Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Walt Whitman

Most people know Walt Whitman as an American poet. He was born in New York, moved to Washington, DC during the Civil War, he wrote "O Captain! My Captain" (which I bring up since many know it from the climactic scene in "Dead Poet's Society"), and later he moved to New Jersey.
There is a stanza of "The Wound Dresser" carved into the north entrance to the Dupont Metro in DC, a high school in Bethesda, MD and a rest stop in New Jersey. (I'm sure there's a lot more than that, these are off the top of my head.)
Yes, well, apparently the speculation that Walt Whitman may have been gay or bisexual has created an issue. Now, I tend to try very hard to ignore people who I sometimes think try extra hard to be controversial just to be in the spotlight a little more. (Although apparently one of the last times I broke this rule was for a related story a few years ago.) But sometimes things get a bit difficult to ignore.
The congregation where I attend and am also a youth group advisor is in Bethesda. A number of the students attend the Walt Whitman High School.
Apparently, the Westboro Baptist Church has announced that they are planning to protest outside the high school since it it named after a (possibly) gay person. They have apparently announced protests in the past that they didn't actually follow through on. However, the school is ready. They have taken the opportunity to talk about civil rights, and Walt Whitman himself in various classes.
There is also a counter protest planned. And there is a group accepting pledges to raise money for the gay/straight alliance for the length of the protest. (Other local targets past and future include George Mason University for having a Pride Week and Roland Park Country School for performing "The Laramie Project" as their spring play.)
And Chalicechick is finally going to go to a protest (counter though it may be.)
And let's end with this snippet from "Song of Myself":
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.