As the day of the letter drop drew near, there was a very strong feeling growing in me, a certain momentum, a sense that I was involved in something huge. Despite my own divergence from the Christian path, our online community had put me in touch with like-minded people, from Wheaton College, no less. Despite our diverse places of faith (and not-faith), we were working out how to focus on the things we had in common while affirming our differences, rather than having any need to define any kind of party-line. I felt less alone than I had in years, and I’m not even gay.
The reality of being a stay home dad in Nebraska meant that I hadn’t really given any serious consideration to driving up to Wheaton. And yet, as that Thursday unfolded, internet enthusiasm building, I knew that I had to find a way to physically take part, to join with these amazing people from the beginning. It wasn’t about any kind of homosexual agenda, it was about taking a stand for what I had somehow always known to be right. You are not tragic. You are to be affirmed and celebrated. No matter what.
I called my wife at work that afternoon, and she made last minute arrangements to take Friday off; she had been reading posts over my shoulder and knew how important it was for me to be there. I drove all night, slept a couple hours on my sister’s couch in the city, and we all met up with the freshly minted stack of letters. The rest of the day, I was high on too little sleep and too much emotion. We came out on campus to smiling Wheaties, and I even got a hug from one who had known we were coming. We regrouped, took pictures, signed a T-shirt, went out to lunch, and we told each other our stories. Authentically. I had a sense that we all knew that our shared joy was far less about that we had accomplished something with some handout, but so much more a celebration that we had all finally found each other.
Since that day a year ago, my involvement with 1W has continued to be a source of encouragement to me to affirm that which is genuine in myself as well as those around me. These people help me remember that each one of our stories are worth telling, and that we especially need to hear those stories when they contradict our pre-conceived notions, whether those be of sexuality, ideology, or faith. By having room for others to live their journey, we can more fully embrace our own.