Chapter Ten Installment Twenty-Three
Albert sat in his office looking at a clock watching time go by, but he thought it best to think of something else. Albert found no relief from anxiety he felt, regardless what he did or didn’t do and knew looking at a clock made it worse. Sometimes the office assistant came in his study. Sometimes she knew to leave him alone.
Lately, it became harder for him because he knew he would soon have to talk to his bishop about his future. Albert would soon have to tell his bishop about his upcoming divorce because it came down to divorce after Alice found out he was gay. They could not hide that they were separated much longer. It would be impossible to explain Alice’s absences. “Where is your wife?” “Where is Alice,” his bishop would surely ask.
Later, Albert decided to go to his bishop himself before his bishop found out from someone else. The bishop was his pastor. The bishop was suppose to be his pastor, which meant Albert had to go to him with his problems, and Albert definitely had problems now. And indeed he had big problems.
Albert tried to avoid going. He put it off as long as he could and tried to make an excuse, but it was hard to make an excuse when his bishop expected to see him on a regular bases. The bishop expected Albert to report to him because the bishop was Albert’s boss. The bishop, Albert concluded, had to be told. Or would eventually find out anyway.
Albert had never such a dilemma before, and now he saw his world turned upside down. He saw what being gay could mean to his career as a Methodist minister, a career he knew and loved. From an early age he knew he would become a minister. Albert knew it after he heard the voice of God. Albert felt called to the ministry after he heard the voice of God, and it was now in jeopardy. It was something he knew. It was something he dreaded. It was something he hated, something he hated about being gay. And it made him angry, very angry. He didn’t ask to be gay. He was happy to be gay, but the circumstances made him angry. And it something he now couldn’t avoid, so he needed to stop looking at the clock.
Sometimes Albert would think that it wouldn’t make a difference. Sometimes Albert thought, hoped, that it wouldn’t make a difference that he was gay to his congregation as a whole. He hoped most people would accept him for who he was. He hoped, prayed about it. He prayed every day. He realized how it effected his marriage. He expected as much, but marriage … being married to a gay man was different. It was an impossible situation. And Albert understood why it was it was impossible for Alice. I was impossible for him. And not only that, but how effective Alice handled circumstances that were very painful.
They grew up in a world where gays were ridiculed. They grew up in a church that didn’t accept gay people, and Albert knew he served a church that did not fully accept gay people, and Albert knew Alice was disappointed, disillusioned, and devastated. How in the world then could she face people of their church? He could he face them? How could Albert stand in the pulpit and face them Sunday after Sunday, week after week. He would have to let them know he was gay. He did not regret being gay, but now he was faced with a dilemma, perhaps the biggest dilemma of his life (no, the second dilemma: the biggest was facing Alice). Now on his own he had to fend for himself. His mother, his father, his sisters were shocked, yet they tried to understand, but there was no way they could. They wouldn’t come close to understanding until he came out of the closet. There was no one who understood except for Buddy.
Although he still loved Alice, he was now glad they were separated. To Buddy Albert never hid that he was glad. They talked about it, and Albert didn’t hide it. They talked about many things. They talked and talked, talked about many things. They shared everything. So Albert shared his dilemma, about having to face his bishop. He sounded down. This is an understatement. He felt wretched. His eyes and voice said it all. Buddy could see it before he said a word, but Buddy knew there wasn’t much he could do for his friend.
Albert, far from being helpless as he first felt, knew he could face the bishop with truth. He assumed the bishop knew part of the truth. He would know … surely he would know about the separation, surely. There was no way for him not to know. He would’ve heard rumors. Someone from Albert’s congregation would’ve told him.
“What the heck could I have done about it?” Albert asked Buddy while they were talking about the situation. “I’m not going to continue to live a double life.”
“I don’t see how you could, really … Buddy laughed, as exasperated as Albert was then. He would never figure out how they came to be that way.
“It’s not you Albert. It’s hard to explain, really. I never said I was gay. I never had to say I was gay. I was always gay and never had to admit it to anyone. Oh, my parents … yes, my parents worried about it. My father gave up and walked away. Mother was never convinced when there was never any reason why she shouldn’t be. Going to them didn’t mean anything. It didn’t change anything. It didn’t change a thing. So calling me gay didn’t mean anything than the obvious. Everyone knew.”
“Yes, you did.”
“That was because of where we met.”
Shortly after that Albert went to his bishop. Then he left, left without a decision. It was almost uneventful. His bishop simply responded by saying he would have think about what Albert told him and pray: THERE WERE NO OPENLY GAY MINISTERS IN THE METHODIST CHURCH THEN. And a week later, Albert began moving a few personal belongings out of his church office.
Albert thought it was kind of strange but he didn’t recall any specifics about his conversation with his bishop other than his confession. Yes, it felt like a confession when Albert knew it shouldn’t have. All he remembered was that he felt trapped in the bishop’s office.