Thanks, Kendra Arsenaux.
I listened to the first edition of your podcast, and have a number of thoughts. I also have a response to your episode’s thesis question.
• First, I’m sorry you were assaulted. I despise any male who takes, as I perceive you mean, sexual advantage of any female. I never think such people should be shielded, or protected. I also believe you. I believe you had to make a series of detrimental and debilitating decisions about how to continue with your life. All of this needs to change into something more just for the victims, and more punitive for the victimizers.
• I think it’s important this podcast is happening, and I’m glad you — from an incomplete, third-person perspective like mine — bounced back so quickly to do it.
I also think it’s important a non-white person is leading this conversation. I suspect, to a great degree, a more nuanced discourse may be possible because of this, if people do not resist it. By people, I also mean you.
• I think the promotional artwork you’ve used is gorgeous; beaux-arts and luxe. I have a big problem with the podcast title. I suspect you’ve anticipated this and it may not matter to you.
• Because you experienced the traumatic experience of being fired as you were, and because it’s so recent, I’m not sure your statements about the incident and its outcome are ones to which a distant observer, like me, can meaningfully counter-respond.
You’ve brought it up in the podcast, which means, technically, it’s fair game for discussion. But the way you speak about it suggests you, being a fair person, would probably admit you are not, and perhaps never could be, in a place to address it impartially. This is reasonable. Certainly, you’re entitled to your feelings about your experience.
However, this incident has now become a chapter in the history of LGBTQIA issues within the SDA Church, and activism in this context; at the very least, a significant example of a reporter becoming part of the story, and/or, arguably, even objectively, injecting themselves into it. I suspect you, and/or others, may disagree with this qualification of the narrative. I’d be willing to have the talk.
In any event, if you ever do a podcast where you examine the story of Advent Next, the three episodes they took down, your coming out, your firing, and the aftermath, perhaps I, or people like me, will be able to correspond about this matter, then.
• To your thesis inquiry:
“Is it safe for someone to come out to you? In your church? Why, or why not?”
I cannot see how one would be able to answer this question. It’s akin to asking a white person, “Are you racist?” Ninety-seven times out of a hundred, the answer will be a Trumpian, “I am the least racist person you’ve ever encountered.” It’s like asking a person if they smell funny.
Only LGBTQ+ people in my church, or who know me, can answer this. In fact, the only way I could meaningfully respond to your question is by asking, “What do you mean by ‘come out’?” When one thinks about it, this is exactly where the issue rests for the church.
At one point, “coming out,” to a would-be receiver of said information, meant hearing someone say they were gay, then responding equanimously, with the implicit agreement not to bait, harm, or otherwise mistreat them, then, or at a future time.
Today, the act of “coming out” includes the same, but may also arrive with a panoply of distinct sexual preferences and expressions, plus a world of additional ontological commitments; some to which I might accede, others of which I’d consider nonsensical.
By the response I’ve just given, my guess is most LGBTQ people reading this will look at your query, then point at me and say, “Hell no.”
I’d accept this on its face. But I’d also suggest the exchange is still valuable, if only as a partial model of the larger issue: We are still talking past each other. To a great extent, I suspect this is a fundamental, and perhaps indelible, quality of the debate.