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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu

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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


12/21/1974
 
9/23/2009


Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]

Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]



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Re: [LS] Childhood career choices



At age 5 I told anyone who asked, and lots who didn't, "I want to be a
doctor in the daytime and a preacher at night."

Likely that was connected to the two people outside my family whom I most
admired, our doctor who lived in the big house on the corner of our block,
and our preacher who lived in tthe big house on the corner of the next block
over.  The preacher and my dad were classmates at college and in the vacant
lots behind our house and in front of his they seplanted a Victory Garden
together -- popular in WW2. (Pearl Harbor upstaged my 5th birthday by 2
days).

Our local Baptist Church was one of 52 in the county, and one of only 2 or 3
that had a pipe organ and played Bach preludes at the Sunday morning
service.  Revivals and their hymns were limited to Sunday night for the
"Youth Service."  No one clapped or shouted at either.

To be classified as a "ministerial student" at Baylor, I had to be "licensed
to preach," usually issued preliminary to ordination. See the license at
http://rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/gallery/baptistlicense.jpg.  It has never been
revoked, and in some states still makes me eligible to perform weddings.
Maybe I should hang out a shingle the next time I am in Texas.

I minored in Religion and in Greek.  Greek was the only class where I
encountered cheating.  It was a requirement of ministerial students, and I
had to cover my exams with my head and my elbows to prevent observation.
"Jesus told us to share, dammit!" one spurned peeker protested.

One day in Greek I had an Epiphany by which I realized that I had been
programmed by my family to be "called to preach," that I could hardly have
chosen Christianity, or the Baptist Church, or my profession as a fully free
choice (we Baptists made much about "free will"), that at age 8 when I was
baptized I could not have known anything at all about most of the choices
open to me.

It felt like a great weight had been lifted.  I did not have to be a
colleague to these cheaters.  I was not bound forever to my "call" to give
my life to "full-time Christian service."

I felt I needed to do something big to mark the revelation, so I decided to
break three major taboos.  I bought a six-pack of beer and a long black
cigar.  I took them to the apartment that two friends shared with me in a
"temporary building" (from old barracks that had survived WW1 and WW2),
opened the beer, lit the cigar, and shouted to the top of my lungs words
that I had never used, "Damn, shit, fuck, hell; damn, shit, fuck, hell;
damn, shit, fuck, hell; damn, shit, fuck, hell; damn, shit, fuck, hell...."

My roommates, both older, rushed from their rooms to see what on earth was
going on and found me gagging on the beer, choking on the cigar, and in a
fit of crying.  I became even more shocked when they asked if I minded if
they finished the cigar and the beer.

Fortunately I was already an English major, a much safer place to be an
atheist to the Baptist god that I was fleeing.

I finished my bachelors and masters and then taught English and Bible in
prep schools for six years.  I did not complete my adolesence until finally
I was able to accept my sexuality.  Initially I took that to be embracing
myself as the criminal the church and society told me that I was.  I fled to
teach in slums of London so that I be a sexual human being.  There if I were
arrested, my family would be less likely to know and be embarrassed.

Sexual encounters abounded and were safest because anonymous.  The Wolfendon
Report to decriminalize prostitution and homosexuality had already passed
for straight prostitutes, and awaited one more year to be enacted for
homosexuals -- the year that I was in London, and cops were not arresting
folks, just clearing the "cottages" saying "move along, girls, move
along....."  Like the then Archbishop of Canterbury (Michael Ramsey), I
joined the Homosexual Law Reform Society (known also as "The Albany Trust"
if you did not want to use the "H" word on your checks), and I joined the
Rockingham Club, a pis-elegant private gay club in the theatre district just
off Shaftsbury.  I remember the taxidermy of pheasants in several glass
cases.

I was not yet whole, nor had I any awareness of that possibility, nor my
lack thereof.  My sexuality was divorced from spirit and intellect.

I returned to the US and entered the doctoral program and taught at the
University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

While in Tuscaloosa, I fell in love with a female.  She knew I was gay
before either of us knew I could have a heterosexual response.  When we told
our gay friends we were to be married, they held a wake for me, but sent the
two of us a box of Valentine's candy to wish us well. She and I were married
for 5 years.  The marriage did not fall apart because of sexuality.  But it
fell completely apart.  We separated in January or February 1973 and The
divorce was official by June 1973. I never thought of myself as
heterosexual, only as a person who loved her.

On Labor Day weekend in 1973.  I was in Atlanta for a 'sex weekend' at the
Lucky Street YMCA.  At about 1 or 2 in the morning, it was love at first
sight when yet another man got off the elevator on the 6th floor.  "Come to
my room, 647, in 10 minutes, to give me time to tidy up," he said.  I knew
he must be a vice-squad cop, but I went anyway. One of the songs he played
the next morning as we woke up was Aretha's "If ever I should leave you, it
wouldn't be winter .... summer .... spring .... or fall."  We've never left
each other.

We courted for 5 months and then used the BCP 1928 (there was no other) to
make the fiersome pledges.  Only three were present, Ernest, myself, and the
Holy Spirit.

My father said six months or so into our marriage, "I have always loved you.
Since you will not be a parent, you cannot understand fatherhood.  I
remember seeing you in the hospital with your foot outside the blanket the
way my foot is outside always, the way my father's foot and his father's
foot.....  I remember first hearing your mother's laugh in your laugh, first
seeing my walk in your walk.

"You have to forgive me.  I cannot understand flesh of my flesh, blood of my
blood relating to a black man as to an equal.  I am a product of my
generation.  But before you met this man, somthing about you was always
tentative, always incomplete.  That's not true now.  I am still not ready to
meet him, but tell him for me that I have to love him, because he gave my
son back to me whole."

It was no accident that at about that time I named a new organization
"Integrity" -- to name what I was experiencing for the first time, to
reclaim what had been violated.  The mother chapter in Chicago named its
magazine "Integer," a 'whole number.'

Neither set of parents could distinguish us when we answered the phone.
Apparently our answering styles are alot alike.  They and we often laughed
about their mistaking one for the other.  About 6 years into our marriage,
when I answered the phone, Dad said, "I'd like to speak to my son please."

"But Dad, this is your son."

"No Louie, I'd like to speak to my other son."

"This one is for you," I said as I handed the phone to Ernest.

Dad told him, "We are Christians, but we haven't been acting like
Christians.  Will you forgive us, and will you come with Louie to visit us
this weekend?......"

They arranged for 15-20 of their clossst friends to drop by at different
times during our visit.

I'm still a Baptist.  The Episcopal Church is the only safe place to be one.
I am still strong on individual choice.  Looking back over 71 years, I
rejoice that at 8 I accepted Jesus as my personal savior.  I rejoice that I
now understand Jesus to be the savior of absolutely everybody. My parents
did indeed program me to have my understandings, just as God loved me even
while I was in Mother's womb.  I remain an atheist ot a God that would
reject creation.

While I enjoyed my 44 years as a teacher, I now see that all of that too was
the "full-time Christian service" to which I was called, as has been the
work with Integrity, with General Convention, with the Diocese of Newark.

I am so enormously blessed.

With apologies to those who have already heard much of this and still read
to this point.

Louie



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