“Navy Blue?” I thought to myself. “Thats the wrong color. Nuns are supposed to wear black.”
Sister Barbara Rose stood in front of me, quickly tapping the heel of her flat soled shoe against the weathered tile floor of the classroom. They needed to replace that floor. There were chips, and missing pieces. What would that say to our parents on Open House Night? It would speak to my Mom’s already worried mind that a Private Catholic School wasn’t the place for me. The floors weren’t good, that must mean they’re low on money. They shouldnt be trusted with my education.
“BEAU!” She blasted.
How that voice came from a 98 pound Nun is still beyond me.
“Im sorry.” I murmured.
“I’m sorry for disrupting the class with my interpretation of why I think Captain VonTrapp is handsome.”
She turned, walked back to the television, and turned The Sound of Music back on. I had been waiting to watch this movie for weeks! Why did I have to open my big mouth I thought. I sighed to myself. These 4th grade catholics could never understand me. I need something different. An art school, a charter school. Somewhere where my interpretations of The Sound of Music can truly be appreciated.
Years later now, I look back on the woman in the navy blue habit. She was firm, often mean, and always prepared to put me in line. Her habit was the wrong color, but I learned to accept that. She was tiny, petite, and had a frail appearance. But somehow, she was her own powerhouse. In that Catholic-tight-fisted kind of way. And she impacted me.
As I grew up, I realized that the one year I spent in Catholic school showed me a side of the fence that I didnt want to sit on. But, by learning about why I didnt want to be there, I also learned why everyone else did want to be there. They found security and confidence in being on that side of the fence. They were comfortable building their cottages and their lives to someone else’s code. It made them believe in the illusions and the realities of being in a community and being a part of a greater goal.
My seat in that crowd has long been taken away, or did I give it away? Regardless of what happened, I am grateful for my skinny, loud Nun. She taught me about reform and standing behind your true self. Regardless of who you are or where you come from. Even now, a decade later, after being openly gay in the public eye, and having my share of attention for it, I still exchange letters with that woman. And what does she tell me? That she hopes, above all else, that I am happy, because that is the most valuable thing in life. That’s right, she doesnt tell me my life is a mistake, or that God doesnt love me. She tells me she is proud of me, thinks of me often, and hopes I am happy. And I feel the same for her.
That is pure acceptance.