first person

The Bus Stops Here: Driver Tells Teen His Gay Dads Will Go To Hell

IC_BE_First_Student_L50My husband and I live with our twin sons in rural New Jersey — the garden of the Garden State. We moved there shortly after we adopted them in 2001.  We don’t live in the mythic “gay community.” We live in a community. A fully integrated community. We attend the kids’ sporting events, drive the kids to and from basically everywhere a teenager would need to go (indeed the ol’ “sometimes I feel like I’m running a car service” applies). I’ve even ascended through the cutthroat ranks to become president of the PTA. Along the way, my husband and I have needed to constantly educate other non-LGBT people around us about our family, and we are happy to do it — to better the lives of our children.

We may not be throwing bottles and bricks in a bar in Greenwich Village, but we are on our own front line advocating for change right here, in suburban America.  Simple, small battles, year after year, like meeting with the superintendent ensuring all school forms from our district read “Parent and Parent” and not “Mother and Father.” Teaching that we should say “Class Parent” instead of “Class Mom” (which we’ve learned can be equally as offensive to women in a “women belong in the kitchen” kind of way). We constantly take pause before introducing each other as “husband.” How will it be received by our neighbors? — Always the ten-second feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach as we “educate” and “integrate” our family into the community around us.

gay-family2Just this week our 15-year-old son’s bus driver was listening to her “Christian” radio station while driving the school bus, giving him religious propaganda — in the form of a comic book — with Jesus as Superman and the rest of us poor citizens of Gotham living a dark dreary life until we accept the Man of Steel as our Lord and savior.  Why has she taken it upon herself to volunteer this information? He already subscribes to all the teenage angst: attempting to fit in, questioning his parents’ beliefs and doubting his self confidence. As my son listened to the religious Sermon on the Mount…or rather the Sermon on the Bus, he discussed with the driver that he had two fathers. She imparted her wisdom unto him; she doesn’t have a problem with homosexuals, but “they are not blessed, and they will go to hell.”

So now it’s bus drivers who get to decide who goes through the pearly gates and who burns in a fiery doomed eternity?

I always find it helpful to apply the little substitution litmus test. Sub in “African-American,” “Jewish people,” or even “Bus Drivers”: “I don’t have a problem with the Bus Drivers, but they are not blessed, and they will go to hell!”

So again — I had to “rouse rabble,” teach and advocate for change. Our son’s bus driver has been swapped out, and she was given a slap on the wrist.  The very kind and helpful woman from the bus company told us, “She is not to listen to religious programming on the bus, discuss her religious views or talk about people’s lifestyle.” 

Lifestyle?

Next battle: Umm, It’s not a “lifestyle.” It’s not some choice like jetting off to Napa (maybe we have), baking like Martha Stewart (possibly we do) or keeping a regular yoga practice (definitely guilty).  But I’ll save that “opportunity to teach” for next week.

I am a lapsed damaged Catholic. I was raised Catholic:  Sunday School, Stations of the Cross, altar boy.  At 14, when I mentioned to my pastor that I was having certain strong feelings (it was way more than feelings, but I only told him it was “feelings”) about men, he told me not to worry. “You’re just starting high school. This can be normal at this age.  If you were starting college, then we might consider it a problem.”  Dear Father Herhenreader, it’s 30 years later, and I’ve still got what you would call a “problem.”

So, all my seasoned Catholic angst was twirling in my head when last week Santa Claus came to town in the form of Pope Santa Francisco. All through Pope week, with all of the good will he earned, I kept thinking — “but what about the church’s views on gays?” Then I was wooed. I let the pope woo me. I let him in. Wooed by the Fiat. Wooed by the words on climate change. Wooed by the English (it’s not his first language, you know?). It was a positive Pope week. I even found myself saying out loud that he was the best thing to ever happen to the Catholic church — and he may indeed be.

popeBut then came the news of the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis.  Then came the news that the Pope didn’t know who Kim Davis was. Then came the news that the Pope may or may not have known it was Kim Davis, in the library with the candlestick. The meeting might seem like a small issue to many.  To me it is not. At all.  Pope Francis was so incredibly politically savvy with all of his other choices on this trip. Every move he made was to send a particular, specific message — whether it was defending immigration, helping the poor, or compassion for prisoners.

