Testimony

      Comments Off on Testimony

I was raised in Texas as an Episcopalian. I do not recall any mention of
homosexuality in that church nor indeed in any religious context. However,
there was a great deal of negativity aimed at "queers" from the
public in general. To avoid being ostracized, locked up or killed, one stayed
in the closet. Being branded a queer was the worst thing imaginable!

When I got into Christian Science in my twenties I was firmly closeted on
my job and to my family — who were all conveniently back in Texas, while
I was living in New York — but I did have a set of Gay friends to hang out
and socialize with.

Christian Science made sense to me after the hocus-pocus of my childhood
religion. It helped me with some psychological and physical problems. And
it appealed to my Gay sensibilities, with its emphasis on an androgynous Deity
reflected in androgynous man. I never once thought there could be a problem
with being Gay in Christian Science.

I joined The Mother Church on November 1, 1972, and received notification
of acceptance several days later. Of course I was filled with joy. Perhaps
a day or two later there was that week's issue of the Christian Science
Sentinel
in my mailbox announcing on its cover "The Bible and Homosexuality"
(dated November 18, 1972). Aha! Here would be a serious, scientific explanation
of the spiritual rightness of homosexuality. I hurled myself up the stairs
and opened the Sentinel to find a truly horrific rejection of Gay
people. Fortunately its main thrust was that everyone needed to follow Adam
and Eve. As a relative newcomer to Science I knew enough to see that was bogus
advice.

But I was confused about membership. Should I withdraw, since my sexuality
was so problematic to those running the church? Over the next few months,
as I pondered what to do, I discovered a number of Lesbians and Gay men in
branch churches in New York. We talked. One gave a testimony about the healing
of a tumor when he faced his homosexuality as the way he could share God's
love with another. I decided to stay, and even joined a branch.

From this point on, a small group of us started working locally and in Boston
for a change in the movement's attitude towards Gay people. The results were
not positive at first. Hearts hardened, more offensive articles appeared,
membership interviews came to include the requirement that one be free of
homosexuality, and Gay people were actually excommunicated from some branch
churches in New York.

Some of us had the sense to band together for spiritual and political purposes,
first in a group called Gay People in Christian Science (1978-1982) and then
in the New York Christian Science Group (1986- present, http://www.nycsgroup.com).

Members of Gay People in Christian Science (GPICS) had an interview with
Naomi Price (the associate editor who wrote the above-mentioned Sentinel
article on homosexuality) at Annual Meeting in 1974. Here's my best recollection
of what was said:

Mrs. Price: "Good day."

GPICS: "Good day. We're…"

Mrs. Price: "I Know who you are. Please
be seated. You have exactly two minutes."

GPICS: "You can hardly expect us…"

Mrs. Price: " I'm sorry but I have to
appear on the platform tonight."

GPICS: "Miss Price…"

Mrs. Price: "Mrs! "

GPICS: "Well, Mrs. Price we're here about
your editorial on homosexuality in 1972."

Mrs. Price: "Some of my students have
talked to me about it."

GPICS: "We feel it's an assault on Gay
people. Also, its Science is faulty since it recommends following the 'Adam
and Eve' story as a model for human relationships. Mrs. Eddy calls that story
a picture of error throughout."

Mrs. Price: "Well, I'm not a very good
writer, you know. I'm actually a frustrated housewife."

GPICS: "Shouldn't you then get back to
your calling?"

Mrs. Price: "You're being very cruel
to an old woman."

GPICS: "Have you any idea how much cruelty
an article like that unleashes on the church and in the world?"

Mrs. Price: "Now you must leave. As I
said, I have to appear on the platform."

GPICS: (moving towards the door) "Mrs.
Price, since you can't defend your article, will you retract it?"

Mrs. Price: (after a pause) "Not at this
time."

The bizarreness of Mrs. Price's responses has kept us laughing for years.
If you read them with her Edwardian British accent (almost never used in the
UK anymore, but still heard in the colonies) they're even funnier. Bottom
line, I can only conclude she was saying, in a coded way, not to pay attention
to such articles but keep up our work in Science. In fact one of our people
remembers her saying as we left, "Keep up the good work!" I don't
remember that myself but it does confirm my feeling about her intent.

I'm glad the movement is finally coming around a bit and accepting us as
church members. But there's a risk that our stories and healings will continue
to be excluded form our periodicals and testimony meetings. Until that is
corrected, it's wonderful we have Emergence and the local groups where we
can explore our real issues in a supportive environment.

Bob McCullough
New York City