Into the Lion's Den
ⓒ christina starr
Xtra! May 21, 1999
                                                                                                christinastarr.ca
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"With regards to homosexuality and parenting, we believe it is clear in scripture that practising homosexuality is a sin.
          I
m glad this comment is specific that homosexuality is the sin. Id hate to find out at this late date that it’s parenting.  
          Well, perhaps it is in my case. I not only practise homosexuality (actually, I
ve been thinking of turning pro), Im divorced (The Bible also teaches that divorce... is wrong) and I cant say my life has been totally free of lying and stealing (other examples of sin offered by the same person).
          It
s a wonder I havent been visited by any pestilence or plague. The worst flood Ive experienced was a leaking hot water heater last winter.
          Perhaps I
ve been spared because Im not oppressing a whole race of people but just one innocent child. And its so comforting to feel pity for an innocent child that its almost a shame to rescue her.
          Pity is what I don
t want for my daughter, at least not with respect to my homosexuality. Maybe with respect to my cooking or the fact that theres no worn-out high heels to play dress up in. But queerness is something I want her to take strength from, to learn from, or at least be able to use for a racy autobiography when shes older. I like to think of it as an asset not a cause for shame.
          But I doubt the counsellors or directors at Medeba Summer Camp would feel the same, given their perspective on homosexuality, divorce, lying and stealing. I
m sure that if my confident, outgoing, well-adjusted little girl were to go to this camp for a glorious week of canoeing, swimming, campfires and sing-alongs, shed end up being pitied for, as the Camp Director put it in his letter, “her family situation.
          Okay, finding all this out about Medeba Summer Camp is mostly my fault. I had the stupidity to write to a Christian camp and ask them, politely, about their position on homosexuality and their policies for dealing with discriminating behaviour. What was I thinking?
          Well, I guess I was thinking that a Christian camp might have an open door, non-discriminating position on, well, anything that isn
t harmful to other people. My father, who was an Anglican minister, was somehow able to actively promote the acceptance of homosexuality in the church, even before any of us knew there was a saucy little queer lurking in the family. Also, the Medeba brochure is clear that the camps Christian philosophy is not meant to exclude or frighten anyone: God is not forced on anyone. Everyone is welcomed and accepted.
        Besides, the brochure looks fabulous. Smiling campers are pictured hanging off a damp, shining dock, rowing bright kayaks, crawling through mysterious caves and soaring through the air at the end of a braided rope over green-blue lake water. Never mind my kid – I want to go.
          Summer camp brochures aren
t that easy to come by. I havent yet found any clearinghouse for information on whats available for kids in the city, let alone whats available in the out-of-town, stay-away-for-a-week variety. Its kind of hit and miss. So when I found the Medeba brochure and saw my daughters excitement at the possibility of being one of those happy campers, I decided to write them a letter.
          Their response, which I
ve quoted a bit here, was a big disappointment to both of us. Oh, not that Medeba Summer Camps policy is closed door. Oh no. We were assured that the family situation would be not be public information and put downs... would be handled in a mature perspective with the utmost of care. The Camp Director concludes his letter by saying that my daughter would have a wonderful experience at camp and that this is his foremost concern.
          Funny how his reassurances don
t reassure me, though I think my daughter is willing to take him at his word if only for the thrill of letting go of that rope high over the cool, bright water.
          But I can
t send her now. It would be like, oh, whats that story about going into a lions den? Something like that – asking for trouble, going where youre not welcome, where theres a high risk of disaster.
          I suppose if I shared the faith, I would pray that God would protect her, would cloak her with a mighty something to keep her from being devoured by the Christians. But I don
t.
          So she
ll stick close to home for the summers until I can find the camp where I dont have to worry that if she says her moms gay, the noisy dining hall will suddenly fall silent. Where dealing with put downs wont mean telling some earnest little Christian not to make fun of other people even if the Bible says their behaviour, or the behaviour of their mother, is bad. Where my daughter wont find out that her mother, her mothers lovers and most of our close family friends, are sinners. Where everyone is truly welcomed and accepted, even religious bigots.

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Pity is what I don't want for my daughter, at least not with respect to my homosexuality. Maybe with respect to my cooking.