David Cornelius – Mentoring and Support

“If we hadn’t known you . . . ”

[The LGBT Episcopal group] Integrity lasted a long time. It fell apart. Every now and then I get a call from people at the Episcopal Church saying, “We need to start this up again.” I say, “Yeah.” I just don’t tell them, “I don’t go to church anymore.” It was a nice group of people—some pretty unusual, but nice group of people. They were a group of people who joined because they wanted to be supportive, which was very important. You know, there’s no progress made unless there are allies. But to be supportive you need people to support.

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The Pride Center [at Eastern Washington University] had a whole group of gay couples [speak to the students there]. Rick and I were one of them that talked, and I said that we met at Eastern. “[Gasp!] He was a student!” You know, you could see there was just panicked look on their faces. [I told them, “he was] never a communications student. He was an older student returning after being in the Army.” They said, “Alright.” They were still a little doubtful. [Laughs.] I understand that. We would’ve never have let him work it out so he would’ve been one of my students.

[Rick] had been in the Army. Then he came to Eastern but he hadn’t figured out how to come out. That was his way of doing it, was just to go ahead and join the Gay-Straight Alliance. It was very smart then. He also got a lot of good advice from the Campus Christian Center—the chaplain there was very good and counseled a lot of gay people.

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I have a very good friend whose son told him he was gay. They were able to handle it because they knew me. They actually told me, he said, “You know, we wouldn’t have been able to handle it, if we hadn’t known you. It makes it a lot easier.” I said, “Oh. Yeah. That’s good. That’s nice.”

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Right now I sort of have an odd “family.” There are three of us living together. One is because the guy is sick and has no money. He and Rick don’t necessarily get along very well. Not much at all. But, we still sort of make up a unit. That’s very typical.

I’m very close to my [biological] family and like my family, but I don’t want to be surrounded by them. Wherever I go, I create my own set of people who are more like family [to] be surrounded by. But I get to pick in that case: you don’t get to pick your [biological] family. [Laughs.]

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Sources: Interviews with Laura S. Hodgman on 15 November 2012 and 6 May 2014; transcribed by J. Zander; edited by Laura S. Hodgman.