Amid Obstacles, Gay Bishop Recounts Optimism, Success
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 03:11
Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, spoke in McNeir Auditorium after a screening of the documentary “Love Free or Die” Tuesday night.
The Georgetown University Lecture Fund sponsored the event in conjunction with the LGBTQ Resource Center.
“Love Free or Die,” a winner of a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, details Robinson’s efforts to continue his ministry in the face of sometimes violent opposition.
The Archbishop of Canterbury prohibited Robinson from attending the Lambeth Conference —a decennial meeting of bishops — in 2008 on the grounds that his presence would equate to Anglican acceptance of homosexuality. Robinson said he has received numerous death threats since his election as bishop in 2003 and continues to face dissent from within the Episcopal Church.
“I think the depth of the resistance is astounding and very complex,” Robinson said.
Nonetheless, Robinson said he believes the Episcopal Church is making strides toward acceptance of homosexual members. In 2009, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church allowed gay people in all levels of church leadership.
“Twenty years ago, most people said they didn’t know anyone gay. Now is there anyone left to say that?” Robinson said. “People are increasingly unwilling to believe what they have been told about gay people because they know gay people in their own lives.”
Mary Glasspool, the first openly lesbian bishop in the Episcopal Church, was elected in 2010. Robinson subsequently decided to retire at the end of this year.
“I wasn’t going to leave as long as I was the only gay bishop there,” he said.
In January, he will be moving to Washington, D.C., to take a position as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.
Josh Donovan (COL ’13), who is writing his senior thesis on a related topic, was similarly inspired.
“I thought he gave a really succinct overview of what is going on in a lot of progressive churches,” Donovan said. “I think watching some of the event in the video on not a thesis level but a personal level … was very compelling.”