Ten years spent sucking at the dry spiritual dugs of the Episcopal Church have left their mark. Ten years of Lenten Series talks with titles like "The Night I First Realized I Was Gay" or "I Remember The First Night I Realized I was Gay" or "Gayness: My First Night of Self-Realization" have left me wishing I could hold my own seminar. Mine would be entitled, "The Night I First Realized I Was A Conservative". Of course, we'd have to invite different people.
Well, that dream is about to become a cyber-reality. Which is better than regular reality because we're not trapped in an over-heated church basement with a bunch of Episcopalians all admitting to themselvess that really, deep-down, they're gay. Or praying that they don't get tapped to stack all the chairs afterwards.
To get the ball rolling, I'll tell my story. The Night I First Realized I Was Conservative? It was during my freshman year at Princeton. (Humor me and say those last five words with Tony Curtis' version of Cary Grant's accent). I was dating--no, I'm not making this up--a Feminist Zionist. The movie the entertainment committee was shoving at us that weekend was (I think) "Straw Dogs". Attacked by a band of local hooligans, Dustin Hoffman spends the later part of the movie defending his home and, if I remember right, his wife's honor. To accomplish this, Mr. Hoffman uses an assortment of fireplace implements which he brandishes to the accompanyment of an LP of skirling pipes and rolling drums.
I can still recall my date congealing in the chair next to me. The only conscious reaction she allowed herself was a short, sarcastic expulsion of breath. But the picture of a man being, well, a man was clearly gall and wormwood to her. I, on the other hand, was riveted. True, the pipes and drums have seldom failed to stir my blood. On the other hand, what was happening on screen was what pipes and drums are all about: defending your turf. Standing your ground. Never saying die. A vision of the Highland squares breaking Ney's cavalry onslaught at Waterloo rose before me.
As I trudged dorm-wards after saying goodnight, I mused on what sort of philosophy would put itself so squarely against the natural order of things (I'm talking about Feminism, not Zionism). Of course, I still thought Alan Alda was a great actor, that Viet Nam was somehow all Nixon's fault and that people who voted Republican were short a chromosome. But my long trek had begun...