This morning as I emerged from an 11 hour sleep-fest, I had a dream where I told a true story my old college roommate, John Bradley, known to all of us as Dancing John. I met John at the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at City College of NY (CCNY) up in Harlem, NYC. The dream simply reminded me of the story of Dancing John. So I thought I’d share the real life story with you.
The group was Black and Latino and decidedly pentecostal; I was the only non-Black/Latino non=Pentecostal in the group. Turns out our group was one of the only ones in the country with this sort of demographics. Intervarsity was a white Evangelical group (and may still be).
John and I hit it off well although we couldn’t be more different. He loved to dance and shout and carry on when we worshiped. I preferred quiet hymns and even quieter prayers. When I moved to a West Indian neighborhood in the Bronx, John took the second bedroom. We began to attend the same church and much to my surprise, one day during worship, I experienced the Glad Glads, as John called them. Think of Snoopy when he does his crazy dance. That is what the Glad Glads are like.
We graduated. I got married. John lived with us for a short time at one point when he was in the midst of moving. Then we lost touch.
I embraced myself as a gay man in 1999 and that October I traveled to NYC (I still lived in Memphis) and happened to be in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for National Coming Out Day. So much had changed for me, and sitting in one of my old haunts, a Hungarian cafe near The Cathedral of St. John the Divine Church, I wanted to “come-out” to someone.
Who sauntered in but Dancing John himself! We hugged and laughed and caught up. He heard that I had divorced but didn’t know why. So I took a deep breath and said, “Well, John, I am gay.” I expected condemnation, judgment, a sermon, mainly because that is what I would have given someone who came out to me during my Evangelical days.
Instead John laughed and laughed and then he got the Glad Glads. When he finally settled down enough to talk he said, “Brother Peterson, that’s wonderful because I am gay too!”