Just find something and do it. Anything.*
I’m looking at a website with a list of community events around town and notice that there is a PFLAG meeting this Thursday night. I click on the event and discover that it’s a support/educational group for Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays. I have never really heard of them before. This sounds interesting, but I’m not sure.
Well, you wanted to step out of your comfort zone, this is it!
Yeah, but it’s so dramatic; kind of like taking a dive with a blindfold on. I mean, five years ago I believed you couldn’t be gay and go to heaven. You couldn’t be gay and be a faithful, obedient Christian. That was back when I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know anyone who was openly gay or lesbian. I heard the stereotypes, “All thosequeers are just a bunch perverted child molesters.” Not that I necessarily agreed with that back then, but apathy doesn’t make you innocent either. It’s so easy to believe in stereotypes when you don’t have a face to go along with the myth. It’s easy to hate a faceless group of people – you have no personal or emotional attachment. Sure, my Baptist church never proactively and outspokenly bashed gays and lesbians, but you’re kidding yourself if you think they were actually welcomed.
It is two hours before the meeting starts. I’m beginning to have doubts about going.
Chicken. You always do this. Just get your ass out of the door. You need to do this.
Fine, I’ll go.
Wait, I’m going to miss Big Bang Theory. It starts at…
The meeting is going to be held in the library at Saint John’s Episcopal Church. I’ve never been to an Episcopal church before.I’m wondering if the people at the meeting are actually members of this church or if the church was just kind enough to offer their library to use as a meeting place. This should be interesting considering that the Episcopal Church just decided to bless same-sex unions at their annual convention. I wonder if that will be mentioned at the meeting.
At this point I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I’m thinking there will be at least 30 people at this place. I’ll be able to blend in and just be a silent observer. I get to the church about 15 minutes early. I park across the street, enter the church, follow the directions to the library, and find myself alone with one other person. So much for blending in.
She’s a kind, somewhat older lady in her fifties standing by a table full of snacks.
“Hello,” she says.
“Hi! My name’s Matt,” I respond.
“I’m Sandi. Help yourself to some snacks. We’ve got some delicious cookies and here are some rainbow Goldfish!”
We both laugh at the rainbow Goldfish. I like rainbow Goldfish.
Now, of course we reach that awkward pause in the social exchange. I’m terrible at this. Small talk is the bane of my existence. I’m also extremely self-conscious about what to do and say at this meeting. The reason why I’m here is to meet people who are openly gay; to show that I care, try to understand what they’re dealing with. But I’ve never had an openly gay friend, so I don’t know how to act tonight.
Why does it matter? They’re people, not aliens.
I know, I know. It’s just all new to me. Give me a break, I’m trying.
Fine. Just keep talking, idiot.
I grab a chip and dip it in some humus, “Yeah, um, this is the first time I’ve ever been to one of these meetings. Just wanted drop by and, you know, check things out.”
“Check things out?!” What are you, the LGBT Gestapo? Is this an inspection? Just go ahead and offend everyone here, Baptist boy.
Sandi smiles at me, “Oh great! We are glad to have your support!”
At this point another woman, a bit younger than Sandi with short hair, walks in. Sandi introduces me. Her name is Susan and she’s in charge of the meeting tonight. We both exchange pleasantries, but I can tell she’s too busy to start a conversation. I awkwardly head to where all the seats are. There are about 20 chairs and couches facing each other in a circle. Oh, great. I know what this means. Again, so much for blending in.
*[Words in italics are those of the author’s subconscious. Except for these words, of course. Be aware that the author has no control over his subconscious. Do not be alarmed. The author apologizes for his subconscious’ language and mild disorder of Tourette’s.]
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