Monday, November 3, 2008

Hamburg 4.7.1998: Grumpy Jonah, Whales in Hot Pursuit

A good night’s rest, after several poor ones. I feel as if I’ve turned a corner inside, and am now homewards, whereas for much of the trip, I was leaving home.

A dream I had last night makes me feel this, though I don’t know why. In it, I was someplace—my neighborhood, but some version of many neighborhoods—where everyone had prepared skits for a neighborhood festival . . . .

+ + + + +

Dinner last night at Nestor and Ella B.’s. He’s a Filipino student at the Missionsakademie. They had also invited a friend of theirs, another Filipino, Nilo, who is here as a gay partner of a German, Thomas.

Talked much of gay issues. Nilo and Nestor say Hamburg has just enacted legislation to allow foreign partners of gays to reside in Germany. This is good for Hamburg, but will have to be respected elsewhere in Germany.

Nilo says the gay population of Hamburg is 10%, at least 200,000. They’re being courted by various political parties, most of which don’t keep promises to the gay community after being elected.

What’s fascinating is that Nestor, a Baptist pastor, arranged this dinner meeting, and is active in supporting the gay-lesbian cause. He and Nilo and Ella speak of the silence surrounding this issue in Germany, and of the discomfort gays and lesbians experience at the University of Hamburg. Some are instructed by teachers not to speak about their experiences.

Why all this for us, now—from life/God? Somehow, I don’t want the burden of this knowledge, and of any call that might be implied in it. I don’t know what to do with it—don’t see a way to use the knowledge that has been given to me. I just want peace and quiet . . . .

And it surely hasn’t escaped my notice that almost uniformly, all the faculty members I’ve met at the University and the Akademie are intently heterosexist and unwilling to discuss gay issues as issues of justice, when they are passionate about justice in general. It is, in fact, an oppressively heterosexist atmosphere at the university, dominated by married or partnered straight men and the kind of women who fit into their world.

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