Friday, April 05, 2019

60 and 38 years ago today

Today is an anniversary, but one I don’t mention very often: Sixty years ago today I was baptised. By itself, a 60th anniversary could be a reason to mention it, but it’s also the 38th anniversary of the first time I ever did anything to publicly come out. All of which makes today the only truly double-barrel anniversary I have.

I talked about my baptism back in 2009 and said:
…my grandfather baptised me, giving me the wrong name in the process. Baptism didn’t have any legal standing, of course, and the certificate had my correct name, anyway. Since the only legally required item was my birth certificate, I forgot all about my baptism.
As I said in that post, the only reason I remembered the date at all was that I found my baptismal certificate, probably in 1983. I recognised the date as also being the date I did anything publicly to identify myself as a gay person.

Back in 2016, I talked in more detail about the “second baptism” in a post on the 35th anniversary of coming out. I dubbed that my “Outaversary”. The story in that post shows that I wasn’t always the cool, focused, courageous gay dude everyone knows me as today, oh no, I was once very different. In all seriousness, I wasn’t alone in feeling so anxious, having grown up in a time many years before a high school “gay/straight alliance” could be a reality, much less actually was one. From my perspective in 1981, being afraid was a sensible thing to feel, because in that first year of Reagan’s presidency, the world felt very, very frightening for a lot of gay people—especially ones like me that were just beginning to come out.

But something I said back in that 2009 post is particularly relevant:
Fifty years and twenty-eight years later—again, to the very day—it’s clear it was the second event that had the bigger personal effect on me because on that day, in a sense, my parent’s work was completed as I began my own life. On that 1981 day I started to stop being afraid, though I had more work to do.
I went on to become an LGBT+ activist, winning some battles, not winning others. But along the way I found strength and determination I couldn’t have imagined that April day in 1981. A couple years later, when I found that baptismal certificate, I was beginning that career as an LGBT activist. Through it, I developed a personal sense of commitment to make the world a better and safer place so that no kid would ever again have to feel the fear I felt as I creaked open the closet door for the first time. I like to think we may even have succeeded.

So this date, which has two different anniversaries, has always stuck in my mind because of the second—and more important—anniversary. I don’t think that will change, whether I talk about it very often or not, because It’s important to remember where we’ve come from, literally and figuratively. Today is one of those times for me remember. We should all do that.

The photo up top is from my 2009 post; I really need to re-scan that slide some time. The image at the bottom of the post is what I posted to my personal Facebook in 2016, and used in the “Outaversary” post.


rogerogreen said...

Happy anniversaries. You were CUTE!

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Thank you. I still *am* cute, but a bit more broken in now,