Students arrived at BJU last week. The university has been posting photos that have had a shockingly dramatic affect on me. What was at first merely quiet reflection has turned into full-scale flashbacks. If I close my eyes, I am back on campus. My heart aches.
I know I need to continue with my story. And I’m not even necessarily ashamed of it anymore. But it hurts so much. It takes me to such a deep, dark place…and I’ve been pretty low recently anyway. But I think I have to write it. I have to get it out. No matter how it makes me look the fool.
In my remembering, I dragged out my old journal. There aren’t many entries from my time there. But reading these, it’s like I’m right back there again.
This is something I wrote on July 14, 2008.
I’m remembering this largely due to my participation in a conversation over on Patheos regarding pacifism/gun ownership.
I was taught to read the Bible literally. Very literally. As in, “Always interpret literally, unless it simply doesn’t make sense to do so.” And being raised as a fundamentalist and a biblicist, there were very few passages that were considered okay to interpret another way. And thus I have a very hard time understanding the Bible in any other way than how I was taught.
Due to my upbringing, about the time I started college (a little before, really) I started becoming more and more legalistic, more and more fundamentalist. Most of the damage was focused inward, on myself, castigating myself for being unable to live up to God’s standard of perfection. I struggled so deeply with so many issues. And rereading this post that I wrote just over four years ago hammers home to me just how much I’ve changed, while also reminding me how much confusion there still is in my head, in my heart.
So here it is: another piece of my life that is both long gone and yet suddenly so near. I am so different. I am so much the same.
I’m still here.
If you follow me on Tumblr (where I am very vocal and far less “polished”), you know I’m still alive, still kicking, still struggling and growing and all that. I just…haven’t posted on here very much lately. Clearly.
I keep telling myself that I’m going to continue my story soon. And in fact, I’ve started writing bits and pieces of it already.
But honestly? I’m just…tired.
And I’ve actually been busy living life. Spending time with my parents. Hanging out with Amanda. Drawing. Playing piano.
In some ways, I’m growing stronger.
And as I grow stronger, I find that I need Stitch less and less, because I’m living and writing and breathing and talking and existing as The Real Me.
But I will be back here, writing my story, writing my discoveries.
I’m just not sure when.
I know I posted about Chris Peterman’s expulsion from BJU yesterday (the text of the post itself was copied/pasted verbatim from another source). But I’m going to talk about it again today, this time in my own words.
Those of you who are regular readers here are by now quite familiar with Bob Jones University, and even a little bit of the drama that’s been going on there the past year. For those unaware of the drama (and who don’t want to click the previous link and read about it) I’ll post a little synopsis here.
Bob Jones University has expelled graduating senior Christopher Peterman just days before he was to graduate. Allegedly, the expulsion is a penalty for watching Glee and for posting lyrics to a Christian song on his Facebook page. His posts to Facebook were being heavily monitored by Dean of Men, John Daulton.
Christopher Peterman was the founder of a Facebook protest at BJU, Do Right BJU, the first student-led protest in the university’s history. The goal of that protest was to remove Board of Trustees member Pastor Chuck Phelps, who famously failed to take proper measures in reporting a child rapist in his New Hampshire church for years (see ABC’s 20/20 episode Shattered Faith, 4/8/2011 http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/scarred-childhood-13334532).
At the time of that protest, Peterman was promised by school administrators that he would suffer no penalties for taking a stand against Chuck Phelps. Although Phelps resigned under enormous pressure in the days leading up to the protest last December, former students and alumni predicted that Peterman would, in fact, be the target of administrators’ scrutiny and that they would eventually find a reason to expel him before graduation. This has now occurred.
In December of 2011, Bob Jones University representative Brian Scoles told local television host Kimberly Kelly that students would not be disciplined for their participation in this peaceful protest (http://www2.sceneon7.com/entertainment/2011/dec/05/main-evnet-ar-2806346/).
Despite this assurance, Christopher Peterman was expelled this past Tuesday evening, just ten days before he was to graduate from Bob Jones University. Peterman released this public statement last evening on YouTube, which has since gone viral, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGRowXhO99c and on the Do Right BJU Facebook page, found here: https://www.facebook.com/DoRightBJU.
This story can be found in the following places:
CNN’s iReport (not vetted for CNN): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
The Huffington Post
Be The Change
Louisiana State University
There are more, and I’ll update as I find more. For now, I need to work on a project with a deadline!
Continued from “My bright is too slight to hold back all my dark.”
We left off my story with my struggle to forget about Joe by fantasizing sexually about Peter then mentally and emotionally and spiritually flogging myself over it. (Remember that thing when I said I wasn’t going to gloss over details even if they paint me in a bad light? Yeah. That. Right now.) And the depths of my despair were such that suicide started looking like a viable option.
Well, there was this guy who kept emailing me. Instant messaging me. Talking to me whenever he’d run into me. Frankly, annoying the hell out of me. He got me to agree to eat lunch with him during the Day of Prayer, and we’d met to exchange some software that we each had that the other wanted. But I really wanted nothing to do with him. He struck me as a hardcore BOJ who didn’t want to be a BOJ and who was trying to show me that he was cool. Arrogant, showy, and not as worldly-wise as he thought he was.
