Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Nine, it must be Paris. On Trans Women, Drinking Chocolate and Talking Sexuality.

So here I sit on the left bank of the river Seine. I can actually see blue sky, and leave my jacket open, so I know I’m not in London. We are slowly unclenching, my girls and I, we slept in until ten thirty this morning, and then saw this.

The south rose window of Notre Dame

The south rose window of Notre Dame

It was worth most of the day to go to Notre Dame. Really, Catholics have some incredible history in their cathedrals. Just thinking about all the scaffolding needed to build these enormous vaulted ceilings makes my head spin. It’s nearly 850 years old, and still standing! Sure, a number of restorations, but remarkable nonetheless.

We then found an entire street next to ours, that was simply several huge blocks of art galleries. I would have been drawn and quartered had I taken pictures, so leave it to say my desire for new artwork in my home far exceeds my budget. Fun to look, though.

Dinner, and then this.

The Eiffel tower, during the evening light show.

The Eiffel tower, during the evening light show.

Who can resist? There is something special about La Tour Eiffel. We went around nine o’clock, when the crowds were minimal and the view still superb.

What was really fun though, was the perpetual search for drinking chocolate on the way back. Now, after Cambridge, we have been completely spoiled for hot chocolate. or ‘chocolate chaud’ here. We found a little shop there, where for one pound seventy, you got a little pot of this marvelous, thick concoction topped with real whipped cream. Gracious, non of this nasty, powdery just-add-water stuff will ever do again. So we keep looking, my girls and I.

We passed a gelato shop, and had high hopes. When we were about to enter, I was startled by the appearance of a genuine trans woman coming toward me. He was wearing a bright purple tutu, red leggings, boots, a wig like Mom used to wear, and a profound five oclock shadow. It was one of those rare times I was rendered speechless.

“Girls!” I hissed, after he was out of earshot. “Did you see that?” The girls erupted into laughter.

“Duh! Geez, Mom! Was that the first trannie you’ve seen this trip? We’ve seen at least six!”

“Well,” I stumbled around. “Yes, I guess it was. I so want to give him a makeover. Nana had a wig like that!” I giggled. “And a purple tutu? Doesn’t he have a sister?”

“Wow! Judge much?” my liberal college age girls taunted. Actually, not at all. Jesus is the only one who can change people’s hearts, I wouldn’t even try. But a purple tutu?

In Paris, I’ve noticed that same sex couples are much freer than in the US. Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of slack for what some people might call a liberal attitude toward that sort of sexuality.

I find though, that the proof of something can often be found in one’s children. I don’t find sexual sin to be any different than anything else. Let’s be clear, the Bible is quite specific about homosexuality. As it is about gluttony, strife, envy, murder, and my all time favorite, gossip.

So Chris and I trained our children accordingly. Jesus didn’t die twice for the gay man, any more than he did the addict or the angry man. We’ve had a lot of time to talk about all sorts of things on this trip, and it’s really fun to get to know my girls in their near-adult incarnations.

As college freshman, they are subject to the antics of a lot of near-adults in their dorms. Sexual exploration, alcohol abuse, and all kinds of random behavior are seen by them on a regular basis. They’ve both developed a remarkably sensitive ‘gaydar’, for example. A compassionate one, too.

As I listen to them talk about their gay friends, I find I can drop some of the jaundice I’ve developed over the years toward some of the more rabid members of that community. I was raised conservative Baptist, remember, and many of my leaders had a special contempt reserved for gay folks.

It’s funny though, my own mother was a great counter example. Raised extremely conservative Grace Bretheren, she didn’t see a movie or play cards until she was 21.

Yet here are some great “Nana Quotes.”

“Vickey, Diana is coming over for dinner. Now, don’t tell your dad, but she’s a homosexual and she’s bringing her friend.”

“Vickey, Vickey! Listen to me. Don’t tell your dad, but your piano teacher is getting a divorce because he’s gay. His boyfriend is very nice, and Milton and Betty are still great friends. But don’t tell your dad, he just doesn’t understand.”

And on and on. Little bitty Nana, friends with everyone, no matter what their issues. Sound familiar? I bet Jesus would have done the same thing.

So I stand on the sidelines and watch. I admire the gay men walking arm in arm, securely wrapped in knotted scarves and impeccably dressed. I go to a vintage clothing shop with Abi, and admire a pair of leggy French women, obviously partners, trying on hats.

I listen to my daughters talk about “Gay Tam” and “Lesbian Sal” without an ounce of judgement in their voices. I hear them talk about asking everyone to their church’s caroling, or service project, and wonder at the architecture of friendship.

There’s an unexpected sort of purity there, and I find it delightful. They know exactly what’s going on, and accept these kids anyway. It’s sort of magnificent, almost as much as Notre Dame.

Much love,



7 thoughts on “Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Nine, it must be Paris. On Trans Women, Drinking Chocolate and Talking Sexuality.

  1. Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. Needless to say, this premise is being widely debated among evangelicals today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

    It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. In light of the post above and since I happen to speak and write on this topic, I thought some of you find some of these posts of particular interest and relevance. I would particularly recommend the following:

    “Genesis 19: What Were the Real Sins of Sodom?”
    “Leviticus 18: What Was the Abomination?”
    “Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?”
    “Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch”
    “Genesis 1: Turning the Creation Story into an Anti-Gay Treatise”
    “Why No One in the Biblical World Had a Word for Homosexuality”
    “Exegesis: Not For the Faint in Heart”

    (Links to these and more posts may be found by simply clicking the link below and then selecting the “Archives” page.)

    -Alex Haiken


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