I have seen friends online celebrating the fact that the church said just because the Pope met with Kim Davis, does not mean he endorses her viewpoint. It’s all incidental. The damage is done. He met with her.  Whether for a minute or an hour, private meeting or in a receiving line. Whether he said “be strong” or “Who are you?,” shook her hand or canonized her, he met with her and that simple action implicates him and those he chooses to surround himself with.  It was a homophobic act that emboldens people like Kim Davis and paves the way for more to discriminate — like my son’s bus driver!  What’s a more powerful way to fuel someone’s fire to discriminate then to make them believe they have God on their side?

No matter how much the church tries to distance themselves from this event, it actually begins to get ridiculous. How much homophobia are we willing to accept from the Pope and his church? What percentage is acceptable? How’s about none? None-percent? None is acceptable. Let’s start there.

LGBT people and our families cannot allow the Catholic church to willingly escort us to the back of the bus as second-class citizens. “Love the sinner, but not the sin” is not even a little bit acceptable. It also makes it difficult for me to make the kids clean up their rooms when the Catholic church is telling them they won’t see me in the afterlife.

And to anyone — whether a Pope, bus driver, butcher, baker or candlestick maker — who wants to begin a conversation where I or my family are second class citizens, My inner Dad voice says “go fuck yourself,” then I remember: this is an “opportunity to teach” right here. Pull this bus over. 

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63 Comments

  • Nick Guida

    Guess Kim Davis got a new job

  • Jim McHardy

    The bus driver needs to be reported he is a real bigot and obviously non Christian

  • Sidney Johnson

    Man that is sick that Bus driver should be horsed whipped for hurting a child

  • Ronald Wei

    And the bus driver gave no thought whatsoever to how that must make the child feel. She must be judging that child as less than all the other children. By definition, all bigots take the teachings of Jesus Christ and throw them in the cess pool.

  • Douglas Schlitz

    If this is a public school she is breaking the law by promoting religious beliefs while on the job.

  • Xzamilio

    I love this story!!

    But I’m gonna call BS on the stance of the Pope… he’s a lot of things for a lot of people, but dude ain’t once expressed acceptance of homosexuality, no matter how many times people like to take that “Who am I to judge?” line and run with it. The man is just one in a long line of popes who doesn’t believe homosexuals deserve the same kind of acceptance as others. And that was apparent long before Kim Davis, so I’m not seeing how it’s suddenly shocking.

  • Will Glitzern

    My partner and I live in the suburbs, too, but in Texas. So I really feel your pain. I hear other people at work discussing religion, but it’s against my personal policy. I wish employers would ask people to keep their religious views to themselves, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Jeffrey Morgan

    Who is going to tell her that Superman lives in Metropolis, not Gotham?

  • Lael Galaviz

    Why would you do that to the poor child, obviously she is being loved and taken care of, she is getting all she needs, did she choose what her parents are? No so this bus driver doesn’t need to do that, it would be the the if someone told this bus driver kids that their parent is a hater and a bigot, that still not the kids fault. Ugh .

  • Rimmington

    I will pay for her trip to Folsom Street Fair next year for sensitivity training.

  • John Dobie

    Disgraceful behaviour, you don’t do that to kids….and btw the Pope is a total asshole too.

  • Lvng1Tor

    I really enjoyed this.

  • William J. Jacobson

    Prejudiced homophobic morons. Usually religious fanatics, too. Who cares who’s gay?

  • mamark123

    While there is plausible doubt the Pope knew he was meeting Kim Davis , it seems more likely her attorney obtained an invitation for her to a group meeting.
    What is certain, the Pope called a former student of his and had his only private audience with this fellow and the fellow’s husband. The Pope warmly greeted both men embrassing each and kissing them on the cheek. He has had contact with the student for many years. The student once wrote to the then Cardinal to protest wording of a message very hostile to gays. The then Cardinal, responded he agreed it was too harsh and would work to redirect the Church back toward love and acceptance.
    I hope all of this is truth. As a “lapsed Catholic” and part of a gay married couple, I would like to see some progress within the Roman Catholic Church. But I too still have some doubts.

