Kevin Jennings, who founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group that works tirelessly to assist and support gay-straight alliances at high schools around the country and raise awareness about bullying and harassment, has written a memoir about his own childhood called Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son: A Memoir of Becoming a Man.
Today, Salon interviews Jennings about the atmosphere for gays and lesbians in U.S. schools, homophobia, racism, the closet, and growing up in a Southern Baptist home:
“We were very much taught in the Southern Baptist Church that God was watching what you were doing with whatever gifts you’d been given. And if you didn’t use those gifts to help other people, he was going to remember, and you were gonna pay! There are many, many Bible verses that I would quote but there are two I’ll zero in on. One was my mother’s favorite, the story of the poor widow who put her only coin [into the temple offering box], and Jesus said it was the greatest gift because she gave all she had. And then there’s the famous story where Jesus says, ‘Whatever you’ve done to the least of my brothers you have done unto me.’ So I was also taught to believe that it was how you treated the least valued people in our society that was going to determine your salvation. Those were very positive values I learned from growing up in a fundamentalist home.”
If only some of the fundamentalist wingnuts out there today took that approach to the Bible.
Son of a Preacher Man [salon]