would celebrate thirty years together or that our relationship would be honored by church and state alike?
Yesterday was Father’s Day. How could I be bitter? Mike texted me “Love you, Dad,” from a location in Hawaii; Erinn and her husband Dr. Terry Rich took us out to lunch; our granddaughter, Katie, gave us photos she had framed and grandson Sean gave us “Grampa #1” baseball hats and T-shirts. This morning I walked the beach just after sunrise and tonight Gary and I will celebrate 3 decades together with lemon drop martinis, Thai fried rice and a movie. How could I be bitter when life couldn’t be better?
On second thought, maybe she’s right. I am bitter. Bitter, the dictionary says, is “resentment felt as a result of a real or imagined wrong done.” I checked my Thesaurus to see if any of the adjectives under “bitter” describe my feelings after twenty five years working to help end religion based oppression and I discovered that the writer of that email was right. I am “bitter:” resentful, angry, infuriated, irate, enraged, incensed, outraged and anxious.
Resentful that Christian leaders, Protestant, Catholic, and Mormon alike, still warn the public that we are a threat to family and to nation; Angry that holy terrorists on the Christian right are still determined to reverse the rights we have gained, amend the U.S. Constitution, and drive us back into our closets; Infuriated that children who are different are still being bullied and called “fag;” Irate that lesbians and gays are still being rejected by their parents, priests and pastors; Enraged that they are still being crippled in body and in spirit by gay bashers who really believe they are doing God’s business; Incensed that gay teenagers are 4-7 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers; Outraged that year after year our transgender sisters and brothers are the number one victims of hate crimes across the U.S.; Anxious about what could happen to the U.S. (and to us) if the Tea-party types take the White House and the Congress on election day, November, 2012.
I admit it. I’m bitter. However, not just bitter. Once again my Thesaurus filled in the more positive (hopefully) adjectives: grateful, ecstatic, thrilled, elated, hopeful, encouraged, delighted and thankful. Grateful that I’m married to a man who in spite of my failures and broken promises has never given up on me; Ecstatic that we begin our retirement living in a little cottage just blocks from the beach; Thrilled that I have a loving extended family including my former wife and literally hundreds of loyal friends; Elated that my heroes are calling Holy Terror “A consciousness raising, must read book,” (Spong) and “a page-turning whodunit that is both chilling and enormously instructive,” (Robinson); Hopeful that you will forgive me for sneaking in a Holy Terror commercial; Delighted that so many religious leaders, local congregations and even whole denominations are becoming open and affirming; Encouraged by the gains we have made. Optimistic that we will go on making them.
I admit it. There are times when I am bitter and other times when I am almost overcome by joy. I sometimes wonder which emotion will triumph in the end. Tomorrow will I wake up singing something cheery from a Broadway musical or find myself still waving my fist at the holy terrorists on the Christian right? I have no idea.
But in the meantime, it’s hard to stay bitter very long knowing that God created me gay and loves me exactly as I was created. When a holy terrorist waves his Bible and calls me sick and sinful I can look him in the eye and say with certainty: I am gay. I am proud. And God loves me without reservation. Try staying bitter after saying that?

  • Karen Solon

    Mel,

    Thanks for the reply re: coming to UUCF in October; I appreciate your gentle way of letting us off the hook if your move from VA to CA makes the cost difficult. I’ve sent your reply back to the organizers for their consideration. But.. regardless … I’m glad to have had a reason to be in touch with you! And I’m delighted to have found your Blog in the process, and to have just finished reading this wonderful piece about being both bitter and grateful.

    I just attended my 50th HS Reunion on June 23. A classmate (and friend since 5th grade) who came out to me 19 years ago, and to the class 15 years ago, hosted our class picnic. Another gay classmate attended as well. We grieved the loss of the older sister of a classmate, who in 1994 told me not to mention to anyone that she is lesbian, fearful that her brother’s business might suffer (ours being such a small town, and her family being devoutly Catholic, etc). Her obituary, placed by her family, included the name of her beloved partner of 24 years — out at last! Another classmate divulged to a small group of us (as he had privately to me a decade ago) that her father, an Air Force Chaplain (whose father was my church’s minister for years), was gay. The brother of another…well, you get the idea. It is WONDERFUL to see how far we’ve come, and I thank you SO MUCH for being a very significant part of my own journey to understanding. I quote you often, think of you more often that you might imagine, and cherish my memories of the 1999 action at Thomas Road Baptist Church).

    THANK YOU for your integrity, for your humor and gentle ways, for your passion, for your ability to “stay on fire” (in the words of Cornell West). And PLEASE tell Gary (who might well be reading this for you!) that I also send him a huge Anniversary hug. It was such a privilege to have held his hand during a vigil when you were fasting in jail, hoping that Pat Robertson would talk to you. It moved me deeply to hear in his voice how concerned he was about your health, as you fasted. Seems so long ago (because it WAS!). But your passion inspired mine, and is still part of what keeps me active.

    IF this October conference doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll get to California one of these days and have a chance to say hello again in person. In the meantime, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

    Karen Solon
    PS: Manny and I will celebrate our 30th Anniversary on August 8. Time sure flies when we are having fun!