  • Denis Camacho

    Why would someone want to hurt a kid. Evil twit??

  • martinbakman

    Nice piece. Thank you for sharing this. I get your approach concerning The Pope, but honestly, for me I would echo your Dad. When it comes to the Vatican escorting me to the back of the bus, they can go fvck themselves.

  • Joe

    One of Davis’s cousins? What a fucked up thing to say to a 15 year old kid. She has no place in driving a bus and preaching. Another one who should be fired!!

  • AtticusBennett

    here’s how Fox News will frame this story: “Intolerant radical homosexuals attempt to silence a bus driver JUST for EXPRESSING HER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS!”

  • martinbakman

    @AtticusBennett: …and HuffPost would probably write “Gay Couple Makes Controversial Bus Driver Request.”

  • dean3000

    “We I e in a fully integrated community”. Um no you don’t. You may be ok now but when you get older and need care things change. That mythical gay community you sneer at you may need in a few years. Many older people have to go back in the closet when they move into care homes

  • Ogre Magi

    christians are such jerks

  • Leonard Woodrow

    Splendid article! We must never give up the fight to show up the hypocrisy of the Catholic church and its leaders. Their poisonous ideas about sexuality are a threat to innocent people everywhere.

  • Kelvin Johnson

    See that’s the problem with people if it doesn’t affect you keep you mouth shut…please.I would be waiting on that bus the next damn day,let that man know he is more then welcome to talk to me about were i’m going.

  • Steven Burr

    That asshole needs to b fired!

  • Mack

    @Will Glitzern: Most business do not permit religion or even politics in a business. The ones that do, the owners are generally involved in the religion and the only religion you can talk about is the one the boss belongs to.

  • Brian

    Sexual desire is not a lifestyle but the gay scene definitely is. Don’t deny it. It’s a lifestyle of drinking, smoking and picking up. Hedonism is a lifestyle.

    Whenever choice is involved, it’s a lifestyle. Even choosing to give birth to children is a lifestyle.

  • Derick Lindsey

    I would’ve been expelled for assault.

  • Morgan James

    Well done Bob Gasper! “In the library with the candlestick” lol

  • Giancarlo85

    @Brian: YOu’re an idiot. Go take a look at New Orleans. That’s the hetero man’s version of West Hollywood. Drinking, smoking and pickuping up chicks. That sounds like what frat boys do.

    Being gay is not a choice nor is it a lifestyle. If I go to a gay club, I’m going there to dance. Dancing and listening to music is a lifestyle, but straight people do that too.

  • Vic-elliot Dunson

    The worst part of his Daddies going to hell would be spending eternity with that bus driver ???

  • Barry Stradtner

    He should be fired – not his place to state to a child.

  • Will Moor

    Good read, but I do hate little niggly mistakes. I don’t know why he made it, perhaps because he thought his audience would be slightly simple minded and he didn’t want to bother having to explain something that he thought would be taken as extra, but Catholicism doesn’t have “Sunday School”. Since he is a grown man with children, I am guessing that he is relatively young, so they probably called what it DOES have “CCD” when he went as a kid (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine). Before that it was called “Catechism”. One thing it has never been called is “Sunday School”. “Sunday School’s” a Protestant thing. The Catholic Church does not offer “Sunday School” because the Eucharist, which is the biggest point of the Mass, is considered very sacred and something that all members of the Church should participate in, including the children. The children are not banished to some class room or daycare room to get them out of the way as in other churches, they are required to participate in the worship life of the Church like everybody else. I know none of you will likely care, but meh. I just hate little mistakes like that and have a compulsion to comment on them. But otherwise I agree with him 100%.

  • Judy Rae Jackson

    That is a bus driver who would NOT have a job for long if this happened to my child.

  • Jacques LaRose

    He should be fired. No ands, ifs or buts.

