[Square & Compasses]    

Letter of the month: July 2006

[This brother has given permission for this letter to be posted online, but has requested that his name be omitted, as a courtesy to the brethren of his own lodge.]

From: "A Brother"
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: even more mail than you might have imagined, he said, smiling
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2006 21:39:21 -0600

My Brother,

Your expectation of extensive input regarding July's letter will be exceeded several times. You know that an off-stage conversation among some of the Craft is in progress. As I have frontline experience in this regard I'll tell my story and leave it to you whether you post any comments on your site or provide my letter and contact information to the young Brother who wrote you.

I'm in my fifties and a relative newcomer to Freemasonry. I joined a local Lodge and provided regular service in the Steward's chairs, then served as JD and SD. During my SD year I became aware that some of the old guard were trading stories about my sexual orientation and circulating doubts about my move to the South. Since my coming out and related political activism were decades past I wasn't interested in re-fighting any battles. I informed the Secretary that I would not stand for JW nor serve if elected. That Lodge lost out on my considerable skills in the kitchen and my much-lauded ability at ceremonial work. I did not leave the Lodge; I became a perpetual member.

In the course of my ritual work with half-a-dozen Lodges I met a new Lodge, and after three meetings the Brethren there made it clear to me that they wanted me as a member. Their Masonic spirit and Brotherly Love made the choice clear. Not long thereafter they asked me to stand for the South.

I delayed a bit. When the time for decision came I took the WM and SW into a private place and told them the story above. They did not hesitate; they didn't blink. One shared that someone beloved had died of AIDS. They told me that a Brother had informed them that I needed a new home and that they would be missing a bet if they did not do whatever was in their power to provide that home for me.

I'm sure who that Brother was: old guard, new heart. Today I am JW and expect to reach the East.

We all know a Brother who harbors some prejudice from decades past. The distasteful odor associated with the exclusion of Prince Hall Masons still lingers to a greater or lesser degree depending on where you stand. I've seen young Master Masons fall away because the North didn't care for their new clothing, ideas, tattoos, or (horrors!) piercings.

Let me be blunt; most of the men who are trapped in the outmoded thinking of the past are dying. I do not hasten their departure, and I will perform their Memorial Service with a compassionate heart, even if they whispered their disrespect for me in a place where they thought the words would never reach me.

We are Freemasons. We are bigger than that.

I would never encourage this young Master to wave the bloody shirt. His concern about the GM election is a serious complication and your advice on weighing the alternatives is solid. I encourage the young Master to consider the possibility that he and I as gay Masons can help lead the Craft to even more Light. We so desperately need to welcome new men and their new understandings if we are to continue our Journey to the East. The heart of Masonry will endure; the dross of passing foolishness and opinion will fall away.

Here is one truly personal moment for him. If that close relative harbors prejudice (he didn't say he does, perhaps others close by do) he must come to peace with it and move on.

Life is short. We are headed for the house not made with hands. My father, an honored and longtime Mason, didn't accept me in that regard. I've soothed myself by proving that I can do the labor.

Thank you for your site. Every time the topic of Masonic inquiry comes up I strongly urge a visit to your much-appreciated labor of love. I've not found another site that comes close.

I remain Your Faithful Servant,

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