Sometimes at Anglican events like this ACC meeting, I wonder if I occupy the same reality, the same world view and norms of public engagement as some of those around me. I’ve continued to think about the encounter I had yesterday with two other journalists following the morning press conference.
One of them started by challenging me that on Wednesday I had reported something that wasn’t true. I was told I had to retract what I had written and/or explain to an ignorant public that if I write that someone is gay, I don’t also imply that they are sexually active. As I wrote yesterday, such an idea wouldn’t occur to the ordinary people I encounter in my life. They are not thinking about the sexual activity of other human beings all the time.
But my overnight thoughts – why do two Christian journalists think they have the right to put me on the spot and demand that I retract something I wrote because, without having information I have, they can't believe it's accurate. Under intense pressure, I did stand my ground and repeated several times that what I wrote I know to be true.
The information seems to be intolerable for them. I’ve pondered on the reasons why. Is it because I know something they don’t – that certainly seems to be part of the intensity of their reaction. Here in Jamaica, they we calmly, assertively, confidently aggressive (if you understand what that feels like). I was asked the same question in Alexandria by one of the journalists, but there his anger was intense.
Do journalists put each other on the spot after press briefings normally? Perhaps that isn’t an important question. More important, I suspect, is their lack of imagination. Why it is so hard for them to imagine that there are lesbian and gay people at every level of the church, sitting in meetings with them, worshipping alongside them, at every level of the church’s hierarchy. It is somehow shocking in their hearts and minds when they become conscious of gay people in places they never expected to find us. It must seem to them like a plot or a cruel joke being played by God.
It isn’t, it’s just normal, ordinary. There are people throughout the church with a different sexual identity who are as faithfully, prayerfully, lovingly Christian as they imagine themselves to be.
Journalists become the story. This is something that annoys me, not because I am put in the frame of the story, but because it distracts from reporting, accurately, what is happening here at ACC-14. Another journalist who hasn’t even arrived has written that he prays he’s not flying to Jamaica to record the final heartbeats of the Anglican Church (sic). It is really a mess at the ACC 14 meeting in Jamaica right now, he says. No it isn’t, friends, it’s really good here and impressive work is being done. It’s just that they don’t understand homosexuality and can’t accept that after years of hiding, the LGBT people God calls to faith and ministry are slowly becoming visible.
Mind you, after days like yesterday, I could wish I had remained in the closet.