The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay and partnered Bishop in historic Christianity, gave the homily at today’s Ally Week Chapel, culminating a week of activities promoting solidarity with LGBTQIA+ students.
Bishop Robinson, who made history when he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, is a recognized voice on issues of civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people; antiracism; and AIDS education. In October 2018, Bishop Robinson presided at the interment of the ashes of Matthew Shepard at Washington National Cathedral.
During the homily, Robinson emphasized that students can change the world by choosing to be allies.
“Ultimately, it’s about the kind of person you want to be,” Robinson said. “What I can tell you, as a person who has been advocated for, is there is nothing more wonderful than to know somebody who had no stake in it whatsoever, other than the fact that you are a human being, stood up for you and spoke in places and to people you couldn’t speak.
“You probably won’t ever be called on to give your life for them, but you are called on, I think, to take a risk for them. Stand up for them, and let them know you respect them, you hold them in high regard, and you’re willing to put yourself on the line for them.”
Following the service, Robinson engaged in conversation with Middle and Upper School students on topics ranging from the bible’s perspective on homosexuality to the challenge of coming out to loved ones.
Peter Bronson ’20 said he was inspired by Robinson’s resilience and self-expression.
“When you look at somebody who has gone through so many challenges, so much adversity, all the people who disagree with him, you realize whatever you face, whatever you’re going through, there’s always a way to overcome it,” Peter said. “Living your life, being yourself is better than putting on something that you’re not. At the end of the day you are your best self.”
Audrey Quint ’22 said Robinson gave her hope for those who have lost their faith as they struggled with adversity.
“It’s really lovely to see someone who has gone through these hardships and still retain their faith,” Audrey said. “It gives me hope that for other people it’s a possibility.”
Upper School teacher Joan Kowalik said Robinson motivated her to remain intentional about expressing her identity at St. Andrew’s.
“He made me recognize what an impact being my own authentic, true self can have on young kids today,” she said. “I always say ‘my wife’ and tell stories to my classes about my wife, and I just want people to be able to normalize it and have role models that I didn’t have.”