  • Kevin J Desmond

    I hope she got fired, me personaly I would have belted her right in the mouth.

  • Leonard Woodrow

    Deliberately misinforming children that hell/heaven exist should be outlawed by all intelligent people.

  • Transiteer

    First, the bus driver should’ve been fired, not reprimanded and moved to another bus/pulpit.
    Secondly, the only religion anyone should follow is atheism – it teaches a lot more and belongs to better people than the dregs and dupes of the uber-religious lot.
    Three, I think you’re a great Dad – you both are – and this will pass and your son(s) will be better for your efforts. The sad-sack bus driver, and the sad-sack civil servant in Kentucky will not fare so well. Angry and unhappy people latch onto anything to beat others with to make themselves feel better or more empowered than they are. They know they’re at the bottom of the gutter. They’re just angry that they can’t (or deserve) to get out of the sludge their God has put them in.

  • Pro-Life

    @mamark123: The Pope clearly indicated that he is against gay marriage & believes marriage is between one man & one woman just one week ago at the Bishop gathering. Pope Francis dedicated one third of his homily to the topic of love between man and woman and its role in procreation.

    According to Pope Francis, “This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self,” he said.

    He also spoke of the “true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan,” a clear reference to heterosexual marriage.

    http://www.advocate.com/marriage-equality/2015/10/06/heres-what-pope-says-about-same-sex-marriage

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/04/us-pope-synod-idUSKCN0RY0BT20151004?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

  • Giancarlo85

    @Pro-Life: Who cares about the pope? He voiced his opposition even before he was Pope against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and her legalization of same sex marriage. I assume you have a certain agenda. The Argentine President responded and said the church cannot dictate state policy.

    Your username clearly indicates you have an agenda. Nothing prolife about people who are against the right to choose. They care about life up to birth. They don’t give a shit about what happens to children after they are born. George Carlin was right about that. You people scream about procreation… Yet are willing to cut social services which millions of disadvantaged children rely on. Hypocrites.

  • Brian

    @Giancarlo85: New Orleans is just as bad. If I had the power, I would clean it up by banning sleaze in New Orleans.

  • Brian

    Choosing to identify as gay is a lifestyle choice. Don’t deny it. I’m not saying that homosexual desire is a lifestyle choice but I am saying that the choice to identify as gay is a lifestyle choice. Identifying is a choice.

    There are lots of lifestyle choices out there. Driving a bus is a lifestyle choice. Going to the disco is a lifestyle choice. Listening to heavy rock is a lifestyle choice. Going to a bar is a lifestyle choice. Staying out late and having promiscuous sex is a lifestyle choice. Choosing to refrain from sex is a lifestyle choice. Taking pills is a lifestyle choice. Drinking alcohol is a lifestyle choice. Posting on the internet is a lifestyle choice. Voting is a lifestyle choice.

  • Sluggo2007

    It’s a fucking non-educated, trailer park bus driver for Pete’s sake, not a Rhodes scholar. Don’t expect miracles.

  • Jacqui Sexton

    She should be brought before te courts on a charge of child abuse and cruelty

  • Atomicrob

    As an older gay man, I’ve learned that some people get angry when our needs force them to rethink the status quo regarding relationships, marriage and family. They are entrenched in a heterosexual, Ozzie and Harriet world of heterosexuality and all the trappings and definitions that entails. Ask them to reevaluate standard definitions of family and they implode, not because they are actually opposed to us, but more like, ” . . . What’s next?” One of the most exciting aspects of is change. If everything was static, what a boring world this would be. Lets encourage getting excited about change. Nothing last forever!

  • Opine2

    It’s make me wonder how much slavery the church is happy with 10%? 20%? How much popery cant the world take?

  • paul dorian lord fredine

    sorry, but i feel it would have been more than appropriate to go with his first reaction to say ‘go fuck yourself’. trying to educate someone like that is beyond hopeless. and if they get offended? tough. they love to dish it out but get all pissy when it’s thrown back at them usually screaming ‘persecution!’ or ‘discrimination!’. they haven’t the faintest idea what either of those words really mean.

