…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

A Four Year Outing

By Rex Goode


Well, maybe five…

In my late forties, I decided to take advantage of having been laid off by Intel where I was doing some web and business programming. I enrolled in a Mental Health and Human Resources program at the community college. In my two years there, I had the experience of having my beliefs challenged about my struggle with same-sex attraction. Just about every “speaker” they brought in was gay.

I especially remember in my interviewing class, in the final quarter. The class that quarter was about diversity interviewing. The speaker was a woman who had left her husband for a woman. We were warned in advance that we weren’t to challenge her about anything she said. That miffed a lot of people and was welcomed by others.

I put my point of view and my life story in some of the papers I wrote, when it was applicable. In a social work type of course, you are often asked to reveal parts of your life. Of course, you can choose to keep some things quiet, but many times, the specific assignment fit just right with my issues. The professors told me that my life was interesting and never graded me down for it, although it was apparent from things they said in lectures that they didn’t agree with me. I also told a lot of classmates and it was well-received, even by the gay ones.

After I finished that program, I moved on the a four-year Christian university operated by the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS). The LCMS is probably the most conservative of all Lutheran churches.

In my first semester there, in speech class, we were to give a speech arguing a point of view related to our lives. Well, I chose to talk about my life from the point of view that I’m tired of people saying that a man like me can’t make a go of a marriage. Naturally that meant I’d be outing myself there. I got a standing ovation from the class and the professor, who was usually quite stingy with his praise.

I wrote papers there that reflected my life and my same-sex attraction. Always got a good grade. Now, you might be thinking that is because it was a conservative Christian university. Not so. The speech professor is a hard-core liberal. The only other speech he liked that day was the one by the woman who went downtown Portland and got married the day the Multnomah County Commissioners sneaked it in to allow gay marriages. The professor was fair. The speeches he didn’t like weren’t particlarly good.

Almost all of my professors read my papers with open minds. I had trouble with one. He had taught in Utah for a few years. Himself a fairly liberal Christian, he had a chip on his shoulder about Mormons. When I told him about myself, his eyes glazed over.

In his class, that first semester, he had one speaker planned–a white supremacist. Part of the course involved debating divisive issues. Oregon was in the midst of the campaign over Measure 36 defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I was paired on the pro side with a young lesbian. She didn’t agree with the pro side, and I only half-heartedly. Still, an assignment was an assignment, so I dove in. The debate was a farce. My partner didn’t even really try. Our opponents talked over everything I tried to say. I kept looking at the professor to see if he was going to enforce the rules and he just sat there grinning at me. I got inferior grades on any paper in which I mentioned Mormons. I accused him of being biased against Mormons. He was offended. I shouldn’t complain. I still got a B out of the class, but I’m the guy who ran home from the 7th grade crying because I got a B.

Later, for my social research class, I interviewed three men who were gay but living in heterosexual marriages. Got a good grade on that. I had to present my paper in class and got a good reception. It was known by all that I also fit in that category.

The pinnacle of my experience talking about my same-sex attraction in college was in a class specifically about homosexuality. There they had speakers every week and they took a fairly balanced approach to it. I told both professors, half the class, and some of the speakers about my point of view. I’ll tell you a secret. If you give other people respect, they usually give it back.

I think it is beneficial to society to have people with a point of view like mine to speak up. It’s not for everyone, of course. There are pitfalls. It hasn’t always been rosy for me, but I still don’t regret it.

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