Friday, May 29, 2009

Today in Gay History

Born May 29, 1947
Happy 62nd Birthday to

The Right Reverend

V. Gene Robinson

(pictured right with spouse, Mark Andrew )

H/T to Wiki and GQ Magazine online.

see the excellent and lengthy article Let God Love Gene Robinson in GQ Magazine online @

Robinson is best known for being the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination believing in the historic episcopate. His sexual orientation was privately acknowledged in the 1970s, when he studied in seminary, was ordained, married, and started a family. He went public with his sexual identity and divorced in the 1980s. When delegates to the Episcopal convention were voting on the ratification of his election, it became an issue of controversy. His election was ratified 62 to 45. After his election, some theologically conservative parishes have aligned themselves with bishops outside the Episcopal Church in the U.S., a process called the Anglican realignment.

He grew up in relative poverty in Kentucky, and went to University of the South on full scholarship. In 1969, he enrolled in Theology School in New York. Of that time, he’s said:

“I couldn’t afford to go home for spring break, so I went to the home of a fellow student. And I fell madly in love with him.” The feeling was mutual. “It immediately brought me out of my depression. We had a wonderful three months together.” Problem was, Robinson’s boyfriend had a fiancée. “During the summer, he told her about us. She said, ‘This will stop now.’ And he never spoke to me again. It broke my heart. That’s when I started the therapy.” Robinson believed what the church had been teaching for centuries about what causes a man to “lay” with another man—an extrinsic thing, a kind of infection that distorts the soul’s natural workings. So he entered psychotherapy to get the gay out.

“Lord, I tried,” he says. “Nobody could have prayed harder than I did. Nobody could have wanted it more. I desperately wanted to be married and have kids.”

After a year of twice-a-week sessions aimed at unearthing his “primary” condition (of which it was presumed the same-sex yearnings were a mere “symptom”), Robinson believed himself ready to date straight. While chaplaining in Vermont, he met a woman named Isabella Martin, whom everybody knew as Boo.

“Ten minutes after meeting him, I thought, That’s the man I’m going to marry,” Boo recalls. “So smart and clear and faithful. He was so articulate and fun, and he just preached from the heart.”

Shortly after they began dating, Gene told Boo that his only serious relationships had been with men. “I’ve been working for more than a year to cure myself,” he said. “I think it’s under control, but I’m scared to death that it could rear its head.”

She told him that if he loved her enough, it wouldn’t matter. They married a year later.

. . . “I just need to admit that it’s there, so I can make my peace with it,” he told his wife, acting on his own belief about secrets in families. “So there it is: There’s a part of me that will always be gay. But it’s a small part. No threat to the main part. I don’t have to ever act on it.”

Once this awareness was incorporated into their marriage, there was peace. Until there wasn’t. Gene prayed on it daily.

Make this not be true, Lord. Show me how I can change it.


When Gene realized it was a bigger slice of the pie than he’d initially thought, he told Boo. When he realized he couldn’t have peace with it—even as he was convinced he would never act on it—he told Boo. When he realized it was not only present but no longer dormant, that it was awake, pushing, he told Boo.

Then, one night in 1983, he shot up in bed and, at long, long last, uttered the word.

Gay. My God. I’m gay.

[He and Boo quietly divorced in the 1980s, but continued to be close allies in rearing there children]

. . . Boo remarried in September 1987. Two months later, Gene met a Peace Corps worker named Mark Andrew while vacationing in St. Croix. Andrew was a distance runner, a marathoner, intelligent in a practical and unassuming way, and terribly shy. Robinson was a charismatic, a radiant who’d rarely known the exertion of his own spirit to be met with a like force, yet something about Andrew’s presence, an attention—nonverbal, evident in the handshake—instantly and fully measured him, held him.

“I don’t know where this is going,” Robinson told Andrew just days later. “But you need to know I’m not leaving my kids. If it goes anywhere, it’s going to come to New Hampshire. If that’s not an option for you, we should stop this right now.”

It was an option. After a year and a half of long-distance dating, Andrew moved from Washington, D.C., to New Hampshire, where he and Robinson built a house. . . .

And the rest, as it's said, is history- - -


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