  • Giancarlo85

    @Brian: I never chose to identify as gay. I knew I always was. This has nothing to do with identifying. I know you are uneducated and as stupid as this bus driver. Being gay is not a lifestyle choice, you fucking moron.

  • Giancarlo85

    @Brian: If I had any power on this site, I would ban you entirely from this site including all your aliases.

  • Chuck

    I know every parent tries to raise there children to do and say the right thing. If my son came home and told me that he did something wrong. Then explained that your inner dad voice came out of his mouth, telling the bus driver to “go fuck yourself”

    God created all of us, we are all just as God wanted us to be. I was born gay, and knew it at a very very young age. I didn’t understand it until I was in grade school.
    When the Pope, Kim Davis, and the other so called “CHRISTIANS” can accept that God created all of us just as he wanted us to be. Then and only then will the world be a better place. The ignorance and hatred will stop!

    I am a former Catholic, and I won’t go back to the Catholic church until everyone is welcome without any hatred or bigotry.

  • RobvR

    I’m an atheist but I thank God on my bare knees I don’t live in the US of free *hahahaha!!!* A! In God you have mistaken. Fire the b***h!

  • Jaroslaw

    @dean3000: excellent point Dean, the Gay community is very necessary and probably always will be. Thanks for thinking of it and posting it here.

  • Giancarlo85

    Oh wait. I do have a lifetime style. It is the work and pay bills lifestyle. That is a choice. I could stop paying bills and go off the grid. My sexual ORIENTATION is not a choice.

  • skibum03446

    @Sluggo2007: Very good article and I would like to respond to “Sluggo”….trailer trash bus driver???? Wow….
    I drive a school bus, I have for 30 years part time and now full time. I am college educated, retired from the fire service and now tackle the ins and outs of elementary, middle school and high school children on a daily basis. Oh yea, I happen to be a gay man happily married to a wonderful man. You, Sir, need to spend a day in the drivers seat!!
    As to the article I would obviously never say that, most of my kids don’t know about my personal life, they don’t need to. Some of the parents do and they are awesome with us.
    Yes the driver needs an education of her own, she may not learn but at least someone should try…and take the radio out of her bus !!

    You view on the Pope is a little harsh in my opinion. I am not a Catholic but it sure seems like he is trying to bring more people into the fold of understanding and bringing the religion into the 20th and maybe the 21st Century.
    Rock on !!

  • seaguy

    That bus driver was endangering the children on her bus by listening to the radio as it serves as a distraction for her and being a bus driver with rambunctious kids on board you need all your attention on the road and the kids, not on religious radio programming that is totally inappropriate for that setting.

  • DavidIntl

    Excellent article. I too, try to consistenly stay in “educate” mode. Consistently keep my cool, engage with bigots in a non-confrontational way. Try to get them to at least step back and reflect every now and then. I spend more time than I should participating in conservative forums (I am mostly libertarian, so we have some common ground) working on trying to gently change attitudes, even one person at a time. I am glad to see others doing the same.

  • Joe

    We live in such a religious based-charged country, these Bible beaters are hard to be rid of. This kind of behavior will continue until the end of time and this poor woman will never get a chance to meet her maker. She’s taking the elevator down. Hate like that comes from the home of the devil.

  • Joe

    No mention of the Anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death on Queerty? You’re slipping Q!

  • Billysees

    ” Simple, small battles, year after year… “, the article reads.

    That’s about as plain and simple a way to describe the effort to gain acceptance and respect will always be.

  • Giancarlo85

    @DavidIntl: Oh… Trying to change conservatives? Why even bother? Libertarianism is a contradiction. Economic cronyism (not economic freedom) and social equality are incompatible.

  • Daggerman

    ..there is something so annoying here. Why are these cowards still banging on about outdated rubbish?? The Bible. Please listen to me everyone. We as the human race have moved on greatly, people have changed and become natural, meaning allowing reality to involve itself in a person’s life. And not just keeping to a set of ridiculous and nasty boring rules that entail make a person into a scared idiot! Some people love remaining in the same predicament…when some veer to the left or right you get labeled as bad and become outcast.

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