Returning to the Scene

Who woulda’ thunk it? Thirty-two years after after I graduated from Columbia I have been invited back to read from my memoir and talk about my experiences there.

I have mixed feelings about it. The strongest feeling I have is gratitude. Never would I have thought this day would arrive. What a graceful moment to come full circle and return to a campus where once I was a stranger in a strange land, an unwelcome alien, and a proverbial thorn in the side of this august institution. I am grateful not only to be welcomed and given a voice but I am also grateful (and astounded!) to see the course  ‘Ministry With LGBTQIA Youth’ offered.

But to be completely honest, the other thing I am feeling is anger. Now we all know that anger is often a ‘leading emotion’ that conceals or protects us from the underlying and original emotion. So if I follow that thread I must confess that my anger is trying to  protect me from hurt. So there you have it. The hurt is old. It is the hurt of being silenced and demeaned. It is the hurt of being dismissed. Hated. Feared. It is the hurt of being wide open and vulnerable to Godde and having those in power abusing that vulnerability.

I met a few weeks ago with a wonderful woman from Columbia who invited me to be a part of this event. She is ordained. And a lesbian. And open. All in the Presbyterian Church (USA). After a long, truthful, and profoundly intimate conversation she asked me what I would like from Columbia. It surprised me when I teared up and said  “I just want someone to say ‘I’m sorry’. ” Funny that.

This Wednesday I am invited to be a part of worship and to share my story. To talk about my journey at the institution I both love and hate. I have come to believe that giving me a voice may be the most profound apology I could be offered.


10 thoughts on “Returning to the Scene

  1. This is wonderful news, Connie! Congratulations! And yes, it’s so hard to forgive when the one(s) who hurt us aren’t saying “sorry.” But I agree that their invitation to you to come and speak is an apology of sorts. And if it was the institution, rather than one or more specific individuals who hurt you, maybe that will be easier to forgive? I’m just asking . . . not preaching! So proud of you!

    1. Thanks, Susan! I am clear that the problem with the institution was systemic – sexist and homophobic – and that individuals were not necessarily villains… and I am okay with all my feelings. The largest one experience I have had is surely grace.

  2. I am sorry. My apology is for all who have faced and felt the sting of rejection for the least of any of the things you have encountered.
    I wish that would help but at the least be sure that it is heart-felt.
    Be proud of all you are and all that you do. Each day you help someone without knowing.

  3. I wish I could be there to hear you speak! I am sorry for all of the ways we’ve missed the mark, and grateful for the witness and persistence of the people who enlarge our understanding. I hope you will feel a warm welcome and a sense of belonging when you are on campus. I’m proud of where Columbia is today and excited for Columbia’s future.

  4. What a tremendous thing, Connie! You helped tip a world off its predetermined axis, and so much good is coming from it! This is just one part of your legacy. You won’t receive the gratitude you deserve, nor the apology I suspect, but perhaps it’s enough to know you deserve it? !Much love, my friend

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