Yeah. I’m talking about Gary.
You know, I’ve not always been so different from my parents. Or so liberal. Or so accepting.
Quite the opposite, really. And it’s hard for me, now, to understand that. And probably even for some of you. I have not always been how I am now, and I will not always be how I am now. We learn and we grow.
I wrote this on November 6, 2007. I remember this night so clearly. I remember the sincerity of my belief, of my grief and wrestling.
Stitch from 2007 would so deeply ashamed of Stitch from 2012. So ashamed. I guess the way my parents are ashamed. And that’s why I am more accepting of them – because I was once as conservative as they are. Perhaps even more so.
As in the tradition of “In jeans and an orange hoody,” the italics are my commentary now, with a synopsis beneath.
My last post was written from the heart, about something that’s been eating away at my mind and heart lately. This thought of choosing love, even amidst disagreements and confrontation.
It was…incredibly prophetic, actually.
My friend Amanda posted a link to this photo over the weekend on Facebook. Under my real name, I liked it. I thought it was fitting. Pointed. Worthy of consideration.
Sunday afternoon, my mother brought this up and asked me point-blank if I thought being gay was okay. My heart dropped into my stomach, and I knew that it was time for me to be honest.
I said yes.
In that split instant, everything changed. Things that I thought would never change. Could never change.
Taken at my sixteenth birthday party. I was going through a goth/punk/safety pin phase.
Dear 16-year-old Stitch/Jo:
Let me just say right now that you completely and totally ROCK that hair-cut. Don’t listen to the girl in your class who tells you that she’s afraid that it makes your face look fat. It doesn’t. You look amazing. You won’t have hair that short again for the next nine years, so savor it (even though you’ll get convicted in a few months that you’re disrupting God’s order by having short hair. I wish I could say don’t do that, but we both know that time travel doesn’t really exist).
Seriously. This picture, nine years later, embodies for almost-25-year-old you all of the awesomeness that you possessed at that time in your life. Sophomore year of high school was your year, though you probably don’t realize it. You have a group of friends with whom you hang out regularly. You’re almost popular – at least, the popular kids no longer make fun of you. You are at your musical height – I wish I had your vocal range, and man do I ever wish I was as fantastic of a pianist as you are. Your biggest regret is not-quite dating that loser who swore to you that his girlfriend wasn’t actually his girlfriend and you believed him. You’re doing pretty great. You will look back on this year of your life with tremendous fondness and longing.
There’s so much I want to tell you. Like that your current crush really isn’t worth it. And homeschooling is not going to be fun for you. Even little things, like don’t get your cartilage pierced at Claire’s…twice. Seriously. Don’t do it.
But…if there’s one thing and one thing only that I could impart to you right now, it would be this:
Always. Choose love.
Thought I’d sort of give everyone an update on life in general – because there’s much to say!
The past couple of months have been revolutionary to me. All of our bills are getting paid on time, in full – for some things like credit cards, school loans, or hospital bills, we’ve been paying more than we owe. And we’re not starving. Our fridge and pantry are well-stocked. And yet we still have money in the bank, let alone an ever-growing amount of money we’ve been saving. This is such a far cry from where we were not long ago financially. Gary’s no-longer-new job has certainly helped, especially his recent raise. We just…suddenly have plenty, and I’m not quite sure what to do with plenty anymore. But it’s…so, so nice. Some of the worry is gone.
We have also been actively looking for a house to rent near my parents. We thought we’d found The One about 30 minutes from my parents (and 40 minutes from my work) – it was a brick rancher, 3 bedrooms, nice yard, garage, huge basement with lots of storage space. Both of us fell in love with it. However, we were one of two applicants…and the other applicants were chosen. I was really sad about that for a while. I emotionally attach to things, even objects – once I start arranging my furniture in a place and start imagining myself living there, it’s all over – in my head, it’s mine now. So that was hard to deal with.
After spending every weekend at my parents’ house for the past month or more, we chose this past weekend to stay at home and recover and relax. We both woke up with horrendous migraines on Saturday morning, and took strong medicine and chilled for a while. Once we started feeling a little better, we heated up leftover pizza for lunch and decided to have an X-Men marathon. There we were, still lounging in our pajamas, Sherlock lodged between us, and my phone rang. It was my dad. He sounded nearly giddy. “Hi! We’re looking at a house for you!” I was…suspicious. And unsure of whether or not a line had just been crossed somehow. But then he began to describe it to me – it is a two-story duplex with a full, finished basement and a room for an office down there. Large kitchen and dining room area. Large bathroom. Back porch/deck with a small yard. Sherlock is allowed with no extra charge. All in all, about 2700 square feet (triple what our apartment is right now) – for over $100 less a month. “I just…I can really see you guys living here,” Dad said at long last. I put him on hold and relayed the information to Gary. “You okay with another 2-hour trip to Mom and Dad’s to see this house?”