Today I spent 12 hours traveling cross country with my dad. Before we left, I thought of all the funky things I would have to blog based on the stuff that comes out of my dad’s mouth. But by hour six, I realized that this was a special day, something private just for the two of us.
I’ve learned that some things can be public while others need to be private. For all that I tell my story on stage, in this blog and elsewhere, I don’t share everything. I don’t mention every significant person in my life or each encounter that I have.
This includes aspects of my work. I regularly meet with conservative church leaders, ex-gays, and ex-gay leaders. Almost always we meet privately, and unless we agreed in advance, I do not share details of the meeting or that we even met. When I meet with a pastor of an influential conservative church in the UK, he knows I won’t tell others what we discuss. Same when I contact ex-gay leaders.
These privates meetings give us an opportunity to look at the assumptions we believe about each other. They provide us the chance to explore shared values and issues that often get lost in more public exchange.
I may contact an ex-gay leader with information or a question that I wish to discuss privately. I seek a private conversation to hash it out, to get clarity, talk off the record. When they refuse to have a private conversation, then I may choose to initiate a public one.
This recently happened when Randy Thomas made certain statements on a national radio program. I left a voice message for Randy saying I would like to connect before I write anything public about my concerns. Randy did not respond, so I blogged about it. Once Daniel Gonzales made a video based on my blog entry, Randy responded publicly, defensively.
Of course he wasn’t required to respond to my voicemail. I didn’t have to blog about his words. He didn’t have to defend himself. That’s how it is turning out this time.
Part of non-violent activism consists of compelling the other to come to the table. We sometimes need incentives. I look forward to other chances for private discussions with Randy and others at Exodus. Although less exciting, I prefer them to these public ones.