Family, Time, & Tradition by Chris Wogaman

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

My pose for the NOH8 campaign was filled with symbolism both personal and of wider-reach. This pose represents family, time, tradition, my personal and our communal struggle for equality and justice.

I wore around my neck my Great-Grandfather's watch given to him for 30 years of service in 1953. I also wore one of my clerical collars.  My calling is to the ordained ministry in the Lutheran church, the faith into which my Great-Grandfather was baptized on his deathbed.  Yet being openly gay has prevented me from getting a church and being able to wear the collar as an ordained person.

Time, literally entangled around my neck, is therefore represented on at least 3 planes in this image:

1. The time of tradition, weighing physically and metaphorically on my vocation (as it has on many others)
2. The time (4 years) I have been waiting to become a pastor
3. The duration of our movement for Gay and Lesbian rights, which began in America around the time that this watch was presented to my Great-Grandfather.

I never knew my Great-Grandfather, but am proud of his work and love him. I am, along with my father, his namesake.  Our middle name, Elsworth, was his only given name.  Yet past, present, and future meeting in one place on this point is bittersweet.

I have encapsulated this experience in the following poem:

Time Entangles Our Necks
Time entangles our necks,
breathing life and death
past years of pressured peace and silenced dreams.

Great our Grandfathers'
wishes, ambitions for
Their Unseen, a gleam
of semen stretched
through several faltered
Beams of forced omission.

Faith of our fathers,
stopping still
cockblocking their sons,
frockboxing their daughters
behind a god who pressed in law
what certain ancient lawyers saw.

Faith remains, lifeglue,
more than a living,
or escape from dying,
shining too from the
eyes of the future who
know what the sins
of the past could do:
a lasting screw.

If our great grandfathers only knew.
© 2011 Chris Wogaman



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