mary

A dance where the steps keep changing

In Love on June 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm

A Dance Where the Steps Keep Changing

Eronica King A Dance Where the Steps Keep Changing As a kid, I always approached the first day of school with much angst.  Not so much the fear of a new teacher or classmates, but rather knowing that this new teacher is going to mess up my name. I knew that we were going to engage in a dialogue of me pronouncing my name, then the teacher mispronouncing my name, and finally me settling on the mispronunciation that most closely resembled my name always created a high level of anxiety and shame for me.  Fast forward to today.  I still have much angst when meeting people and trying to make friends.  It’s no longer my name, well at least not initially, but rather my sexuality and gender identity.  The conversation usually goes: Person: What do you do? Me: I work in a hospital. Person: Doing what? Me: I’m a chaplain. Person: Chaplain? What’s that? Me: It’s a minister or priest that works in a hospital instead of a church. Person: You are a minister?  But I thought you were…. Me: I am Person: How does THAT work? The answer I would like to give is slowly, painfully, full of anxiety and fear, and sometimes not at all.  But, I usually say, “It just does.”  However, “It just does” rarely suffices and what follows is a conversation that makes me uncomfortable and frustrated. This is mostly because these are questions that I am currently struggling to answer.  It is also frustrating because of the dynamics of chaplaincy and working in a hospital setting.  At some point in the conversation, the question “Are you out?” will arise.  This is such a simple question that has such a complicated answer. In my personal life, it’s all rainbows and skittles. Well, that’s not entirely true. My LGBT friends wonder how I can not only embrace Christianity but also be a purveyor of it. They want me to be an out gay, but a closeted Christian.  At work, I am out to my supervisor and department, but not outside of that.  Were you to ask any nurse in my clinical areas, I’m sure they would venture to take a guess, but could not speak with any certainty.  At work, it’s okay to be an out Christian, but I must be a closeted gay. I understand the value of the closet.  I do.  Even in 2012, there are myths and misconceptions about what it means to be gay or lesbian.  Being a gay or lesbian chaplain or minister in some denominations is career or vocation suicide. Just as some people hide being Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or Mormon, we hide our sexuality or face personal and professional persecution.  The closet provides a means of protection.  It is a way for us to have a sense of safety, despite the pain of denying who we are. As I strive to be my authentic self, I have come to understand that I don’t have to be all out, all the time.  Yes, I am a lesbian, but I am also so many other things.  I am more than my sexuality and I am striving to not let my sexuality become more than me. Yet, more often than I care to admit, my sexuality becomes bigger than me. Do I use the women’s bathroom or the unisex one?  When a patient comes out to me, should I in turn come out to them?  Do I out myself to a patient when I know they need an LGBT advocate?  Do I introduce myself as Eronica or Roni? This often feels like a dance where the steps keep changing and any misstep could be a landmine. Just because a person identifies as LGBT, doesn’t mean that a person is comfortable with an LGBT chaplain.  The patient may not be out to family and may fear that my presence will “out” them. The implications of the LGBT label are far and wide.  People have lost friends and family after coming out.  There are companies that can, and will, fire LGBT persons.  Protection for LGBT persons varies by state and often falls short of the needs of the community. I struggle with my attire. As a masculine of center woman, can I wear ties to work?  Should I even ask if that is an option for me?  How do I explain to my LGBT friends the importance of my religion to me when it’s people in my line of work telling them that they are damned?  Long gone are the days of trying to get a teacher to say my name properly. They have been replaced with days of me trying to balance the rainbow and the cross. CPE has helped me to understand my questions and to ask more questions.  What does it mean to form a pastoral role that is congruent with my personhood when my personhood is under so much scrutiny?  I have learned that at the end of the day it’s up to me to decide.  I can either offer the best pastoral care I can or get hung up on my own stuff.  Self-supervision is so important because I have found myself getting excited when I see LGBT couples.  CPE has encouraged me to ask myself the “why” question and to stop and wait for an answer. I don’t think my issues will soon be resolved.  I have to be confident enough in myself as a pastoral care provider to know that I am doing good work and nothing else matters.  As I form a deeper understanding within myself, I find that I am forming deeper connections with my patients.

the author is an amazing Eronica and I want to give all credits to Her for writing and sharing on line this

May You Veronica and Your Kay be blessed where ever You go!

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