Gay Priest Juggles Act Amid Fame

from The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. - At New York's Gay Pride parade in the spring, marchers and spectators crowded around Bishop V. Gene Robinson for more than three hours. They reached out to touch his hand, cheered, cried and thanked him.

When Bishop Robinson was elected the ninth Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire two years ago - the first open homosexual to hold such a position in the church - he knew that he and the diocese were making history. But he didn't know how completely it would change his life.

"It sounds soap-operaish to say, but I'm the son of a tobacco sharecropper who didn't live in a house with running water until I was 10 years old. I can't believe I'm here, you know. So I find it very difficult to be anything but grateful," he said in a recent interview.

Bishop Robinson's new role leaves him juggling the needs of his diocese, which has 48 parishes and about 16,000 members - his responsibilities include diocesan finances, church meetings, and priests with personal and spiritual problems - with hundreds of invitations to speak at national and international gatherings from people who see his election as a historic step for homosexuals.

Few seemed to resent their bishop's role on the international stage.

"He's doing his job, and he's doing it well," said Joe Fluet, senior warden at St. John's in Wakefield. "I'd never dream of telling another diocese how to pick their bishop, and I'm not much interested in what they think about how we chose our bishop."


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