Friday, January 01, 2010
Kevin Jennings, Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar,” is proud of his anger. We’ve already noted his membership in that very angry group, ACT/UP (and his recent funding of a pornographic exhibit celebrating ACT/UP at Harvard). So it's not surprising that he wrote of his profound anger at that time in his memoir, Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son (2006).
Jennings reprints his last chapel talk at the private school where he taught through 1993 (Concord Academy):
I tried witnessing one last time to help them [the students] understand what the world looked like from where I sat [as homosexual]. “This, most likely, is my last chapel, as my life’s course will soon be taking me out of the Boston area. I decided I would speak to you about an emotion with which I have often been closely associated during my years hear. That emotion is anger. ‘I know the anger that lies inside me like I know the beat of my heart and the taste of my spit. It is easier to be angry than to hurt…. It is easier to be furious than to be yearning.’ When I first heard these words, written by the black lesbian poet Audre Lorde, I experienced a shock of recognition. Anger is an emotion I experience daily as a gay man in a homophobic society…. [Re: the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘with liberty and justice for all’] I became angry as I came to understand that those words were not true, and I plan to stay angry until that pledge is fulfilled.” (pp. 207-208)
He also wrote of the effect a youth’s suicide on him, as he was taking his group GLSEN national (in the mid-1990s). He fantasized about water torture for anyone who disagreed with his plan to “queer” the schools:
“I started thinking that I needed to view every lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender child as if they [sic] were my children and fight for them as ferociously as parents like Leslie [the mother of a boy who had committed suicide] had fought for theirs. This responsibility made me want to grab by the throat every timid administrator, every equivocating school board member, all of whom did nothing, and hold their heads under water until they begged for mercy and promised they’d protect my kids. I lost my patience for their excuses because of Robbie [the boy who had committed suicide]. (p. 224; emphasis in original)