Good afternoon, peeps - hope all is well on your end - as promised yesterday, I'm going over the last few weeks of Bingo from last summer - because my OCD is flaring up and I have to get closer on this and the only way to do that is to finish posting pics. So, thanks for indulging me.
Did you know that I very nearly became a minister? After high school, I went to a Lutheran college and spent several summers working as a camp counselor and director at a Lutheran camp where kids stayed over night for a week. I was so taken with being a minister that I seriously considered it as a life's profession. But, realizing that I am gay kind of put the kibosh on that - at least at that time (the mid 80s) it was tough to be openly gay and work in the church and it wasn't like I had the support of my bio family for me to lean in when things would get tough through seminary and then beyond.
I might have toughed it out anyway if it hadn't been for the wise counsel of a gay friendly minister whose church I went to when I studied in London in autumn 1986 - he was very kind and suggested that figuring myself out was the priority and the ministry would come when I was ready. I think that he was correct in recommending this. And as it turns out, I ended up not only doing a lot of ministerial things (fundraising and performing weddings -- and if you're being snarky - playing bingo) but doing them because I am gay. But, even at this late part of my life, I could see pursuing the ministry again. Not sure what form that would take going forward but it's been something to think about certainly in this time of transition.
So it was with great joy that on July 1, 2015 we were able to raise funds for the Naming Project, a Christian group that hosts an annual week-long camp experience for LGBT and questioning youth in the wilds of upstate Minnesota. "My Gay Roommate" star Noam Ash joined us as the featured guest and we were able to get him in his underwear and do an auction to raise a bit of extra cash. And, if you think Noam is a delight on his show, meet him in person and try not to fall head over heels for this sexy, sweet young man, go ahead, try, I dare you.
Throughout the evening, we raised a few hundred for the camp thanks, in part, due to a very generous matching donation by one of our regular supporters (thank you Erica!).
And yes, I get tremendous satisfaction knowing that we've been able to send the producers of the camp back with a fistful of cash, but what came in the mail later on in the summer was even more satisfying - it was a handwritten note, addressed to me from one of the campers following the week:
"My name is Juliet and I'm a camper at the Naming Project. I'd like to thank you for your donation because camp has been one of the happiest places in my life. This is my second year, and both times I have been blessed to grow in my faith and self acceptance. Whether I'm doing morning yoga or singing around the campfire, I have felt the enlightening presence of the Holy Spirit working through me to live my life with open and generous arms. Your own generosity is what has made this happen, and I am so very grateful.
Raising funds is extremely important, but raising spirits is even better. And providing a safe space for LGBT youth to find each other... priceless. The work that the Naming Project is doing is exactly the kind of work that I would love to be doing myself - making a real difference in the lives of young souls making their way out into the world. It is especially important in these troubled times when it feels like at any moment, the gains we've all fought for for decades could be reversed with a simply GOP majority in government (I can't tell how much of the gay baiting in the Presidential run is actual intention of policy and how much of it is trolling for votes... either way, we should all take it seriously).
Anyway, you can click here for pictures from the night - just a few to give you a taste so that you feel that you were kinda sorta there. And if you're so inclined to help further the mission of the Naming Project, go to their site.
Best to you and check in with you tomorrow!