Sunday, November 30, 2014

In Defense of Anonymity

Recently, a UU seminarian posted on "The Lively Tradition" blog about the fears and contradictions experienced by many going through the process of ministerial formation. I've heard these and other concerns from others - during and after their time in seminary - and believe this message deserves a fair hearing. Additionally, my experience in the kink and poly communities, and knowledge of LGBTQ history, makes me keenly aware of the dilemmas faced by people made vulnerable by marginalization. yet compelled to speak their truths.

All the more reason that it bothers me to read those responses so willing to dismiss this seminarian's words, simply because no name is attributed to them, and despite the author explaining clearly why they chose anonymity. It seems as if "owning one's words" has become as (or perhaps even more) important than the message itself.

Do we forget too easily those prophetic messages written under assumed names, or no name at all? Have we forgotten how hierarchies of privilege and power - including those within the institutions of our own faith - place people in the bind of being punished for speaking out, yet discounted when they protect themselves from such actions? Are we oblivious to the contradiction of insisting that our ministers be prophetic, so long as they restrict any critique of UU institutions and leaders to officially sanctioned areas?

Anonymous witness has its place, especially in the face of double binds and other silencing mechanisms. I for one do not see those who speak their truths without a name as failing to own their words, but doing their best to raise awareness while protecting themselves from unfair aggression. They deserve to do both, and they deserve to be heard.

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